UTD professor initiates discussion about artificial intelligence


Tracy Tran

University of Texas at Dallas computer science senior lecturer Gordon Arnold speaks to Coppell High School students about artificial intelligence on Wednesday in the CHS Lecture Hall. The CHS AI club reached out to the UTD Artifical Intelligence Society about bringing a guest speaker to the high school.

Pramika Kadari, Executive News & Enterprise Editor

On Wednesday, students with career aspirations in computer science and related fields gathered in the Coppell High School Lecture Hall, eager to hear the University of Texas at Dallas professor Gordon Arnold give a presentation about artificial intelligence.

The CHS artificial intelligence club president Akif Abidi, who is also a staff writer for The Sidekick, contacted the UTD Artificial Intelligence Society (AIS) to request a guest speaker; AIS president and UTD student Nooreen Ahmad then reached out to professor Arnold.

“What fascinates me about AI is the fact it’s always evolving, and the challenges continue to persist,” Ahmad said. “So it’s never really going to reach a point where we aren’t going to be constantly working on it, and finding new ways to improve it, while also counteracting the effects that AI have.”

After opening with numerous examples of AI – everything from calculators to face recognition – Arnold presented quotes about the technology from various sources, such as Elon Musk and Vladimir Putin.

“A hundred years ago, if I had said ‘I want a computer to be able to read human handwriting’, people would’ve said ‘yeah, keep dreaming’,” said Arnold, discussing the progression of AI over time. “Nowadays, that’s not even considered artificial intelligence because it’s too easy. The goal post for AI is constantly moving, mostly because we’re getting better at it. AI, in its classical definition, is everywhere.”

While predicting the future of AI, Arnold asks, “How will AI destroy the world?” and presented two answers: the sci-fi method, or the dolphin method.

The former is the idea that like in movies such as The Terminator, robots will turn evil and take over the world.

The latter, which Arnold said is far more likely, is an example of how artificial intelligence will destroy us by doing exactly what we tell them to do, but interpreting those instructions in an unexpected way. Years ago at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, a dolphin named Kelly outsmarted her trainers into giving her more food than she deserved using this method.

“The dolphin story gets me everytime. I love that story,” Ahmad said.

Later in the presentation, Arnold answered frequently asked questions about AI, and discussed helpful AI-related courses offered at UTD.

“We had a guest speaker to encourage the community to get together and learn more,” junior AI club officer Aarian Ahsan said. “I enjoyed when he brought up the courses at UTD, because I’m interested in enrolling there, so it’s good to know what it has to offer.”

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