Podcast: AI Designed to Make Life Better
AI can be used for good and evil.

Artificial intelligence has the potential for both good and evil in our society. Computer science professor Peter Stone grapples with this issue on a recent episode of the podcast “Point of Discovery,” featuring the work of Good Systems.

Coexisting with AI

Artificial intelligence is a system that can correctly interpret data, learn from it, and then use what it has learned to adapt in order to achieve specific goals autonomously. It improves our everyday lives, but not without risk.

AI is changing the way we do everything because it’s everywhere — from dating apps to the most advanced military weapons systems. AI does many things faster and better than humans can alone, but there are ethical and societal implications to consider.

How can we ensure that AI is beneficial — not detrimental — to humanity? What unintended consequences are we overlooking by developing technology that can be manipulated and misused?

 

Our goal is to create a new way of designing values-based AI technologies that both protect and improve our world.

To do that, our team brings students and researchers together from more than two dozen schools and units on The University of Texas at Austin campus to investigate how to define, evaluate, and build a “Good System” from the beginning instead of relying on policy to make them safer once they’re in use.

It is ethically irresponsible to focus only on what AI can do. We believe it is equally important to ask what it should (and should not) do.


VALUES-DRIVEN AI

All advances in society require balancing what we value. We balance the value of national security with those of privacy and liberty, and sometimes we must choose safety over profit margins. Recent advances in AI technology, though, have brought us to a crossroads where we will soon be making new and difficult choices about what we prioritize as a society. This is important because while AI by itself isn’t good or bad, it’s also not neutral — it reflects the biases of the people who design, train, and use it.

Our goal is to better understand what changes these new technologies will bring, predict how those changes will unfold, and mitigate the harms or unintended consequences they could cause while still leveraging the benefits AI provides. Over the next eight years, our team will establish a framework for evaluating, developing, implementing, and regulating AI-based technologies so they reflect human values at their core.

 

Define Good Systems

Human values are different across individuals and groups of people, and they change over time. What does it mean for a system that uses AI technology to be “good” (or not)?

EVALUATE Good Systems

Once a system that includes AI technology is in use, how do we decide if it is good (or not)? We will develop a framework that can be used to decide.

BUILD Good Systems

How can we ensure that the systems we create will be good? We must prepare our future workforce to design productive human-AI partnerships.

IMPLEMENT Good Systems

We will develop a set of best practices that are transparent and adaptable for designing and using AI and for predicting and mitigating its risks.

 

 

 

Current and Upcoming Projects

Good systems are human-AI partnerships that address the needs and values of society. Developing them is our mission.


Meet the Team

Our  grand challenge team includes information and computer scientists, philosophers, robotics and transportation experts, communication and policy researchers — and more. And this year, we’ll begin recruiting faculty to fill four new ethicist positions in technology, artificial intelligence, media, and design.

Read full bioSamuel Baker

Samuel Baker

Associate ProfessorEnglish
Read full bioChandra Bhat

Chandra Bhat

ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Read full bioTanya Clement

Tanya Clement

Associate ProfessorEnglish
Read full bioKenneth R. Fleischmann

Kenneth R. Fleischmann

ProfessorInformation
Read full bioJunfeng Jiao

Junfeng Jiao

Associate ProfessorArchitecture
Read full bioMatthew Lease

Matthew Lease

Associate ProfessorInformation
Read full bioPeter Stone

Peter Stone

ProfessorComputer Science
Read full bioSharon Strover

Sharon Strover

ProfessorJournalism
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Amelia Acker

Information
University Engagement Member
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Samuel Baker

English
Executive TeamMember
Education AdvisoryCo-chair
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Chandra Bhat

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Executive TeamMember
Education AdvisoryCo-chair
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Casey Boyle

Rhetoric and Writing
University EngagementMember
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Aaron Choate

University of Texas Libraries
University EngagementMember
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Tanya Clement

English
Executive TeamMember
University EngagementCo-chair
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Maria Esteva

Texas Advanced Computing Center
Education AdvisoryMember
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Kenneth R. Fleischmann

Information
Executive TeamChair
University EngagementCo-chair
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Joydeep Ghosh

Electrical and Computer Engineering
External OutreachMember
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Sherri Greenberg

Public Affairs
External OutreachMember
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Junfeng Jiao

Architecture
Executive TeamChair-elect
External OutreachCo-chair
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Matthew Lease

Information
Executive TeamMember
Research AdvisoryCo-chair
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Katie Pierce Meyer

University of Texas Libraries
Education AdvisoryMember
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Mary Neuburger

History
Research AdvisoryMember
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Suzanne Scott

Radio-Television-Film
Research AdvisoryMember
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Peter Stone

Computer Science
Executive TeamMember
Research AdvisoryCo-chair
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Natalie Stroud

Communication Studies
External OutreachMember
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Sharon Strover

Journalism
Executive TeamMember
External OutreachCo-chair
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Paul Toprac

Computer Science
Education AdvisoryMember
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S. Craig Watkins

Journalism
Research AdvisoryMember
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Amelia Acker

Information

Joel Afriyie

Computer Science

Shani Alkobi

Computer Science

Alessandro Allievi

Computer Science
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Kiril Avramov

Slavic and Eurasian Studies
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Jakki Bailey

Information
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Samuel Baker

English
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Josh Barbour

Communication Studies

Cara Bertron

City of AustinPlanning and Zoning
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Chandra Bhat

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Nilavra Bhattacharya

Information Studies

Kahlil Bholat

City of AustinPublic Works
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Alan Bovik

Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Casey Boyle

Rhetoric and Writing
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Daniel Brown

Computer Science
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Virginia Brown

Population Health
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Kathy Cacace

Radio-Television-Film
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Leo Cao

Communications Studies

Mitch Chaiet

Communications Studies
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Swarat Chaudhuri

Computer Science
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Gina Chen

Journalism
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Wenhong Chen

Media Studies and Sociology
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Bobby Chesney

Law
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Aaron Choate

UT Libraries
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Jaewon Choi

Radio-Television-Film
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Eunsol Choi

Computer Science

Ross Clark

City of AustinWater

John Clary 

City of AustinTransportation
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Tanya Clement

English
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Josh Conrad

Architecture

Marc Coudert

City of AustinOffice of Sustainability

Jiaxun Cui

Computer Science
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Valerie Danesh

Nursing

Anubrata Das

Information

Nathan Davis

Information
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Wendy N. Davis

Postpartum Support International 

Jaxsen Day

Information
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Kaya de Barbaro

Psychology
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Ying Ding

Information

Matt Dugan 

City of AustinPlanning and Zoning
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Ishan Durugkar

Computer Science

Molly Emerick 

City of AustinEnergy
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Maria Esteva

Texas Advanced Computing Center
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Chen Feng

Architecture
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Julia Flanders

External AdvisorNortheastern University
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Kenneth R. Fleischmann

Information

Shivam Garg

Computer Science

Keya Ghonasgi

Computer Science
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Joydeep Ghosh

Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Judy Goldsmith

External AdvisorUniversity of Kentucky

Tessa Green

Program DirectorOffice of the Vice President for Research
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Sherri Greenberg

Public Affairs

Soumyajit Gupta

Computer Science
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Danna Gurari

Information

Ayse Gursoy

Information
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Andrea Gustavson

Harry Ransom Center
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Allyssa Guzman

UT Libraries
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Jacek Gwizdka

Information

Shannon Halley

City of AustinOffice of Councilmember Kathie Tovo
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Justin Hart

Computer Science

Jennifer Hecker

City of AustinAustin History Center

Andy Hoffman

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services 

Matt Hollon 

City of AustinAustin Watershed Protection

Paul Hopingardner

Travis County Information Technology Services
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Hannah Hopkins

English

Jacquie Hrncir

City of AustinCommunications & Technology Management
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Aditya Jain

Computational Engineering

Yuqian Jiang

Computer Science
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Junfeng Jiao

Architecture
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Thomas Johnson

Journalism

Vella Karman

Austin Public Health
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Yujin Kim

Communication Studies

William Knox

Computer Science

Kolina Koltai

Information

David Kulpanowski

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services 

Tina Lassiter

Radio-Television-Film
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Matthew Lease

Information
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Taeyoung Lee

Center for Media Engagement
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Min Kyung Lee

Information

Lan Li

Information
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Brad Limov

Communications Studies

Bo Liu

Computer Science

William Macke

Computer Science
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Laura Mandell

External AdvisorTexas A&M University

Chris McConnell

City of AustinTransportation
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Megan Micheletti

Psychology

Mike Miller

City of AustinAustin History Center
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Reuth Mirsky

Computer Science
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Patricia Moravec

Information, Risk, and Operations Management

Karim Nader

Philosophy
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Mary Neuburger

History
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Mai Tran Ngoc

Mathematics
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Scott Niekum

Computer Science
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Evdokia Nikolova

Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Susan Nold

Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life
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Alison Norman

Computer Science
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Kerry O’Connor

City of Austin
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Doug Oard

External AdvisorUniversity of Maryland

Soyoung Park

Radio-Television-Film

Jin Soo Park

Computer Science
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Srinivas Peeta

External AdvisorGeorgia Institute of Technology
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James Pennebaker

Psychology

Arthur Peters

Computer Science
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Katie Pierce Meyer

UT Libraries
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Bruce Porter

Computer Science

Somnath Rakshit

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Divya Rathanlal

City of AustinCommunications & Technology Management
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Jason Roberts

Slavic and Eurasian Studies
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Christopher Rossbach

Computer Science
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Loriene Roy

Information
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Alan Rubel

External AdvisorUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
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Natalia Ruiz-Juri

Center for Transportation Research
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Maytal Saar-Tsechansky

Information, Risk, and Operations Management
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Jordan Schneider

Computer Science

Mackenzie Schnell

Communication Studies
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Kat Schuknecht

Postpartum Support International 
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Suzanne Scott

Radio-Television-Film
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Luis Sentis

Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Shubham Sharma

Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Michael Shensky

UT Libraries
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Xun Shi

External AdvisorDartmouth College

Kristina Shiroma

Information
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Daniel Singley

Postpartum Support International 

Steve Slota

Information

James Snow

City of AustinPublic Works
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Miriam Solis (Collins)

Architecture
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Ravi Srinivasan

Applied Research Laboratories

Abigale Stangl

Information
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Peter Stone

Computer Science
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Natalie Stroud

Communication Studies
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Sharon Strover

Journalism
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Lianne Swanson

Postpartum Support International 
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Rebecca Taylor

UT Ethics Project

Karla Taylor

City of AustinTransportation

Bryan Thompson

City of AustinPublic Works
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John Thywissen

Computer Science
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William Tierney

Population Health
Executive TeamFormer member

Jonathan Tomko

City of AustinNeighborhood Housing and Community Development
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Paul Toprac

Computer Science
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Faraz Torabi

Computer Science

Nitin Verma

Information

Lauren Walker

Harry Ransom Center

Kewen Wang

College of Natural Sciences
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Garrett Warnell

Computer Science
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S. Craig Watkins

Journalism
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Jake Wegmann

Architecture
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Sarah Welsh

English
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Craig Wheeler

Astronomy
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Paul Woodruff

Philosophy
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Samuel Woolley

Journalism

Yutong Wu

Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Xuesu Xiao

Computer Science
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Bo Xie

Nursing
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Weijia Xu

Texas Advanced Computing Center

Xuewen Yao

Psychology
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Harel Yedidsion

Computer Science

Siqi Yi

Information
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Yan Zhang

Information

Qiping Zhang

Computer Science
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Ming Zhang

Architecture

Yifeng Zhu

Computer Science
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Hao Zhu

Electrical and Computer Engineering


Please Join Us on This Journey

2018 marked the beginning of our development year as a UT grand challenge. We used the time to grow our team, ask hard questions (then, even harder ones), and decide how to design our work over the next decade. We welcome and value your feedback, your thoughts, and your contributions.

Please follow us on social media, meet us at our events, and let us know why you think this is a grand challenge.