TOAD Talk: Lessons of Artificial Intelligence

Sayra Trejo
Good morning, everyone!

So just over a month ago I got an email in my inbox that had the following subject line, “Want to watch a ridiculous movie with a bunch of seniors?” Doc Ali needed drivers to take his English classes to watch the campy, satirical, horror movie, M3GAN. Knowing that I enjoy this senior class and I would get a free ticket to a matinee showing of M3GAN I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, Ms. Gregory also tagged along and from the moment I saw this film (which has made it into my top 5 favorite films of all time) my life changed! So that’s what I want to talk to you about today, about a topic that's been on the rise in recent years: artificial intelligence. AI is all around us these days, from the voice assistants on our phones to the movies we watch. But what exactly is AI, and what lessons can we learn from it? Well, that's what I want to explore today.

Let's start with the basics. What is AI? In a nutshell, it's the ability of machines to learn and perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. This can range from simple things like recognizing your face on your phone to complex tasks like analyzing data and making decisions based on that data.

Now, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about AI, and some of them have been perpetuated by movies like "M3GAN" and "Ex Machina." In these films, we see a dark side to AI - machines that turn against their creators and threaten the very existence of humanity. But the truth is, we're still a long way from creating anything close to a true AI. Right now, what we have are sophisticated algorithms that are good at specific tasks, but don't have the kind of consciousness or self-awareness that the movies portray.

But that's not to say that AI isn't something we shouldn’t take seriously. In fact, it's already having a major impact on our lives. Take Siri, for example. We can ask Siri to do all kinds of things for us, from setting reminders to playing music to answering our questions. But what happens when Siri makes a mistake? Who's responsible? The answer, of course, is that it's not Siri's fault - it's the fault of the people who created the algorithm that powers Siri.

And that's a lesson we can all learn from AI: just because something is automated or machine-powered, that doesn't mean it's infallible. We still need to take responsibility for the technology we create, and be aware of its limitations.

Now, let's talk about Chat GPT. This is a language model that's been trained on a massive amount of text data, and can generate responses to all kinds of questions and prompts. It's pretty impressive, but it's not perfect. Sometimes, it can give strange or unexpected answers. And that's actually a good thing - it shows us that even the most advanced AI still has room to improve, and that there's always more to learn.

So what can high school students and teachers learn from AI? For starters, we can learn about the power of data. AI is only as good as the data it's trained on. If we want to create better algorithms and better technology, we need to collect and analyze more and better data. That's where fields like data science and machine learning come in - these are the people who are working to make AI more accurate, more useful, and more ethical.

We can also learn about the importance of collaboration. AI is a team effort, involving programmers, data scientists, engineers, and many other professionals. Everyone has to work together to create something that's truly useful and effective. And that's a lesson that applies to almost any field - whether you're working on a school project or a business venture, you need to work together to achieve your goals.

Finally, we can learn about the importance of ethical considerations. AI is not just a technical challenge - it's also a moral one. As we develop more advanced algorithms and more powerful machines, we need to think carefully about the impact they'll have on society. Will they create new jobs, or eliminate existing ones? Will they perpetuate existing biases and inequalities, or help to overcome them? These are questions that we need to consider as we move forward.

In conclusion, artificial intelligence is a fascinating and rapidly evolving field that can do so much…including writing almost the entirety of this TOAD talk for me when I typed  “write a witty and clever talk about artificial intelligence using examples like the movie M3GAN, Ex Machina, Siri and Chat GPT and lessons that high school age students and teachers can learn from.”

And yes, the font choice for my talk today was the font ROBOTO.

Sayra Trejo is a member of the World Languages Department at Thacher. 

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