AI could have electricity-level impact


Veronica Holloway

Seid Koric at NCSA's Blue Waters supercomputer facility
Seid Koric at NCSA's Blue Waters supercomputer facility
Could artificial intelligence be the new electricity, just as some fashionistas contend brown is the new black? It’s definitely possible, according to MechSE research associate professor Seid Koric.

Also serving as the technical director for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Koric works to develop Illinois’s knowledge and applications of artificial intelligence (AI).

“If you think about when electricity showed up the first time, especially AC electricity, in the dawn of the 20th century, people didn’t expect that it would touch every part of life,” Koric said. “People couldn’t imagine that there’d be washing machines, TV’s, radios, and things of that sort, but they did eventually – it propagated to everything. We can’t live without electricity nowadays, the notion is that AI is going to be the new electricity, right? It’s going to touch everything, every corner of life.”

Artificial intelligence has already made its way into everyday life in everything from social media to autonomous cars. Despite the technology’s demand, industry has only scratched the surface of the potential applications of AI. As a technical director, Koric utilizes the existing NCSA resources and expertise to unlock the breadth of possibilities available with AI.

“In AI and machine learning, we are inducing intelligence in a machine without explicit programming,” Koric said. “Something where the machine can learn on its own.”

Koric is involved with a project to improve high-level turbulence from high-fidelity models in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) as well as with a project to improve topology optimization programs for streamlined designing of strength-to-weight optimized parts. There are a variety of collaborations occurring across the engineering campus with AI and the NCSA similar to this.

Koric also hopes the efforts at the NCSA will result in machine learning algorithms advancing to the point that they no longer need to run regularly on high-performance computers (HPC). . At this point, HPC’s are necessary to the process, as typical PCs would not have the firepower to run the robust simulations desired by academia or industry. Koric envisions the development of simulations that can be trained on HPC by machine and deep learning and run quickly on any standard laptop.

His work with AI enables the research of professors in MechSE as well as throughout campus, helping to ensure Illinois’s continued prominence in the forefront of research. In Koric’s position, he interacts often with the NCSA industry partners and this work is of particular interest for them. Developing AI and its applications gives the companies that he collaborates with a competitive edge in their respective markets.

Koric is also involved in establishing the new Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation that will be hosted at the NCSA. The center will assemble expertise from across campus to build on academic research, provide students with development opportunities, and better serve industry partners.

For more information on the center: