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Yale Innovation Summit Breaks Tradition to Include AI

A two-day event at Yale University's School of Management included a keynote session on artificial intelligence and its impact on business and innovation, given that it's creating anxiety in the workforce.

(TNS) — For the first time since the Yale Innovation Summit was launched a decade ago, the format of the event was expanded to include entrepreneurs in categories other than biotechnology.

The two-day event, which kicked off Wednesday at Yale University's School of Management, was expanded to include programming in the arts, climate change, health care and technology. Josh Geballe, managing director of event organizer Yale Ventures, said the expansion of the summit's focus was warranted because "there is so much innovation happening in those areas."

"It has been very impressive to see all the people here today who are focusing on big picture ideas," Geballe said.

Arthur Thomas, director of mission investing and entrepreneurial ecosystems of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, said the organization is in the midst of a five-year, $5 million grant program designed to create what he called "an ecosystem" for artists and small business people. As part of the program, Thomas said those who receive grants from the organization will also be provided with mentors.

"We're trying to make sure that artists and innovators feel like they belong as a part of the business community," he said. "If artists learn how to build their business, they can hire people and take care of their families."

Emily Roller, chief operating officer of the New Haven-based Midnight Oil Collective, said that for every dollar that is invested in the arts, $7 worth of economic activity is created. The Collective is an artists' organization that invests in the careers of other artists.

"The arts are a critical part of the culture of innovation," Roller said.

Kymberly Pinder, dean of Yale's School of Art, said students at the school are now required to attend classes related to how to operate a business. Pinder said she changed the curriculum requirements after she became dean of the school in July 2021.

"Alumni always tell me they got a really good artistic education, but they got nothing on how to make a living as an artist," she said.

Thursday's programming also included a keynote session on artificial intelligence, its impact on business and innovation. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, associate dean of Yale's School of Management, said the arrival of artificial intelligence "has created a lot of anxiety in the professional workforce" who fear they will lose their jobs because of the technological advancement.

Lawrence Summers, president emeritus of Harvard University and former U.S Treasury Secretary, said that while "better paid, highly respected workers feel threatened, there's going to be a change that favors people who work with their hands" and provide a human touch that can't be replicated by artificial intelligence.

"It's (a technology that is based on) filling in the blanks," Summers said of artificial intelligence. "It's not going to take everything over."

©2023 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.