Whenever new technologies are introduced we instantly began to hear fearmongering among those who are hesitant to change. We hear things like “It will take our jobs”, or ”It will control us!”. Most of us have heard or said some version of one of those statements in response to a new technological advancement. Most recently we have seen this with the introduction of AI into our collective awareness.
AI, or artificial intelligence is the ability of a digital computer to simulate human intelligence to perform tasks and to iteratively improve itself. AI is a disruptive technology that will change medicine, impact art, and has the potential to completely change the way teachers teach, and students learn. Because of this, it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits associated with AI because like it or not, AI is here and its only going to get better.
For many our vision of AI equates to Skynet in the Terminator franchise films. An evil all-encompassing computer AI that started off as a fun tool and then became self-aware and deemed man not worthy of mastery of the planet any longer. This fear is perhaps a projection of our own guilt over the way we really have been lousy stewards of this spinning green and blue orb we call home. Regardless, this familiar trope of man losing control of his toys, has continued to reappear in various incarnations since then in fiction and in our collective psyche as the great technological boogeyman.
Over the next few decades, we have seen AI slowly creeping into everything from Netflix, Siri and Alexa, to Bathroom faucets and amazon suggested items.
One of the biggest fears surrounding AI in education is the potential for it to replace teachers and other educators. There have been numerous instances of schools banning AI-based programs due to this fear. For example, in 2018, a school in the United Kingdom banned the use of AI-based teaching software after it was found to be too disruptive to traditional teaching methods.
However, the fear of AI replacing educators is not unique to the educational system. Many industries have experienced similar fears in the past, only to find that the technology was eventually embraced and integrated into their operations. For example, when the automobile was first introduced, it was seen as a threat to the horse-drawn carriage industry. However, the automobile eventually became a regular part of life, and the horse-drawn carriage industry was completely disrupted.
Despite the potential of AI to improve education, there are also risks associated with its use. For example, AI-based programs can be used to track and monitor students, which can lead to a loss of privacy and autonomy. Additionally, AI-based programs can be used to target vulnerable students, leading to increased inequality in the educational system.
Despite these risks, AI can also be used as a tool to assist educators and students. AI-based programs can be used to provide personalized learning experiences for students, allowing them to learn at their own pace. Additionally, AI-based programs can be used to identify gaps in student learning and to provide tailored instruction to help close those gaps.
In conclusion, while it is natural to experience fear when disruptive technologies are introduced, it is important to recognize that embracing such technologies is inevitable. AI has the potential to improve the educational system, but there are also risks associated with its use. However, with careful implementation, AI can be used as a tool to assist educators and students, leading to improved educational outcomes. and we can either rage against the machine or find ways to embrace the technology ethically and responsibly.