Researchers from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering have been awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to plan an Artificial Intelligence Institute for Rural Health, Wellness, and Resilience.
The grant will fund a series of workshops that will bring together Luddy researchers from various disciplines, experts from other Midwestern universities, and community stakeholders to discuss opportunities to collaborate. The goal is to study the opportunities for AI to make an impact on rural health, wellness, and resiliency while considering the technical and social challenges, such as adapting machine learning models that require huge amounts of data to smaller populations, overcoming limited broadband connectivity, and investigating and addressing concerns that AI may many rural jobs over the coming decades.
“Many faculty and students across Luddy and IU are interested in AI and the opportunities and challenges that it will bring to us all,” said Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing David Crandall, the principal investigator on the grant. “This project is just one way to help discover new connections and spark new collaborations, both within the school and across the university and the region.”
“Technologies always impact society in both planned and unintentional ways,” said Professor Kay Connelly, who is co-PI on the grant and Luddy’s associate dean for research. “The theme of this institute is to think deeply about how artificial intelligence will impact rural areas of the US and be intentional about ensuring the design of systems that use AI will improve the lives of rural Americans.”
The project identifies three key opportunity areas—rural wellness, rural health, and rural resilience—which will be led Associate Professor of Informatics Selma Sabanovic, Professor Katie Siek, and Professor of Informatics and Computing David Wild, who are co-PIs on the project. It also identifies five key areas where foundational research is needed: interpretable AI, trustworthy AI, human-centered AI, ubiquitous AI, and ethical AI. Professor of Computer Science David Leake, Associate Professor of Computer Science Apu Kapadia, Associate Professor of Informatics Norman Su, Assistant Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering Minje Kim, and Associate Professor Nathan Ensmenger will initially lead these areas, but the project will involve many other faculty as the planning process proceeds.
“This is a unique opportunity for IU because it connects our technical strengths in AI with other strengths across the university: the health informatics program, the Center for Rural Engagement, the Precision Health Initiative, etc.,” Crandall said. “Moreover, our location—in the heart of the heartland—makes IU well positioned for studying rural issues compared to, say, the universities and big companies in the Bay area.”