Artificial intelligence (AI) may or may not be the cause of human extinction sometime in the distant (or not so distant) future. Much has been written on the topic, looking at different forecasts of possible situations, depending on a variety of factors, some within our control and some not, some scary and far-fetched and some pretty realistic, and some preventable and others not so much.
And the AI that we have at our disposal right now has the potential to positively impact so many aspects of our lives, including the whole field of education.
And, ultimately, the fate of AI rests in how we as humans use it. And how we, as educators, work with our students to use it. And how we, as a society, direct its development. AI is learning from the ways people interact from it. It learns from the types of questions you ask or the way you respond. It learns from when you seem to be satisfied with the answer and when it’s not quite right. It learns from what people seem to want to know and how it can be most helpful.
That’s why using AI ethically and responsibly is so important during this key stage of development.
While various terms have been used in different contexts regarding this idea, include “ethical use of AI” or “Responsible AI.” For the purposes of this conversation, I use “ethical” and “responsible” interchangeably when discussing AI use that involves humans' taking ethical considerations into account when designing, developing, and deploying AI systems – with the aim of using AI to better our society.
While we are not the ones actively developing AI (well, at least I am not), we still have major influence over how it is used and what the future of AI holds (and whether or not we go extinct). We, therefore, have a huge responsibly to embrace responsible AI for ourselves and our students.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Understand AI’s impact. Educate yourself and your students about the capabilities and limitations of AI technologies. Stay informed about the latest developments and their potential societal implications. Create an environment where students can learn about responsible AI use and why it’s so important.
Treat AI with the same kindness that you would a person. Say please and thank you. Not only does this enforce students’ usage of kind words, but the AI can also use that as information in its training and shaping its knowledge bank and how it responds to prompts.
Use AI for good. Make sure to consider any possible implications or ramifications of your AI usage and take steps to address them proactively. Take steps to ensure that you are using AI to better the world and impact it positively and not in a way that could cause harm to yourself or others.
Acknowledge the misinformation and bias. If part of the challenge is that AI has a capacity towards misinformation and bias, it’s all of our jobs to work to correct that and to hold the systems and developers accountable for improving that. Educate students about these limitations so that they can be aware during their own AI use. Do not perpetuate the bias and misinformation.
Use transparency in your own AI usage. While we don’t have access to really understand how AI works and what data it uses, we can fully control how and when we use it. Seek out AI systems that make their decision-making processes clear and transparent and be overly transparent about your own use and process.
Articulate norms for AI usage in the classroom. Create shared expectations surrounding what responsible AI looks like in your organization and classroom (such as when and how it can be used). Make sure everyone understands what that looks like and monitor for accountability.
Follow any policies or regulations. This pertains to both organizational policy and legal policy. Your organization should outline what responsible AI use looks like in the organization (if it doesn’t have such a policy, encourage the development of one). And there are rules for legal usage that need to be followed (for example, ChatGPT is not meant for anyone under 13, and students 13-18 need parental permission to use). Make sure you’re doing your part to hold to any standards.
Most importantly, as AI technology evolves, so, too, will responsible AI usage – it’s a process and an ongoing commitment. Work with your organization to foster a culture of learning, experimentation, and improvement by approaching with curiosity, asking questions, and constantly integrating new learning. And work with the greater education community to foster collaboration, sharing knowledge and best practices and continuing the conversation about what responsible AI use looks like.
Ultimately, our goal is to use AI to make our lives and the world a better place – and do so safely and in a way that empowers those around us to succeed.
Stay open, stay informed, and stay aligned.