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AI is here to stay:

it's time to embrace the value of AI!

Posted on January 16, 2024
Image of circuits with the letters AI superimposed over them in a neon blue on a black or dark navy background

I wrote my first post on AI almost a year ago. At that time, I knew very little. In all honesty, I didn’t really think about Google or Microsoft Office using AI or how Siri or Alexa used AI to make our lives easier. I was also, if I am going to continue to be honest, a skeptic. However, I knew AI was upon us in a HUGE way, and I needed to learn more about it. The best way I learn is to do, so I decided to create an assignment for my students using ChatGPT. That opened the door – more like a flood gate!

I started fiddling with AI, reading more and more articles, then co-chaired a committee with our Vice Provost, Steven Weber, to write the policy on AI use for students, which really opened my eyes. First, we had to educate and create a common language and help students and professors understand using AI had to be viewed on a spectrum versus blanket statements forbidding the use of AI. We can’t dictate – “There will be no use of AI in my classroom” because then students have to turn off their phones, their Apple watches, they can’t use search engines or Microsoft Word, etc. I am grateful to my colleagues, especially Ali Shokoufandeh in our College of Computing and Informatics who helped me understand the different types of AI tools as we collaborated on creating AI graphics to develop the common language and layout the spectrum.

I have continued to learn about AI tools, embed classroom exercises, and use it to streamline my own work initiatives. In addition. I have since spoken or participated on a few panels about AI, having another coming up later this month, and I continue to learn more and more about what AI can do.

I hope this helps you realize, just like the internet, AI is here to stay, and it will revolutionize how we operate in industry, academia, and in our personal lives. AI can save us time by providing a framework, editing our work, writing a first draft of an email or a proposal, creating our calendars and managing our time, and helping us stay organized. It can also provide feedback on student work, organize lecture notes, and summarize a list of articles – and I am only scratching the surface. I am the President of the Board for the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) and led our board retreat last weekend. I fed my notes into ChatGPT and asked it, based on my notes, to write a new mission and value statement. It did a pretty good job! Now it will still need some tweaking, but it is a good start.

Now, AI is NOT perfect. Users of AI, whether students or working professionals MUST do the following:

  • Understand AI is not always correct – you have to check the facts
  • AI may be biased – it is pulling from data across the infinite web, some of which may be harmful or offensive
  • AI does not have an ethical lens from which it regurgitates content – the user must continue to ask the questions: should I use AI, what is the value to me, and could this be harmful to others?
  • Because AI pulls from the web, often without attribution, the content was created by a myriad of others (maybe even you) and when you ask for sources, you may not get them, or they may not be accurate – so always double check
  • Prompt engineering is a thing - AI is only as good as the information it is fed – in other words, if you put garbage in, you may get garbage back, think carefully and strategically about the outcome you are looking for when writing your prompts, you likely will have to make several attempts to get the desired output and the more you expect of an AI tool, the more time you need to take to ensure it delivers your expected outcome
  • When asking AI to edit a body of work, it typically condenses too much, you are better off asking it to edit a paragraph at a time, then use your writing skills to ensure the work flows well
  • And yes, AI can be used by people, and I stress by people, for bad things. We are already seeing how AI technology is creating “deep fakes” to make it look like someone is saying something they did not say to be used against them, and this will continue and get worse
  • And yes, AI will likely replace specific jobs, but have we not learned that when a new technology enters the world, while some jobs are lost, new ones always follow?

In a recent article Inside Higher Ed article, it noted that employees who learn how to use AI could see their pay grow as much as 35% over their peers who are not comfortable using AI. As I have noted, AI is here to stay, it is only going to get better and better as the technology advances. So, now is the time to learn how AI can help you in your career and personal life. The more you try, the more you will learn. Fast & Company compiled a list of 33 AI tools you can use for free – this might be a good way to dip your feet into the ever-expanding world of AI. Just don’t forget, you’ve already been using AI when you ask Siri or Alexa a question, have Microsoft Word or Grammarly make suggested edits, or simple Google where to get the best Cheese Steaks!


Anne Converse Willkomm
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Teaching Professor, Dept. of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences
Drexel University
Posted in innovation-workplace, professional-development-career-tips