Jim Vileta Presents on Artificial Intelligence

Representative of a blue circuit board and microchip
June 30, 2019

Librarian, Jim Vileta, presents on topic of artificial intelligence at NFAIS.

Our society, our planet, is heading into a revolution -  a technology revolution. This technology could guide humanity toward a utopian society ripe with fantastic wealth and ample leisure time, or humanity could end up in a world that mirrors a bleak dystopia.  Long-time librarian and liaison to the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Jim Vileta, became fascinated with the topic of AI (artificial intelligence) about 4 years ago after reading "Rise of the Robots: technology and the threat of a jobless future."  It was an enlightening read - he wondered “why is this not being taught in every course?”  

That curiosity has turned into action: Since then Vileta has worked on developing a list of books dedicated to every facet of AI, from economics to social work, called Artificial Intelligence and Robots: Past, Present and Future -- Selected Resources in our UMD Library." Currently, discussions about AI-Robots takes place in math, computer science and engineering departments, however it will impact all areas of life and academia, including economics, politics, and more. Colleges and universities need to have an active conversation on this topic and include more of it in our curriculum.

In the last 4 years Vileta has consumed a lot of AI-Robots reading and continues to do so.  He applied for the NFAIS conference (National Federation of Advanced Information Services) held in May and his proposal was accepted. His presentation was titled: "Promoting AI & Robots in the Academic Setting: Proactive Librarians and Marketing Techniques."  Many of the other presenters had very focused topics, but Vileta’s was broad and addressed some of those bigger questions. In his thesis he states:

“Colleges and Universities are not doing enough to prepare students and the general public for the massive social, political, and economic changes Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will bring in the near future.  Our curriculums, wherever feasible, need to address these new realities. Libraries can help by acquiring and promoting informational resources that will support this important discussion.” 

A lot of AI is already integrated into our “everyday” processes...take for example the robots that are employed in the medical field - their precision is unmatched. Vileta and many others wonder about how such technology will impact the future of all professions.  “Is it a slow process where we go move into it step by step, like a game of chess, or do we just jump in?” Other presenters spoke on topics such as publishing and data management as they relate to artificial intelligence.   

Vileta believes libraries could play an integral role in moving the conversation about AI forward by acquiring and promoting informational resources. While most books added to the collection at the Martin Library rarely receive a lot of “screen time”, Vileta wanted to bring books about AI front and center, which is why he created the "Robots: Past, Present, and Future" page. Students, faculty and others will find selected AI-themed books from our collection, scholarly articles, videos, news, glossaries, and links to AI-focused organizations.  Vileta continues to expand this collection and hopes that in addition to serving as a regular liaison to LSBE, these resources can help faculty across campus incorporate the topic of AI into their curriculum. 

“We could go either way: Utopia or Dystopia. Humanity could be sharing the AI-Robot generated wealth in a “Jetsons” kind of world...but if it’s not done right , society could be moving into dystopian “Bladerunner” territory, and it’s time we start having that discussion.” 

“Given the pace of technology’s advance, we can predict that computers, robots, and artificial intelligence will be even more intricately intertwined into the fabric of our personal and professional lives. Many of the jobs that exist now will have vanished. Others that will pay handsomely have to be invented. The only real certainty is that the world will be different--and with changes come challenges as well as opportunities. In many cases they are one and the same. Education is what sets them apart."- Joseph Aoun* 

For more information on the AI book list, or incorporating this topic in your curriculum, please contact Jim Vileta, jvileta@d.umn.edu, ext. (218) 726-6157. 

*Joseph Aoun, Robot Proof: Higher Education in the age of artificial intelligence