UC Irvine anchors $12.5-million research center funded by Intel

UC Irvine is home to a new $12.5-million research center funded by chip maker Intel Corp., the company announced Tuesday.

The center, called the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing, applies social science and humanities to the design and analysis of digital information. It opened June 1 but was announced Tuesday by Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer, in San Francisco.

“Technology is profoundly entangled with our everyday lives. As researchers, we can’t get a handle on what’s going on by looking at technical factors alone,” said UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish, who will co-lead the center. “We have to study them in concert with human, social and cultural aspects.”

UC Irvine is the research hub, with four other campuses participating. The university will receive $5 million over five years, with an additional $7.5 million being split among the other universities.

Experts from those schools, which include Cornell University, Indiana University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and New York University, specialize in anthropology, media studies, digital humanities, philosophy and computer science, among other disciplines.

Each year, the research center will explore a new defining theme, the first being restoring “materiality” to information. Researchers will explore the “connection of information to the physical world,” Dourish said.

Intel researchers will work with dozens of faculty members and graduate and doctoral students in the campus labs. The research will not be owned by Intel but will instead be public, open intellectual property, the university said.

The grant is under the company’s larger $100-million program to increase research at universities in the country and abroad.