Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, July 20, 2024

University of Maryland’s Smith School Launches New Center for AI in Business 

COLLEGE PARK, Md., April 25, 2024 -- The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business has launched the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Business to conduct research and outreach in order to realize the potential of AI through intentional design and governance frameworks centering on human judgment and creativity. The center will work in conjunction with the university's newly announced Artificial Intelligence Interdisciplinary Institute at Maryland (AIM).

Credit: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

The new center taps into the school's research and significant faculty expertise in artificial intelligence, analytics and data science, which is distributed across multiple departments and centers of excellence. "Organizations are increasingly turning to AI to redefine processes and improve productivity, customer experience, and decision-making," says Prabhudev Konana, dean of the Smith School. "Smith faculty are among the best thought leaders in this area. The center positions Smith to more effectively bring that expertise to businesses, policymakers and institutes, researchers, students and the broader community."

"At the University of Maryland, we are leading the way in shaping the future of AI, and doing so in a way that promotes responsible, ethical and trustworthy development and use. With AI utilization skyrocketing across all sectors of business, the launch of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Business will allow us to amplify the expertise of our Smith School faculty to advance the public good across industries," says Provost Jennifer King Rice.

"What the AI center represents is interdisciplinary research and engagement at its very best," says Wedad Elmaghraby, senior associate dean of the Smith School. "Representing faculty from every discipline within Smith, we have the expertise, capabilities and commitment to engage with practitioners and academics to help tackle the novel challenges and opportunities barrelling toward us with AI."

Leading the center is inaugural director Balaji Padmanabhan, Dean's Professor of Decision, Operations & Information Technologies, aided by both an industry advisory board and faculty advisory board. The center was launched with seed funding from GRF CPAs and Advisors.

The center will be an important partner for the business and policy community in AI and plans to host industry-focused conferences and events including the annual AI Design and Governance Conference, the first of which was held in January 2024. Executive education offerings will help businesses navigate practical issues around AI design and implementation. Center-affiliated faculty will also engage more broadly with Smith and UMD students.

Addressing issues around ethics, bias and responsible use while helping businesses create short and long-term value will be central to the center's mission. In addition to intentional AI-enabled design and governance, the research conducted by the center will focus on developing AI algorithms to address problems faced by business, and to help businesses establish AI systems that respect the rule of law, follow ethical guidelines, and operate within established regulatory boundaries. The center will be an important voice in the development of rules and regulations to promote transparency, accountability and respect for privacy in the use of AI by businesses. The various activities of the center will aid policymakers to strike the right balance between meaningful support for transformative products and protection of fundamental rights.

The role of humans in an AI-enabled work environment will also be a topic of exploration. Roland Rust, Distinguished University Professor, David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing and author of the book "The Feeling Economy: How AI is Creating an Era of Empathy," (with Ming-Hui Huang) says workers with intuition, empathy, creativity and people skills will thrive. "As AI is taking over more thinking tasks, human workers are pushed more into feeling tasks. That is currently a differential advantage for humans, although we have active ongoing work on 'feeling AI,' that can effectively simulate human empathy."

"AI provides an incredible opportunity for businesses to create amazing products and services. Our aim is to ensure this potential of AI is realized while mitigating and managing risks in a responsible manner," says Padmanabhan. "Also, and importantly, organizations that put people first, whether as employees or consumers, have a history of achieving greatness and AI doesn't change that. There are important concerns about AI's impact on the future of work itself, and the center will strive to be an important voice in the community to shape this as well."

The Smith School's strategic focus on the transformative impact of AI is already being seen in classrooms and beyond. Smith is actively integrating AI into what students learn and works with industry partners to ensure content is up to date and relevant.

  • The AI Specialization for Full-time MBAs was launched in Spring 2024, making the Smith School one of the early movers in this space for students.
  • Professor Sean Cao's textbook on how to use AI in accounting and finance is available for free as part of Smith's AI Initiative for Capital Market Research, funded by GRF CPAs and Advisors.
  • Professors Liye MaWendy MoeWedad Elmaghraby and Kunpeng Zhang work closely with companies such as Amazon, Deloitte and Meta on AI-related initiatives and translate those experiences into the classroom.
  • The Office of Executive Education offers a portfolio of AI-related executive education opportunities directed by Professor P.K. Kannan.
  • The recently launched UMD-LinkUp AI Jobs tracker project, led by Professors Anil Gupta, Siva Viswanathan and Kunpeng Zhang, has been extensively covered in the media by Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and others.
  • Professors Lauren RhueJui Ramaprasad and Margret Bjornadottir have highlighted important issues with research on bias and AI for social good.
  • Professor Roland Rust's book and articles in AI, several of which have won awards, have been cited almost 5,000 times. Rust is also leading an AI cluster of four courses in the University Honors Program.

AI-related research conducted by faculty across departments will inform the center in its mission to help businesses and policy makers understand and manage the AI revolution that is taking place.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

Source: University of Maryland