Pittsburgh AI x Humanities asks important questions about the promise and consequences of artificial intelligence

Lots of people throw the word AI around. Pittsburgh AI is trying to help you understand it.

Listen to the audio version of this article here:


Kenny Chen wears many hats and one of them is innovation director at Pittsburgh tech incubator Ascender. It’s only fitting, then, that he team up with Ryan O’Shea, host of the “Future Grind podcast“, to form Pittsburgh AI. A chapter of City.AI, a global initiative “democratizing the design, development and use of artificial intelligence“.

Where does Remake Learning fit in this? If we’re good at one thing, it’s facilitating discussions. I wouldn’t imagine it being *too* surprising that we hosted a meetup to get more people in the community thinking about this global topic.

And that’s where our field director Ani comes in, on the below video recap of our February 26th event.

— Pittsburgh AI x Humanities took place at Community Forge in Wilkinsburg.

This video is a part of our new “Remake Learning Recaps” series, crafted to give you an idea of the events we have all around the region for you and many people involved in both in- and out-of-school education. Being the one filming/editing these, I’ve also had the honor of making playlists for you to catch up on the events we’ve been throwing this year: Facebook playlist (scroll down to “recaps”), YouTube playlist.

“Hey Google – what’s 2 x 4?”

Artificial intelligence – as we currently use the term – is already part of your everyday life. It ranges from simple weather app notifications to the way Amazon’s pop up menu predicts where your mouse would land to give you a more fluid experience shopping on their website.

Kenny Chen. Video still by Willy James.

“[AI has] human input at consequences. At each ebb and turn. It’s thousands of years of philosophy and values and social structures that we’re building here, more so than the technical elements themselves.”

Kenny Chen dropped this gem at the event and I think it gives great insight into the nature of the technology we’re working with right now, and it also explains why events like these are necessary.

That, to me, is fascinating. We choose the inputs, we have say over the outputs. What does this mean? What we think of as “the humanities” could be something that proves vital to having fair, equitable outcomes around the world.

The more I learn about the crossroads of AI and the humanities, the more I want to be involved in the conversation around it. I think this is also true for the educators who were in the room that night, actively taking part in the dialogue and taking time to understand how all this can impact in- and out-of-school learning.

If you happen to have a similar curiosity about learning, education, and AI, there’s ways you can get involved by checking out the Pittsburgh AI web page located on the City.AI website as well as the Remake Learning events calendar.

Feedback on this piece? willy@remakelearning.org

Published April 22, 2019

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