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Thomas Jefferson expert was History & Ethics speaker

November 9, 2023

Youtube: Dr. Clay Jenkinson - The Future of the Humanities in an Artificial Intelligence Cosmos

Dakota State University hosted their third annual History & Ethics forum on Tuesday, Nov. 7. This year’s guest speaker was Clay Jenkinson, Director of the Dakota Institute.

The purpose of the forum is to expand and enlighten society’s understanding of all things cyber, through the context that history and ethics provide. Jenkinson spoke to an audience of about 140 people on the topic titled, “The Future of the Humanities in an Artificial Intelligence Cosmos.”

Jenkinson noted the changes technology has brought to this world, but wondered what higher education and the humanities will look like in the face of this progress. While it can “empower enormous changes in the way we do scholarly work,” and these are often advantageous, he said people should “not let the humanities die on the hill of technology.”

Clay Jenkinson, Director of the Dakota Institute
Clay Jenkinson, Director of the Dakota Institute

As the world considers applications like Chat GPT, he suggested people have a duty to raise questions about its uses so that they can think through advancements a little more completely. He also noted that the humanities help people become more fully human, and encouraged the audience to experience the benefits of reading difficult classical literature, such as the novel Moby Dick.

Jenkinson is an American humanities scholar, author, and educator from North Dakota, known as a Thomas Jefferson expert for his portrayals of America’s third president. He has presented for former President and Mrs. Clinton, and on the Colbert Report. The National Endowment for the Humanities once described him as "A leader in the revival of Chautauqua, a forum for public discussion about the ideas and lives of key figures in American history."

He is currently the Director of the Dakota Institute, where he co-hosts public radio's The Thomas Jefferson Hour, and creates documentary films, symposia, and literary projects. He is also an accomplished author, having written several books on Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lewis & Clark.

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