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Analytics at Wharton established AI at Wharton on Aug. 31 to expand research opportunities for AI's application in the business world.

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Wharton announced the creation of a new artificial intelligence research and teaching initiative.

Analytics at Wharton announced the establishment of AI at Wharton on Aug. 31. The initiative — which is one of seven programs housed under Analytics at Wharton — seeks to expand Wharton’s AI ambitions through research on its business applications and impact on society as a whole, according to the announcement.

The initiative will give students the opportunity to take advantage of Wharton’s resources to further their understanding of how to use AI and apply it in the business world. 

The creation of AI at Wharton is a combination of two AI and Technology initiatives that have now merged: AI & Analytics for Business and the Wharton Impact of Technology Initiative. Mary Purk will serve as the executive director of the new entity: AI at Wharton.

Purk is joined by four Wharton faculty co-directors: Operations, Information, and Decisions professors Kartik Hosanagar and Prasanna Tambe and Marketing professors Robert Meyer and Stefano Puntoni.

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with the leaders of the new initiative about its relationship to analytics and its business applications.

“AI brings a host of new questions that analytics probably didn’t ask to the same degree, including things like ethics, jobs, and the role of religion and humanity," Tambe said. "Given the amount of intense interest in AI, especially in the business community, we thought there would be an opportunity to really focus on some of these things."

Tambe explained that the role of co-director entails figuring out where the center can add value to the AI community. 

“Part of [the role] as a faculty co-director is also thinking about the initiative and how to serve these different communities of students, researchers, [and] academics effectively” Tambe said. 

Executive Director Mary Purk spoke about the differences between the business impact of AI and the human impact of AI.

“We have discovered that you can’t look at the business applications of AI without understanding the human impact of AI with those applications,” Purk said. 

According to the announcement, one of the main focuses of the initiative is how to adopt a human-and-machine mindset, or learning how to combine the different capabilities of both humans and AI to help make meaningful changes to society. 

“People really have to think and decide where they’re going to put their resources. AI is not going to tell you where to do that. You still have to think about where you’re going and what you want to solve for,” Purk said.

The initiative also emphasizes the idea of humans working with AI to solve problems. 

“So how do you get AI and [humans] to be able to work well together? Businesses should be using AI and they should be using people, and they should be using them together,” Tambe added.

As Penn does not have a University-wide policy on AI use in the classroom, Purk explained that professors are going to start changing their expectations of students with the introduction of generative AI in the classroom. 

“Professors are going to expect your answers to be more robust, because you have just so much technology at your fingertips,” Purk said. 

Wharton and Engineering senior Keshav Ramji participated in AI and Analytics for Business’ Analytics Accelerator Summit in 2021, which pairs students with companies to solve problems using machine learning and AI. Ramji explained the future applications of AI in student learning and its business capabilities.

“AI for business has been around for a few years now, but making it a cornerstone of what the Analytics and AI at Wharton has been about is very new,” Ramji said.

Editor's Note: The article has been updated to reflect the following corrections:

  • AI at Wharton is a combination of AI & Analytics for Business and the Wharton Impact of Technology Initiative.
  • Mary Purk will serve as the executive director of AI at Wharton.