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Congressman McGovern Delivers WPI Commencement Address

By Tom Marino | May 13, 2023
Last Updated: May 13, 2023

WORCESTER – Massachusetts Second Congressional District Congressman Jim McGovern delivered the commencement address at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 0n Saturday, with his niece in the audience as part of the Class of 2023.

In his opening remarks, McGovern congratulated students who got As and Bs, and jokingly told those with Cs and D’s, like him during his time at American University, that they too could become members of congress.

The message of McGovern’s address to students was built around the concept of the double edged sword of technology, and the message to students that the world will not get better on its own.

Telling students that as graduates from WPI, they will be on the cutting edge of technology, McGovern said “that the decisions you make in your careers—will shape society for decades to come.”

McGovern mentioned work at WPI on technology related to solve the climate crisis and 3D printing of prosthetic limbs as positive technology developments, but that the use of social media to “manipulate public opinion and spread disinformation,” and facial recognition technology “used to violate privacy and undermine people’s civil rights,” as examples of the double edged sword of technology.

Most of his address discussed the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the challenges it will pose in the short in long term.

Pointing out that AI can perform complex tasks only done by humans in the past, and its promise to diagnose diseases, predict pollution patterns, and come up with drugs, there are also significant concerns.

Including a paragraph in his address written by ChatGPT, McGovern warned of the lines between real and fake and human and machine being blurred. He also said that IBM, Google, and Microsoft all have plans to use AI to replace thousands of jobs.

With technology moving faster than the government’s ability to implement appropriate checks and balances, McGovern said the challenges are great, and challenged graduates to be part of ethical solutions.

In conclusion, McGovern said:

“As citizens of the world, you have a responsibility to the greater good.
To ask yourself not only what is profitable, but what is just.
To ask yourself not only what is efficient, but what is equitable.
And to ask yourself not only what is innovative, but what is honorable.
Be bold, be imaginative, and be fearless.
But remember that you have been given an amazing gift: a world-class education at a world-class institution.
What are you going to do make the world a better place?
How are you going to use your expertise to create a future that is more just, free, and fair for all?
We are counting on you. I have seen the energy and the passion of this generation—we need you to use what you have been given to build a better, brighter future for all.
Because the world will not get better on its own. It needs our help. It needs your help.”

See the full address, below.


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