WAIT, don’t click away! Of COURSE you’re tired of being swamped with info about artificial intelligence (AI). You realize that you should know at least a little about it, but where to start?

Good news! These mostly short items will painlessly fill you in on what’s been happening.  

What is “artificial intelligence”?

Artificial intelligence is “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.” [Britannica Academic]  

The term has been around since at least 1956 (as have concepts of mechanical beings, golems, and other sentient but non-human entities for much longer).

Then why is AI suddenly all over the news?

It’s actually “generative AI” that’s causing all the fuss. We are all used to algorithms that suggest books or clothing to us, but “genAI” can generate new content. Start with this basic, 2-minute video (August 2023) to hear more.

  • When did generative AI become known to the public? It was in November 2022, when a company called OpenAI made ChatGPT available for free. This 3-minute video, How Did ChatGPT Come To Be? (August 2023), will tell you about it.

  • Wikipedia’s article about generative artificial intelligence has plenty of information — scan the contents on the left to see the main topics, then jump among other articles and topics as well as the references at the bottom.

  • For a little more information: this short summary called Science and Tech Spotlight: Generative AI starts with “Fast Facts” and includes “Highlights,” “Opportunities,” and “Challenges” (June 2023).

What else are people saying about generative AI?  

People are saying a LOT. Something I hadn’t thought of was the “authenticity” aspect, as mentioned in ChatGPT use for wedding vows, eulogies stokes dispute over authenticity (ABC News, November 11, 2023 [ignore the annoying ads]).

Also, these major writers’ comments may surprise you! They cover the full spectrum of attitudes, from “it’s magical” to “it’s apocalyptic.” (The Guardian, November 2023).

What’s going on at Hopkins?

Our new Data Science and AI Institute, formed in 2023, is a very big deal. The Institute for Assured Autonomy (IAA), the Institute for Data-Intensive Engineering and Science (IDIES), and countless other JHU departments and institutes will be involved in this initiative to explore the constantly changing world of AI.

Finally, know that genAI is being tried out for all kinds of things, not only STEM-related. The first round of recipients of JHU’s new AI-informed Discovery and Inquiry Seed Grants includes “AI-Driven Analysis of Historical Sources,” “AI Tools for the Study of World-Historical Patterns of Social Protest,” “Baltimore’s Railroad History Rediscovered Through AI,” and “Sermons, Religion, and Politics in America.”