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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Please clarify which AI you mean.

‘AI’ has become overused as a phrase. The phrase “AI” is widely used, just like the term “data science” was five years ago. It has evolved into a catch-all phrase for anything tech- or tech-related. The field of AI has also seen a number of transformations. AI is no longer solely a field of natural or physical science. It also contains a long list of fractures. ‘AI’ has lost some of its alleged faultlessness due to widespread deployment. When someone uses the term AI, I’m not really sure what they mean. As a data educator, I have already categorized AI under data analysis. So occasionally I ponder whether some folks are actually dealing with data management and analysis issues when they refer to AI.

We’ve all had more discussions about AI by this point than we care to recall or recount. I typically wait a few minutes before speaking to let the natural conversation unfold. Over the past two years, I’ve come to recognize how crucial it is to pay attention to how the majority of the group in the room understands AI and in what sector/domain context, for example, how educators use AI tools as a learning complement versus how educators deal with students misusing AI tools. As I go through the following questions (not always in this order or for every AI interaction), my listening phase is pretty active:

Are we talking about issues with data and AI literacy?
Are there any ethical concerns with AI or data?
Do we have bias in data or AI?
Are we talking about the transparency of AI/data structures?
Are accountability methods for data and AI being discussed?
Are we talking about data or AI governance?
Which target audience, such as educators, managers, practitioners, etc., are we focusing on?
Which of the following are their main areas of expertise: science, business, law, marketing, etc.?
Do we prioritize ‘ regular AI’ or ‘predictive AI’?
Or are we concentrating on generative AI or “steroid AI”?
Or is the topic of this conversation AI in general? (I fervently hope it isn’t this one; eek! In that case, I end the conversation.)
And the final inquiry I have is…

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