Curious about artificial intelligence (AI)? Afraid of it? Hopeful?
The emerging technology known as generative pre-trained transformers (GPT), or chatbots, has become a hot topic, raising more questions than our society can answer.
In response, Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN) and its partner, the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, will host a special town hall meeting titled “AI: Hype, Harm, or Hope?” to discuss the local impact of artificial intelligence on Eden Prairie.
The meeting will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Performing Arts Center in Eden Prairie Central Middle School, 8025 Old School Road.
Admission will be $10 for pre-registration and $15 at the door.
Jody Carey, a copywriter who owns her own business, looks forward to serving as one of the subject matter experts at the town hall.
The Eden Prairie resident specializes in long-form content, writing for local magazines and creating content for business and community websites, blogs, and annual reports.
“When Chat-GPT came on the scene late last year, copywriters all over the world were a bit nervous,” Carey said. “But now that we’ve had a few months to play around with these powerful tools, the opportunities are really exciting.”
Not everyone is optimistic. Some questions that skeptics and AI industry watchers are raising include the following:
- Will I lose my job to AI?
- Will my kids use chatbots to cheat on their homework, depriving themselves of the chance to learn?
- Are chatbots and other machine learning tools a prelude to the surveillance state similar to what exists in China?
“At this time, technologists do not understand generative AI well enough to create guardrails and to control the complexities of the rapidly changing AI environment,” commented Brad Canham, EPLN’s first editor and currently vice president of research at Transforma Insights.
A panel will assist Eden Prairie businesspeople, students, and residents understand these questions. The panelists will include:
- Steve Grove is the CEO and publisher of the Star Tribune. Previously, he was commissioner of employment and economic development in Gov. Tim Walz’s administration. Before his public service, Grove spent 12 years in executive roles at Alphabet’s Google. Most notably, he was the founding director of the Google News Lab, which aimed to support innovation in the news industry for media companies and startups.
- Heather Mac Murray is the director of learning analytics, data, and reporting for Eden Prairie Schools. She previously worked as an analyst for baseball research with the Minnesota Twins. She holds a doctorate in materials science from Cornell University.
- Arun Batchu is a vice president and analyst in the software engineering practice of Gartner Inc., a technology research and advisory firm. His responsibilities include providing insights to global software engineering leaders, covering areas such as artificial intelligence, best practices, and leadership.
The three will discuss AI, dissecting what’s real, what poses a threat, and what offers hope.
They will be joined by Carey and three additional experts who will share their firsthand expertise in working with artificial intelligence. The experts include:
- Justin Grammens wears multiple hats in the field of AI. He is the founder and CEO of Recursive Awesome, a consulting firm specializing in AI-driven business efficiency and automation. Additionally, Grammens owns and founded Lab651, owns AppliedAI Weekly News, co-founded AppliedAI and Captovation, and serves as the creator and host of the Conversations on AppliedAI Podcast.
- Alok Gupta, a senior associate dean of faculty, research and administration at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Gupta, who researches AI and its effect on work, was recently featured on an MPR News segment entitled “Will AI steal our jobs?”
- Steve Reinhardt of Transform Computing, whose mission is to deliver explainable AI to a broad audience via the power of advanced math. He has spent his career working with advanced computers, both traditional supercomputers and cutting-edge quantum ones.
Ken Stone, a former TPT news anchor and reporter, will moderate the event. He was a full-time faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2002 to 2009. Currently, he operates his own media consulting and video production company.
After the discussion, refreshments will be available, courtesy of Bronzewood Bakery and Fat Pants Brewing.
The AI Town Hall has been generously supported by local employers like Optum. Optum’s CIO, Mouli Venkatesan, will introduce the event.
Other sponsors include Flagship Bank, Lab651, and SouthWest Transit. Nonprofit sponsors include the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, Applied AI, the Shreya Foundation, and the Talon Robotics Club.
“Convening this town hall is a new activity for Eden Prairie Local News,” said Steve Schewe, publisher of EPLN. “We are listening to the national conversation about AI, and we organized this town hall with the chamber to begin a hyperlocal discussion about how AI will affect life in Eden Prairie. Our experts are looking forward to engaging with the audience in ways that address the natural anxiety that comes from questions about emerging technology, while encouraging good decision-making about how AI will affect our future roles at work, school, and as citizens.”
Editor’s note: Mouli Venkatesan is a board member of the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce. Arun Batchu is the vice president of technology for the Shreya Foundation, of which Vijay Dixit serves as president and is also a board member of EPLN.
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