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“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.” — Stephen Hawking

Upcoming Events

AILA’s Spring Learning & Discussion Series

AI and Creativity: What Matters for Human Writers | A Conversation with Naomi S. Baron
Tuesday, Feb. 20th @ 4 pm; Zoom Event

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For writers, as well as teachers and students of writing, the rapid development of Generative AI raises profound questions about the value of humanist writing processes. Join AILA and the Writing Center for this virtual event featuring Naomi S. Baron, author of Who Wrote This? How AI and the Lure of Efficiency Threaten Human Writing and Professor Emerita of Linguistics at American University.

In this highly interactive session, Professor Baron will build on her discussion of creativity from her latest book, incorporating developments over the past year, with a focus on the realm of writing. Facilitated by Jessica Kem, director of the Amherst Writing Center. The event is open to students, staff, and faculty throughout the Five Colleges. Click to learn more & RSVP for a Zoom link.

Celebrating Black History Month

In observance of Black History Month, AILA would like to highlight some of the most influential Black leaders in the field of Artificial Intelligence today.

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Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson is an acclaimed scholar in science, technology, and social inequality. As the Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 2021, she has played a pivotal role in integrating social considerations into technological advancements, particularly in AI. Her leadership underscores the importance of inclusive and equitable practices within the AI domain, highlighting her influence among black leaders in the field. To learn more about her AI policy work, listen to this episode of Humans vs. Machines with Gary Marcus podcast on The Race to Control AI. (image credit: Dan Komoda, 2019)

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!

NSF Launches Program to Boost AI Research

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot program, a significant step toward creating a shared AI research infrastructure. This initiative aims to provide U.S.-based researchers and educators with support to drive responsible AI innovation. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan highlighted the importance of this collaborative effort for maintaining America’s global competitiveness in AI. The program will initially focus on AI applications in healthcare, environmental sustainability, and infrastructure. Read the announcement here!

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Lawmakers Propose Bill Tackling Deepfakes

After the circulation of non-consensual AI-generated pornographic images of Taylor Swift, US legislators have proposed the DEFIANCE Act, which would allow individuals to sue if they are depicted in fabricated pornographic images. Co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators, the act aims to provide a legal avenue for victims to seek damages from those who create or distribute such “digital forgeries.”  Read more, and see the bill.

Could Chat-GPT Invent Bioweapons? OpenAI Thinks So.

OpenAI, creator of Chat-GPT, released a paper last week on their website examining GPT-4’s abilities to aid in the creation of bioweapons. The experiment included 100 participants, some of whom had access to an unrestricted version of GPT-4: the largest study on the topic to date. OpenAI found LLMs “[provide] at most a mild uplift” to bioweapon creation. While some outlets reported on the study as no big deal, others have questioned the study’s statistical analysis and experimental design.

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AILA Recommended Reads

Engaging an interdisciplinary community of participants in discussions and activities about AI requires we stay in the know. Check out some of the books our AILA Team is reading and discussing together.

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values by Brian Christian (Norton, 2020)

How do we ensure AI — the programs, users, and owners — remain in line with our goals and values? This is the challenge at the heart of many AI debates, named the “alignment problem.” Christian’s book is an accessible yet deep introduction to contemporary (and historical) views of this very issue, examining how AI developers are tackling the complex task of alignment. He emphasizes the need for AI systems to be reliable, understandable, and aligned with the human world, raising questions about safety and ethics in the rapidly evolving relationship between humans and machines.

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Featured AI Tool

Our AI Mentorship and Tools team is always exploring new applications of AI. Here we feature some of our favorites. 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.

BlackBox AI is a leading AI-powered programming assistant. Ask it any question relating to code, and BlackBox AI will provide you with the code and explanations you need in plain English. It is capable of assisting with multiple programming languages and frameworks: HTML to Python, XCode to Android, Azure to BitBucket. Users can also create their own chatbots! All you have to do is provide it with a knowledge base in the form of a website URL. Your chatbot will use this website to inform its answers. BlackBox AI is a must-have tool for any programmers or code enthusiasts.

BlackBox is maintained under Course Connect Inc. and is committed to protecting personal data and the GDPR. Users can view and delete any personal information that they may have. Try it here!

Security and Privacy Rating: 🔐🔐🔐

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The Artificial Intelligence in the Liberal Arts initiative at Amherst College aims to engage a broad, interdisciplinary community of participants in discussions and activities related to artificial intelligence, exploring and facilitating multi-way interactions between work in artificial intelligence and work across the liberal arts. Our newsletter contains the latest AI-related events, tools, scholarship, and news in AI.