Daniel Pitchford, AI expert and co-founder of AI Business

As practical applications of artificial intelligence increase, many believe we are sleepwalking into a dystopian future.

With concerns ranging from inherent bias to data-leaking robots, there are many who are cautious of AI and its application in the education sector.

I believe it has huge potential to transform learning, and the reality is far more a case of ‘personalised Spotify playlist’ than ‘Black Mirror’.

It is right to consider ethical applications of AI as we move from innovation to implementation, especially when young people are involved.

As with any technology, especially one as powerful as AI, there are risks to be aware of, but it is important that fears do not stifle development.

There is a huge opportunity to apply AI to education and revolutionise learning at all stages, from school, to further education, right through to workplace learning.

Predictions for the future of AI in education

As advancements are being made at such an exciting, rapid rate, it can be difficult to predict what the exact future of education will look like.

In basic forms, AI can streamline admin tasks, assist with marking and grading and use hyper-precise data analysis for reporting.

This will free up teachers’ time to deliver greater one-on-one support to students – and it is important to note that not all education can be delivered by technology alone.

Many courses, including vocational apprenticeships, require a human element of training and mentoring that can be supplemented by AI but hinge on the vital importance of person-to-person learning.

Advanced AI offers personalisation of lessons, adapting content to suit students’ specific needs and preferred learning style. It will soon be possible for machines to identify weaknesses or gaps in students’ knowledge and fill this through smart, machine learning programmes.

This offers a huge opportunity across the full spectrum of further education courses and opens up new possibilities for enhancing learning and ultimately the power of the human brain.

Special Educational Needs

Additionally, there is scope for AI to assist students with unique needs, such as hearing or vision impairments. The technology already exists to automatically translate teachers’ speech into subtitles as it is spoken.

Just as robots can recognise fraudulent transactions in banks, and have unparalleled access to consumer and enterprise accounts, AI should be trusted to work with incredibly sensitive material in an education context and around impressionable young people.

Preparing Students for the Future of Employment

We are now in an age where students will graduate and work in a world with vastly different technology than was available in school. The current generation of students will go on to work in a society where AI is very much a reality.

It is therefore imperative that the technology is integrated into the education system. To reap the full benefits, AI should be designed collaboratively between tech companies and educators to build in valuable sector-specific knowledge from the beginning of the development process.

Earlier this month, the Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED) was launched to ensure AI for education is designed and employed ethically.

Rather than viewing this as a measure to reign in something that is potentially dangerous, we should see this as an opportunity to harness the full potential of AI.

The technology has the unparalleled ability to revolutionise education, empower students and teachers alike, and bring this new era of learning into the workplace.

Daniel Pitchford, AI expert and co-founder of AI Business

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