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Colby Brings On Leading Researcher To Direct New AI Institute

The newly appointed director of Colby College's artificial intelligence institute plans to work with local companies and schools on the new technology.

Amanda Stent comes to the new Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence from Bloomberg L.P. and has decades of experience in AI research. Stent was part of a project that led to several AI applications, including the Siri voice assistant on the iPhone.

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Amanda Stent

Stent says at Colby, faculty have already developed several courses bringing together artificial technology and liberal arts, including a class looking at the use of AI in art and another on the history of data.

"Today we are really in the age of big data. But understanding the history of data, and how it informs other disciplines, and how it can be used, is really critical," Stent says.

Stent says it's vital to bring a critical, liberal arts perspective to the technology, so companies and researchers can consider the ethics of AI and its effect on humans.

"We really need to enable biologists, artists, sociologists, economists, to use, understand, and speak critically to how AI is deployed within their discipline. It's such a critical tool, it's critical to get the application correct," Stent says.

Stent says the institute is hiring six staff members and plans to work with departments across Colby, and to collaborate with local businesses and other universities in Maine.

The new institute announced earlier this year was created with a $30 million gift.