Artificial Intelligence technology is penetrating nearly all industries and advancing fast. When it comes to higher education, some say it’s the most disruptive thing that’s been faced to date. The College for Creative Studies recently launched its institutional stance on AI with Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Tim Flattery at the helm.
As a working artist himself, Flattery has a unique perspective and is admittedly conflicted over its use. Detroitisit sat down with him to hear his thoughts.
Q: How is the College for Creative Studies Addressing AI?
A: We created a statement and it can be seen here. The institution’s basic stance is within that first paragraph.
I absolutely recognize how polarizing AI is in the artist community especially, and the possible repercussions. At the same time, we recognize that AI is here to stay. So my priority last year was to address it – not embrace or endorse it – but address it so there is a responsible use.
I created a task force that included students, staff, and alumni. They worked to hold town halls, survey students and faculty, and more, and then synthesized and considered that data to develop the statement. It was a year-long process.
In very basic terms, students must show work and attach prompts to that work so it can be correlated and vetted. It must show that the final output is not synthetic. This process can only be used for research and within the process development stage.
Q: What do the students think about AI?
A: Like everyone else on the globe, some students think it’s the greatest thing, allowing them further development in the workflow and some think the polar opposite – that AI should be denounced.
That’s why I’m so careful to state that I’m addressing AI, not advocating for it. And the reason for addressing it is that we have no choice but to recognize this technology exists. Hopefully, legislation will regulate it. But until then, we have to put our best foot forward and address it.
Q: What are the implications of AI when it comes to education?
A: The negatives are that this generation of learning has the capacity to reach its destination before taking the journey and that’s incredibly dangerous. Designers, artists, and storytellers must take that journey through foundation and process.
On the positive side, there are ways it can be used to enhance the process and allow the user to go about things in a way that maybe they would not have conceptualized. Image generators like Craiyon or Midjourney help to evoke emotion or mood that can lead to what the artist creates as opposed to creating it for them.
Either way, it has a huge effect on today’s learner. Another risk is that the generation coming in is a generation that wants the immediate effect. It’s anxious for immediate successful outcomes and AI is a vehicle that could be a crutch for them.
Q: When it comes to the creative arts, what do you think are the implications of AI?
A: An example of creative arts is actors and writers. AI in film and TV studios was part of the nucleus of the SAG-AFTRA strike against Hollywood producers and studios, and a key part in their new contract negotiations. Actors rely on their likenesses for residuals. With AI, their likenesses are being scanned without their knowledge and used to populate scenes without hiring extras, this will eliminate their livelihood. It’s devastating.
In other industries, AI holds many positives. AI can streamline workflow to get things done in a third of the time. When this is done without hurting humans, it can be a great thing.
Q: Do you think AI is the biggest disruptor yet to education?
A: Yes. There has not been a challenge like this that I can remember.
As it exists now, AI is a giant blender of data and it scrapes and blends the data, takes a scoop, and spits it out. It’s data that comes from somebody else’s work. It’s stealing.
Q: Do you think it’s a threat to education?
A: I do if it’s not addressed responsibly. I hope it will be regulated in a positive way for positive outcomes.
Q: Conversely, do you think AI could be a valuable aid to students?
A: Yes. It can be an aid in process and research and in a human’s effectiveness, but not a substitute.
As a working artist, I’m conflicted and have strong feelings but I won’t put my head in the sand. I’m transparent about that. I want to denounce it but also recognize the fact that it is an advancement in technology and technology is something we have to embrace as long as it’s responsible.
People call AI a tool, but it’s not a tool, it’s a facilitator. It’s doing the work for you. We have to understand this and the negative effect it could have.
Q: How will you navigate the fact that students need to be prepared to face and potentially utilize AI in the workforce?
A: By having a policy set. Our policy is a living document designed to adapt. We are continuing town halls with students and faculty, and alumni so that we stay ahead of the curve and continue to be informed.
This process enables us to continue to prepare students appropriately for how industries are using AI.
Q: What do you think are potential long-term implications?
A: This depends on three things. The first is what happens with regulation. The second is how it continues to evolve. And lastly, how things wash out between the opposite ends of public mentality… and if we can find a middle ground.
Stealing from an artist gives me despair. If that changes and we have proper regulation, then it can become a tool as opposed to the facilitator.