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MITRE Joins Carnegie Mellon University-led Team to Stand Up National Science Foundation-funded AI Institute

New $20M Artificial Intelligence Institute for Societal Decision Making brings together AI researchers, social scientists to develop tools for societal challenges

McLean, Va., and Bedford, Mass., May 4, 2023—The National Science Foundation awarded a $20 million grant to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create the AI Institute for Societal Decision Making (AI-SDM). MITRE will be a member of the CMU-led multidisciplinary research coalition, which will improve our response to societal challenges, such as disaster management and public health, by creating human-centric AI tools to assist with critical decisions. The AI-SDM will also develop interdisciplinary training to bolster effective and rapid response in uncertain and dynamic situations.

The AI-SDM is one of seven new institutes that NSF created with a $140 million investment intended to boost collaborative research throughout the United States.

“The National AI Research Institutes are a critical component of our nation’s AI innovation, infrastructure, technology, education, and partnerships ecosystem,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These institutes are driving discoveries that will ensure our country is at the forefront of the global AI revolution.”

MITRE researchers Paul Lehner and Ozgur Eris will lead the institute’s research into the adoption of AI-assisted decision making by people and organizations who make consequential decisions as well as the general public. This research will address both controllable and noncontrollable factors that affect AI adoption, including ethics, risk, equity, and transparency. A recent MITRE-Harris Poll survey on AI trends found that most Americans do not trust AI for applications beyond recommendations on streaming services, and only 48% believe the technology is safe and secure, demonstrating the relevance of the AI-SDM and its research.

“We believe in the potential for AI to help us tackle hard problems from new drug discovery, to climate change mitigation, to national security challenges,” said Douglas Robbins, MITRE vice president, engineering and prototyping. “To accelerate that progress, we’ve made driving AI assurance across government and industry a corporate priority, leveraging our deep understanding of federal government agency decision-making scenarios and workflows to help them adopt transformative AI solutions that are safe, equitable, and effective. We are honored to join the institute partners and value the NSF’s leadership on these critical societal issues.”

In addition to conducting foundational research on AI adoption, MITRE will help transition AI-SDM’s research products. “MITRE will leverage its unique vantage point as an operator of federally funded research and development centers to articulate national decision-making challenges that are aligned with the institute’s goals, catalyze actionable connections to federal agencies that are in a position to address those challenges, and identify transition paths to federal government operations for lasting national impact,” said Eris, MITRE’s chief engineer for AI and autonomy.

In addition to MITRE and CMU, the AI-SDM includes experts from Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Howard University, Penn State University, Texas A&M University, University of Washington, Navajo Technical University, and Winchester Thurston School. This diverse group of AI researchers and social scientists will work with public health departments, emergency management agencies, nonprofits, companies, hospitals, and health clinics to enhance decision making.

“AI-SDM’s partnership with MITRE is critical to achieving a national impact for our research and outreach efforts,” said Aarti Singh, a professor in the Machine Learning Department at CMU’s School of Computer Science, who will serve as the institute’s director. “With access to the key stakeholders at the federal level, MITRE will play an instrumental role in understanding and enabling the adoption of AI technologies by decision makers. MITRE is also well positioned to develop an extensive historical and current AI use case repository that will enable the study of factors governing AI adoption and human-AI complementarity."

About MITRE 

MITRE’s mission-driven teams are dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Through our public-private partnerships and federally funded R&D centers, we work across government and in partnership with industry to tackle challenges to the safety, stability, and well-being of our nation. 

Media Contact: Jeremy Singer,