New Board Member Brings Humanitarian Brand of AI Expertise to Maryville

Beth Rudden’s brand of AI is focused on ethics.

As a new member of the board of trustees, artificial intelligence expert Beth Rudden looks forward to deepening her ties to Maryville as well as the University’s relationship with AI. But the distinguished engineer, cognitive scientist and anthropologist wants to make it clear that her idea of AI is contrary to what some people think about the technology.

“We’re augmenting people, not replacing them,” Rudden said. “My version of AI is the human-centered version.” Rudden’s brand of AI is focused on ethics. At a recent board of trustees meeting, Rudden was fascinated by a question asked by another board member. The member, a sister affiliated with the Religious of the Sacred Heart, wanted to know how Maryville can be sure the University is “making good people” as well as providing a good education.

“And that just lit me up,” Rudden said. “Because I want to apply AI and technology in an evidence-based way so that humans can trust the AI and understand how it works, we are making good people by modeling the right way to use this technology. People do what you do, not what you say.” Just after joining the board, Rudden provided the University with components of the AI products being developed by her new company, The partnership will provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn about how to augment themselves with AI. “It’s a collaboration that dovetails with Maryville’s emphasis on sustaining and growing an active learning ecosystem,” she said.

Rudden believes AI has the potential to strengthen Maryville’s alumni community and its ties to the University. She envisions using community-building platforms such as Slack and Discord to connect alumni with campus life. “By matching people up for mentoring and sponsorships, perhaps we could get alumni more involved in recruiting and supporting new students,” Rudden said. “One of the very first things that I was ever taught in the business world is that it’s always about relationships.”

As Rudden looks to the future, she envisions a world in which AI technology is not held in the corporate domain but belongs to ordinary people, using their own data so that trust is inherent. As part of Maryville’s board of trustees, she relishes the idea of helping to prepare young people as they create and apply AI in a way that makes the world a better place.

“We borrow this world from our children,” Rudden said. “All we can do is set the tone, because it’s up to the next generation to pick up where we left off.”

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