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Emory University Brings AI Education to the Public With Statewide Tour

Emory faculty are working with the nonprofit Rowen Foundation and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to host free AI training sessions for the general public in 19 locations across Georgia.

A large marble sign on the ground outside that reads "Emory University."
This summer, Emory University is touring the state of Georgia with free hourlong artificial intelligence lessons meant for the general public.

The series, titled “AI + You: Save Time, Earn More and Thrive with AI,” in partnership with the education nonprofit Rowen Foundation and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, held its first event in Valdosta in June. The series will continue through September, moving across 19 locations.

Each event partners with a local host organization, such as high schools or trade schools, chambers of commerce or chapters of United Way, and covers broad topics: what artificial intelligence is, what it’s being used for, and common concerns like AI’s potential to replace humans in the workforce and influence education. Following each discussion, attendees will get a hands-on experience with an AI chatbot and receive three months of free access to GPT-4 through Emory to put their new knowledge to use.

Joe Sutherland, director of the Emory Center for AI Learning, said local organizations will help Emory tailor the instructional content of each session to best fit the community.

He said he was inspired to take AI education beyond the classroom last year when he visited Emory’s Oxford campus. In a meeting with local leaders, he asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had ever used AI technology for work.

“Not a hand went up in the room — a packed room at the Chamber of Commerce, not one hand,” he said. “I realized at that very moment we are in two different worlds. The people who are outside of the metro bubble haven’t had a chance to have this level of outreach. If we’re trying to make sure everybody has a shot at [artificial intelligence], we had to do it now.”

Emory’s AI education tour taps into its broader AI.Humanity initiative, which aims to recruit faculty and build educational programs that will use artificial intelligence to solve complex, real-world problems. Since its inception in 2022, Emory has recruited 48 professors across disciplines to study real-world AI applications, Sutherland said.

The A + You tour is three sessions in, and Sutherland said he has already seen what he considers signs of success. The inaugural event in Valdosta had 50 to 60 registrations, the second and third sessions grew to about 100, and a fourth event slotted for July 18 has 100 registrations, which Sutherland anticipates will grow in the next week.

More than just attendance numbers, he said reaching people with a variety of backgrounds is an important goal. Attendees thus far have included high school parents, business leaders, elected leaders and others who were just interested in the subject.

“It’s going to be the people who really learn how to use these tools first that are going to benefit the most,” he said. “I want everybody to have the opportunity to be one of the first users of this and not have it be just closed down to a smaller group of people who have access already.”

Starting in the fall, Emory will offer a self-paced online certification program in AI. While the specifics have not yet been disclosed, Sutherland said the certification will cover how to use AI for everything in your working life at a low cost.

“We believe that by providing the skills and resources to eventually have a certification program, we can help scale up the entire workforce of the state when it comes to using AI technologies,” he said.
Abby Sourwine is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and worked in local news before joining the e.Republic team. She is currently located in San Diego, California.