1 September 2023

Interview with Maurizio Gabbrielli – Scientific Director of the Master in Artificial Intelligence for Business


Maurizio Gabbrielli, full professor of Computer Science and Director of the Department of Computer Science – Science and Engineering at the University of Bologna, is Scientific Director of the Artificial Intelligence and Innovation Management Master and of the Executive Master in Artificial Intelligence for Business.

The Executive Master in Artificial Intelligence for Business, part-time hybrid in English language, aims to provide its participants with a solid set of skills to manage the impact of artificial intelligence in the business context.


– If someone asked, “Why should I include an Artificial Intelligence course in my curriculum?” what would you answer?

Because, whether we like it or not, Artificial Intelligence and related technologies are having a disruptive effect on business and society. Even if you don’t want to become an AI specialist, today knowing how to handle these technologies, understand their fundamentals, and, most importantly, know how to manage their applications becomes central to the career of a manager aspiring to top roles.


– Who is the ideal candidate for the Executive Master in AI for Business? What are the entry requirements? Is it necessary to have a strong technical background to pursue this master’s degree?

It is not necessary to have a technical background in AI because this is not a technical master’s program. We are targeting people who are already working in the business world, mid- to upper-level managers and therefore tend to have a financial, business administration background. Profiles, if they want to try to apply new technologies in their work, need to know them without the technical detail needed by the specialist, but understand how they work. There is no need to be frightened: there are courses in computer science, in mathematics, but they are always self-contained, built to be comprehensive and give all the necessary training. No technical prerequisites are necessary.


– Is it possible with this Master’s program to balance work life and study?

The program is hybrid precisely to facilitate this: 80% of the teaching is online in the late afternoon (Italian time) so that professionals can continue their work. Then there are two residencies of 4 days each on-campus that are very useful to get a hands-on feel for the topics discussed, with company visits and on-campus lectures, and to develop the critical networking part that a Master’s program like this is aimed to provide.


– What concretely does a participant have at the end of the Master’s program?

What we hope for is knowledge of some of these technologies, not deep specialized knowledge, but an important cognition of the basic techniques that are in use today: we are talking about Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Large Language Models.  The broad understanding of these technologies, added to an important part of courses on how these technologies can be used to change and reorganize production processes, leads to the creation of immediately expendable value in the company in all the areas that require digital transformation and innovation.
We want to provide an overall view of what AI is and how some applications are becoming, famous is the case with ChatGPT, increasingly important.


– Interest in AI is very high today. What are we facing? Is this a new revolution comparable to the rise of the Internet?

In the course, we will try to inform and give perspectives on what cannot be done with AI today. Since late last year, for example, there has been an overblown hype around ChatGPT: it seems a panacea to all ills, a sort of Oracle of Delphi to be appealed to for everything. Understanding, however, how these systems, by their nature inherently probabilistic, always have an inevitable margin of error is exactly the Master’s matter.
The development of new technologies is continuous. In 2010 we would not have imagined the arrival of ChatGPT. These systems confront us with new normative, deontological, ethical and philosophical problems, as well as practical ones. Just think of the teaching field: it is well known that, in many areas, ChatGPT has performance in solving exam problems comparable to that of an average student. It is a revolution that has come a long way and will change many jobs and more.
Furthermore, one has to manage the problems of using these technologies to profile people, in HR. One has to be very careful because a technology that is optimal in one area, can be completely immature when used in a different environment and turn out to fail.


– What do you see as the most exciting areas of theoretical research in artificial intelligence today? What are the most promising practical applications?

Definitely, Computer Vision: the ability of machines to analyze images. Machines in this area make almost no mistakes, the error edge is close to zero, with all the consequent very important industrial applications.
Then, Natural Language Processing (NLP), which deals with the interaction between computers and human language, has great success and many possible applications.
Again, artificial program generation tools that already work very well: the average programmer’s task will be replaced almost completely by the machine, and humans will do other, high-level design and bug fixing.
Think of the medical field: great attention is needed, but if we consider imaging, machines in many contexts are more accurate than humans. The analysis of an AI-based X-ray is superior to that done by a doctor.

What is being worked on now? Mainly on the integration of Machine Learning, so systems that learn by themselves because of the huge amount of data available, and systems based on rules given by the human to the machine. Integrating these two radically different models is a long-term challenge.
Changes will also come in the educational sphere: the development of virtual tutors, specialized in a subject whose content they possess and capable of interacting with students, is now a subject of work.
Then, a lot of study is being done on legal, regulatory, and ethical aspects to understand what can or should be right to do and what is not. One example: a Mind Reading[1] system has been developed by the University of Austin in Texas. A real mind reader based on statistics and MRI: it is proven that depending on the brain activity taking place, different areas of the brain are “lit up.” If I calculate, I “turn on” one; if I speak my language, another; if I communicate in another idiom, still others. The experiment: A volunteer was shown a cartoon and asked to think silently about the description of the images he was seeing. The machine translated that thought into a verbal description in real time with incredible accuracy.
The question now is, should we go ahead with the development of this technology?
Ethical questions are chasing each other for increasingly rapid technologies that deal with a very broad spectrum of human activities. There is much work to be done in this direction.


– Why choose Bologna Business School to do an Executive Master’s program?

Because of The faculty of absolute excellence, with a specific characteristic that is very rare in Business Schools: to combine specialists in business and specialists in ICT and, in general, information technology, this is due to the fact that BBS was born from a collaboration between the Departments of Business Sciences and Computer Science. From the beginning, the School was formed on a mixture of Business Administration and very high attention to new technologies.
Then, for the powerful network of companies that BBS can bring to bear: a very strong link with the territory and its world-renowned excellence, but also an international vision that connects it to leading companies around the world.
Again, the exceptional location will be complemented by the new Campus, a state-of-the-art, multifunctional facility that will take Bologna Business School another step up in quality and offerings.





Back To Top