Taking the Ambiguity Out of AI in Education
A conversation with Louis Kolenda, Conference Chair of the Curiosity Conference
Louis Kolenda, the Executive Director of Youth SF and Conference Chair for the Curiosity Conference, spent some time with us to share his takeaways from this year’s conference. The 2019 Curiosity Conference was co-hosted by RoboTerra and the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).
According to Louis, Silicon Valley often suffers from overspecialization where everybody tends to stay in their lanes. The success of the Curiosity Conference emerged from creating a space where ideas can mingle. “What I welcomed about the Curiosity Conference was a massive intersection of some fascinating people: AI scientists, researchers, educators, professors, students, business people, entrepreneurs, investors ─ a stimulating range of individuals all there to discuss education and AI.”
In many respects, AI is still very much a work in progress, and although there’s a sense of direction, many professionals and researchers are unsure of where the technology is ultimately heading. With uncertainty comes questions about inclusion and ethics, and the Curiosity Conference is a place to address these questions and offer comfort to uncomfortable thought processes. “The world’s on fire and inclusion of people, disciplines, races ─ kept coming up over and over,” mentions Louis. One of the classic questions is whether or not AI will replace teachers and as Louis emphasizes, “AI is not going to replace teachers, but the fact is there’s lots of ambiguity and some apprehension about where this is all going.”
Healthy discussions emerge when various professionals get together and share their take on AI. Utopian vs. dystopian projections cropped up in conversation, as different venture capitalists shared their ideas in a healthy debate.
We live in a global economy where technology is driving an international conversation. As Louis points out, “We’re all created equal. Someone in Country X is just as likely to have a great idea as in Country B. We have more resources here in the U.S. and that infrastructure is certainly helpful. But that infrastructure is quickly being projected to the rest of the world.”
The velocity of A.I. development is exciting, but there remains a need to be simultaneously mindful of the ethics involved. Machines are designing machines, and more algorithms are written by computers than by humans. “The pace of acceleration is dramatic. And that’s where we have to be heads-up; that’s where we have to be inclusive, respectful, and really play to our higher selves,” exclaims Louis.
In the end, A.I advancements ask us to ponder not just how technology will change our world, but ultimately, what is it that makes us humans?
About Louis Kolenda
Louis Kolenda serves as Executive Director of YouthSF, a nonprofit foundation helping students from underserved communities and served as Conference Chair for the 2019 Curiosity Conference.
He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with extensive business experience consulting in the Media, Communications, Technology and Education sectors.