By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
When people hear the term “artificial intelligence,” they think Cyberdyne Systems, Skynet, The Terminator – Danger, Will Robinson! – before they think of their iRobot Roomba.
“That misconception has been around awhile,” said Dr. Dwight Farris, instructor of Information Technology and Cybersecurity in Grand Canyon University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “We’re far away from developing something like that. And we have to remember, the direction is not to develop these intelligent – well, not even robots – these intelligent beings to think for humans.
“That’s really not what AI is. It can be everything from data processing to just simple responses to behaviors by humans. That’s AI. It’s math. It’s algorithms. It’s truly things we can use to do our jobs better.”
Farris will delve into the evolving world of AI as one of the thought leaders in the latest AZ TechTalk, one of a series of talks hosted by AZ Business magazine. It included a discussion about cybersecurity on the GCU campus in fall 2019, which featured the college’s Associate Dean of Technology, Dr. Heather Monthie, as one of the expert panelists.
The latest talk in the series, which was moved to a virtual setting because of the pandemic, was prerecorded and will be presented at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.
In addition to Farris, the event also will feature Erica Sietsma, Chief Operating Officer of Scottsdale-based Digital Air Strike, and Robert Brown, Managing Director for Data Analytics and Automation of BDO Digital.
The AI discussion seems apropos, especially for Phoenix, which has become an important hub for technology, IT and software companies. It was almost a decade ago that Forbes magazine asked if Phoenix was the next Silicon Valley. And, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, in the last five years, software employment in greater Phoenix has increased an average of 28.2%.
In the world of AI, “Phoenix has become a hub, more so than Silicon Valley or any of the other hubs, as far as interest in AI,” Farris said. “That was an aspect the panelists touched on, and that is a true representation of what’s happening in the metro.”
Some of Tuesday’s talk will delve into how AI is changing the way companies, such as Digital Air Strike and BDO, do business. Digital Air Strike, for example, is incorporating AI and machine learning into its digital marketing tools.
Even five years ago, companies used artificial intelligence in basic ways but now it’s an integral part of their business.
Farris said although a lot of people tend to think of AI as synonymous with only robots, in the practical world, the technology is used in something as everyday as data processing, a topic the panelists touched on during the talk.
“As a matter of fact, during the pandemic, a lot of the data collection and the data evaluation, as far as what’s happening, has been done by AI, algorithms, etc.,” Farris said.
To watch the AZ Tech Talk panel, register here. https://azbigmedia.com/events/az-techtalk/
Read the full GCU article here. https://news.gcu.edu/2020/09/gcus-farris-talks-ai-on-az-techtalk-panel-tuesday/