Sask Polytech Professor’s Perspective on Artificial Intelligence Risks and Opportunities

In this post:

  • AI presents both risks and opportunities; education is key to navigating its complexities.
  • Digital scams and misinformation highlight the need for AI regulations and digital literacy.
  • AI enhances productivity but cannot replace human creativity; it’s a tool for the future

As OpenAI’s ChatGPT garners attention and headlines, questions about the nature of artificial intelligence (AI) have become increasingly prevalent. Shaun Nanan, a computer engineering professor at Sask Polytech Moose Jaw, seeks to clarify this complex subject. With a passion for education and technology, Nanan recently founded the Nanan STEM Academy, where he imparts knowledge about the past, present, and future of technologies like coding, 3D printing, AI, robotics, and logical thinking.

Nanan’s background

Nanan’s credentials as an Applied Science Technologist and Professional Engineer, specializing in Electrical Engineering Technology and Electronic Systems Engineering, underscore his authority in the field. His journey in education began in 2011 when he started teaching in the Computer Engineering Technology department at Sask Polytech. Over the years, he has risen through the ranks, becoming the Program Head in 2017 and, in 2023, an Academic Chair. Additionally, he serves as a Technical Committee Member for Skills Canada.

The dangers of AI

Nanan acknowledges the inherent risks associated with new technologies, including AI. He points to ChatGPT as one of the current AI frontrunners, noting its proficiency in answering questions. ChatGPT utilizes deep learning algorithms to generate responses, but it has flaws. Sometimes, its information can be inaccurate or biased, and there is currently no accountability system.

Nanan anticipates that, in the near future, government regulations or industry standards will emerge to safeguard the public from potential AI-related issues. He emphasizes that education plays a pivotal role in navigating the ethical, legal, and cultural concerns that AI raises.

Unforeseen consequences: Digital scams

The impact of AI extends beyond its direct users, with potential consequences for individuals unaware of its capabilities. Nanan highlights the growing concern about digital scams facilitated by AI, particularly through social media platforms. Scammers can now accurately replicate the voice and appearance of anyone in photos and videos, leading to instances where unsuspecting grandparents receive distressing calls from apparent loved ones seeking financial assistance—only to discover it’s a scam.

Furthermore, chatbots are employed to befriend children online and coax them into divulging personal information. Until regulations are established and enforced, individuals must educate themselves on fact-checking, secure practices such as robust passwords and two-factor authentication, and recognizing phishing emails. Parents, too, must equip themselves with this knowledge to protect and educate their children.

Digital citizenship and a new educational paradigm

Nanan envisions “digital citizenship” as a critical topic in schools and for the general public. This new education paradigm will equip individuals with the skills needed to critically evaluate online information, understand cybersecurity, and safeguard personal data—skills that also benefit employers.

The opportunities for AI

While acknowledging the dangers, Nanan emphasizes the numerous opportunities AI presents. AI has been used for decades, with spell-checkers being among the earliest forms, dating back to the ’70s. Today, we take tools like grammar checkers for granted, illustrating how AI has become integral to our daily lives.

AI-powered tools extend to GPS navigation apps, healthcare diagnostics, robotics in manufacturing, personal digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, pharmaceutical development, internet search engines, social media algorithms, and more. Nanan highlights that AI continuously evolves, with machine learning, automation, and smart systems playing increasingly significant roles.

AI as a tool, not a replacement

Nanan stresses that AI should be embraced as a tool to augment human productivity, rather than replace human creativity and imagination. While AI can generate content, it cannot replicate the depth of human creativity. He emphasizes the importance of humans solving complex problems and envisions a future where AI and human capabilities converge, citing examples like automated farming in agriculture.

AI in education

Nanan has integrated AI, including ChatGPT, into his STEM Academy. An AI-powered chatbot, InstructorGPT, utilizes the latest technology to write and modify code, perform error checks, and offer personalized feedback to students. Under the guidance of teachers who understand AI’s risks and limitations, students gain valuable experience safely using AI, and becoming confident and competent digital citizens.

As AI shapes our world, understanding its potential, risks, and opportunities becomes increasingly vital. Professor Shaun Nanan’s insights underscore the importance of education and awareness in navigating the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence. With the right knowledge and ethical considerations, society can harness the power of AI while safeguarding against its potential pitfalls.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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