AI2: Breaking ground on artificial intelligence

February 05, 2024
Northwestern University in Qatar has announced the launch of the Artificial Intelligence Initiative (AI2), a new strategic flagship initiative focused on meeting the global challenges of artificial intelligence and making decisive contributions to research, teaching, and professional development in that area.
Launched by Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar, AI2 is designed to tackle the challenges and potentials of AI as it catapults to the forefront of global consciousness due to recent developments in its capabilities and its unprecedented public availability. It will capitalize on the scholarly, creative, and technical capabilities of Northwestern Qatar to enhance our understanding of AI and enable its deployment to fulfill our mission.
In making the announcement, Kraidy said AI is “a once-in-a-generation opportunity-challenge” that Northwestern Qatar, from its location at the confluence of continents and disciplines, is well-positioned to make significant contributions to. “AI touches upon every domain represented at NU-Q,” said Kraidy, “so we have unique contributions to make to humanity’s understanding of AI, to harness aspects of this technology’s immense potential for humankind that are relevant to our mission, and to develop and deploy critical research, teaching, and professional tools to navigate the unchartered waters of the rapid and unpredictable developments in AI.”
Designed in synergy with Northwestern’s presidential priority to harness the power of data analytics and artificial intelligence and in collaboration with Qatar Foundation’s emphasis on AI as a priority area for Education City, Kraidy said AI2 will position NU-Q as a central player in shaping understanding and application of AI in global higher education and the media and creative industries worldwide. “I envision AI2 to be a community-wide initiative,” said Kraidy. “It has curricular, research, and professional development components that contribute to a sophisticated community conversation about the challenges and opportunities of AI while delivering avenues for learning and critical engagement to students, staff, faculty, and the community at large.”
In its formative years, AI2 will include three core strategic elements:
  • A new joint curricular collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar in media and AI that includes coursework in coding, computer science, ethics, and social impact, currently in development;
  • The Artificial Intelligence and Media Lab (AIM Lab), which will drive research efforts on AI and gather faculty members, a postdoctoral scholar, and undergraduate researchers to collaborate on research and organize events; and
  • A professional development component aimed chiefly at staff, encompassing skill development workshops, training exercises, and thought-nourishing discussions
In addition to these core elements, AI2 will enable further contributions to teaching, research, professional development, and public engagement, in line with Dean Kraidy’s vision for the school to be a distinctive global multidisciplinary community of evidence-based storytellers focused on the Global South and through collaborations within Northwestern Qatar, in Education City, and with external partners. “These crosscutting collaborations are momentous because they play an essential role in lifting Northwestern Qatar from excellence to eminence.”
Kraidy was named dean and CEO in 2020 and, early on, decided to leverage Northwestern Qatar’s unique community, identity, and location to launch the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South as a first strategic initiative designed to amplify NU-Q’ research footprint and contribute to Northwestern University’s upward trajectory as one of the world’s leading research universities. The Artificial Intelligence Initiative is Kraidy’s second strategic initiative to further elevate research and professional development at NU-Q and Northwestern more generally.