[Air-L] Generative AI and the Future of the University: Three Events at the University of Manchester

Mark Carrigan mark at markcarrigan.net
Sun Apr 2 07:40:25 PDT 2023

*May 10th, 17th and 24th - 3pm to 5pm (BST) at the University of
Manchester, UK*

Since it was launched in November 2022, Open AI’s ChatGPT has enthralled
millions with its uncanny ability to respond to queries in a conversational
manner. Its capacity to immediately respond to natural language questions
with detailed factual knowledge has sparked debate about whether the
typical forms of university-based assessment can survive this technological
innovation. While there are many questions remaining to be answered about
how different groups within the student community perceive these
developments, and the extent to which they are already being used in
assessment, there is a widespread belief within the university sector that
something fundamental has shifted. This rapid growth in generative AI’s
capacity to automatically produce authoritative cultural forms presents a
challenge to the university as a custodian of knowledge and conferrer of

In the months since this launch the underlying technology has already been
incorporated into office software, search engines and productivity tools.
The next iteration of Open AI’s GPT model has already been released, with
vastly expanded capabilities, while universities are only beginning to come
to terms with the implications of its predecessor. These developments will
only accelerate as a result of intense competition within the technology
sector, with capital flowing into investment in generative AI in pursuit of
market dominance. Our students will work in environments where the
automated production of content is ubiquitous, leaving us with the
challenge of preparing them for this future while preserving the integrity
of university assessments. Furthermore, our own working practices are
already being changed by generative AI, with scholarly publishers already
formulating policies about co-authorship with tools like Chat-GPT.

If generative AI continues to develop in this way then any field which
involves knowledge production or knowledge exchange will inevitably be
transformed. This has profound implications not only for how we teach and
assess our students, but also the working lives which they will lead over
coming decades. Many questions are raised by these developments including:
How do we prepare our students for these developments? How do we help them
distinguish between better and worse uses of generative AI? How do we
ensure they understand the epistemic limits of these systems? How can we
support students in finding ways to work creatively with generative AI
rather than relying on it as a substitute for their own engagement? There
is little prospect of final answers in the near future but it feels urgent
for us to begin discussing the questions.

It is for this reason that DTCE Research & Scholarship are organising three
in person open discussions in May in order to map out three different
dimensions of this issue, reflecting an agenda which emerged from our first
event in March.


   How do we embed critical AI literacy in our teaching and professional
   training? What are the implications of generative AI for equity and social
   justice? What are the epistemic limitations and how are they changing? How
   can curricula keep up with the accelerating pace of technological
change? May
   10th, 3pm to 5pm, University of Manchester

   How do we develop an agenda for assessment reform in a way which is
   adequate to these challenges? To what extent do existing definitions of
   ‘malpractice’ stand in the way of creative responses? Should we reconsider
   what we are assessing and why? How can we prepare students for a working
   world where generative AI is likely to be ubiquitous? May 17th, 3pm to
   5pm, University of Manchester

   How will training for academic staff need to change in order to cope
   with the speed of technological developments? What new systems and
   approaches could support more agile forms of knowledge sharing? What are
   the potential implications for academic labour and professional
autonomy? May
   24th, 3pm to 5pm, University of Manchester

We invite colleagues to propose a 5-minute conversation starter in which
they informally raise an issue which can be discussed with other attendees.
This would be an informal suggestion of an issue for discussion rather than
an expectation of a detailed proposal or formal presentation. Each event
will involve a series of these discussions with a view to opening out
conversations within a small group and identifying areas for further
collaboration. Numbers will be limited to facilitate open discussion so
please register as soon as you’re able to confirm attendance. We will
confirm registration and finalise schedules for the three events by April

*Please register and submit conversation starters here:
https://forms.gle/DBcguYd84CGjagmP8 <https://forms.gle/DBcguYd84CGjagmP8>*

*Please note these are not hybrid events and they will not be recorded in
order to encourage the sharing of provisional ideas. It is entirely
face-to-face with the intention of building on our existing scoping event
in March. There are a number of online initiatives we have planned over the
coming months which will facilitate participation by those who cannot
attend these events in person.*

markcarrigan.net <http://www.markcarrigan.net/> | @theplatformuni
LinkedIn <https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-c-516017123/> | Soundcloud
<https://soundcloud.com/mark-carrigan> | Youtube
<https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCflmX41wlvtXPIhy51Wfonw/videos> | Recent
publications <https://manchester.padlet.org/j04936mc/jbob1uin0weo43dh>

*I occasionally send e-mail outside of normal hours as my preferred way of
balancing multiple commitments. Please don't feel obligated to respond to
this e-mail until your own working hours have resumed. *

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