– HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey
So, it is true. Artificial intelligence, or AI, did exist back in 1969…or at least in the creative mind of author/creator Arthur Charles Clarke. HAL presaged what we see today in the technology industry and the profession that’s developing around Artificial Intelligence. Said Dr. Seyed Ziae Mousavi Mojab , “Keeping up with the fast-paced advancements in technology, Lawrence Tech recognizes the significance of offering a comprehensive range of technology courses, especially with the rapid progression of Artificial Intelligence (AI) every year. We feel that it’s necessary to incorporate AI as a crucial component of its curriculum, to ensure its students are well-equipped to navigate and succeed in a world that's increasingly reliant on cutting-edge technology."
In 2021, LTU launched its interdisciplinary Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence degree and added an AI concentration to its Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree.
What is Artificial Intelligence? Britannica.com defines it as “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.” These include medical diagnoses, computer search engines, and voice or handwriting recognition. MSIT student Priyanka Gangumalla describes it as an “advanced computer program that receives data from humans and continues to advance itself.”
Mojab described AI as a vast umbrella term that covers various subfields such as machine learning, deep learning, and data mining.
The impacts of AI on society are massive.
A recent and controversial AI application is ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer), which is particularly impacting the academic world. This AI application, as Mojab explained, employs a cutting-edge Large Language Model that can effortlessly generate text with remarkable accuracy by drawing from an extensive corpus of training data. However, despite its exceptional performance, the model is constrained by the quantity and quality of the data it was trained on. In Mojab's words, "It's like an expert in a particular domain, but its expertise is limited to the breadth and depth of knowledge it has been exposed to, much like an umbrella that can only provide shelter within its coverage area."
Students are using ChatGPT to write course papers and generate ideas for their research projects, which is causing confusion among faculty and administrators alike. A plethora of resources like ChatGPT, Stanford CoreNLP, and Article Forge are readily available to students, making it easier for them to generate texts and essays. However, this raises a crucial question, "Should we consider the use of these resources as cheating?” posed Mojab. Recently, Mojab, Gangumalla, and fellow student Praveen Pasanooru made a presentation about ChatGPT to LTU faculty about the pros and cons of allowing students stepping into the world of AI, how can they help their students to use AI to advance in academics and in life. “As faculty, I need to know what’s out there. We need to keep ourselves abreast of the changing technologies available to our students,” Mojab said.
AI has immense positive benefits to our lives. AI is helping physicians around the world to better and with more accuracy diagnose diseases and surgeons to minimize errors. It is helping businesses to automate customer service, saving thousands of dollars. Good government can use these tools to feed the hungry and make life more livable. It is making everyday tasks easier and people are working smarter. "Imagine a world where robots take care of all the menial tasks, freeing up our time for more creative pursuits," suggests Mojab.
– Priyanka Gangumalla ’24, MSIT
"Although AI is incredibly powerful, it still has limitations," concedes Mojab. "While AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work, it is not infallible," he notes. "The fact that it cannot identify issues on its own means that it can only work with the information it has been given, which can lead to errors or inaccuracies." Some people are afraid of AI or are concerned about losing their job because of AI. But Mojab believes that it will create more and more opportunities to creatively solve problems.
Gangumalla quoted English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking when he said that we must have some rules about artificial intelligence so that it doesn’t lead to the destruction of humankind. She also said that “it’s everyone’s collective responsibility to use AI for good, for the advancement and betterment of humanity.”
In Chapter 27 of the novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, we get a succinct explanation of HAL's motivations: HAL's seemingly illogical actions were simply the result of him attempting to solve a paradox. So, HAL, you were mistaken when you told Dave that you were incapable of making an error. That’s a bit too complex a human brain process for a machine, even today.
by Renée Ahee