The start to our Pathfinding Series…

It was great to resume our rhythm together this week, kicking off our “Pathfinding Series” with thoughts about trauma and care in the classroom from both Bianca and Edna.

I am glad we thought about the concept of flow – a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. The hallmark of “flow” is that experience of complete absorption in what one does, transforming a person’s sense of time. We thought more together about the critical-creative aspects of this notion of flow verses the possibility of numbing one’s mind when screen-scrolling (without intention or a sense of our own creative connectivity).

This is the trap that we can fall into so easily when using the writing tools at our fingertips. As we continue to consider the human nature of writing and our relationship with the digital tools that can assist us in our work (i.e. AI, natural language processing), we should strive to prioritize this ideal state of creative flow verses the numbing affect of the “zone-out” and disengagement. In this sense, our writing tech tools today present us with a kind of “double edged sword”. When we seek to enhance our personal expression and our own clarity of thought by partnering with AI tools like ChatGPT, we can fall into a kind of hole, trapped and relegated to the sidelines in the face of those tools. How do we keep a check on the ways we use the tools? How do we know when they might take over our own unique creative generativity? Can we sense this “fine line”, and when it is crossed?

I also want to thank Javon for opening up our early thoughts about AI, with a focus on the technology of writing over the ages. From prehistoric pictographs which were an attempt to record experience for those who lived after, to the ancient writing tablets of Mesopotamia, we humans have been trying to signal our experience to others (both in our present and in our futures). The computational models (algorithms) of natural language processing today attempt to predict effective human communication. From time immemorial, we have been trying to predict and represent our experiences to others. This impulse (to communicate with others in time and space) is consistent in our never-ending human effort to create new writing tools, no matter what moment in our human history.

Sumerian cuneiform tablet

A deeper understanding of care becomes even more critical when we build communities for the express purpose of learning and growing together. If we cannot apprehend trauma and grapple with it together in truth, then we cannot recognize what humaness really is. And in this way, we foreclose possibilities for deeper collective wisdom. Learning is not just about the acquisition of content. (The machines do that better than we do). Learning is about apprehending truths about the human condition. And this requires care. This is in part why I shared with you the story of just one epic fail in this regard. This misuse of ChatGPT to communicate to a community is just a bellwether, …it is just the problematic beginning of a journey wherein AI will be incorporated into the ways we proceed in education and in life. I believe we can do better, if we start to understand the responsibilities we have in our relationship with these tools better.

The epic fail – institutionalized “care” communicated by the machine.

Our class slides:

Your to-do list:

Pathfinders Jasmine M & Jasmine D have selected three brief readings in preparation for their time next week. Their discussion theme: “Is AI a friend or foe? -Thinking about what is at stake.” Please read the following selections:

Your next blog os “Blog 4/5” which should cover your reflection on the above readings from the Jasmines and if you would like, you can add some thoughts on the previous selection shared with us by Javon.

See you next week!

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