WST October Roundtable – ‘How will AI shape my future in UCD?’ – Review
On October 26, WST held its first ever roundtable event on the very timely topic of AI and disruptive technology through the lens of how it would impact the staff in UCD. It was called ‘How will AI shape my future in UCD?’
The roundtable was framed as an internal discussion on how AI could impact the jobs of the professional staff working in UCD. The intent was to have an open discussion by an invited panel of UCD staff from different areas that have a relevant perspective on disruptive technology and the arrival of ChatGPT in our workplace. The thinking was that there is such ambiguity around AI here and in the wider world and that it would benefit, inform and hopefully reassure our community that they were involved in the earliest conversations about how AI would affect our futures. It was also a clear message that while many of our concerns are necessarily focused on the impact to students, academics and research, our own professional community were also being considered although the clarification that this was neither a policy making discussion or a training session was reitterated several times in the lead up to the roundtable.
We decided to run this as a roundtable in response to feedback we had received from previous events and sessions. People really love a panel and a presentation as well as workshops and sessions but feedback suggested there was space for a more meaty indepth conversation that allowed participants to consider an idea or topic from various angles and to discuss the merits and limitations of those ideas. We sought out colleagues who could contribute to the conversation in a UCD centric way. None of the panelists were enlisted because they had positioned themselves as experts in AI but because their other areas of knowledge could be a useful tool for considering how we would be impacted in our roles here. We wanted to consider ideas about big data, enterprise application, resources and supports, innovation and equality and diversity. More importantly we wanted to look at them in a UCD perspective and to leverage our internal knowledge and excellence to drive that conversation.
The participants were:
- Marcellina Fogarty, Senior Equality Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Human Resources (HR)
- Mark Lande, Director of Enterprise Applications, IT Services – Enterprise Applications Group
- Dr. Neil Hurley, Associate Professor, Head Of School, School of Computer Science
- Arlene Healy, Director of Collections and Digital Services, UCD Library
- Phillip Quinlan, Head of Operational Innovation, UCD Innovation Academy
Tristan Aitken, Chief People Officer and Director of SIRC, Legal Services & Transformation was engaged to be the moderator of the discussion, which was really valuable because it made sure that the conversation remained very UCD centric with a specific focus on the people working here to deliver the service whike still allowing the conversation to be very organic.
I’ll admit I personally, was pretty satisfied with the conversation as someone who coordinated the event but also an attendee. It was a rich wide ranging conversation which was made more engaging by the insights of the panel and then the questions and comments from the attendees. There were some surprising avenues and some really informative contributions and an appetite for more – more AI chats, more roundtables and more WST events, which is always lovely. (No one has ever said “that’s too many compliments”).
AI and disruptive technology was an ideal topic for the roundtable format because it is so new and so complex. The areas to be considered, even narrowing it down to the experience of the professional staff, are multifaceted and complex. We wouldn’t claim that the roundtable addressed or even identified all of the points we as a community need to consider but it allowed some interesting perspectives, some clarifications and some proposed options for what we need to consider moving forward. You may be thinking that this review isn’t giving a very clear outline of who said what and what, if any decision was reached but it wasn’t really that kind of session. It had a tone of friendly conversation between people who could consider this topic from a perspective you might not have considered with the opportunity to ask a burning question that had been on your mind. Hopefully it allows us to think about how we will move forward from a variety of perspectives with contributions from across the organisation which is vital when we try to figure out what we need to do to move forward.
As ever WST events are a great opportunity for our community to come together and this year we have been quite focused on in person events. There are always questions about the availability of hybrid events and recordings. Logistically, this usually isn’t something we can provide but more than that, WST events are an opportunity for colleagues to come together in person and catch up, share thoughts and make connections however, if there was a particular need or request for that we could definitely look at how that might be accommodated for at least some of our events so please share your thoughts on it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following on from the very successful AI roundtable, we aim to understand the community’s needs regarding AI and how we can support each other in utilising this technology. Your input is crucial for this analysis. Please contribute by filling out the anonymous survey linked here. Additionally, we plan to host a brief workshop on this topic in January. If you’re interested, you can express your interest by completing the survey or emailing email@example.com.