Last week 38 people from units across Stanford Libraries completed the six-week Elements of AI course. Of those who responded to the course survey, all said they would recommend it to colleagues. They also unanimously agreed that meeting weekly in groups to discuss each chapter was the most rewarding part of taking the course.
In the beginning of March, managers at Stanford Libraries began talking about working remotely and decided to set up shifts in each department – half working two weeks on site and half two weeks remotely. By the 6th of March the teams for our Collection Services group out in Redwood City were assembled, and the first group – Aries – stayed home for their first week. The Libraries were only one week into that first shift, when the state of California and Stanford decided that everyone should shelter at home starting on the 16th. The Aries team was taken off guard - we all were. Although we had discussed and lined up remote projects, not everyone had taken their computer and ergonomic equipment home with them. A few of us went in to grab equipment (desktop computers, monitors, etc.) and forgotten items (like reading glasses!) and drove around making deliveries – not everyone in the Bay Area drives a car!
The image associated with this post is from "Autonomous Trap" by James Bridle.
If you attended or watched the talks at Fantastic Futures December 2019, you know that the answer to that question is emphatically, "No." Both of the keynote speakers addressed the essential role of libraries in providing curated data to improve AI and in preserving the data, models, and records for oversight of how the technology is implemented. Lightning talks (recordings available) demonstrated applications of AI by practitioners operating within libraries, archives, and museums. And Teemu Roos presented Elements of AI, a free online course for everyone designed to demystify AI.
At the VALA2020 conference on Libraries and Technology last month I stated, as I have in numerous other presentations, reports, and recommendations, that implementations of technology (and I am usually speaking about AI) in libraries should reflect the ethos of the library. I say this not because the ethos of the library is correct, just, or even well-defined; but it is something to which we who work in libraries can be held accountable.