For many in the field of technology and computer science, the future doesn’t exist without artificial intelligence. That was the topic of discussion and interest at the AI & the Future of Houston Conference in April, where professionals and science educators, including University of Houston-Victoria faculty, gathered to discuss the future of the field.

The two-day conference was held April 29-30 in Houston and hosted by Houston Community College. Representatives from HCC, Houston-area universities, businesses and health care facilities and HCC students attended the event. UHV participated in the conference as sponsors and vendors, and UHV faculty also spoke at the event.

The purpose of the conference was to explore the technological advances and innovation brought by artificial intelligence, as well as discussion of how academia and industries in the area can partner to build a local talent pipeline.

“Technology is becoming a trending topic of discussion in the workforce in the Greater Houston area, and we are working on expanding our partnership with Houston Community College. Through our partnership, UHV hopes to help students and working adults transfer to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in technology,” said Karla DeCuir, UHV assistant provost for distance learning. “This conference opened doors for those who are interested in careers in technology or would like to expand their skills, and we are excited to partner with Houston Community College to expand those opportunities.”

Speakers and representatives from UHV included Hardik Gohel, an assistant professor of computer science; Aobo Jin, also an assistant professor of computer science; and Yun Wan, chair of the UHV computer science department and professor of computer information systems.

“In both academia and industry, there is a consensus that there will be many job opportunities and more potential for students who are studying the field of artificial intelligence,” Wan said. “I think the field is expanding as artificial intelligence, cyber security and more can apply to so many different fields. Houston Community College has a large student population, and it was a great opportunity for us to meet students who could possibly transfer to UHV. It was a successful conference.”

During the conference, Gohel participated in a panel discussion about educational leaders in artificial intelligence. Gohel spoke about what the next generation of students can expect when studying artificial intelligence in a four-year university program, and the job and career possibilities with artificial intelligence. He also spoke about research UHV students and faculty are conducting using artificial intelligence.

“There was a major discussion about the needs of the industry and what companies are looking for in the workforce,” Gohel said. “It was very beneficial for us to be part of that discussion, and to learn the needs of the industry and what is missing and how we can fill those needs and close those gaps.”

Jin gave a presentation during the conference about artificial intelligence in gaming and spoke about how the technology is being used in gaming animation. He showed examples of games that use artificial intelligence, including Dota 2 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. He also spoke about what students need to prepare for a career in gaming through artificial intelligence.

“This conference was really good for students to learn what artificial intelligence can do for the industry and what they need to learn in order to pursue jobs in artificial intelligence,” Jin said. “Artificial intelligence will continue to be used in the future, and everybody will use technology that uses artificial intelligence. It is important that people understand the basic knowledge of artificial intelligence and what it can do. I believe that artificial intelligence can help us in our everyday lives.”