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Expert Alert – how AI is transforming society

La Trobe University 5 mins read

Associate Professor Sophia Duan
Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition in the La Trobe Business School

Contact E: Sophia.duan@latrobe.edu.au

Dr Duan was named the Top 25 Analytics Leader in Australia in 2022 by IAPA, the peak body for Australian Analytics Professionals.

She was the only academic spotlighted as Women in Analytics – Analytics Leaders 2023 among 27 esteemed analytics leaders across Australia.

Topic areas:

  • AI and the future of work
  • Human-AI collaboration
  • AI and mobility
  • Privacy concerns in AI

Quotes attributable to Associate Professor Sophia Duan

“AI is ready for us, but we are not ready for AI.”

“Ensuring ethical and safe use of AI in the workplace is now a business imperative, particularly as younger employees enter the workforce with a keen interest in embracing the technology.”

“AI is likely to impact low-tier white-collar jobs the most. This could potentially exacerbate gender inequality in labour markets, considering that these jobs are currently dominated by females.”

“While AI is seen as a useful tool for automating tasks and augmenting human work, there is scepticism about its capacity to replace complex jobs, especially where professional judgment and creativity are required.”

“The fear comes from the unknown. The more we get to know AI, the better we can harness its benefits at work.”

 

Dr Fei Liu
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and IT at La Trobe University’s Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering in Bundoora.

Contact E: f.liu@latrobe.edu.au

Dr Liu will be on long service leave from February 5.

Dr Liu has been conducting research in AI for more than 30 years, predominantly in areas of automated reasoning, data mining and machine learning.

Topic areas:

  • People’s anxiety over the possibility that one day a robot will replace them in their workplace.
  • Comparisons of AI technology today with the Industrial Revolution, which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Quotes attributable to Dr Fei Liu

“In today’s world, people consider the Industrial Revolution as a major milestone in the history of human civilisation. Believe it or not - the revolution caused a huge amount of anxiety 200 years ago that machines would replace them in their factories and workshops,” Dr Liu said.

“Scientific research and technology development should be beneficial to our society and improve our quality of life.

“Of course, our government needs to respond actively to ensure this is the case.”

 

Dr Daswin De Silva
Associate Professor and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition at La Trobe University.

Contact E: d.desilva@latrobe.edu.au M: 0432 575 949.

Recent publications:

Topic areas:

  • Universal AI literacy
  • Risks of AI and regulation
  • Limitations of AI and Implications

Quotes attributable to Dr De Silva

“As AI becomes intertwined in the way we live and work, it is essential that we learn the necessary skills and knowledge for AI literacy as it applies to professional work and the ethical use in public and commercial settings. Universities are strategically positioned to provide this education to the full-time students (across all disciplines, not just STEM), professional workforce (through micro-credentials), and the general public (through online/free learning platforms),” Dr De Silva said.

“As organisations capitalise on the financial gains of using AI at work, it is equally important to ensure the ethical and responsible use and practice of AI in production, deployment and application. As the EU AI Act sets a global benchmark for AI regulation, it is important to distinguish the national priorities for Australia. Then we should develop regulations or guidelines that align with our interests, while also collaborating with global policy and ensuring that we do not stunt the innovation and growth potential AI across all industries and discipline areas.”

“Despite the exponential advances of Generative AI in workplace applications involving text, image and multimodal data, it is not without its limitations such as hallucinations, compositionality, systematicity and reasoning. Organisations and business looking to deploy Gen AI solutions must ensure human oversight and human-in-the-loop configurations to circumvent risks posed by these limitations.”

 

Dr Alexia Maddox
Senior Lecturer in Pedagogy and Education Futures in La Trobe University’s School of Education.

Dr Maddox is a sociologist of technology with her latest research drawing insights into emerging technology spaces with immersive environments such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Contact E: a.maddox@latrobe.edu.au

Topic areas:

  • Response to IMF analysis revealing about 40 per cent of all jobs globally to be affected by AI.
  • How universities and educational institutions are preparing students to engage with AI technologies.
  • What has been learned from AI tools such as ChatGPT?
  • Risks of AI tools becoming more prevalent.
  • What skillsets are needed in jobs of the future?
  • ChatGPT teaches students about the world they’ll inhabit.

Quotes attributable to Dr Alexia Maddox

“AI isn’t the first technology to have a massive impact on workers.”

“When generative AI came into education – it caused a big scare in higher education. From the initial disruption to questions raised over students’ authenticity, and then the bigger picture: how should students be using these tools to create content, and should we be changing our assessments to reflect the times? Slowing down this technology is just not possible. Our job, as educational institutions, is to do this hard work and feed back to industry partners and policymakers. We need to prepare students about what this tool is, what it does, and understand where their own capacity is and how they can grow with it. For teachers, it’s understanding collaboration, creativity, and the ability to speak, work and play with technologies in a desired outcome.”

“I do think we’re looking at a new thing. This technology has developed to such a degree that it can bring new ideas to the table that we as humans don’t have the cognitive power to find. My job is moving into this space and it’s having a substantial change to my practice.”

“While generative AI leads to a world of possibilities and offers a different kind of efficiency, it’s yet to be a highly accurate tool because it is based on an origin that we can’t trace.”

 

Dr James Tsatsaronis
Teaching-focused Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry at La Trobe University.

Contact E: j.tsatsaronis@latrobe.edu.au

Dr Tsatsaronis has broad research interests in technology-enhanced learning, assessment and blended learning design.

He primarily teaches second-year biochemistry across several courses, such as Bachelor of Science, Biomedicine, Animal and Veterinary Bioscience, Food and Nutrition and Agriculture.

Dr Tsatsaronis is investigating student perceptions to using a generative AI tool in the subject of Metabolic Biochemistry.

Quotes attributable to Dr Tsatsaronis

“As part of the subject, I designed AI chatbots to roleplay various scenarios within our workshops. One example of this was a chatbot I dubbed “KetoBot” that roleplays a family member who has started taking an unproven nutritional supplement marketed to boost “keto” diets. Students interact with the chatbot to attempt to explain how keto diets actually work and apply their knowledge of metabolism to a plausible real life situation.”

“My evaluation of this approach is ongoing; however, student feedback so far has been quite interesting. The majority of students I surveyed agree that interacting with the chatbot was enjoyable and helped enhance their learning experiences. Fewer, however, indicated that they thought the chatbot helped them understand the subject content, or expressed a desire to have chatbots in the future for other learning activities. The main advantages that students stated was that this application was something interesting and different to what they were used to, but some students also voiced concerns that AI could replace the human connection between students and teachers.”

“I think that there is a lot of excitement at the moment regarding the potential of AI, especially implemented as chatbot tools. Clearly there is a potential to utilise AI to extend and transform the way we teach, however it’s critical that we listen to the student voice and their concerns regarding the use of these tools.” 

 

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