AI, the Library, and the future

The University of Chicago Library is partnering with colleagues across campus to discuss and research the rapid transformation of artificial intelligence (AI) and its anticipated impact on higher education and society.

This fall, the University of Chicago has joined a group of universities convened by Ithaka S+R as part of a two-year research project on Making AI Generative for Higher Education. The group will assess the immediate and emerging AI applications most likely to impact teaching, learning, and research and explore the long-term needs of institutions, instructors, and scholars as they navigate this environment. Torsten Reimer, University Librarian and Dean of the University Library, is coordinating UChicago’s engagement, working with Chief Information Officer Kevin Boyd, Dean of the College Melina Hale, Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen, and Vice Provost for Research Erin Adams to consider how these tools can contribute to field-changing research and a transformative education.

People at an event, including one speaking into a microphone
Students, faculty, and librarians discuss AI and the future at Regenstein Library. (Photo by Beth Rooney)

In Spring 2023, the Library co-hosted four events at the Joseph Regenstein Library that explored the future of AI. What happens to human rights when machines developed to enhance our powers seem ready to assert power over us? This question was explored on March 31 at Democracy and AI—The Encroaching Machine: Reframing Rights in the Age of AI. Keynote speaker Sheila Jasanoff from Harvard University discussed this question with Dean Reimer and professors Aziz Huq and David Gunkel.

Co-sponsored with Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, and the University of Chicago Law School, the program ended with lightning presentations by UChicago students.

How should AI tools such as ChatGPT affect the teaching and learning experience? The Library co-sponsored two events with the Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning. The first, on Teaching in the Age of AI, on April 28, was designed for an audience of faculty, instructors, postdocs, and graduate students. The second, ChatGPT: Friend or Foe? A Discussion for Students, held on May 2, attracted a standing-room only audience of College students and others.

As a matter of policy, what should be done to ensure that AI can evolve without compromising privacy and security, unraveling human relations, and collapsing the workforce across myriad industries? The Institute of Politics raised this question at Technology, Culture, Politics & Policy Collide on May 16, with Joan Donovan, one of the country’s most widely cited experts on digital culture, technology integrator Elizabeth Adams, Professor Chenhao Tan, and game designer Ian Bogost.

Four seated speakers in front of Human Rights banners
Dean Torsten Reimer (left) speaks with Aziz Huq, David Gunkel, and Shelia Jasanoff about the potential impact of AI on human rights. (Photo by Beth Rooney)