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Love to Learn

AI, the Library & You

Technology is all around us and it’s evolving faster than ever. Terms like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning dominate headlines and conversations. It's easy to feel overwhelmed or left behind.

The pace of AI’s acceleration is truly amazing, and it's not slowing down. But fear not! Your local public library isn't just a repository of books; it's also a beacon of knowledge and a guide through the maze of new technologies.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is like the brainpower behind computers and machines so they can learn, think, and make decisions like humans. It's the reason your phone can recognize your face, your email can filter out spam, and your favourite streaming service can recommend new shows you might like.

AI has a longer history than many realize. The term "artificial intelligence" was first coined in 1956 at the Dartmouth Conference, where researchers explored the idea of creating machines that could reason like humans. Today, AI is rapidly evolving, with one exciting area being generative AI. This technology works by collecting data from various online sources, like websites, books, and social media, and learning from this data to make new content.

According to Chris Bint, Chief Learning Officer at TechCoaches and host of BPL’s popular Tech Talk seminars, understanding AI is crucial for digital literacy.

"Being a lifelong learner has never been more important," says Bint. "Learning about AI is an ongoing journey that empowers people of all ages to stay informed and competitive in today's digital world."

Let’s look at how BPL can help you become an informed and confident digital citizen.

The Library's Role in Digital Literacy

Libraries have evolved beyond dusty shelves and quiet study corners. They are dynamic hubs of learning that play a crucial role in improving digital literacy. Digital literacy means understanding and using digital technologies confidently and responsibly to move through the digital world safely and effectively.

Burlington Public Library CEO Lita Barrie emphasizes a collaborative approach to learning: "We see ourselves as co-learners alongside our community, fellow libraries, and tech experts, navigating the ever-evolving landscape of technology together."

Empowering Responsible AI Use

One of the library's most important tasks is to help shape the responsible use of new technologies like AI. By collaborating with local tech experts like Chris Bint, we deliver timely and trusted programs that help you gain the AI skills and knowledge you need.

Mark your calendar to attend Chris's upcoming virtual session, AI Basics for Average Users, on July 29 through Burlington Public Library. Also, keep an eye on our library program calendar for more free classes later in the year.

Understanding AI's Potential Benefits

AI isn't all about robots taking over the world (contrary to what some movies might have you believe). In fact, AI has the potential to bring about a lot of good. Libraries can help show the various ways AI can improve our lives. From making work more efficient to enhancing customer support, AI has the power to revolutionize industries and make our lives easier.

Navigating AI's Potential Risks

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. AI isn't without its risks, and libraries can help people understand and navigate these risks. AI poses some serious challenges, from the spread of misinformation to the rise of deepfakes (videos that show people doing or saying something they never did). There's also the issue of bias—AI systems can sometimes maintain or even amplify existing biases in society.

By educating the public about these risks, libraries empower individuals to use AI responsibly and advocate for fairness and transparency in its development and use. For example, it’s important to always fact-check and edit work created using AI technology.

As we embrace AI technology, Lita Barrie reminds us of the potential for disinformation.

“AI-driven systems can be manipulated to spread false narratives,” says Barrie. “Blindly trusting AI can lead to misinformation and misunderstanding, so we need to be discerning consumers of information. Libraries can play an important role by providing public education initiatives about how to use AI responsibly."

We’re Here to Help You

As you can see, your local library is more than just a place to borrow books—it's a vital resource in the digital age. By enhancing digital literacy and promoting the responsible use of AI, libraries empower individuals to harness the potential of technology while mitigating its risks. So, next time you're unsure about AI or any other emerging technology, remember that your library is here to help guide you through.

Let’s Get Started

Are you ready to dive deeper into the world of AI and enhance your digital literacy skills?

Take advantage of the wealth of resources available through our library, such as LinkedIn Learning. As a BPL member, you have free access to a wide range of online courses to meet your learning needs. Explore topics like Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, What is Generative AI, and How to Boost Your Productivity with AI Tools. With LinkedIn Learning, you can equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the ever-changing landscape of AI.

Start your learning journey today and unlock the doors to a world of possibilities!

P.S. This article was co-created by a human and ChatGPT!