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Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative Funds Seven iSchool Professors, Four Projects

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Seven University of TexasSchool of Information faculty members were recently notified that they would receive approximately $100,000 in funding from Good Systems through The Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative to support the first year of new projects. 

Assistant Professor Amelia Acker, Assistant Professor Jakki Bailey, Associate Professor Kenneth Fleischmann, Assistant Professor Danna Gurari, Associate Professor Jacek Gwizdka, Associate Professor Matthew Lease, and Professor Bo Xie are among the Texas iSchool faculty involved in projects to be funded by Good Systems.

The Good Systems Grand Challenge Initiative funds research projects that align artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with the needs and values of society. Good Systems funding is meant to inspire interdisciplinary research collaborations that define, evaluate, and measure good systems, and seed efforts for securing external funding.  

The projects that will receive Good Systems funding for one year include interdisciplinary collaboration from scholars in the School of Information and other campus units. In addition, they address a major challenge or concern(s) with the use of AI technologies, propose plans involving mixed methodologies to tackle these problems, and promise a more inclusive world with more responsible AI.

For instance, “Design of Fair AI Systems via Human-Centric Detection and Mitigation of Biases” with project team members Amelia Acker (iSchool), Joydeep Ghosh (ECE), and Matthew Lease (iSchool), proposes to alleviate the problem of data bias by engaging a diverse, human-centered approach to identify and assess bias and fairness.

Another project, “Designing Human-AI Partnerships for Information Search and Evaluation” with project team members Jacek Gwizdka (iSchool), Matthew Lease (iSchool), and Talia Stroud (Communication Studies), aims to design socially-responsible human-AI partnerships to curb the digital spread of misinformation. 

Privacy Preferences and Values for Computer Vision Applications” with team members Danna Gurari (iSchool), Bo Xie (iSchool and Nursing), and Kenneth Fleishmann (iSchool), addresses the conflict between convenience and privacy inherent to computer vision with the goal of developing computer vision technologies that support diverse users, especially those who are traditionally technologically underserved.   

And “Defining, Evaluating, and Building Good Systems for All Children” with team members Jakki Bailey (iSchool), Craig Watkins (RTF), and Kenneth Fleischmann (iSchool), aims to evaluate AI systems and identity factors related to diversity, ethics, and child development for creating age-appropriate AI technologies for children in early to late adolescence (10 - 14 years of age).

All four project teams demonstrated one or more of the three focus areas: how to define good systems, how to evaluate good systems, and how to build good systems, and they each met the evaluation criteria of feasibility, significance, interdisciplinarity, and use of seed funding.

The Texas iSchool is heavily involved in the Good Systems Grand Challenge. In addition to being recipients of Year 1 internal funding, Kenneth Fleischmann and Matthew Lease currently serve on the Bridging Barriers Organizing Committee team, while Amelia Acker and Yan Zhang are members of the Bridging Barriers Activity Leaders team.

Dean Meyer commented on the iSchool professors’ involvement in the Good Systems Grand Challenge. “Our faculty members here at the iSchool are showing their leadership, passion, and determination to solve the AI challenges facing all of us in the modern world,” he said. “They are changing the ways we will interact with AI, and are leading the way to change the future by engaging with the challenges of today.”

In the words of President Fenves, “the toughest questions facing humanity and the world cross the boundaries of existing knowledge, and we must take an interdisciplinary approach to address them. Breakthroughs happen when we break down silos of knowledge. And we are doing that now.”