CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Johnson C. Smith University Debate Team recently participated in the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) annual debate tournament at the North Carolina Legislative Complex in Raleigh.

The team was presented with 10 unprecedented cases based on legal issues currently in litigation over the ethical issues of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity liabilities and responsibilities. Some of these issues included AI in art and entertainment, digital deep fakes and avatars, security liabilities in Big Tech and more. 


“After competing, a lot of the teams were in agreement on the use of artificial intelligence for inspiration, to help solve certain problems or to organize thoughts, not to replace humans and what we can bring to different environments,” said Alonia Latimore ’24, a Political Science major from Illinois.  

Latimore has been a member of the debate team for two years and is serving as the co-captain of the team with Sydlie Fleurimond ’24. She and the team were presented with the case studies in October and given time to research and understand the intricacies of each case.

The tournament brought together 36 colleges and universities. Thanks to private and corporate sponsors, NCICU fully funded each team to participate with up to six students from each college or university. 

Latimore found the implications of AI on education, healthcare and employment interesting, stating that there is still the possibility that it could adversely affect populations of color if those constructing the AI engage in discriminatory thinking or biases. 

In the first round, the teams had a judge split for the win and conceded the round on Chat GPT to Wingate University in one of the closest scores of 212 (JCSU) to 216 (WU). However, JCSU topped both teams’ scores from rounds one and two to beat Mars Hill University with a total of 230 points. In round three, JCSU won against Pfeiffer University. However, in round four, the JCSU team fell to High Point University.

Despite the loss, Latimore says she finds the debate team to be a valuable asset in her educational journey at JCSU.

“Being a part of the debate and competing on the spot makes you quick on your feet,” she said. “It makes you think about every aspect, every rebuttal or every question someone may have. I believe it pushed my capacity on what I now know, and I can use that as I continue my education. Also, being on the debate team allowed me to come out of my shell in terms of public speaking and allowed me to learn how to present information off the top of my head.”

The JCSU Debate Team, co-captained by Latimore and Fleurimond, includes Jada Brookins, Kirksey Beaty, Gabrielle Hall and Sha’Nautica Nuness. The team is advised by Dr. Laurie Porter, associate professor of Communication, and Dr. Kendal Mobley, professor of Religion and Spiritual Life Center coordinator.

“The Golden Bulls left feeling proud, confident and rewarded for extensive research, cogent arguments, teamwork and polished execution as undeniable contenders through their last closing arguments,” said Porter.

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