Microsoft’s prime unifying scientist has a message: “Artificial intelligence” does not exist. At a Sept. 13 lecture at UC Berkeley, Jaron Lanier urged the audience to look past what they learned from science fiction as children and stop treating AI systems as entities. Instead, they should talk about the tools as social collaborations trained on materials by people. “It doesn’t matter technically,” Lanier said. But “if you analyze it on those terms, you have a much more actionable way of understanding it, and if you integrate it into society on those terms you have a brighter and more actionable set of paths open for the future of society.”
Hundreds of self-driving cars have flooded San Francisco streets following a recent state decision that allowed certain ‘robo-taxis’ to operate 24 hours a day and to charge passengers. This new reality could provide data that helps vet decades of theory about autonomous vehicles and how they fit into society, UC Berkeley academics said. This moment also offers an opportunity to reimagine what accessibility and equality looks like in transportation. “Technology has the potential to provide powerful strategies to address a number of societal issues. However, advanced technology also has the ability to divide,” said Susan Shaheen, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center and a civil and environmental engineering professor. “That's something we really need to be conscious of as we move forward.”
UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society is welcoming seven new faculty to its community this fall. The scholars are working to improve areas from clinical healthcare to software delivery using statistics, computer science and data science. Three are Berkeley alumni, who will now help shape the next generation of leaders in their fields at their alma mater. “These faculty members reflect UC Berkeley’s reputation for all-around excellence and the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society’s dedication to harnessing technological approaches to solving societal problems,” said Jennifer Chayes, dean of the college. “We’re thrilled to add them to our community.”
TIME included three UC Berkeley College of Computing, Data Science, and Society community members in its inaugural list of the 100 most influential people in AI. Those individuals include Inioluwa Deborah Raji, a Ph.D. student in Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS); Stuart Russell, a professor in EECS; and Ziad Obermeyer, an associate professor in Berkeley’s School of Public Health and faculty member for the Berkeley-UCSF Computational Precision Health program.
California agencies will collaborate with UC Berkeley and Stanford University to study the impacts of generative AI on the state and its workforce, according to a new executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, in consultation with the Government Operations Agency, will pursue a partnership with Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) and Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. The agencies will work with the two university leads to develop and host a related summit in 2024. “We’re at a critical moment in the development and widespread use of artificial intelligence tools,” said Jennifer Chayes, dean of CDSS. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that technological breakthroughs represent the interests and needs of the public. We’re honored to be a part of this State of California effort to address the opportunities and challenges of AI.”
“The AI arms race is changing everything,” an article published in TIME said earlier this year. In May, The Washington Post reported, “AI is changing jobs across industries. Here’s what to expect.” And Yahoo! Finance asserted in June, “The first half of this year has been all about AI.” These headlines illustrate the public’s newfound focus on artificial intelligence’s presence and power in their lives. Meeting this moment, three University of California and UC Berkeley institutions will host a fall speaker series to inform and engage researchers, students and others in discussions about AI and the opportunities and risks related to it. "Our distinguished lecture series offers expert insights on the implications of AI as well as practical applications that have a positive impact on society," said Costas Spanos, director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS). “It aims to inspire critical thinking and spark dialogue with the broader community.”
Staff, faculty and partners of UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) celebrated the college’s inaugural school year at a picnic last week. Standing on the Campanile Esplanade in the center of campus, CDSS Dean Jennifer Chayes thanked the more than 130 attendees for their help in making CDSS the first new college at Berkeley in more than 50 years. Guests wearing blue hats embroidered with the college’s name cheered as Chayes shouted out each of their departments and organizations and acknowledged their role in CDSS’s creation. “This never would have happened without all of you,” said Chayes. “You have been working tirelessly the entire time you’ve been in CDSS and really before the college came into being.”
UC Berkeley researchers launched a pioneering interdisciplinary training program this week that will blend criminal justice and computer science in ways that experts say will help reduce long-standing, systemic inequities in the criminal legal system. The program, called Computational Research for Equity in the Legal System (CRELS), is being made possible with a $3-million National Science Foundation grant. Launched by a multidisciplinary research team that includes Berkeley’s Division of Social Sciences, Social Science Matrix, D-Lab, College of Computing, Data Science, and Society, Berkeley Institute for Data Science, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Human Technology Futures group, Possibility Lab, Eviction Research Network and EPIC Data Lab, the CRELS program will bring together researchers in the social sciences, computer science and statistics. It will equip a new generation of diverse Ph.D. students with the skills needed to tackle problems at the intersection of inequality, criminal legal systems, data science, artificial intelligence and big data.
As students and faculty return to campus for the beginning of a new academic year, the newest college at UC Berkeley is working to build its student support infrastructure and programs. The College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) was formally approved by the UC Board of Regents in May, putting into effect an array of activity over the summer that will continue into the 2023-24 academic year. We recently spoke with Deborah Nolan, associate dean for students at CDSS, on the impact of the college formation on current and future undergraduate majors in computer science, data science and statistics at Berkeley.
UC Berkeley College of Engineering: Emerging speech neuroprostheses may offer a way to communicate for people who are unable to speak due to paralysis or disease, but fast, high-performance decoding has not yet been demonstrated. Now, transformative new work by researchers at UCSF and UC Berkeley shows that more natural speech decoding is possible using the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Led by UCSF neurosurgeon Edward Chang, the researchers have developed an implantable AI- powered device that, for the first time, translates brain signals into modulated speech and facial expressions. As a result, a woman who lost the ability to speak due to a stroke was able to speak and convey emotion using a talking digital avatar. The researchers describe their work in a study published today (Wednesday, Aug. 23) in the journal Nature. Study co-author Gopala Anumanchipalli, assistant professor, and Ph.D. student and co-lead author Kaylo Littlejohn, both from UC Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, discussed this breakthrough study with Berkeley Engineering.