March 3, 2023

Nebraska joins international effort to enhance artificial intelligence

Chan Hau in portrait.

Hau Chan

Nebraska’s Hau Chan has been selected to be part of an international research effort focused on the ethical deployment of artificial intelligence.

The project is part of a broader collaboration between the National Science Foundation and CSIRO (Australia’s national science agency) to fund groundbreaking artificial intelligence research that ultimately solves environmental and societal issues.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will lead U.S. research efforts in collaboration with the New York-based Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of New South Wales. The work will concentrate on the development of AI-powered solutions to drought, harmful environmental emissions and infectious diseases.

Chan, assistant professor in the School of Computing, will serve as principal investigator on a project that will use AI to determine appropriate allocation of resources such as water, vaccines, medical supplies and non-fossil fuel vehicle stations.

“This research aims to design responsible and equitable AI to address key prevalent decision-making problems and will lead to efficient and fair solutions to our use-inspired applications in drought resilience, towards net zero, and infectious disease resilience,” Chan said.

The overarching goal of Chan’s project is to lay theoretical and algorithmic foundations for ethical AI-powered decision-making. Chan and his team will achieve those goals by examining three specific and interconnected aspects of multi-objective collective decision making: single time periods subject to multiple objectives and fairness criteria; trade-offs between immediate and long-term efficiency and fairness; and strategic aspects of collaboration with stakeholders and information providers.

“This research would directly benefit a wide range of situations involving sequential collective decision-making,” Chan said. “These situations include applications associated with dynamic resource allocation, such as repeated sacred farming resource allocation, public decision-making, and enacting policies that are beneficial to our society.”

Through the international partnership, NSF and CSIRO aim to establish guidelines that will ensure AI algorithms are developed and deployed safely and responsibly.

"NSF's continuous efforts to form collaborations with nations across the world represent part of our core mission of ensuring that the research and discoveries that result from our investments benefit citizens everywhere and address the priorities and challenges of our like-minded partners," said Sethuraman Panchanathan, NSF director. “There is much to be done in the field of responsible and fair artificial intelligence, and we are eager to see how their research accelerates and innovates solutions that help solve critical challenges across AI-powered technologies."

Learn more about this project and the NSF-CSIRO partnership here.