‘Macro Revolution’ focal point of latest Envision series

‘Macro Revolution’ focal point of latest Envision series

Chancellor Mark Hagerott brought the focus out to the strategic level during the most recent North Dakota University System Envision event, this one on Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology. The event was part of the ongoing Envision 2030 effort, which aims to offer an anticipatory approach to emerging issues.

Noting that a “macro technological revolution” was taking place throughout society, Hagerott’s comments kicked off a daylong event that brought forward state leaders and nationally-renowned experts to discuss the implications of a world that was more digitally-connected than ever.

The event took place roughly 18 months after the State Board of Higher Education convened an advisory group on the topic, which for higher education meant more cybersecurity in an age where more educational applications provide additional access to students, faculty and staff. But, experts noted, that additional access brings with more complicated issues regarding safeguards to privacy.

The keynote presentation for the day was appropriately aided by technology. Dr. Julia Stoyanovich connected via video teleconference, and provided more than an hourlong rundown of the current state of Automated Decision Making within the digital realm. Stoyanovich, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Tandon School of Engineering, and the Center for Data Science. Her presentation provided an in-depth look into what applications were opened up at present time to automated decision-making, and what pitfalls could occur without objective data or human intuition.

Jared Melville, former president of the North Dakota Student Association, gave a presentation highlighting cybersecurity and privacy from a student perspective. Melville also brought forward a draft copy of the student-created “Digital Bill of Rights” that aims to help protect students’ data within the university system.

Among other things, Melville stated that the bill called for all the data collected by the university system to be suitably handled and secured. He added that the student organization had been working with system office on cybersecurity and other data issues for quite some time, and had drafted the bill of rights throughout the last year.

An afternoon panel helped bring legislative and corporate perspectives to the forefront. Rep. Jim Kasper, who had become a more outspoken proponent of digital privacy rights in recent years, touched on the need for all to understand what agreements they were making regarding digital terms of use, and noted that legislation could help shore up data rights. Ryan Harkins of Microsoft joined Kasper on the panel to touch on ways his company was moving to ensure higher protections for user rights.