Royal Visit Day 2 Recap: AI Symposium at Savannah State University

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Following the successful kickoff on Day 1, the second day of the Netherlands Royal Visit to Atlanta on June 11th brought a focus on the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Savannah State University, established in 1890 as the first public historically black college or university (HBCU) in Georgia. The AI Symposium, organized by Dr. Richard Miller and Dr. Sametria McFall of Savannah State University, gathered experts from pioneering companies and esteemed research institutions, including Leiden University, Emory University, Georgia State University, the University of Alabama Birmingham, Philips, and Xebia, to explore the diverse applications of AI across multiple fields.

AI symposium speakers

In addition to the symposium, the royal couple, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, experienced the rich cultural heritage of Savannah. They took a stroll beneath majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the prized historic district of the city founded by British colonists in 1733. At Savannah State University, Georgia’s oldest historically Black public college, the royal couple joined students onstage and danced during a marching band performance, adding a festive touch to their visit.

Symposium Highlights and Key Presentations

The symposium began with insightful presentations from leading academics. Professor Frank Mendelson from Savannah State University set the stage by leading a discussion on the responsible use of generative AI in education, emphasizing the ethical considerations and potential benefits of integrating AI into learning environments. Dr. Abhinandan Chowdhury followed with a compelling AI/ML investigation into systemic bias and disparity in cancer care outcomes, highlighting the critical need for equitable AI applications in healthcare.

The learning part of the event culminated with a standout session from Dr. Rubin Pillay of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Professor Pietro Bonizzi of Maastricht University. Their session, "Driving Healthcare Transformation Through Artificial Intelligence," underscored the need for collaboration between academia, business, and government to harness AI's potential fully in healthcare. Their insights into AI's role in predictive analytics, patient care, and healthcare administration were particularly illuminating.

Industry Insights from Xebia's Head of Marketing

A key highlight of the event was the presentation from Matt Gosselin, Head of Marketing at Xebia. In his talk, "The Convergence of AI, Industry, and Original Thought," Gosselin explored the profound impact of AI broadly across industries, dissecting the myths and realities of AI implementation. He provided vivid examples of how early adopters in banking, retail, and transportation leveraged AI to drive innovation and efficiency.

Gosselin's presentation offered practical insights into how AI can be harnessed to foster original thought and drive industry-wide transformation. He emphasized the importance of blending human creativity with AI's analytical power, stating, "We need to harness the art of the possible with AI while ensuring we apply ethical principles and consider the societal impacts of these technologies."

He addressed common misconceptions, noting, "There's a pervasive fear that AI will lead to massive job losses. In reality, AI is reshaping jobs, not eliminating them. It's about augmenting human capabilities and creating new opportunities for innovation."

Gosselin also tackled the influence of popular culture on public perception of AI: "Hollywood often portrays AI as a villain, which fuels fear, uncertainty, and doubt. We need to shift this narrative and focus on how AI can be a force for good, driving positive change across industries."

 Key points from his presentation included:

  • Empowering Industries with AI: Gosselin highlighted Xebia's approach to creating digital leaders, involving consulting, engineering, and upskilling services that address five core areas of digital convergence: Intelligent Automation, Applied & Generative AI, Digital Products & Platforms, Cloud & Data Modernization, and Industry Digitalization
  • Industry Use Cases: He shared practical applications of AI across various sectors, including banking (fraud detection and risk management), healthcare (predictive analytics and patient care), insurance (automated claims processing), manufacturing (predictive maintenance), retail (personalized customer experiences), and transportation (optimized logistics and route planning)
  • Dispelling Myths: Gosselin addressed common misunderstandings about AI, such as the fear of job loss and the misconception that AI adoption is only for the tech-savvy. He emphasized that AI will create more opportunities for learning and growth and that jobs are evolving rather than disappearing.
  • The Hollywood Effect: Gosselin discussed the portrayal of AI in popular culture, which often fosters fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about AI. He urged the audience to focus on the factual benefits and collaborative potential of AI, rather than the dystopian narratives popularized by movies. 

Philips' Contributions: Joland Rutgers and David Handler

The symposium also featured insightful contributions from Philips, represented by Joland Rutgers and David Handler. They provided a deep dive into how AI is being leveraged in healthcare to enhance patient outcomes and streamline medical processes.

Joland Rutgers

Joland Rutgers began by discussing Phillip’s overarching strategy of integrating AI into their healthcare solutions. He highlighted the importance of creating environments that foster partnerships and innovation. "Ecosystems in healthcare are about value-based care rather than treating patients in isolation. It's about building platforms that integrate data from various sources to provide comprehensive care," Rutgers emphasized.

David Handler, focusing on cardiology, provided concrete examples of AI applications in cardiac ultrasound. "AI in cardiac ultrasound is revolutionizing how we diagnose and treat heart conditions. With tools like SmartView Select and automated measurement of ejection fraction, we're making the process more efficient and accurate," said Handler. He elaborated on how AI algorithms trained on extensive datasets can now automate the selection and analysis of ultrasound images, significantly reducing the workload on technicians and improving diagnostic accuracy.

Handler shared, "There are over 7 million cardiac ultrasound exams done per year, and this number is growing. With AI, we can automate laborious tasks, such as identifying the best clips and performing precise measurements, which allows cardiologists to focus on patient care rather than data analysis.”

Dr. Kisha Aites' Transformative Presentation

Dr. Kisha Aites, an Associate Professor specializing in engineering applications in education left the audience with new AI applications to consider in the classroom. Her talk, "Shaping Teacher Preparation with AI," highlighted the revolutionary impact of AI on teacher training and classroom management.

Aites introduced various AI-driven tools and virtual classroom simulations that enhance the training of pre-service teachers. "At Savannah State University, we've adopted immersion, which blends human and AI elements to revolutionize teacher preparation," she explained. These simulations provide a safe space for future educators to practice and refine their skills without the pressure of a real classroom environment.

One of the standout examples she shared was how AI is used to create personalized learning pathways. "Imagine a classroom where every student's unique learning needs are met with precision and care. This vision is becoming a reality through platforms like Dreambox Learning and Newton," Aites noted. This new technology empowers educators with actionable insights and allows them to effectively tailor instruction and provide timely interventions for each learner. 

Aites also highlighted the role of AI teaching assistants in supporting pre-service teachers. "Platforms such as Magic School and Cognigo represent cutting-edge innovations that offer personalized learning resources and support, empowering educators to excel in their practice," she said. These AI tools help teachers with everything from lesson planning and classroom management to providing feedback and engaging students.

"Integrating AI into teacher preparation facilitates the development of critical thinking skills by engaging with AI tools. This not only prepares future teachers to navigate the complexities of the digital age but also encourages innovation and creativity in teaching practices," Aites concluded. 

Dr. Maarten Lamers' Insightful Presentation

Dr. Maarten Lamers from Leiden University delivered an impactful presentation titled "An Assessment of AI Decision Making." His talk focused on the ethical considerations and the importance of fair representation in AI systems. Lamers emphasized the need for diverse representation among AI designers to ensure that AI systems are developed to reflect the diversity of the users and subjects they affect.

"AI systems must be designed with a fair representation of different groups to ensure that they are equitable and unbiased. This involves not only having diverse designers but also considering the diverse users and subjects of these AI systems," Lamers stressed.

Lamers discussed the concept of "model self-consumption," where AI models learn from data generated by previous models, leading to potential biases and inaccuracies. He highlighted the importance of addressing this issue to prevent the degradation of model quality and fairness.

"Model self-consumption is a phenomenon where AI systems learn from data generated by other AI models, leading to a vicious cycle that can amplify biases. It is crucial to address this to maintain the integrity and fairness of AI systems," Lamers explained. 

Lamers also spoke about the need for users to understand what AI systems can and cannot do. 

"Users of AI systems must be educated about their limitations and capabilities. Misunderstandings about AI can lead to incorrect assumptions and decisions, so it is essential to provide proper education and awareness," Lamers noted. 

A Royal Reception

Reception at the Telfair Museum with the King and Queen.

The day concluded with an elegant reception at the Telfair Academy Museum, hosted by Birgitta Tazelaar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the U.S. The reception, attended by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, celebrated the ongoing economic and cultural collaboration between the Netherlands and Georgia. U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Shefali Duggal, also provided excellent discussion, engaging guests on topics ranging from cultural exchange to potential solutions for addressing bias in AI.

Reception at the Telfair Museum with the King and Queen.

Guests had the unique opportunity to engage with the royal couple, discussing topics from cultural exchange to potential solutions for addressing bias in AI.

Reflections and Future Collaborations

Reflecting on the symposium, Guido Bartels, Xebia's Global Managing Director, remarked, "Today's discussions at Savannah State University underscored the transformative potential of AI in education and business. At Xebia, we look forward to the future collaboration that will undoubtedly come out of today’s discussion, driving our mission to create digital leaders."

The two-day event highlighted the dynamic and multifaceted relationship between Georgia, the Netherlands, and key organizations in the region like Xebia. It showcased the power of collaboration in driving economic growth and technological innovation, reinforcing the importance of international partnerships in addressing the challenges and opportunities of the AI era.

The Royal Visit not only celebrated the existing ties between the Netherlands and Georgia but set the stage for future collaborations, particularly in AI and digital transformation. As we look to the future, the insights and connections made during the symposium will certainly pave the way for groundbreaking advancements and stronger global partnerships.