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University of Utah shares AI expertise at national conference

University of Utah Marketing and Communications provided guidance for using Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the annual summer conference of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) this month.

With dozens of representatives from land-grant universities gathered in Washington, D.C., June 23-25, Utah Magazine Editor and Associate Director of Communications Seth Bracken moderated a panel discussion of AI use in higher education communications projects.

Joined by two academic experts—Rishi Jaitly, a distinguished humanities fellow at the Center for Humanities and a professor at Virginia Tech; and Amarda Shehu, associate dean for AI Innovation at George Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing—Bracken urged APLU communications professionals to dip their toes in—with caution.

“It’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be clunky. Everything’s changing rather quickly,” Bracken noted. “But my advice is to get started.”

Shehu noted encouraging her international students to use AI tools to help with writing in English. And Jaitly has trained an AI tool to mimic his writing style developed over two decades.

“On the ethical side, whenever you have these technologies that are just coming out, and there’s this great sense of experimentation,” Jaitly said. “What I think will be critical is staying current and experimental with the technology of today, but also bring to bear distinguishing human sensibility.”

The U has developed a set of AI guidelines for the campus to guide communications professionals, students, faculty and staff alike.

Among the university’s guiding principles:

  1. We believe in a human-centered approach to AI that empowers and augments professionals. AI technologies should be assistive, not autonomous.
  2. We believe that humans remain accountable for all decisions and actions, even when assisted by AI. All AI-generated material must be carefully reviewed, approved, edited and overseen by a human author.
  3. We believe in the critical role of human knowledge, experience, emotion, and imagination in creativity, and we seek to explore and promote emerging career paths and opportunities for creative professionals.
  4. We believe in the power of communication to educate, influence, and effect change. We commit to never knowingly using generative AI technology to deceive or spread misinformation.
  5. We commit to verifying the accuracy of information supplied by AI. Nothing can replace the role of human fact-checkers, and we take responsibility for any AI-assisted information used in communications materials.
  6. We recognize that AI-generated materials have a high probability of capturing another person’s copyrighted material. Therefore, we will take great care to ensure that the final product of any AI-generated material has been carefully reviewed, and where necessary modified, to avoid plagiarism.
  7. We believe that transparency in AI usage is essential in order to maintain the trust of our audiences and stakeholders.
  8. We believe in the importance of upskilling and reskilling professionals and using AI to increase productivity and efficiency and build more fulfilling careers and lives.
  9. We believe in partnering with organizations and people who share our principles.

Bracken recommends staying up-to-date on the latest updates in AI technology; one of his favorite sources is The Neuron Daily, a recap of AI news. The Marketing AI Institute guides brand and marketing managers.