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USC Opens Center for Generative AI and Society With $10 Million in Seed Money



Opening today and representing an investment of $10 million in seed funding, the University of Southern California is launching a new Center for Generative AI and Society to research and explore the impact of artificial intelligence on education, media and society.

“USC is uniquely positioned to understand and influence how this emerging technology is changing the ways we live, work and play,” said USC president Carol Folt. “Our 22 schools are longstanding leaders in fields like the creative arts, media, health, education, engineering and business. Working across disciplines, USC will vigorously explore the intersection of ethics and the use and evolution of Generative AI.”

The Center will be led by co-directors Holly Willis, a professor and chair of the media arts and practice divisions at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; and Bill Swartout, a computer science research professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and CTO for USC Viterbi’s Institute for Creative Technologies.

It will involve faculty and individuals from five USC schools including the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Rossier School of Education, Iovine and Young Academy and the School of Cinematic Arts and Viterbi School of Engineering. Participation is also expected from individuals from other sectors and professions including media and education.

SAG-AFTRA recently hosted a series of panels, on topics ranging from Deepfakes to content creation, during January’s CES show.

“The genie is out of the bottle, and we’re not going back,” said Ishwar K. Puri, senior vp, research and innovation at USC. “Our students are going to use this technology, and we need to teach them how to use it responsibly. We want to harness the power of AI for the public good.”

Puri anticipates that USC researchers involved with the center may also tap AI technologies to solve problems in drug discovery and develop new diagnostic techniques. “We have a duty to develop solutions that are ethical and that benefit society as a whole,” he said.

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