Artificial intelligence is not a new technology. But over the last several decades, it’s been made widely available to the public through programs like ChatGPT.

“People should not just think about the functionalities of AI, but more or less the impact to our society, especially like trustworthiness, ethics and fairness and so on," says Lirong Xia, an associate professor of computer science at RPI.

The conversation about AI is especially prevalent in education. Xia teaches an introduction to AI class at RPI, teaching the fundamentals so students are prepared for the changing advancements.

“It’s a good time to teach our next generation how to live with AI and how to use it in a responsible and trustworthy way,” Xia said.

RPI is one of four schools in the state to join an AI alliance run by IBM and Meta, the parent company of Facebook. It includes more than 50 collaborators worldwide in both the education and business fields.

“What they’re pushing is not so much the technology but the openness of the technology, the ability to share, the ability for other people other than really large companies to be able to take advantage of AI systems," said Jim Hendler, the director of RPI’s Future of Computing Institute.

Hendler, who said he’s worked with AI for more than 40 years, compares the technology to a calculator, which he said was once banned in classrooms.

“Over time, what we were trying to teach was not how to do the arithmetic, right? It was why to do it, how to incorporate it, what are the mathematical issues and being able to do that at a higher and higher level,” Hendler said. “I think AI is going to be like that.”