My reflections on Weeks 6 and 7 Discussion Board/Hypothesis Assignments: Introduction to AI in the course

Class,

Nice work as you work through these modules.  As always, I enjoyed reading your perspectives.

Not being a user of social media myself, I often wonder if I’m at risk because I’m not “keeping up” with crowdsourcing. For me, I find that social media is like the dementors in Harry Potter, and I certainly don’t have time to have the life sucked out of me anytime soon.  I also connect this module to the one where we reviewed the material on those who may be hearing or site impaired and need to rely on alternative news sources.  Some of you may have heard about the “attention economy”, and as we know, those selling information – both real and fake – are definitely prioritizing their needs over ours! 😊

Instead, I’ve leveraged my community emergency management notifications.  When we were in MD, Montgomery County EOC had a system to update everyone on road outages and severe weather.  Vermont uses Everbridge and you can opt in by county.  It may not always be applicable to someone who is now WFH full time, but it’s useful information to know what others are dealing with.

Devon made a comment that he was looking for the Crowdsourcing playbook to no avail – I, too, struck out in my initial forays. The closest I got was at the USGS site for crowdsourcing, citizen science and open innovation. but I couldn’t get the link to work. I will look to see if I can find it later this semester and if I succeed, will circle back with the reference. For those of you who wanted to learn more about the work, Dr. Liu published one paper.

And a couple of you made reference to WAZE as a crowdsourcing tool.  In fact, it is both crowdsourcing and AI.  I’ve attached an article  I found on Medium, since it may be behind a paywall for you. And what about Alexa or Siri?  I only use Alexa for the weather or as a timer during cooking, but does its continued (and annoying questions for me, anyway) to manage my day using the app sound like AI to you? And does anyone use a Roomba? If so, you are accepting the privacy risks associated with having the unit take pictures of your abode.

WRT AI, we are clearly in the midst of society’s next disruptive technology that will impact all of us.  Our jobs will absolutely change (anyone remember farming with a mule?  Farming in general?)  Among the many articles on AI I could have selected, I chose this one since it helped describe the technology.  There is always fear of the unknown – how can we translate that fear into positive action?

There is a story I learned in B-school about how companies change and evolve and how perspective is critical to success.  For example, if the company making buggy whips had thought about themselves as a company focused on acceleration, rather than a company that makes buggy whips, would they still be in business today?  And who would have thought that an online bookstore (e.g., Amazon) would be the type of company that it is today?

A few key points I’d like to share.

  • Prior to the beginning of the semester, UAF held some seminars for instructors to start getting their heads around AI and how they (and students) might use it in their class.  I am in the camp that we must teach students (and ourselves) on how to use this technology appropriately, much like how many of us have learned to use cars, the internet and stoves safely 😊.  This is our first foray into that adventure in my class and I am looking to expand the use of AI going forward.  And while I will be looking for additional resources, I welcome your thoughts on how we might continue to apply that to risk analysis.
  • Secondly, has anyone else made the connection between sci-fi and AI?  Where would the Iron Man and the whole Marvel Universe be without Jarvis! Any Star Trek fans will know the challenges that Scotty had when he was in the late 20th century and said “Computer”.
  • And yes, the Government (both Federal and Legislative branches) are looking at how this will impact our government/society/economy, etc.  I didn’t want to use a federal source as we begin this conversation, but if you’re interested in learning more, you can start with this Federal Register announcement.
  • A major caution to those of you who are intrigued about using generative AI like Chat GPT to build your resume – you don’t really want to do that – unless you want to put all your personal information out into the AI Universe – a major cybersecurity risk for your challenge questions!!!
  • Many companies as well as the Federal government are reticent to use the technology since it has the potential to put information into the public space that executives prefer to keep private.  However, the genie is not going back in the bottle, so it’s time to figure out how to use it effectively and minimize risk.

And here’s a way to think about emergency management and generative AI – could generative AI actually be used to write those personal emergency plans that we all put off writing!  Maybe that should be one of my assignments for students next semester!  E.g., Write an emergency plan for you and your family using AI and share it with the class with your assessment as well as their feedback on how AI did?

Lots to digest and synthesize!  In the meantime, I believe I’m caught up on grading.  Please send me a note or submit your assignment and I’ll be happy to grade.

Since my Saturday plans entail going shopping for trees in the pouring rain with my stepdaughter, I hope you are all well and dry!!!

Be safe and well!

C

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