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TEDxNortheasternU Renaissance Addressed New Realities Of AI

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

AI is quickly developing, posing new problems and innovations across industries. While much about AI is unknown, there is great potential in how it can be utilized in the future. 

Some of the possible advancements and applications of AI were addressed by two speakers at TEDxNortheasternU’s Renaissance event on Feb. 24. Both Christie Chung and Melody Liu presented talks on AI, discussing how to improve the technology and how it may be improving us. Many academics and giants in the tech industry believe that AI will revolutionize life, placing the use and regulation of this new technology at the forefront of many important debates. 

“At this time, the discussion of responsible usage and development of AI is truly prominent in academia and industry, and perhaps everyday conversations,” Chung said to the audience.

Chung, a cognitive psychologist and professor, centered her talk around how AI can be improved to be more human-like by integrating concepts of cognitive science into the development and learning of the technology. She argued that huge developments in the technology can be made by integrating functions of human cognition.

“We need to put human centered principles in mind when we continue to innovate and AI,” Chung said. “If not, biases will occur.”

Despite the potential for bias, Chung remains confident that AI will be a useful tool that can only be improved by teaching the programs to be more human.

“So looking forward, we know that cognitive science and technology will continue to intertwine, to make breakthroughs that we can hardly imagine today,” she said.

AI has already begun to be integrated into everyday life, with the emergence of chatbots such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. According to a 2023 IBM survey, 38 percent of organizations are using generative AI platforms with 42 percent considering following suit.

With this rapid growth in AI usage, it is clear AI is a quickly advancing industry that has a lot of potential to continue developing on its own.

“I think we are moving into a period when for the first time ever we may have things more intelligent than us,” said Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather of AI,” in a 60 Minutes interview. “I think in five years’ time, AI may well be able to reason better than us.”

While Hinton believes that AI will be more intelligent than humans in coming years, it is still debated whether AI will be able to be more creative. Liu, a software engineer and digital illustrator, discussed this issue in her talk about AI generated art.

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Melody Liu presenting her ideas about AI art on the TEDxNortheasternU stage for an audience of about 100 people.

“The illustrator in me felt fear that human creativity, which we have for so long believed to be uniquely ours, was being encroached upon,” said Liu.

Despite this fear, Liu claims that “AI doesn’t inherently have any meaning or expression” and therefore is a tool and can’t match human creativity. However, she remains hopeful about the future of AI in the arts.

“Right now AI is a thief,” Liu said. “But in the future, it could be another tool in an artist workshop, freeing up their hands from tedious tasks and allowing them to focus more on just being creative.”

This idea reflects a common theme among debates regarding AI: the potential for new developments and growth within the technology.

“I think one of the cool things that I know about AI is the fact that it keeps learning based on itself,” said Finlay O’Conner, a Northeastern University student who didn’t attend the event. “It’s always developing, it’s always progressing. So even if AI technically isn’t helpful in your situation now, give it time, it probably will be.”

The organizers of the TEDx event recognized this pattern of constant change and advancements, structuring the theme around the idea resurgence and something new to address the public’s desire to learn more about AI.

“The world and technology are changing drastically and rapidly,” said Jay Sella, the co-president for TEDxNortheasternU. “In many aspects, people are actively trying to do something to change it.”

Morgan Lane

Northeastern '27

Morgan Lane is a first year English and Journalism major at Northeastern University. She loves the outdoors and her hobbies include playing the violin, baking, cooking, and reading.