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“It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.” – The Grinch (Dr. Seuss)

Seasons Greetings from AILA!

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday and a restful winter break!

The AILA Team is busy wrapping up our Fall semester. With a variety of tech demos, co-organized events, and our first-ever Hackathon behind us, AILA is looking forward to the opportunity to pause and rest over the next few weeks. While we won’t have any programming until the Spring, we invite you to check out some of the other exciting interterm AI-related opportunities at Amherst!

Image created with DALL-E using the prompt: ”Create a non-denominational holiday image to include in a newsletter for an organization that works at the intersection of AI and the Liberal Arts”

Upcoming Events

New Interterm Workshop: How to Get What You Want from ChatGPT with Prompt Engineering (Tues 1/16 & Thurs 1/18; 1-4 pm)

Disappointed with your experience so far with AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard? In this hybrid workshop, Amherst’s Research Computing Specialist, Doug Hall, will teach faculty, staff, and students methods to troubleshoot their prompts and compare different generative AI chatbots. Participants will work through examples in analyzing online text, extracting data from images, and generating new images with DALL-E to illustrate concepts! No technical experience is required. Options for remote and in-person participation. Read more info and register here!

AI in the Liberal Arts Reading Group Interest Survey

One thing we’ve heard from our community this last semester is that people are interested in learning more about AI and its implications for the future of our society. In response, AILA is exploring the possibility of organizing a semester-long reading group to gather faculty, students, and staff to engage with interdisciplinary scholarship. Please help us consider what this might look like by filling out this short survey!

Join our Team: AILA is Hiring for Spring 2024

With each new semester comes the opportunity to join our incredible interdisciplinary team of folks who believe in the importance of approaching new technology with a balanced perspective that draws from both the sciences and humanities. AILA has several open slots for Amherst students for the Spring. For consideration, please apply using Workday by searching for JR4601 AI in the Liberal Arts Student Assistant. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Ari King!

Featured AI News

It’s hard to keep up with all the AI-related News these days, but here are a couple stories that have us thinking and discussing. Let us know what AI News stories have you riveted!

Google gaining ground with the release of Gemini

Last week, December 13, Google released its latest competitor to ChatGPT4, Gemini. While experts agree that Gemini does appear to be better than ChatGPT4, skeptics are underwhelmed. Read more about Gemini and Bard from Google and see for yourself!(Image source: Bloomberg)

EU’s AI Act represents a significant milestone in AI governance

This historic regulation aims to ensure fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, and environmental sustainability are safeguarded in the face of high-risk AI technologies​​​​​​. The primary objective of the AI Act is to regulate artificial intelligence based on its potential risks to society. This involves employing a risk-based approach to AI management, ensuring that the development and deployment of AI systems are conducted responsibly and ethically. Read more on the AI Act here!

AILA Mentorship Opportunity

AILA & the Berkeley AI Safety Initiative for Students (BASIS) Bring New AI Mentorship Opportunities to the Five Colleges

In partnership with UC Berkeley’s AI Safety Initiative for Students (BASIS), AILA is recruiting both mentors and mentees to participate in the Supervised Program for Alignment Research (SPAR). SPAR recruits researchers and safety experts from top universities (e.g., Stanford, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, UMass) to tackle contemporary AI safety and alignment issues with the help of student mentees. If you are a researcherwho needs research support or a studentwho wants real-world project experience in AI alignment and safety, please contact us today!

What is AI alignment?

AI alignment and safety encompasses a broad range of research areas, including control mechanisms, understanding the inner workings of AI systems (mechanistic interpretability), reducing biases in AI systems, algorithmic fairness, and learning from human experience (inverse reinforcement learning). Click here to explore recent SPAR projects. Help us bring this exciting opportunity to the Five College community!

AILA Recommended Reads

Engaging an interdisciplinary community of participants in discussions and activities about AI requires we stay in the know. Stop by the Frost Library (Amherst College) to explore our top AI book picks!

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro; Knopf Books (2021)

This novel offers a mesmerizing narrative about an Artificial Friend named Klara who looks at the behaviors and motivations of the humans around her. Ishiguro illustrates how Klara powerfully nurtures her prismatic understanding of love, ethics, and the line between humans and AI, meshing elements of Science Fiction with contemplative realism. The novel timely probes the difficult question— what does it really mean to have consciousness? Delicately knitted with AI themes, Ishiguro elevates discourse, painting an introspective lens over the future of AI and human relationships.

Featured AI Tool

Our Tools Team is taking some time to wrap up their semester, so we don’t have a new AI Tool to explore this week. Check back with us in the new year for the latest AI Tool recommendations and reviews! We also invite you to check out the Tools section of our website with a library of in-depth AI Tool reviews for you to explore!

Security & Privacy Reminder: Please explore these tools freely with your personal account, but be mindful of bias, accuracy, content ownership, and use of personally identifiable information with these tools. Institutions are evaluating the use and configuration of AI-based tools, so please check with your IT department before using these tools with college or institutional systems or data.