Made in Florence: A Presentation on Artificial Intelligence

The Societal Impacts of AI in Education, Careers & Politics

On Tuesday, June 11, the Palazzi Community Center hosted “Made in Florence,” where Professor Marco Mayer of LUMSA University, and Professor Michele Colajanni from the University of Bologna spoke about Artificial Intelligence: Between Myth & Reality. “Made in Florence” was open to the public, intended for both Italian locals and FUA-AUF students alike. Students in the Photography, Special Events, Public Relations, and Journalism Special Project: Experiential Learning (SPEL) programs helped to manage the event as part of FUA-AUF’s CEMI – Community Engagement Member Institutions.

 

Students participating in the Journalism and Public Relations SPEL programs were given the opportunity to sit down with the professors to discuss their presentation on artificial intelligence, specifically in the realm of education. In the discussion, Professors Mayer and Colajanni shared their main points from the presentation with the students.

 

The presentation focused on AI’s effect on different parts of society including education, jobs, and the political world. All of these areas are in danger due to the rise of AI, especially as it continues to be upgraded, becoming more realistic.

 

In the field of education, many students and teachers are being negatively affected by the introduction of AI. Professor Colajanni specifically notes that those most in danger because of artificial intelligence are the younger generations. In the presentation, as well as the discussion with SPEL students, he shared that older generations were lucky as they faced obstacles in school. He stated that he struggled a lot in school, however he eventually overcame those obstacles which helped him to improve.

 

“Education for mature students like you isn’t a problem. You have already gone through education the traditional way. I don't see a huge problem,” Colajanni said, “I see a huge problem with younger generations. The younger you are, the higher the problem is. I don’t have a solution,” he went on to add.

 

Beyond academics, AI continues to have a large impact on careers. Those most in danger, as discussed by Professor Colajanni, are creative jobs such as artists, musicians, and writers. He notes that the improvements from ChatGPT2 to ChatGPT4, and soon ChatGPT5, are incredibly noticeable and increasingly realistic. “You cannot compete,” Colajanni commented when talking about creative jobs. He theorized that in the future, there is the possibility that all of the creative work will be done by artificial intelligence.

 

In their presentation, Professors Mayer and Colajanni both emphasized the amount of power artificial intelligence can provide, as well as the level of control it can hold. Professor Mayer commented on the use of AI in politics saying, “You must create a distinction between the use of AI by democratic states and dictatorships. Because in dictatorships, they [are used] by the government or the ruling party.”

 

When asked about their advice on how to manage AI, they both agreed that there is no controlling it and no solution. “The history shows that any limitation is bypassed,” said Professor Colajanni. Their best recommendations were to embrace the use of AI and to work with it as if AI is a component of a team.

 

In terms of academia, they suggested that American universities follow Italian universities in giving students oral exams rather than written. Oral exams would ensure students knowledge on the topic and that there was no abuse of AI. Another piece of advice was to find ways to work with AI on assignments without solely relying on AI. In other words, as stated by Professor Mayer, to pair the usage of artificial intelligence with critical thinking. “Perhaps you need to teach critical thinking earlier in order not to [have] youngsters to get manipulated by information which they don’t discuss,” suggested Professor Mayer.

 

In order to manage AI usage, people in careers can collaborate with AI to better their work and utilize it as a tool, or as previously suggested, a component of a team. “The truth is that we have to learn how to use what a creative person can create thanks to artificial intelligence, the combination of artificial intelligence and a creative job,” Colajanni said. The presentation ended allowing the opportunity for the guests to engage with the speakers through asking questions related to the topic.

 

The “Made in Florence” event provided valuable insights into the relationship between society and artificial intelligence. In accordance with FUA-AUF’s community engagement initiative, students from various SPEL programs helped organize the event through greeting guests, taking pictures, serving refreshments, and interacting with the community. Professors Mayer and Colajanni highlighted the impact of AI in the areas of academia, careers, and politics. Their discussion emphasized the importance of integrating AI responsibly and thoughtfully into our lives, particularly for younger generations, who are most at risk. The event reinforced that while AI presents new challenges, it also offers opportunities for innovation and collaboration if approached conscientiously. Professor Mayer concluded by saying “You must learn to challenge AI.”

 

photos courtesy of FUA-AUF study abroad student, Sarah Haney

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