Carnegie Mellon University

“I wanted CMU to be the backdrop for this incredibly important announcement on AI...because I know that you understand the power that technology has to transform people’s lives, transform the way we work, transform the way we get answers to our most pressing questions...CMU is on the frontlines of robotics and artificial intelligence research, exploring groundbreaking applications for rapidly evolving technology and also helping power our state’s economy."

— Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro

Dear CMU Ambassadors,

One of Carnegie Mellon’s greatest points of pride is being the birthplace of artificial intelligence, thanks to the contributions of pioneering scholars, Herb Simon and Allen Newell, who in the 1950s provided thought leadership at the field’s inception. In the years since, our community of researchers and scholars has fueled AI’s continued evolution by weaving in other disciplines, which helped to launch even more new fields, like robotics, machine learning and automation. 

Today, CMU’s role at the forefront of AI has never been more apparent. In recent months, recognition of our university’s leadership in this area has accelerated, arriving in the form of invitations to speak to leaders of the United Nations and on Capitol Hill, federally funded centers devoted to expanding and informing AI applications, as well as another No. 1 ranking for AI in U.S. News & World Report.

Against this backdrop, I am pleased to share a special edition of the CMU Ambassadors that is devoted to our recent achievements in AI and showcases how our faculty and students are shaping the field’s policies and applications on the regional, national and global scale.

A few examples:

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro visited our campus in September to sign an executive order establishing standards for generative AI in Commonwealth operations. His administration is seeking to partner with our Block Center for Technology and Society on creating an AI governance board.

On Capitol Hill, CMU faculty have testified at U.S. Senate committee hearings, met with members of Congress and their staffs, and partnered with the Biden administration on a wide range of AI issues and opportunities. Two of these faculty members are Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy Dean Ramayya Krishnan and School of Computer Science Dean Martial Hebert. Their recent opinion piece in The Hill calls for urgent action on tracking and managing the implementation of AI technology. As part of their recommendations, Deans Krishnan and Hebert have asked national leaders to create an AI Lead Rapid Response Team, a federally funded research and development center similar to successful programs rolled out in the 1980s in response to new internet technologies.

CMU research into AI chatbots, covered by The New York Times earlier this year, speaks to this need for federal oversight. The study explores how easy it is to bypass safety measures in ChatGPT and Google Bard to generate vast amounts of hate speech, disinformation and other harmful content. These findings make a compelling case for companies to do more to prevent AI misuse.  

In September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention selected the Delphi Research Group to host a $17.5 million Center of Innovation in Outbreak Analytics and Disease Modeling. The research group leverages data and AI for epidemic forecasting for pathogens, including trends related to the flu and COVID-19. Over the next five years, the center will expand its work to new pathogens with a goal of helping public health agencies better prepare for future emergencies and outbreaks.

An enterprising team of undergraduate engineering students has harnessed a machine learning-powered vision system to build a robot that hunts and kills spotted lanternfly egg masses. Residents in the eastern half of the United States are all too familiar with this invasive pest, which has quickly emerged as a new threat to vegetation and crops. The robot, called TartanPest, has applications beyond the spotted lanternfly with a potential to help control the spread of other types of agricultural pests.

CMU researchers are also utilizing AI to unlock challenging questions that extend far beyond our planet. Physics doctoral student Beka Modrekiladze chose to study at Carnegie Mellon because of our excellent physics department and reputation in AI. Today, as shared in his recently published paper, he is using generative AI to create gravitational signals with the potential to open novel directions in physics.

In the coming months, I will be traveling around the United States. A busy team of faculty members — some of the finest AI innovators in the world — will be joining me on these visits. And, since this special edition captures but a small fraction of Carnegie Mellon’s leadership in all things AI, we will be sharing news about our work in this field at every stop.  

I hope that you will join us if we visit a city near you.

As always, I am truly grateful for your support of and advocacy for the people and programs of Carnegie Mellon and their important work. I look forward to seeing you soon!


Farnam Jahanian
President and Henry L. Hillman President's Chair