Artificial Intelligence Literacy

“You are Balenciaga, Harry.” Holy fish, you look sharp, Rubeus!

Spent time with my parents at dinner this week, bringing them up to speed on ChatGPT, Copilot, and AI in general. As per usual, it was impossible to give them a definitive stance, and summarize the past 4 months in 90 minutes, but they’re both curious individuals, so at least they’re now caught up.

It can be confusing with proclamations of job loss, people getting physically and emotionally hurt by AI bots they have a relationship with, and large amounts of unpredictable change coupled with known personalities signing petitions to stop further AI development. Predicting the future is hard, but I think the easiest way to understand it is to look to the past and then compare to the now.

I’ve seen 2 extreme views of college professors in my Twitter feed. The first, super distraught about what to do as he’s now getting inundated with student assignments written by ChatGPT. The second is requiring students utilize ChatGPT in their work; they’re not allowed to just “write assignments in Google Docs/Word”.

The former is appears deeply concerned the students are utilizing AI as a tool to bypass work and he’s set up to fail on how to gauge their learning progress. The later is, like all the artists & creators on my Twitter feed, utilizing AI as yet another tool to create and learn. I have a feeling the 2nd professor is excited by the prospect of getting students to get ChatGPT to generate content, then help them learn how to determine if it’s accurate or not. Do they really _understand_ the source material?

THAT is the new skill. AI literacy.

When I was super young, Media Literacy was important for kids to learn; learning to understand how and why commercials try to trick you, and TV/radio/movies that could confuse you to the truth. Various kid shows, Mister Rogers, Sesame Street, etc. taught kids how to navigate this influx of TV content. People “know” what a teleprompt is now, an “audience” clap sign, and the reason ads say misleading statements. We collectively _understand_ how it’s misleading, is biased, and hides the real truth.

Her majesty and I have taught our kids the same with Discord drama queens, fake texts, how to safely Google things to “trust, but verify”, which includes the new forms of the above. Society has already called out what we already knew and called many “Influencers”; because they’re trying to influence us, no confusion there. Using media, however, is super powerful, and lead to the Internet blogs and YouTube, which is where you can learn ANYTHING, right now.

Now, we are at the same point with AI. Pro’s and Con’s, but exciting. As a programmer this should be status quo for us at this point: “Ah, yet another thing to learn AS LONG AS it helps me”. It does; we’re horizontalists, we work in any industry.

Happy April Fools, y’all!