Connected Learning Media Literacy Teacher Inquiry

AI … What?!

The Grapple Series, Session #1

Curators notes:

During our first session, we began by first grappling with how we each identify ourselves in relation to technology. On February 5, 2020


The Grapple Series: Exploring the Intersections of Artificial Intelligence & Humanity was organized by educators from The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project & The CMU CREATE Lab to support the exploration of the impact and implications of artificial intelligence and new technologies for education and for the communities we serve. Originally published on February 5, 2020

During our first session, we began by first grappling with how we each identify ourselves in relation to technology. We asked: “Where would you place yourself on the spectrum of Techno Optimist to Techno Pessimist”?

Our responses covered a wide range, though no one found themselves at the extreme end of techno-pessimism. After a lively discussion about our responses, the team from the Western PA Writing Project and the CREATE Lab introduced themselves and the Grapple Series. They spoke of their long term partnership and motivation for embarking on this line of inquiry into AI and Humanity.

Next, we tried to distinguish between poetry authored by a human and poems produced by a robotic program. What aspects of a poem make it more likely to be written by a human? Would a robot use swear words in its poem? These are some of the questions that surfaced during our conversation.

We then moved to reflect on the Bot or Not poetry challenge as well as the two pre-readings (‘The Machines Are Learning, and So Are the Students’ and ‘Ed-Tech Agitprop’), to uncover new questions to grapple with. The following excerpt prompted our exploration through a private write, and small group discussions.

At the end of the hour, we came back together as a full group to share final thoughts and get excited about our next grappling session on ‘algorithms and justice.’

Here is a recording of our first discussion:

And a list of our pre-reading suggestions:

Up next

Content type
Algorithms & Justice
By Beatrice Dias, Michelle King, and Laura Roop
During our second Grapple Series session we explored algorithms, which are, in many ways, the inner workings of artificial intelligence (AI). What would we discover if we approached building algorithms through the lens of justice?
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Content type
Economics of AI
By Beatrice Dias, Michelle King, and Laura Roop
Our third session in the Grapple Series focused on exploring the economic engine that propels advances in AI technology. This led us to grapple with the motivations behind the tools – from whose gaze are these technologies designed, and to whose benefit?
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Content type
Humanity. What Does it Mean to be Human?
By Beatrice Dias, Michelle King, and Laura Roop
When do we feel most human? Is it when we ...  connect with each other and with nature? ... create works of art, food or ideas? ... move our bodies in response to our inner rhythm? ... reflect and notice more about ourselves, our space and our context? ... acknowledge our mortality and inherent vulnerability? These were some of the thoughts and questions that our group grappled with and shared about our collective experiences being human.
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