A computer science professor looks to the future of AI

Graphic by Ali Levens. Photo courtesy of Fabien Scalzo

Computer science professor Fabian Scalzo is expanding the role of AI and data science on campus.

Fabian Scalzo is a new tenure-track faculty member at Pepperdine this fall. He is an associate professor of computer science at Seaver College and director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Imaging and Neuroscience at UCLA.

Scalzo understands that the purposes of AI are diverse and widely usable, such as drones, self-driving cars, and medicine.

“So that really fascinated me,” Scalzo said.

This year, Scalzo teaches a course, “Formal Methods”. The class, Scalzo said, explores the foundations of computing and provides a introduction to machine learning.

Scientific career

Scalzo said he has always been interested in technology, which led him to obtain a master’s degree and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Liège in Belgium. During this time, Scalzo realized that artificial intelligence also had a purpose in the medical field.

Scalzo decided to come to the United States for a postdoctoral fellowship in neurology at UCLA. Then he became a professor of neurology at UCLA. Scalzo said he has been a teacher for seven years.

Scalzo, over the past decade, said he has been researching how to apply AI to general medicine, particularly with neurological diseases such as stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Scalzo said his lab, which develops these theories and processes, is looking for new help.

“My lab is open to undergraduate research, and I also cover some of this material in the courses I teach,” Scalzo said.

Contributions to Pepperdine

As director of the Data Science program, Scalzo was part of the team that drafted and won the Keck Science Fellowship for the university. The $10 million grant will enable data science improvements at Pepperdine, Scalzo said.

The grant includes funds to purchase new equipment to remodel the computer lab and improve technology. Scalzo is also implementing a new data science minor into Pepperdine’s curriculum, he said.

Scalzo says he also has was one of the creators of the new annual Human-Centered AI Conference, which gives an overview of what AI does and how it impacts the world.

“It was really exciting because we were able to bring in experts from different fields, Scalzo said. “In addition to leading AI experts, neuroscientists and psychologists offered their perspective on how we view AI, how we trust the technology and ethics on what to do with technology and how it could change our lives.”

It’s important, Scalzo said, to understand both the benefits and the possible harms that can follow AI. A regulatory framework around AI is a way to control and monitor the future development of the technology.

Scalzo said he appreciates how Pepperdine’s Christian values ​​can positively impact the world when it comes to technology and AI. The established moral framework at Pepperdine encourages the use of AI in a conscious and positive way.

“Ethics and values ​​should be at the center of the discussion,” Scalzo said.

Teaching is one way Scalzo thinks Christian values ​​can apply to technology, and he said it allows him to teach the next generation about the benefits of technology.

“It’s something meaningful and something I can do with interesting people,” Scalzo said.

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Contact Graeson Claunch by email: [email protected]

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