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Physics Colloquium

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020

Speaker: Brian Nord, University of Chicago

Title: AI In the Sky: The Promise and Peril for the use of Artificial Intelligence in Cosmology and Society

Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to a set of techniques that rely primarily on the data itself for constructing highly accurate models of observed phenomena. AI has had a long history of development, and there has been a recent resurgence in its research and deployment. This is marked by extraordinary results in many contexts across society — from the promise of self-driving vehicles and accelerated biomedical engineering to the peril of automation in the criminal justice system, retail stores, and the military.  Moreover, in the last few years, AI has had substantial impacts in the physical sciences, like molecular chemistry, particle physics, and more recently, astronomy.

However, the story is far from over: these techniques face significant challenges to reach their full potential, especially in scientific contexts. During this talk, we’ll first look at modern AI techniques, like neural networks, including the major changes that enabled their rise to prominence. Then, we’ll discuss how the need for significant algorithmic development for trustworthy use in both science and society. This will include examples from astronomy and cosmology, and a vision for where these efforts may take us in the future. Finally, we’ll talk about the implications for AI’s increasing pervasiveness in society and consider our roles as individuals in an increasingly data-driven world.

Host: Tien-Tien Yu

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