Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, December 20

Dec 20, 2017

First hour: Could artificial intelligence help us or destroy us?

Second hour: Exploring phenomenon-based learning

In July, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said artificial intelligence, or AI, is a "fundamental existential risk for human civilization.” Musk wasn’t alone in sharing those concerns, leading many people to ask what will happen when humans develop super intelligent AI. As AI continues to advance, it raises questions about the job sector (Will it eliminate jobs or create them?), the education system (Could robots eventually replace teachers?), human safety (Could AI systems outsmart us and lead to our demise?), and more. This hour, our panel of experts helps us understand AI and its implications. In studio:

  • Henry Kautz, director of the Institute for Data Science at the University of Rochester
  • Dhireesha Kudithipudi, professor and chair of the graduate program in computer engineering at RIT
  • Matt Huenerfauth, professor of information sciences and technologies at RIT

Then in our second hour, what can the U.S. education system learn from Finland? Perhaps the better question is, do students need school subjects? Teachers in Finland are gearing up for a significant shift in curricula for high school students. In 2020, curricula for students aged 16 and older will be rooted in phenomenon-based learning. That means instead of students taking math class, then science class, then English class, they will choose an event or phenomenon to study, incorporating multiple subjects in the process (something like exploring the climates of different countries, and reporting on them in French). The model is getting some pushback, with critics saying it may lower standards and widen the gap between students who grasp concepts more quickly and those who need more direction. Could such a model be adopted in the U.S.? Our guests weigh in on different forms of learning and the future of education. In studio:

  • Evvy Fanning, local high school English teacher
  • Douglas Allard, 7th grade social studies teacher in the Phelps Clifton Springs School District
  • Jennifer Wagner, RCSD educator and parent
  • Joanne Larson, professor of education and associate director of research at the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education