Students explore the implications of artificial intelligence

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mimi Onuoha, Diane Reynolds, Branka Marijan, and David Jones sitting on the panel for the roundtable discussion "Why Artificial Intelligence Matters"Mimi Onuoha, Diane Reynolds, Branka Marijan, and David Jones during the roundtable discussion "Why Artificial Intelligence Matters."

On April 4, Branka Marijan of Project Ploughshares and two upcoming PeaceTech Living Learning Community Peer Leaders took part in the University of Waterloo’s 2019 Artificial Intelligence Summit. Facilitated by Waterloo’s Global Engagement Seminar Program, the summit included a roundtable discussion and showcased students’ research to spark important conversations about the socio-cultural and political implications of artificial intelligence (AI).

Branka researches military and security implications of emerging technologies. She participated in “Why Artificial Intelligence Matters: A roundtable discussion" with three others working in the field of AI. “The panel discussion was lively and thoughtful,” says Branka. “The panelists had a wide-ranging discussion about impacts of technology on society that highlighted why such interdisciplinary conversations are key to seeing beneficial uses of new technologies.”

The research of PeaceTech Peer Leaders Jonathan Smith (Computer Science and Business Administration) and Grace Wright (Political Science and Business) explored bias explained through music recommendation engines and issues surrounding global AI policies, respectively. “The project helped me learn a lot about the serious need for AI policy discussions to be at the forefront of international policy because AI has such immense potential to be harmful but also to be used as a tool for positive change,” Grace explains.

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement participants involved in the summit highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary conversations about AI and other emerging technologies. Grace says “one of my favourite things about the seminar course was having such diverse perspectives because it added a richness to the conversations that we had.” Branka adds, “we need more courses and discussions that build bridges between different disciplines and communities.”

The Centre for Peace Advancement strives to build those vital bridges by offering courses that focus on bringing together diverse perspectives to engage in conversations about the implications of tech. PACS 315: Engineering and Peace does just that, and will be taught by Director Paul Heidebrecht in Fall 2019. Check out the Engineering and Peace course description, and sign up for it during course selection this summer.