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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
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Gov. Hochul selects UB as base for proposed statewide AI development group

Hochul’s plans include the construction of an AI 'supercomputing center' on campus

<p>The Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science is located outside of the Lockwood Library and serves to connect AI educators, researchers and students across the university.</p>

The Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science is located outside of the Lockwood Library and serves to connect AI educators, researchers and students across the university.

Gov. Kathy Hochul selected UB as the “home” for “Empire AI,” a consortium of several public and private institutions working in artificial intelligence development, the University announced last month. 

“Empire AI” would “secure New York’s place at the forefront of the artificial intelligence transformation” and challenge big tech’s monopoly on AI by allowing researchers, non-profit organizations and small businesses to access cutting-edge AI technology for the public good, Hochul’s office said in a statement

Hochul also announced that she plans to construct an artificial intelligence computing center on campus. The computing center could be housed in either a new building or an expansion of an existing campus building, UB President Satish Tripathi said after the announcement. 

“Governor Hochul’s vision to position New York State at the forefront of responsible AI will spur game-changing research, attract significant federal funding and expand 21st century business and industry, cultivating sustained economic prosperity in Buffalo, Western New York and across the state,” Tripathi said at the announcement of Hochul’s decision. “The UB community is indebted to the governor for her bold vision.” 

Hochul plans to fund the consortium with $275 million in state funds, which are included in her proposed fiscal year 2024. The New York State Legislature will have to approve that funding for the consortium, even as it faces a looming budget deficit that could grow to $36 billion over the next several years, according to an analysis from the State Comptroller’s Office. Another $125 million would come from the consortium’s founding members — including SUNY, CUNY, four private universities and the Simons Foundation — as well as other private sources. 

Multiple UB faculty members are already conducting AI-related research to develop materials for use in space, assist first responders in natural disasters, treat brain aneurysms and more. 

“There are thousands of ways that you can [use AI to] improve people’s lives,” Hochul said during her announcement. “We’re using it as a catalyst for jobs and innovation, and to solve society’s biggest problems.”

Grant Ashley is the editor in chief and can be reached at grant.ashley@ubspectrum.com


GRANT ASHLEY
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Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for NPR, WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley. 

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