New Focused Research Programs Tackle Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and Climate Misinformation

MEDIA CONTACT: Gina Mantica, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications,

The Hariri Institute is excited to announce our next set of Focused Research Programs (FRPs)! These programs are designed to evolve and advance Boston University’s research in computing and data science around areas of strategic importance and emerging opportunity. The Institute facilitates research convergence for these programs by providing support and ‘scaffolding’ for groups to coalesce in sustainable ways, with the goal of accelerating research for future funding and broader impact. Learn more about our FRPs, below.

Teaching Machines Human-Like Intelligence

The Teaching Machines Human-Like Intelligence FRP focuses on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Led by Venkatesh Saligrama, a member of the Artificial Intelligence Research (AIR) Initiative at the Hariri Institute and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Kate Saenko, Co-director of AIR and Associate Professor of Computer Science, the ultimate goal of this program is to merge future AI research programs at BU and generate interdisciplinary interest around the topic.  The program emphasizes community and involves discussions and seminars focused on building a network at BU that will result in future collaborative research projects.  This program centers on four core areas including 1) learning with limited supervision, 2) safety and open-world robustness, 3) resource efficient learning, and 4) AI for assistive applications and natural interfaces.

Quantum Convergence

The Quantum Convergence FRP leverages quantum science and engineering– including physics principles like relativity, probability, and space and time– to solve complex computational problems that current machines cannot due to limited power or capacity.  Led by Andrei Ruckenstein, Professor and Department Chair of Physics, the ultimate goal of this program is to bring together researchers studying quantum science and engineering across disciplines like chemistry, computer science, engineering, psychics, and math to create large-scale research proposals and highlight the importance of quantum research to the general public. This program centers on five different areas including 1) quantum chemistry and materials science on quantum computers, 2) quantum states of matter, 3) cryptography in a quantum world, 4) quantum sensing, and 5) quantum communication protocols and systems.  

Data and Misinformation in an Era of Sustainability and Climate Change Crises

To further understand the critical role of communication in shaping public opinion on climate in the U.S., the Data and Misinformation in an Era of Sustainability and Climate Change Crises FRP, supported by BU’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, will analyze the nature, origins, spread, and impacts of climate change mis- and disinformation, as well as the possibilities of mitigating misinformed beliefs. The year-long study led by Chris Wells, Associate Professor of Emerging Media Studies, Sarah Finnie Robinson, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, and Irena Vodenska, Professor of Finance, centers on three core areas: 1) how climate disinformation spreads through social media sites, primarily Twitter and Reddit; 2) how native advertising, a deceptive form of paid content that mimics news articles, is employed for corporate communications campaigns; and 3) what influence disinformation has on public attitudes, including which intervention strategies are effective in dispelling disinformation.