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AI webinar series grand finale is on May 3.

AI webinar series wraps up

The grand finale is on May 3

April 13, 2024 — 

There has been a lot of talk about AI, and now it is time to review previous discussions and look to the future of AI and lifelong education.

Extended Education’s Lifelong Webinar Series 2023-2024 wraps up on May 3 with its grand finale: AI and the Age of Augmentation: A Panel Discussion on the Future of AI in Lifelong Learning. Lev Gonick, CIO at Arizona State University (ASU) will talk about the ASU-Open AI partnership. He’ll be joined by previous series panelists, Kelly Shiohira (Executive Manager: Research and Data Ecosystems at Jet Education Services), Ray Schroeder (Senior Fellow at UPCEA), and Rod Lastra (lifelong learning professional at UM Extended Education).

“This session, focusing on how higher education can revolutionize teaching and learning with performative generative AI, promises to be a reflective overview of the past year as well as a visionary forecast of future possibilities,” says Lastra.

Most recent webinar

The most recent webinar in the series, with panelists Safiya Noble (author of Algorithms of Oppression) and Cecil Rosner (author of Manipulating the Message- How Powerful Forces Shape the News) looked at media and information ethics in the age of AI on April 4.

Noble left her career in advertising to go to grad school where she says she was concerned that academics looked at technology like the new public library. “They didn’t understand the purposeful manipulation of content.”

In her years of research, she considered what it means when tech companies control the information landscape, and what the consequences are for communities. For example, she says, “For years, a search for Black girls or Latino girls brought up porn. They became synonymous with hyper-sexualization.”

Human rights, media cuts

Noble calls the effects of AI on human rights the most important human rights issue in our lifetime.

Rosner, a career journalist, noted the alarming trend of ongoing media cuts. From 1991 to 2021, statistics show the number of journalists in Canada decreased from 13,000 to 11,000, he says. Over the same period, PR and communications people increased from 23,000 to 160,000.

“Journalists are bombarded by messages. Many are going unfiltered. The more wealthy and powerful put out the messages,” he says. “I have seen people lie to my face, but it goes unfiltered unless you have time to fact check.”

Propaganda and manipulation

Edward Bernays wrote a book called Propaganda: The Public Mind in the Making in 1928, says Rosner, noting Bernays was a founder of PR in the US.

“AI is accelerating the dissemination of false messages and misinformation. It is accelerating and magnifying the problem. For example, Facebook is blocking news organizations and I see fake news all the time. They are making money. They can’t be the arbiters of information and disinformation.”

Journalism must continue to be supported, says Noble. “When we look at the values of tech leadership in Silicon Valley, their biases get normalized. Debiasing AI is too narrow. It is a larger issue.

“The tech industry is a most powerful industry. It wants to mystify,” she says. “We have to be more specific. What are the impacts of generative AI on the environment? Could we regulate it based on its environmental cost, how it violates employer law or civil rights? We have to parse the intricacies and regulate or enforce our existing laws.”

Lastra began the session with a lesson on the Edward Bernays effect- the Engineering of Consent, showing diagrams about human perception of truth and the science of manipulation to illustrate how human perceptions can go from neutral beliefs to a persuaded effect, and strongly held beliefs can be reinforced with repetition and manipulation of the truth. He noted how AI amplifies and repeats falsehoods and how technology cannot distinguish fact from fiction.

“This was an eye-opening conversation,” says Lastra, looking forward to the grand finale on May 3.

Learn more and register for the May 3 webinar

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