Pioneering Ethical AI Use in Academia and Industry with Dr. Travis Goodson

Dr. Travis Goodson
Dr. Travis Goodson

We recently sat down with Dr. Travis Goodson, a man wearing multiple hats in the world of AI and innovation. Here’s our discussion about his work bridging academia and industry in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence.

Dr. Goodson, you’ve got quite a few titles. Can you break down what you do for us?

(Laughs) Indeed, it can be quite a mouthful at times. In essence, I’m balancing roles in both the corporate and academic spheres. I lead innovation at Professional Analysis Inc., where we’re deeply involved in defense technology. Concurrently, I’m firmly rooted in academia as the Chair of the AI Evaluation Committee at Albany State University. It’s a complex juggling act, but one I find immensely fulfilling.

That’s quite a diverse portfolio. What motivates you to straddle these two worlds?

I’ve always been intrigued by the interplay between research and real-world application. There’s a notable gap between the activities in laboratories and classrooms and what transpires in boardrooms and tech departments. My passion lies in bridging that gap. It’s not merely about cutting-edge technology – it’s about ensuring we’re implementing AI in ways that genuinely benefit society without creating unintended consequences.

Speaking of consequences, there’s considerable discourse – and concern – about AI displacing jobs. What’s your perspective on this?

That’s indeed the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I view AI as a tool – a potent one, certainly, but still a tool. Consider the advent of smartphones. Did they replace us? No, they transformed how we work and communicate. AI follows a similar trajectory. The focus shouldn’t be on AI replacing jobs, but rather on how we can leverage AI to enhance our capabilities, to address challenges we previously couldn’t tackle. It’s here to stay, so our task is to learn to work in harmony with it, not in opposition.

You mentioned your role at Albany State. What innovative projects are you pursuing there with AI?

We’re engaged in some truly exciting initiatives. Our primary focus is on the ethical application of AI in education. We’re exploring ways to harness AI for personalizing learning experiences. Envision a world where each student receives a tailored education that adapts to their individual needs. That’s the aspiration we’re working towards.

We’ve also established a partnership with IBM through their SkillsBuild program. It’s an excellent initiative – our students gain access to free courses on the ethical use of AI, plus they can earn certificates that enhance their competitiveness in the job market. It’s all about preparing them for a future where AI is an integral part of the professional toolkit.

You’ve mentioned ethical use of AI in education. Could you elaborate on that?

Certainly. This is a crucial aspect of our work at Albany State. When we discuss ethics in AI education, we’re addressing a wide spectrum of issues. For instance, we’re constantly grappling with questions like: How do we ensure that AI-driven educational tools don’t perpetuate existing biases? How can we guarantee that these tools are accessible to all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background or resources?

One of our primary focuses is on equity. We’re dedicated to ensuring that AI doesn’t solely benefit students who are already advantaged. Instead, we’re exploring ways AI can level the playing field. For example, we’re developing AI-powered tutoring systems that can provide additional support to students who might not have access to private tutors.

We’re also addressing data privacy concerns. When AI systems are tracking student progress, we need to be exceptionally cautious about how that data is stored, used, and protected. It’s a delicate equilibrium between leveraging data to improve learning outcomes and respecting student privacy.

That sounds like complex work. How do you approach these challenges?

It all stems from our core values. I’ve always maintained that in both academia and industry, we need to lead with authenticity, transparency, trust, and mutual respect. These aren’t mere buzzwords for me – they form the foundation of my approach to work and how I believe we should implement AI in education.

When we’re developing AI tools or policies, we begin by being completely transparent about our objectives and methods. We involve all stakeholders – students, educators, parents – in the process. We build trust by being open about both the potential and the limitations of AI in education.

Mutual respect is paramount. We respect our students’ right to privacy and their diverse learning needs. We respect our educators’ expertise and involve them in the development process. And we respect the power of AI while also acknowledging its potential pitfalls.

This approach guides us through the complex ethical landscape of AI in education. It’s not always straightforward, but by adhering to these principles, we can work towards implementing AI in ways that truly benefit all students and advance education as a whole.

What’s on the horizon for you? Any ambitious plans?

(Chuckles) Perhaps some well-deserved rest? In all seriousness, I’m deeply committed to advocating for ethical AI use, both in educational institutions and the business world. I aim to foster greater awareness, more comprehensive training, and increased enthusiasm for STEM fields. Looking five years ahead, I aspire to be at the forefront of driving global change in our approach to AI. It’s an ambitious goal, but as the saying goes, aim for the stars and you might reach the moon.

If someone wants to keep updated with your work, where should they look?

I maintain an active presence on LinkedIn. I regularly share updates and thoughts there. I encourage anyone interested in these topics to connect. I greatly value engaging with individuals who are passionate about technology and education.

Any final thoughts for our readers?

I would encourage everyone not to fear AI, but to approach it with curiosity. Ask questions, seek to understand it. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or simply someone interested in technology, there’s a role for you in shaping how we utilize AI. We’re living in an exciting era, and we all have a part to play in ensuring this technology contributes positively to our world.

Dr. Goodson’s work has drawn interest beyond his immediate roles. Disrupt Weekly featured his perspectives on democratizing innovation, while The Industry Times discussed his views on AI and neuroscience. These features reflect Dr. Goodson’s efforts to bridge academia and industry, aiming to make complex concepts more accessible. His ongoing work contributes to discussions about innovation and AI’s future. To follow Dr. Goodson’s latest projects and insights, connect with him on LinkedIn and join the conversation about AI and innovation.

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