Luddy AI Center Groundbreaking

Dorsey Learning Hall

Monday, February 24, 2020

IU President Michael A. McRobbie speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Luddy Artificial Intelligence Center.  Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society

Though its essential mathematical underpinnings were developed in the 1930s and 40s, the field of artificial intelligence can be regarded as having been founded as a discipline in the 1950s, following Alan Turing's landmark paper, "Computing and Machinery Intelligence," and the seminal 1956 conference at Dartmouth College where the term "artificial intelligence" was coined. From its founding, the field has seen periods of extensive investment, enthusiasm and progress, interspersed with periods of consolidation and re-evaluation.

But it is now the overwhelming consensus of industry and academia that AI has finally entered the mainstream of society and research. The evidence all around is completely compelling. To give just one example, Stanford University's "One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence" issued the first of a planned series of reports in 2016.

Artificial intelligence, as the report states, "is already changing our daily lives…in ways that improve human health, safety, and productivity. …Major research universities," the report continues, "devote departments to AI studies, and technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft spend heavily to explore AI applications they regard as critical to their futures."1

Today, we break ground for a visionary new building that will be the center of research at IU in artificial intelligence and related areas, and one that will put IU and the Luddy School at the forefront of research and education in these areas. This new center, to be known as the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence, will take a broad, multidisciplinary approach to this field, and will have a focus on digital health.

The Indiana University AI Initiative

Indiana University has been a center of research in a number of areas of AI for many years. Artificial intelligence has long been an area of strength of the Department of Computer Science, and, more broadly, IU faculty in the cognitive, psychological, and neurosciences have also long been engaged in areas of research relevant to AI.

The explosion worldwide of the uses and applications of AI, building on decades of steady research progress, made this the perfect time for IU to establish a major initiative in this area.

The first phase of this initiative was the announcement last June of IU's acquisition of Big Red 200, the nation's fastest university-owned artificial intelligence supercomputer, which we dedicated on January 20th of this year—on the 200th anniversary of the founding of Indiana University.

The second phase was the announcement of an extraordinarily generous gift of $60 million by alumnus Fred Luddy to support the establishment of this initiative as a way of also ensuring the continuing growth, pre-eminence, and leadership nationally of the school.

Fred's gift to the school was the second-largest private gift ever in the entire history of Indiana University. When we announced the gift last October, I also had the great pleasure of announcing that, in recognition of Fred's continued leadership and his landmark support of the school's mission, the school would be renamed, by approval of the Trustees of Indiana University, the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

A major portion of the gift is funding new scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as new endowments that will support the creation of faculty chair positions and professorships.

It also, of course, provides for the construction of the building for which we break ground today, the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence, which will be a vibrant, multidisciplinary hub in this field led by the Luddy School, with a particular focus on digital health. Health and medicine are among the fastest-growing research domains for advanced AI and machine learning applications and the use of high-performance computational systems. The Luddy School is already home to many faculty members who are national leaders in AI and digital health. This initiative will catalyze their collaboration with other researchers in IU's extensive range of health and life science schools, departments, and programs both in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

And further projects in this area, based on IU's extensive disciplinary strengths in related areas, will be formed as additional support is obtained from other sources. And this building will be at the very center of these exciting efforts.

Special Thanks

There is a long list of people to whom we owe enormous debts of gratitude for helping us reach this moment, and, in thanking them, we must, of course, begin with Fred Luddy.

Fred attended IU in the early 1970s and went on to become an information technology pioneer. He worked for a number of companies in Silicon Valley, and in 2004 he founded ServiceNow, a highly successful cloud computing company. ServiceNow now has thousands of employees and a market value of more than $66 billion.

An outstanding ambassador for the Luddy School, Fred has been a very active member of its Dean's Advisory Council.

In 2015, I was delighted to announce that Fred had generously given $8 million to help fund the construction of the splendid building in which we are gathered today, and that it would be known as Luddy Hall in honor of Fred's family.

I also was privileged to confer on him an honorary IU Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2017 when he delivered a well-received address to our graduates at IU's Winter Commencement ceremony.

So, on behalf of Indiana University, I want to offer our most sincere thanks once again to Fred Luddy for his dedicated service to the school, and for his willingness to support a major initiative in artificial intelligence at IU through his extraordinarily generous gift.

His gift will have a transformative impact on the mission of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

I also want to commend and congratulate Dean Raj Acharya and the faculty and staff of the Luddy School for their dedicated efforts that are helping make the new center a reality.

As some of you may be aware, it was announced just last week that Dean Acharya will step away from his role as dean of the school next month and move into a new university leadership role. Effective March 16, he will serve as associate vice president for research and AI innovation in the Office of the Vice President for Research. Dennis Groth, who currently serves as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and who is a faculty member and a former associate dean in the school, and will serve as interim dean of the Luddy School.

In his new role, Dean Acharya will develop the new Indiana AI Collaboration Center, which will facilitate collaboration between IU Bloomington, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, the Indiana National Guard's new Cyber Battalion, and Indiana industry on the development of practical AI applications in areas that include microelectronics, cybersecurity, supply chain integrity, and fraud prevention and detection.

All of us at IU are grateful to Dean Acharya for his distinguished service to the Luddy School. He began his service as dean in 2016, and under his leadership, the school has successfully launched its program in intelligent systems engineering; made great advances in AI research that have led to today's groundbreaking; and seen the naming of the school, the naming of Luddy Hall, and the naming of Myles Brand Hall.

We will hear from him later in the program, but would you join me now in thanking Dean Acharya for his distinguished service to the school with a round of applause?

Leveraging AI in Ways that Will Benefit Society

In 2016, the same year that Stanford University released the report to which I referred earlier, the National Science and Technology Council issued a report on "Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence."

The report's first recommendation was to encourage public and private institutions "to examine whether and how they can leverage AI and machine learning in ways that will benefit society." 2

This is, of course, precisely what Indiana University faculty and students affiliated with the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence will do, made possible by the vision and remarkable generosity of Fred Luddy. 

Source Notes

  1. "Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030," One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), Stanford University, September 2016, accessed February 18, 2020, URL:
  2. "Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence," National Science and Technology Council, October 2016, 14, Web, Accessed February 16, 2020, URL: