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Second annual School of Computing Research Day

Alan Flurry

The University of Georgia School of Computing (SOC) held its second annual SOC Research Day on Nov. 17 to celebrate the rapidly growing prominence of computing research across the university. The keynote, senior administration, and faculty speakers helped lay out a vision for the next era of computing at UGA. Our colleagues at UGA Research Communications share the story:

Held in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, the event pulled together SOC faculty and students, as well as distinguished outside guests, to talk about the importance of computing research and technology in today’s world, showcase their own work in an afternoon poster session and enjoy some fun competition through a trivia contest.

In 2022 UGA elevated the longstanding Department of Computer Science to a school that jointly reports to the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences and College of Engineering. Since then, the SOC has quickly established itself as both a resource and driver for computing and computing-assisted research on campus. Earlier this year, the school welcomed its first director, Gagan Agrawal, following a national search.

SOC’s second Research Day adopted artificial intelligence (AI) as its theme. Irfan Essa, Distinguished Professor and senior associate dean in the Georgia Tech College of Computing, delivered the keynote address, titled “Generative AI and Responsible AI.” Essa has spent his career working in various AI applications, such as computer vision and computational photography. He was part of the team that developed a video-stabilization algorithm made available on YouTube to improve videos uploaded to the site.

In his talk, he traced the history of AI, starting with the famous “Turing Test” proposed in 1950 by computing pioneer Alan Turing and leading all the way to ChatGPT. Turing’s original description of his test, which he called the “imitation game,” involved three players, including one interrogator. The test is whether the interrogator, by simply asking questions of the other two (unseen) players, can determine which is real and which is artificial.

“Nowadays we can beat the Turing Test,” Essa said. “We can build systems that can make you believe they are intelligent. But is that really the bar we want to clear?”

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Image: From left: School of Computing Director Gagan Agrawal; Research Day keynote speaker and Georgia Tech College of Computing Professor Irfan Essa; and School of Computing Associate Director Lakshmish Ramaswamy. Photo by Michael Terrazas

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