GOF discusses AI at Harvard Social Enterprise Conference

April 1, 2024

Last Sunday (Mar. 24), the founder of the GOF George Westerman took part in the 25th Annual Social Enterprise Conference (SECON), sponsored by graduate students at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. The conference brings together leaders involved in social enterprises, such as the CEO of Impossible Foods, Peter McGuinness, who delivered the conference’s opening keynote address this year.

Westerman spoke alongside leaders from Google, Boston Public Schools, and universities across Boston in a panel called “Degrees of Disruption: AI’s Influence on Education and Workforce.” Panelists discussed how AI is affecting what, and how, students are taught in a range of settings–including K-12, college, and non-credit workforce learning.

Panelists were generally upbeat about the learning opportunities AI is opening. Some themes warrant highlighting:

AI may help learners with disabilities. For example, panelists mentioned that a group is currently working on technologies that can use video to translate from American Sign Language to English.

AI’s benefits and risks vary with learner age and context. Using AI to cheat appears to be a problem unique to high school and college. Panelists expressed that younger students tend to use AI in ways that may better support learning.

AI may help with multiple stages in the workforce learning process. Panelists discussed how companies and schools may soon use AI to offer better career navigation, personalized learning, and certification for human skills

AI could some day speed up learning. Panelists pondered the possibility that a 40-hour training could be reduced to 8 – 12 hours. If it could and if such a training also offered an employer-valued certificate, panelists wondered how community colleges would fare. What changes might be wrought within community colleges, which have long offered 2-year associate degrees as a passage to workforce skills and employment?

The GOF’s participation in SECON continues its ongoing efforts to address what Gen AI means for the future of work and workforce learning.

Along with Westerman, panelists were

  • Natalie Van Kleef, Head of Current & Future Technologists for Google Cloud Learning Services
  • Mark Racine, Chief Information Officer for Boston Public Schools
  • Santiago Garces, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Boston
  • Naomi Caselli, Director, Boston University AI & Education Initiative; Assistant Professor of Deaf Education, Boston University
  • Kate Swain-Smith (Moderator), MBA Candidate, Harvard Business School
Back to All News & Research