Demystifying AI Hype

Teach students to think critically about the rhetoric surrounding generative AI by interacting with the AI Hype Wall of Shame.

Assignment Details

Credit

AI Theme

Subject

Tools

Skills

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Develop and apply skills to critique the hype surrounding generative AI
Evaluate the language, tone, motivations, and evidence used in AI-related articles
Reflect on personal perceptions of AI and how they might be influenced by the media


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start by asking students to read one of the original news articles listed in the AI Hype Wall of Shame on Critical AI’s website. Critical AI, based at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, developed an AI hype rating system inspired by Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, categorizing instances of AI hype into one of three groups–boring, depressing, or paranoia-inducing. Encourage students to document the main ideas in their selected article (e.g., this Reuters piece on OpenAI), its publication outlet, authors’ credentials, and any other information that may be relevant. Have them also underline a few key paragraphs or sentences that exemplify the article’s narrative about AI’s capabilities, sentience, dangers, etc.
  2. As a whole class or in small groups, discuss the article’s main ideas and challenge students to analyze how well-substantiated the arguments are, how the article makes them feel, its tone, the type of evidence presented (e.g., facts, expert opinions, speculative claims), any logical fallacies or biases, etc. 
  3. Next, ask students to read the critique of their chosen article in the AI Hype Wall of Shame (e.g., Emily Bender’s critique of the above Reuters article). Initiate a second discussion as a class or in small groups, focusing on some of the following questions:
    • Do you agree with the “Marvin” rating (i.e., boring, depressing, or paranoia-inducing) assigned to the original article? Why or why not?
    • How does the critiquer go about debunking AI myths or teasing out the hype presented in the original article? How do they approach over- generalizations, slippery slope arguments, or selective presentations of data?
    • Does the critique focus primarily on exposing potential motivations behind the original article, such as commercial, political, or ideological agendas? Or does it turn its attention more towards the article’s language and tone by dissecting the manner in which it uses sensationalism or fear-mongering?
    • How might we use AI to critique AI itself? What are the limitations or advantages of using AI to analyze AI-related articles? 
    • What should more balanced reporting on AI look like?
  4. Repeat the process with other articles in the AI Hype Wall of Shame until students feel more acquainted with the methodologies of critiquing AI hype. 
  5. [Optional] For a future assignment or lesson, invite students to bring in current news articles on their own and offer a critique of the hype in them. If their critiques are rigorous and of high quality, they may consider submitting them to Critical AI to be included in the AI Hype Wall of Shame. 

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