Nebraska, Chan leading international AI research collaboration

Hau Chan
Hau Chan

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will be leading an international, collaborative research project focused on ethical artificial intelligence.

The National Science Foundation will partner with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to fund grants totaling $4.1 million to accelerate groundbreaking research in the AI field that will solve environmental and societal issues.

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

School of Computing assistant professor Hau Chan will serve as principal investigator on one of the U.S. projects, which will specifically focus on the use of 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.

According to NSF, as AI technology advancements and availability have increased, so have concerns over ethical use of such tools. Through their 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 NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “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."

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.”

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