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ME268: William J. Clancey: How to Think Critically about Artificial Intelligence

January 23, 2019 - 4:30pm to 5:50pm

Open to the public. No RSVP required.

Join us in this week's ME268 "Robotics, AI and Design of Future Education" seminar featuring Dr. William J. Clancey, senior research scientist at IHMC (The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition) and former chief scientist of Human-Centered Computing at NASA.

Seminar Title: How to Think Critically about Artificial Intelligence

Abstract: Scientific understanding is the basis for evaluating what AI can do and its potential benefits and risks. Yet it's common to read articles and interviews in the popular press that exemplify what Orwell called "slovenliness" in our language. Most notably, dystopian stories about the future of AI resemble the origin story of Intelligent Design—scientific explanation and prediction are supplanted by simplistic speculation. But understanding AI is complicated by "marketing-speak" within the research community itself, e.g., imprecise terms like "robotic collaborator" and "autonomous." Clear thinking about AI begins by understanding the difference between people and computational systems, and that people are always involved in using technology. I illustrate this by the design methodology we used in NASA's Mobile Agents project to develop voice-commanded tools for Mars astronauts. I will then present for discussion a series of excerpts from academic and popular press publications to give practice in adopting a critical, scientific way of thinking about AI.

Speaker Biography: Dr. William J. Clancey, a senior research scientist at IHMC, is a computer scientist whose research relates cognitive and social science in the study of work practices and the design of agent systems. He received a PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University (1979) and Mathematical Sciences BA at Rice University (1974). He has developed artificial intelligence applications for medicine, education, finance, robotics, and spaceflight systems. At the Institute for Research on Learning (1987-1997), he co-developed ethnographic methods for studying and modeling work systems. At NASA Ames Research Center as Chief Scientist of Human-Centered Computing, Intelligent Systems Division (1998-2013), he co-led projects with Johnson Space Center, notably automating file management between Mission Control and the International Space Station, which received the JSC Exceptional Software Award. His studies relating people and technology include numerous field science expeditions from the Canadian High Arctic to Belize and Polynesia. He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, Association for Psychological Science, Association for Advancement of AI, and the National Academy of Inventors. His book Working on Mars: Voyages of scientific discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers received the AIAA 2014 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award. He has presented invited lectures in over 20 countries.

ME268 "Robotics, AI and Design of Future Education" is instructed by Dr. Li Jiang, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Design Group. This class consists of lectures from Dr. Jiang and invited talks from experts in the industry and academia to discuss the state of the art in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and how that will impact the future of education. The time of robotics/AI is upon us. Within the next 10-20 years, many jobs will be replaced by robots/AI. We cover hot topics in robotics, AI, the need to prepare students for the rise of robotics/AI, and ways to redesign and reinvent our education to adapt to the new era.

Event Sponsor: 
Design Group, Mechanical Engineering
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