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AI Trailblazers is Creating a Working Model

With all the conversation swirling around the topic of artificial intelligence, how do people determine if AI is actually useful in their lives? People as in non-tech, regular folks. And not just useful, but potentially valuable for enhancing their educations and promoting their careers.

Tech analysts suggest you do two basic things. The first is research. The second is find a trusted source in your community. Look for individuals who are sharing useful knowledge on this thing called AI. Something that is already impacting us all. Whether we realize it or not. Regardless of whether we understand the impacts or not.

One reliable source in the Tucson, Arizona community is a new group called AI Trailblazers. Aaron Eden is one of the group’s founding members. He is a technology entrepreneur with thirty-plus years’ experience in innovation and robotic process automation and a leading voice in the effort to share useful knowledge on AI.

Eden and the AI Trailblazers group are building a model for how best to do this within a community. “We believe in inclusivity over exclusivity,” Eden says. “And we prioritize accessibility for all, ensuring beginner-friendly content, diverse speakers, multiple language options and accommodating various learning styles.”

This inclusive approach was on display at a recent AI event held at the University of Arizona. It was titled AI Ignition Event: Empower Your Work and Creativity. Fifty-five people attended the business, employment and content workshops conducted by Eden and his colleagues Scott Cowell, Daniel Lee and Connor Fletcher.

Eden welcomed the attendees and moderated the AI Introduction workshop. The audio visual room was packed with people anxious to pose questions. At  one point, Eden tried to defer questions to the end of his presentation, but people were too anxious to wait. So he simply answered them as they came up.

For anyone that attended that initial AI Trailblazers event, one thing was readily apparent: People were hungry to learn about this new phenomenon. They may have had only a basic understanding, but they sensed that it was something important. And they needed to educate themselves so as to not be left behind.

“Generative AI based on large language models or LLMs is giving everyone an extra set of eyes and an extra brain, while text-to-image systems are making art and graphic design available to anyone,” Eden explains. “It’s further democratizing access to knowledge across the board.” Consider the image: Extra eyes and a brain. In the area of employment, Eden believes workers need to prepare themselves to benefit from AI. And not resign themselves to suffering the consequences of losing their jobs. “Employees need to work quickly to learn these tools and integrate them into their daily work,” he suggests.

“We shared an article from IBM where one of the executives is quoted as saying that ‘AI won’t replace people, but people who use AI will replace people who don’t.’ There are many people who are fearful of AI doing things that are harmful to us. The best way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to understand how it works.”

In the area of business and tech investment, Eden sees a changing landscape. “Investments are definitely changing. Many companies are shrinking because these tools allow you to accomplish much more with fewer resources. Consider this: The AI team at Tesla is only 300 people. The Stability AI team is about 170 people.”

Eden believes the general public will realize lasting benefits from AI, despite real doubts. “Everyone now has immediate access to all of the world’s knowledge in a format they can interact with dynamically. It’s like having an intern of every profession on the planet in your pocket for immediate use.”

Think for a moment about what Eden is describing. “Immediate access to the all the world’s knowledge in a format you can interact with dynamically.” At first, it sounds far-fetched. But take a closer look, do your fact-checking and you realize it’s not. Mind-blowing? Yes. But accurate. And very useful if learned and applied.

Remember the spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s landmark movie 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well, that ship has landed back on Earth. And it’s sharing all the knowledge gathered from its home planet. Not the universe, just planet Earth. And Eden cautions: “All of us have to ensure it is being used for good in the world.”

© Copyright, Jorge González-García, Tech Writer, Tucson, Arizona, U.S., October 2023