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Artificial intelligence can lead to an education revolution but must be developed ethically

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#EthicalAI – A balance must be struck between the benefits of #AI and the potential risks to learners say @IEAIED

The use of #ArtificialIntelligence in education provides the means to cut teacher workload, increase learner progress and eradicate some of the global barriers to learning, but it must be developed and used ethically in order to safeguard learners, according to a major new report published last week (February 25, 2020).

The interim report, Towards a shared vision of ethical AI in education, outlines how artificial intelligence can transform learning across the world for people of all ages.

However, a balance must be struck between the benefits and the potential risks to learners, the Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED) argues.

The study puts forward a blueprint for developing an ethical framework that will both promote the beneficial use of AI in Education, and safeguard learners from risks such as intrusions upon individual freedoms.

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and co-founder of the IEAIED said:

“AI and advanced technologies such as augmented and virtual reality offer the promise to liberate teachers, learners and societies from the challenges dogging educational advancement and social mobility today. But we must be wide open to the attendant risks also if we are to ensure the benefits prevail. Unethical uses of AI in education could result in intolerable encroachments into students’ privacy, the learning process could be dehumanised, and societal divisions could become wider still. To chart the right course, we urgently need an ethical framework for the use of AI in education.”

Professor Rose Luckin, founding director of UCL EDUCATE, professor of learner centred design at UCL Knowledge Lab, leading expert on AI, and co-founder of the IEAIED said:

“AI is a continuously evolving technology with enormous capabilities, some of which are not already apparent. We believe that we need a shared vision for the ethical use of AI in education, which offers confidence to a public that feels increasingly imperiled by AI’s presence in day to day life.

“The fact that AI can allow us to do something should not alone be enough to persuade us that we should. AI must bring us tangible and important benefits.”

Priya Lakhani OBE, Founder CEO of CENTURY Tech and co-founder of the IEAIED said: 

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“Ethical AI has the potential to transform education for the better. From personalised learning to more accurate accountability to empowering teachers to become supereducators, we must seize upon AI as a force for good in education. 

“Today’s report represents an important contribution to education policy debates by outlining how we can ensure our children benefit from the enormous potential of AI.”

Meanwhile, Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Chair of the Institute’s Advisory Council, said:

“Since the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence published its report, Ready, Willing and Able?, great progress has been made in grappling with the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. Bodies such as The European Commission’s Higher Level Expert Group on AI and the OECD have equipped us with a robust understanding of the key risks associated with the use of artificial intelligence.

“But to answer many of the thornier ethical questions, the benefits of AI need to be considered too – and these vary widely between different contexts. Sector-specific ethical frameworks will be a necessary part of the digital ethics landscape. This interim report demonstrates that the Institute is not just providing leadership in the education sector, but also a model that other sectors may choose to replicate in addressing specific ethical questions.”

The report states that an ethical framework for the use of AI in education cannot be built in isolation and imposed upon stakeholders. Instead, it must be developed with them and therefore represent a shared vision of ethical AI in education.

The Institute will seek to find consensus on the benefits to be gained from AI in education; whether and how red lines need to be drawn to protect learners from significant risks; where the benefits of AI in education outweigh the risks; and how risks can be managed, mitigated and, where possible, removed.

To work towards this shared vision, the Institute will implement a programme of consultation and deliberation, which will involve a call for evidence, focus groups, roundtable events, and an international conference. The findings will directly inform the content of the framework for ethical AI in education.

The key objective of The Institute for Ethical AI in Education, formed in 2018, is to ensure that learners – of all ages, throughout the globe – can optimally experience the benefits of artificial intelligence, whilst being protected from the risks posed by this technology. The Institute is based at the University of Buckingham.

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