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Finding Authenticity in Ourselves
AI helps us define our humanity
  The recent Worldfest celebration at FIS showcased humanity at its finest
It is difficult to escape the discussion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impending impact on the world in general – and education in particular. As
a young adult I read books and watched movies about AI, which often contained a repeating theme: machines with intelligence would eventually turn on humanity with catastrophic consequences. Whether it was HAL in Arthur Clark’s Space Odyssey, the war created by cyborgs in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Terminator, or Mr. Smith battling Neo in The Matrix, some of the most memorable plots did not paint a friendly picture of AI.
Fortunately, of late we have been introduced to much more optimistic perspectives of AI. We have seen how it can aid with complex research and speed our ability to complete routine tasks. It will very likely lead to discoveries in medicine or sustainability that will have profound benefits for society and our planet. In addition, our ability to“delegate”tasks to AI will likely give individuals more time for other endeavors, just as Google has saved us time from thumbing through an encyclopedia for an answer. Like the slide rule, calculator and computer before it, AI is yet another tool we will need to use with intention both in and outside of school.
Although we have seen technological advances impact our world before, something feels distinctly
different as we discuss AI. I never felt threatened by the Texas Instrument calculator I had in school, or even the latest iPhone I carry nearly everywhere I go. Clearly, it is the personification of technology that has us all becoming somewhat unnerved. I never called my calculator by a name the way I now address Siri or Alexa, and I never expected it to anticipate my needs or be waiting for me to ask it for advice or to tell me a joke.
Like the slide rule, calculator and computer before it, AI is yet another tool we will need to use with intention both in and outside of school.
And while I do think there are reasons for us to proceed with appropriate caution and transparency as we further integrate AI into our lives, both at home and in the workplace and at school, I do see one key advantage that is often overlooked. Because AI is seeking to replicate what humans can do, by default we are also learning that which AI cannot do, and hence what makes us uniquely human.
At the most basic level, AI uses a database composed of almost endless bits of stored historical data to arrive at its response to a current prompt or problem. This may allow it to offer insight into a culture based on mass experiences and trends, but it will never be empathetic or loving toward an individual. The only art it can create is based on its knowledge of past artists as it has no authentic imagination. I could continue with endless examples, but in the end, AI lives up to its name: it’s artificial.
I look forward to further discussions on the challenges and benefits of AI, but will remember that what lies behind all of these debates is the fact that AI helps us further define and appreciate what makes us real, what makes us human.
Dr. Paul M. Fochtman Head of School
 2 FIS World June 2023

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