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  • Alyssa Spencer

UT Austin To Launch New Artificial Intelligence Course This Fall

This fall, UT Austin is launching a new course called “Essentials of AI” through The Department of Computer Science and the Good Systems program. The use of AI has been increasing over the past year, and with that so has the controversy around it. Professors at UT Austin claim that the progression and development of AI and its impact on our everyday lives is inevitable, and therefore students should learn how to interact with and use it.

Professor Peter Stone, who teaches computer science and is one of the courses co-instructors believes that AI may even lead to impact our economy in many ways:

“To succeed in the coming world, it’s going to be essential to be familiar with AI tools and be able to strategize about what’s going to be the role of human creativity and human labor and human value in the economy, compared to AI tools,”.

“My number one hope is that participants get the ability to discern what’s realistic and what’s science fiction, to be able to understand the terminology that’s being used in the news, to be able to apply the lessons to real decisions that they need to make in their own careers and to be engaged and inform the public debate about how our society should respond to these new technologies,” He said.

Not everyone is approaching the progression of AI with the same optimism and acceptance as UT Austin. Many people who work in fields of technological advancement see AI as a dangerous threat to society. What started out as a fun thing to play around with online, has quickly developed into a tool that makes it difficult to decipher fiction from reality. 

WIth AI writing tools now at our disposal, there is ample concern that these tools will begin to devalue education, work, and even personal relationships. There have been stories and reports from numerous universities of professors dealing with students using AI to generate assignments for them. Using AI “ethically” has become a new battleground for professors to navigate at their universities.

An article published by Boston University stated that “Many are beginning to worry, however, that writing in the university is under threat. Technological innovations have long been associated with the replacement of manual labor, but now—like the zombies in the postapocalyptic literature class I teach—they are coming for our brains. As noted by Slate, artificial intelligence (AI) programs that generate text have become so widely available and affordable that many are beginning to suspect students are using AI to write essays for their university classes.”

Elon Musk and several other tech CEO’s published an open letter asking for a halt in AI development stating that:

“AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research[1] and acknowledged by top AI labs.[2] As stated in the widely-endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”


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