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SUNY officials unveil new artificial intelligence program at University at Albany's downtown campus

University at Albany and Capital Region officials are celebrating the launch of a new artificial intelligence supercomputing initiative at the downtown campus’ College of Engineering and Applied Sciences building.

The $200 million AI program will be located in the newly-renovated building of the former Albany High School. UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez says the new building will have initial occupancy in late 2023 and full occupancy in 2025.

“The University at Albany is embarking on a new era of transformation and innovation in teaching, research, discovery and service,” Rodríguez said. “This new chapter will not only complete the transformation of the former Albany High School into a home of our College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, but it will also launch the creation of the Albany artificial intelligence supercomputing initiative, which will bring together government, academic and industry experts to significantly expand AI supercomputing across our state and beyond.”

Governor Kathy Hochul included $75 million in the state budget this year to finish the construction of the new building, with the goal of becoming the first university-based computer to reach a quintillion computations per second.

Interim Chancellor Deborah Stanley says the new program shows prospective students that SUNY schools are at the center of cutting-edge research.

“Artificial Intelligence ramps up what people can't do, right? It does it faster, it does it better, it collects more information, it makes sense of more than what we can do as human beings,” she said. “And then it translates it into ways that makes it useful for human beings to advance society, and make the world a better place. And we will be making the world a better place through SUNY research.”

The research will focus on cybersecurity, weather prediction, health data analytics, drug discovery, next-generation microchip design and other applications essential to health, security, resiliency, and economic competitiveness.

Many Capital Region local officials attended the unveiling Tuesday morning, the same day Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the launch of the Rensselaer Institute for Data, Artificial Intelligence and Computing.

State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy of the 109th district says investments like these pay off economically in the long run.

“There's so many good projects, all of them that I think will lead to a better tomorrow, to better university and, certainly, as we move toward what I believe can be the Research Triangle here of the Northeast. So, no small goals, no small ambitions,” the Democrat said.

Though Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, a fellow Democrat, did have one concern.

“It was making me think of ‘Westworld.’ ‘Terminator.’ Right? And I'm just thinking … where are you, President (Rodríguez)? I'm just thinking someone from the future is going to come back and get you. I hope not!”