Arizona State University (ASU) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) last month announced the next phase of the ASU Cloud Innovation Center (CIC), powered by AWS, an initiative they hope will advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector. I had the chance to speak with John Rome, the Deputy CIO and a 20+ year employee at ASU about the efforts behind their work. John is a pioneer of data warehousing in higher education, building ASU’s data warehouse in the early 1990’s. He is also an instructor in the ASU W.P. Carey School of Business. His areas of expertise include information technology strategy, analytics/business intelligence, data governance, organization development, program management, big data, public cloud development and deployment, and most recently, voice-enabled interfaces.
In our conversation, John emphasizes the importance of collaboration, student involvement, and thought leadership in the evolving field of AI. He also discusses the center’s mission, which goes beyond technology to include ethics, education, and societal impact. The goal, he says, is to democratize generative AI and foster meaningful collaborations with the public sector. Other highlights include:
- Student Involvement: ASU places a strong emphasis on student involvement, with a team of students actively engaged in generative AI projects. The goal is not only to build solutions but also to provide students with real-world experience, preparing them for future contributions in the workforce.
- Thought Leadership and Ethics: ASU aims to be a thought leader in the AI space, prioritizing thought leadership, ethics, and societal impact. The university seeks to go beyond mere technological solutions, fostering a comprehensive understanding of AI’s implications for society.
- AI Democratization: One of the center’s overarching goals is to democratize generative AI, making it accessible to a broader audience. ASU envisions a collaborative environment where different stakeholders, including government agencies and nonprofits, can benefit from the possibilities offered by generative AI.
- Challenges and Learning: John acknowledges the evolving nature of the AI landscape, with a commitment to addressing challenges as they arise. The center sees itself as a learning environment, sharing insights and lessons learned with the broader community.
- Future Aspirations: ASU envisions continued growth and impact for the Cloud Innovation Center over the coming years. The center’s success will be measured not only in technological achievements but also in its ability to contribute to societal well-being and serve as a model for other institutions exploring generative AI.
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