It’s been a year since ChatGPT was released, and educators are still trying to respond to this new breed of AI tool.
Much of the conversation revolved around the two-pronged nature of AI chatbots for educators. On the one hand, teachers worry that students will cheat by suddenly abandoning homework because chatbots can write essays that are hard to detect. On the other hand, teachers see the tools’ potential to save time on administrative tasks such as writing lesson plans.
But in a recently published working paper, a trio of education scientists say these discussions are too “parochial” and short-sighted. They argue that if the technologists creating these new AI chatbots are right that the tools will improve quickly, then the technology is likely to lead to massive changes in knowledge work, including academic research and the white-collar workforce, and therefore profoundly will raise questions. purpose of education.
“It brings up all these issues of what on earth are schools for?” One of the authors of the article, Dylan William, emeritus professor of educational evaluation at the Institute of Education, University College London, says about this.
The article imagines four possible scenarios for how generative artificial intelligence, a technology called ChatGPT, could change society and what those changes could mean for schools and colleges.
The goal behind the thinking exercise is to stay ahead of rapidly changing technology and avoid what scientists call “worst-case scenarios.” With this in mind, they close with a list of recommendations for how education and technology leaders can respond to best take advantage of technology.
Sometimes the paper is deliberately provocative. For example, he envisions a scenario where AI is so good at creating instant learning videos and entertainment that people stop learning to read.
“Literacy is a relatively new thing … and it’s really hard,” says Arran Hamilton, director of the Cognition Learning Group, a consulting firm. “We have to select a part of our brain that is actually used for face recognition, and we borrow that to use for literacy.”
After all, the scientists note, some studies show that the recent rise of GPS technology and smartphone mapping apps has led to a decline in people’s ability to read maps without tools. Is it possible that, in a few short decades, reading could become, as the paper imagines, “as strange as Latin and the Classics—things we study for bragging rights and social status, but not at all essential (or even useful) for everyday life”?
For this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we caught up with Wiliam and Hamilton to discuss what this AI-infused world might look like and how educators can begin to prepare. They argue that the Biden administration’s recent executive order on the safe development of artificial intelligence is a good start, but responding to this technology requires bigger picture thinking.
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Cloudy, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.