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NJ AI Summit addresses University's role in expanding AI statewide

friend center and cs Candace Do DP.jpg
The Friend Center is a well known space for those who decide to take classes in the COS department.
Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian

The University’s new AI hub took another step on Thursday with the first-ever New Jersey AI summit, hosted at Richardson Auditorium. Attendees ranging from University professors to corporate executives repeatedly emphasized the potential benefits and applications of AI, from sustainable energy to finance. 

“The AI hub advances two of Princeton University’s highest strategic priorities: helping to cultivate a robust regional ecosystem and accelerating AI innovation and education,” University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said while briefly introducing Governor Phil Murphy during the summit.


Murphy remarked that the University and New Jersey were going “all-in” on AI “at an earlier stage than either institution may have traditionally jumped.” As with other speakers, he also highlighted New Jersey’s history in technological innovation.

“We are a state that has an unparalleled track record when it comes to unleashing game-changing inventions, from the lightbulb to film to the transistor, and yes, even to culinary inventions like Hoagie Haven’s Mac Daddy sandwich,” Murphy said. The Mac Daddy is a bacon cheeseburger hoagie with mac and cheese wedges, fries, honey mustard, and hot sauce.

In his remarks, Murphy also announced an extension of the state’s existing Innovation Fellows Program, which provides income replacement grants to young entrepreneurs so they can launch their own startups. The new program will specifically fund “AI-powered innovation” at the hub.

The AI hub was announced in December as a partnership between the University and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. In addition to research and development, the initiative will include AI ethics and workforce development. 

Eisgruber has made building the University’s technical and engineering capacities a more recent hallmark of his presidential tenure, overseeing the expansion of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

“You cannot be a great liberal arts university in the 21st century without having a great school of engineering,” he told The Daily Princetonian in November 2022.


In October, the University also launched the Princeton Language and Intelligence Initiative (PLI) to primarily focus on large language models (LLMs). Provost Jennifer Rexford ’91 told the ‘Prince’ then that PLI would focus on issues that companies might not necessarily invest in, including researching governing LLMs and the role of AI in humanities projects. PLI recently awarded funding to 14 research projects in areas from wildlife conservation to African languages.

“AI raises urgent questions about our power structures, our government, and our economy, which society, as well as academia, must grapple with,” Sanjeev Arora, the director of PLI, said at Thursday’s summit.

Brad Smith ’81, the vice chair and president of Microsoft, delivered the event’s keynote. Smith is a member of the Board of Trustees.

“What Netherlands was to printing press, NJ can be that to AI,” he said.

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Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the Investigations Editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

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