top of page

Ten Questions Artificial Intelligence And Its Derivatives Pose Before The School Systems



G. Balasubramanian


G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, communicative approach to language teaching, Information Technology, alternatives to homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over. This article has been taken from G. Balasubramanian’s official website balaspeaks.in

 

Artificial Intelligence has come to stay. From its embryonic stage, it has been delivered and has started taking its baby steps. Though it has the borrowed genes of human intelligence, it appears to be willing for genetic modifications as and when necessary, so that at some point of time, it will stand on its own genetic code and challenge the human intelligence. The one major concern of AI is its capability of taking its own decisions and does not have to take a cue from the human genius. Whether it manifests as a genius in its own universe or not, its capability on its power of choice is indeed debatable. It is like a child having a knife in its hand, which can be used for the right or wrong ends. It can indeed engage with deep fake produces that might put the entire human operations into a chaos mode.


The possibility of search engines being slowly replaced by generative AI tools, and open AI interventions or the emergence of future technologies based on AI, may possibly assault the freedom of choice of learning to a moderate extent initially, shifting delicacies of knowledge for consumption from a menu or buffet model to a combo-lunch model. Will that polarise or force knowledge prescriptions through pre-ordained programs that force AI neural networks to be selective and prescriptive about what they deliver to a community? One cannot authentically confirm its course of dynamics. The glory of growth cannot be at the cost of human freedom associated either with the thinking or the making of the choice.


“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will’ve multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilisation a billion-fold”, says Ray Kurzweil, an American computer scientist.


How would AI impact the school education of the future?


I am not against technology as I have grown with technology in the last thirty years. But my concern is on its impact on the thought architecture of the learning universe and its operatives. Here are a few questions, educators and educational administrators need to ponder over. Any answer may be a right answer or a wrong one, as much as the technology is.


1. Will it challenge the need for imagination and intuition among the learners?


The capability of AI to synthesise information, articulate it, modify it, and create an architecture around it on our own prescriptions, raises the question whether it would adversely affect and marginalise the faculties of imagination and intuition among the learners. The advocates of technology may have a convincing answer to justify that these faculties would now centre around the core nucleus of technology may not be acceptable. There is every likelihood of the broad base of the faculties of imagination and intuition being given a safe send off. Schools should consider some compensatory strategies in the delivery of pedagogy to keep the balance.


2. Will it impact the need for a researching mind among learners?


Learners have long been going in search of the required inputs of knowledge from various sources. In achieving these ends, they were directly or indirectly engaged in some kind of research regarding information that is sought for. Learners were required to examine the relevance, the context and the complexity of the concepts and information edified on them. Apart from triggering their curiosity during this process, they were required to engage with its analytics to contextualise them to the specific need of the occasion. With AI providing ‘a ready and fast food’ of knowledge and information culled from various sources in its own indigenous mode and authenticated form, the learner’s opportunities to be curious and research oriented may be minimised. The pedagogues must evolve differentiated strategies to make learners engaged with diversified as well as inter-disciplinary knowledge systems.


3. Will it impact the levels of comprehension of thoughts, ideas and concepts?


The capability of AI to seek, comprehend, organise, optimse and articulate the information is indeed magical. Given the support of AI, the opportunities for the learners to engage with the above functions that enrich the brain on a continuous basis is likely to be impacted. The struggle of comprehension has indeed put the learners often in a soldier mode. Using several faculties of the brain was indeed a reward for the health and enrichment of the brain. Further playing with ideas, both possible and the impossible, the learners were playing fireworks in their mental pathways, often waiting for game changing moments and experiences. With a fast-food model with packaged deliveries of knowledge, the learners may be in a disadvantage. What strategies could be designed to celebrate these faculties is indeed anybody’s guess.


4. Will it impact the aesthetic approaches to the content considerations of the growing learners?


One of the blessed features of the human brain is the celebration of aesthetics in whatever is considered. The articulation of any content either in its visual format or in its auditory format provides unlimited opportunities of executing them in diverse forms. Oftentimes such expressions are influenced by cultures and provides opportunities for generation of cultures. Further, the capacity of ‘synaesthesia’ of the human brain is a feature earned by Homosapiens over thousands of years of development in their organics. The provision of some hot-baked, semi-baked content architectures would replace or systematically destroy some human brain features is indeed a question to consider. No amount of supplementary or complementary inputs could be sufficient to deal with these changes. It is, indeed, a moot point to consider.


5. Will it further impact the need for extended learning and writing in schools?


In pursuant of their further learning, the learning communities are prompted to seek for information from various other resources. This warrants further reading and learning. There is convincing evidence to show that the existing technologies have already seriously impacted the reading and writing competencies of human species in the shortest period of time. Any argument that changes do result in transformations, including in cultural domains, is a convincing argument. Nevertheless, it is important for every generation to protect and handover the legacy of the past to posterity. Developments should empower rather than corrode the fundamentals of the evolution. With AI functioning as a slave on their fingertips, the question raises how far and how further the reading and writing skills will be impacted. Will it even deprive the necessity of any extended learning?


6. Will it call for newer perspectives in curriculum design and delivery?


The goals and objectives of the curriculum usually tend to determine the extent, quality, depth and dynamics of a curriculum. The curricular architecture and tools of its delivery are, therefore, embedded on these foundations with marginal flexibility depending on the variables in each sector of interaction. With contents getting generated through machine intelligence rather than human intelligence, the question arises whether the process of curriculum design will get reversed with the types of contents determining the design of the curriculum. The disequilibrium will force the curriculum designers to examine various other models to race with newer and fanciful content getting generated day in and day out. How long will this race run and to what consequence? What is the pit falls and what are its byproducts and side effects?


7. Will it eliminate the need for a library in schools?


“In a good book room, you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them,” said Mark Twain. The role and relevance of library in empowering the wisdom of the people, rather than the information and data is widely acknowledged. With global digitalisation of knowledge, the very concept of library has been undergoing a dramatic change in the last decade. With generative Ais, open sources of knowledge could get encapsuled to provide lead knowledge and prescriptive knowledge. The need and necessity of visiting a library is being questioned. Librarians worldwide, have been taking new avatars as knowledge-resource managers. Their functions slowly getting automated through machine intelligence and generative artificial intelligence, the schools and educational institutions may have to reconsider providing fresh lease of life to the wisdom of the library. What kind of models would emerge – anybody’s guess?


8. Will it create further dependency on technology among learners with declining social cohesion and human relevance?


The impact of technology on human thought architecture, living styles, social cohesion and interdependence has been quite significant. The social psychologists are already researching seriously on changing life patterns and the resultant dynamics. Beyond thoughts, the display of emotions and relationship management have also suffered. Virtual communications replacing human personal interactions have impacted several institutions like family, marriage and bonding. In this background, the generative domains of AI which can interact with humans and provide appropriate responses, oftentimes understanding and responding to the emotional contexts in which they get their inputs, may change the course of human-human interactions and emerging responses. The concepts of collaborative learning, peer learning and participative learning processes may find new visions, innovative approaches, and new directions for their operatives.


9. Will it impact and redesign the pedagogical perspectives of the teachers?


The role of teachers in a classroom haunted by AI which provides alternate models of interactions for knowledge assimilation and knowledge construction through chats and other interactive methods of knowledge processing, would need re-engineering. Interactions with teachers might become secondary with primary assimilation sources of knowledge being technology. With diverse learning opportunities and styles being advocated and marketed by edtech industries, there could be less novelty in the approaches to pedagogy by the teachers. This, indeed, calls for newer approaches which would make classroom more fun-filled and proactive. It is quite likely even several perspectives of pedagogy including issues like attention, memory and response levels might have to be further investigated and reworked to contextualise them to newer trends.


10. Will it add further ethical issues in real time and objective assessment of the learners?


The current and classic models of assessment may become too fragile and inappropriate for the learners in future. I recall how Clark’s tables were banned for using in the examinations and subsequently, calculators were banned for use in the examinations and presently several other tools of technology are not permitted for use during the examinations. With Gen AI, chat GPT and other interactive modes of communication and technological support being available, the structure of examinations, assessment might have to undergo a re-engineering to make them more credible, dependable and authentic. Even the school assessments may need some drastic changes with questions which are more constructive and of higher order calling for applications of knowledge rather than knowledge itself.


With many more questions to address, Artificial Intelligence occupies a challenging posture for the school dynamics, if not a threatening one. Neil Jabobstein, the chair of Artificial Intelligence at Singularity University on the NASA research park at Mount View California, once said, “It’s not artificial intelligence I’m worried about, it’s human stupidity.”

If we do not manage Artificial Intelligence and its derivatives with better clarity, we may prove the words of Prof. Neil right.


Comments


bottom of page