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Frontiers of Science 2022

The AI Revolution: Using artificial
intelligence for socially responsible science

The 2022 Ashtekar Frontiers of Science Lectures in the Eberly College of Science focused on the role of artificial intelligence and related technologies as well as their impact on society. The title of the 2022 lecture series was “The AI Revolution: Using Artificial Intelligence for Socially Responsible Science.”

Each of 2022 lectures showcased a different aspect of these technologies. The lecture series was held live via Zoom Video Webinar on six consecutive Saturday mornings (11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) from January 15 through February 19, 2022.

Using AI in Mobile Phone Applications to Identify Plant Disease, Track Insect Infestations, and Improve Food Security

January 15, 2022

Presented by David Hughes
Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Global Food Security at Penn State

David Hughes.

Plant diseases and pests are massive issues worldwide, especially in developing countries. In this talk, Hughes will discuss his research with PlantVillage, a group that uses the power of technologies such as drones, smart phones, and AI to identify plant diseases and help smallholder farms make informed decisions about their crops.

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Bioinformatics and Machine Learning for Bioinformatics and Weather Prediction

January 22, 2022

Presented by Jia Li
Professor of statistics and computer science at Penn State

Jia Li.

Data is often produced by multiple sources through various modalities, resulting in substantially different predictions. In this talk, Li will introduce methods developed to combine clustering results and generate synthetic ensembled images, the former applied to single-cell data analysis and the latter to address needs in weather forecasting systems. These methods exploit mathematical tools such as optimal transport and the Wasserstein barycenter.

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The Origins of Heavy Elements

January 29, 2022

Presented by Ashley Villar
Assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State

Ashley Villar.

In this talk, Villar will discuss the astronomical hunt for anomalies, and how understanding the rare classes of cosmic explosions uniquely leads us to understanding the origins of heavy elements in the universe.

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Using AI to Improve Patient-Provider Communication

February 5, 2022

Presented by the Simplify team
Penn State College of Medicine

In 2021, a Penn State team won the very first Big Ten Augmented Intelligence Bowl with its Simplify project. Health literature is frequently too complicated for patients to understand, leading to frequent nonadherence with discharge instructions. The Simplify team will share how their project could lead to better health outcomes and reduced readmission.

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Mathematical Understanding of Artificial Intelligence

February 12, 2022

Presented by Jinchao Xu
Verne M. Willaman Professor of Mathematics at Penn State

Jinchao Xu.

In this talk, Xu will give an elementary introduction of basic deep learning models and training algorithms from a mathematical viewpoint to explain how some popular deep learning models work. Most of the talk will be accessible to audience members who have a basic knowledge of calculus and matrices. Xu will also touch on advanced topics to demonstrate the potential of new mathematical insights for improving the efficiency of deep learning technologies.

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Importance of Human Agency in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

February 19, 2022

Presented by S. Shyam Sundar
Director of CSRAI and James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects at Penn State

S Shyam Sundar.

In this talk, Sundar will discuss how intelligent machines pose a threat to human agency, by using media-related examples such as fake news and personalized entertainment. Sundar will explore strategies for reconciling the tension between machine and human agency by theorizing about social and psychological aspects of human-AI interaction.

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