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situations where patients are given a therapy that doesn’t work for them and [their
doctors] don’t realize it until later. These are places where I think we can bring
technology to bear. But it doesn’t mean we necessarily want to eliminate humans
from the equation. If the algorithm that mines tons of data says I have a really
serious disease that’s potentially fatal, I actually want to sit opposite a doctor and
talk about that. We’ve long had this dream that there’s a big role for technology
in education. But it’s not to eliminate that personal inspiration and motivation
that teachers supply. It’s to amplify the teacher’s ability. I like to think about AI
as amplifying human capability, not as replacing it.
S+B: Would you agree that technology has often developed and then rolled out
more rapidly than the regulatory system can cope with?
HENNESSY: Absolutely. Copyright law in the U.S. looks like it’s written in the
1800s. And it can’t reform itself to catch up to the digital age, so it puts on Band-
Aids and rubber bands to hold the thing together. A regulatory framework can’t
evolve as fast as the technology does. How we solve all these issues, whether
they’re related to privacy, or systems that we deploy somehow, is going to require
some really nuanced handling so that we don’t deprive people of the potential
positive impacts of technology.
S+B: Upskilling has now become a mantra. Can you talk a little about the
role of upskilling at a university like Stanford, where, after all, people don’t
necessarily have to add to their skills once they have tenure?
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