Artificial Intelligence – Good or Bad?

March 5, 2024 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm America/New York Timezone
Lasell University & Zoom
Newton MA

Entrepreneurs’ Network

Cost: Free to ENET members; $15. Non-members


Artificial intelligence presents the greatest opportunity ever for entrepreneurs to level the playing field against your oversized competitors. It can also provide better access to information with natural language search and summarization. But what exactly is AI and how can you use it effectively?

There are several flavors of AI such as machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. Applications can be specific to industries, systems, and processes. There are practical and ethical considerations, too. Lasell University Assistant Professor Kurt Wirth, who’s a faculty fellow for AI, will give you an overview of AI technologies, considerations, and issues.

Jeff Ernst, CEO and founder of two companies focused on customer and buyer research and a SaaS customer marketing and advocacy platform, will explain how to make yourself relevant in this new world of AI-empowered buyers by giving entrepreneurs an advantage over larger competitors. Those pros raced to use ChatGPT and its brethren to generate marketing messages, website content, sales letters, you name it. Alas, nothing makes you sound more generic and just like your competitors than content generated by AI bots.

The real opportunity is an area where no one is focused yet. Your buyers would rather have conversations with AI bots like ChatGPT than your sales reps to learn about potential solutions to their problems or ask AI bots questions for insightful answers than do Google searches and get a list of links.

In the legal world, AI has the potential to narrow the justice gap, but it also has the potential to cause serious ethical issues for lawyers. Kara Peterson, co-founder of, will explain how the legal tech market is adapting to the arrival of AI. She will provide examples of good and bad uses of AI in the legal sphere, and how her company is using AI to increase access to the law, and ultimately, access to justice.

During this program, you will learn:

o The various flavors of AI

o Custom AI applications for industries

o AI’s massive system processing demands

o A race to find AI talent

o Research on how AI affects buyer behavior

o When, how, and why tech buyers use AI and how start-ups must be part of buyers research

o How to build a business with AI

o A legal application to democratize the law

Panel Speakers: 

Bio:  Jeff Ernst is the Founder and CEO of Voice Advice, a Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Buyer (VOB) research company, and Founder and CEO of SlapFive, a SaaS Customer Marketing & Advocacy platform. As the creator of the Customer-Led Growth movement, Ernst guides senior executives on how to mobilize customers to drive profitable revenue growth. He developed this approach as a Principal Analyst at Forrester, where he conducted extensive research into how prospects buy and how customers want to be engaged. Ernst used those insights to help executives devise customer engagement strategies that drive new customer acquisition, onboarding and adoption, expansion, and renewal.

Bio:  Kurt Wirth is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Lasell University as well as the school's Faculty Fellow for AI and Pedagogical Innovation.  With a Ph.D. in Communication, Wirth built a successful career in marketing digital presences for brands like GEICO and Hilton Hotels and Resorts before turning to a life in education. His background has leaned heavily on digital communication and modern tech, as his passion for data, emerging technologies, and empowering students has overlapped in his role at Lasell University. Known for leaping first and generally landing on his feet, Wirth is a bold, action-oriented risk-taker who has put innovation first at every stop of his journey.

Bio:  Kara Peterson is cofounder of, a legal tech startup founded in June 2024. She is also a marketing communications leader who focuses on organizations with a social justice focus. She currently is the Senior Director of Integrated Marketing Communications at the Museum of Science and previously worked at Harvard University and Boston University.  Peterson is also involved in local activism and is a founding member of Newton Upstanders, which is focused on making Newton an inclusive and welcoming community for all. She earned her MBA at Boston University and her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin.

Moderator and Organizer

Howard Sholkin has several decades of marketing communication experience across industry sectors. Since 2018, he has served as President of Newton Community Pride, a non-profit supporting a few dozen events in the city where he is a lifelong resident. In 2014, he formed Sholkin Consulting to deliver digital marketing services to technology and financial services companies. He also served on the adjunct faculty of Boston University and Lasell College for five years.

In 2003, he was hired as director of corporate communications at International Data Group (IDG) where he served Founder Pat McGovern. Sholkin later became director of communication and marketing programs for the CEO of IDG Communications, a global technology media and events subsidiary. IDG brands include Computerworld, PCWorld, Macworld, and CIO. Sholkin has held senior marketing and communication positions at technology product and services companies such as Computervision; Technology Concepts, a subsidiary of Bell Atlantic; Corporate Software; and, Digital Equipment Corp./Compaq. He was a columnist for PR News and for Personal Branding magazine, one of the first publications on social media.

Since 1990, Sholkin has been active in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where he once served as president of the Boston chapter. Currently, he is co-chair of the national PRSA Investment Committee. He serves on the boards of three non-profits: Newton Community Pride, Boston Entrepreneurs Network (ENET) and Temple Shalom of Newton.