Laying the first bricks of the cognitive campus

Olli Shuttle parked in a road loop.

Olli, UB's first autonomous research vehicle, took its inaugural trip in August.

Published August 21, 2018 This content is archived.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the way of the future—it's here today. How can UB leverage its potential?


At the core of artificial intelligence are powerful analytical tools that mine big data to make intelligent decisions. UB is already doing some cutting-edge research in areas where AI is critical, like autonomous vehicles. And we're poised to invest more into AI research in the future.

But how can UBIT help the university leverage AI for its own administrative needs?

We’re working with IBM's Watson platform on a pilot program exploring how AI can better help us support our customers. By tapping into our extensive customer service knowledge base—both in the minds of our Help Center staff and the tens of thousands of requests they process each semester—we can train the Watson platform to provide answers to customers' most common IT questions, like how to reset their UBITName password or find and download free software.

The result might look like an interactive smart assistant, not unlike Siri or Alexa, that lives on the UBIT website and helps students, faculty and staff find answers to their questions in a matter of seconds, at any time of day and from any location.

From finance to facilities, AI could make UB more efficient by solving our most common problems, freeing up our staff to work on the more creative problem solving for which they're better suited.

With this pilot program, UBIT is laying the first bricks of a new cognitive campus, and building the expertise needed to advise our partners on campus about how to best deploy these tools to get the greatest return.

I expect this is only the first of several discussions we'll be having about AI, as it transforms the way our campus works. And make no mistake, it will be transformative. AI has the potential to be every bit as transformative as the Internet in how we work and learn.

UB shouldn't just be ready for AI—it should lead the charge.


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