By: Louisa Gaylord

Earlier this week, the eScience Institute co-hosted Discovering AI@UW, an event that brought together artificial intelligence experts from across the University of Washington campus to discuss their projects and how they intersect. Over 180 people attended the event, both streaming online via zoom and in person in the Lyceum Room of the Husky Union Building on campus, and included UW faculty and staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates. “The energy around all these [AI initiatives] that people are doing here makes me tremendously excited,” said Nathan Kutz, Senior Data Science Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering & Physics. “We not only have a university that is incredibly collaborative, but we also have so much work going on in so many different domains.”

The program began with opening remarks from Provost Mark Richards and eScience Institute Director and Associate Vice Provost for Data Science Andrew Connolly, followed by the Vice Provost for Research Mari Ostendorf, who introduced several major artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives at the university including: the AI Institute in Dynamic Systems, Accelerated Artificial Intelligence Algorithms for Data-Driven Discovery (A3D3), the Institute for Foundations of Data Science (IFDS), the Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning (IFML), the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing, Responsibility in AI Systems & Experiences (RAISE), the new Scientific Software Engineering Center at the eScience Institute, Seismic Computational Platform for Enabling Discovery, the UW + Amazon Science Hub, and the Institute for Medical Data Science.

UW Vice Provost for Research Mari Ostendorf introducing major AI initiatives currently happening.

Following the showcase of AI initiatives at UW, the plenary speakers gave specific examples of how their research utilizes AI. Computer Science & Engineering Professor Ali Farhadi talked about “The Era of AI Embodiment” and how the field may change over the next five years: “A good portion of these [questions] are actually multidisciplinary. What we’re calling for is cross-campus, multidisciplinary research… so we actually have a holistic framework that we can optimize.”

Assistant Professor of Physics Armita Nourmohammad discussed how AI is used in biophysics with “Learning the Shape of the Protein Universe,” to study how adaptive immune systems are organized and can mount specific responses to antigens. Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Dale Durran presented on “Deep-Learning Weather Prediction and Earth System Modeling” about his research in applying AI to forecasting the weather, and possibly using longer timescales in the future for seasonal and climate forecasts.

Zack Almquist, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Data Science Fellow, talked about “Large-scale Network Models for Understanding Human Outcomes” which highlighted how social networks are a powerful way to understand human interaction and behavior. Finally, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Senior Data Science Fellow Nathan Kutz discussed “Data-driven Acceleration of Scientific and Engineering Discovery.”

One of the afternoon breakout sessions from the Discovering AI@UW event.

The afternoon programming of Discovering AI@UW featured breakout sessions, where participants could ask questions and engage in discussions more easily with UW faculty in smaller groups.

  • AI + Education with Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Hanna Hajishirzi and Bioengineering Professor Dan Ratner;
  • AI + Imaging with Chemistry Assistant Professor Dan Fu and Psychology Research Professor and Senior Data Science Fellow Ariel Rokem;
  • AI + Natural Language Processing with Linguistics Associate Professor Gina-Anne Levow and Computer Science & Engineering Professor and Senior Data Science Fellow Noah Smith;
  • AI + Robotics with Computer Science & Engineering Assistant Professor Maya Cakmak and Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Sawyer Fuller;
  • AI + Society & Health with iSchool Assistant Professor Aylin Caliskan and Computer Science & Engineering Professor and Senior Data Science Fellow Rajesh Rao;
  • Science-Informed AI with Applied Mathematics Assistant Professor Bamdad Hosseini and Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Krithika Manohar.

The Discovering AI@UW program concluded with a reception in the HUB Lyceum and a poster session for UW graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to share their work and how it relates to artificial intelligence. The event was co-hosted by the eScience Institute, UW College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering, College of the Environment, the iSchool, the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

UW graduate students and postdocs share posters of their AI research.