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The Future of Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial intelligence research explores the nature of intelligence and the ways in which computation can be used to explain and engineer it.

Spring 2021

Data is everywhere, and it is being created at a scale beyond the capacity of human understanding. Researchers are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence to help harness and use this data to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. At Northwestern, where interdisciplinary collaboration is a goal, faculty are exploring the use of AI in fields such as drug discovery, equality and social justice, material and process design, social media analysis and astronomy.

One of the University’s leading AI scholars is Kristian Hammond, who is working on the cutting edge of language and narrative generation, among other specialties within the field. Hammond, along with fellow professor of computer science Larry Birnbaum, founded Narrative Science, a company that converts raw data into stories that feature natural language. Companies and organizations use Narrative Science to quickly create customer communications, reports and other content. Narrative Science grew out of a collaboration between Hammond, Birnbaum and students from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

In recognition of his scholarship and teaching, Hammond was named the inaugural Bill and Cathy Osborn Professor of Computer Science in 2018. The endowed professorship is one of two established by the Northwestern University Board of Trustees to honor the service and generosity of William A. Osborn ’69, ’73 MBA, ’18 H and Cathleen Osborn ’72 on the occasion of Bill’s retirement as board chair.

“We are delighted that our family will be associated with Northwestern’s quest to transform the  next generation of computer scientists,”  Bill Osborn said. 

As AI and computer science evolve together, they are expected to play an even greater role in our lives — the Osborn Chair helps ensure that the University’s prominence in these fields will continue well into the future.

“There is no better time than today to be in computer science,” Hammond says.

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