AI in Education-Boon or Bane

Artificial intelligence should not be used to replace the prevailing learning process, rather it should act as an extension or additional features to the education system.
AI in Education-Boon or Bane

Science is progressing in leaps and bounds, though with different pace in different regions of world. We are living in the age of science and innovation that has transformed our lives in such a way that our society has become technology dependent. Cursory look towards technological advances across the time scale show that new technology developed after centuries in past and was comparative very slow from 300 BC to 100 AD. However, after the invention of steam engine in 1698 AD, there has been surge in the technological advancement with every major invention occurring after quarter of century. The rapid explosion of scientific knowledge in the 19th century in Europe has increased the pace of scientific innovation after every decade. In last few decades we are witnessing rapid surge in the technological advancement shortening the time gap for introduction of major innovation in a year or a month. In past 10 years, scientists were looking for machine intelligence that could be manipulated to carry out fascinating tasks that otherwise is impossible. Even Hollywood science fiction movies predicted amazing and stunning changes in machine technology that might have significant impact on the society. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one such scientific marvel that has been regarded as a future smart technology with huge utility. 

 Human intelligence has puzzled neuroscientists and psychologists, and there was general perception among researchers in the recent past that human intelligence cannot be conquered. However, recent advances in information and machine technology, AI is now meeting the human intelligence. Whilst organic intelligence works differently and has different mechanism of operation, the artificial intelligence can be manipulated for carrying out myriad types of tasks at the same time. Google (American multinational technology company) is making headlines in recent months as it has announced to introduce different features of AI in near future that could have positive impacts on the society. Recent announcement by Google to introduce AI feature that can help doctors to predict the survival rate of their patients with 90 percent accuracy. Apart from positive aspects of AI, scientist also have their reservation on the misuse of AI by the miscreants to harm the humanity. In this write-up, I will try to highlight some of the advantages of machine intelligence on education and will further focus on the drawbacks of this emerging and promising technology.

   Artificial intelligence has great scope to transfer knowledge to the vast section of people and will improve the learning experience among students. One of the major benefit of AI is the personalization of education. In the last article titled 'Thinking of Innovative Education', I mentioned that one of the impediment of the education system in our part of world is that it is not uniform as we have multi-talented students in a single class room having varied types of mental capacities. In such scenario, it is difficult for a teacher to meet the expectations of each and every students. The AI can be used effectively and efficiently to reach out all sections of students irrespective of background and ability. Furthermore, the beauty of AI system is that it creates feasible and conducive environment for imparting meaningful knowledge to the students. The student community also adopts quickly to AI environment. In addition to above benefit, AI can be highly useful for devising appropriate grading scale for students, to find loopholes in education system and to create a global classroom conditions. Even student can enhance their know-how at home by remaining connected with the live class room. 

 Creation of 'Smart content' from digitized book is another aspect by which AI can be highly beneficial for the modernization of education. This technology can provide learning digital interfaces that could make learning easily accessible to the masses. The 'Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS)' is another example of application AI in education. The recently developed Carnegie Learning's "Mika" software is the one step towards the establishment of ITS which uses cognitive and AI technologies to provide better tutoring and guidance to all types of students. In another development, Google has recently launched free AI education interface, (Google AI, that will reach to global audience and provide opportunities to general public to inculcate various machine skills and apply them to resolve their issues. 

  Keeping in mind the huge advantage of using AI in education, it is to be understood that there is no alternative to natural or traditional learning process as new technology can ruin sociological aspect of learning. It is pertinent to understand that knowledge has been imparted from times immemorial through human-to human interaction and if we diminish this role through AI, then our education system will be more machine based that will not help us to accomplish the primary aim of educating the society. Artificial intelligence will also negatively affect the various human-like features which are being used during the process of education. The AI will also create disparity among different sections of society as technology will be more accessible to elite section. Another criticism of using AI in education is that it will eliminate 'trial and error learning method' which is a critical part of learning. The machine technology will allow students to learn in a judgment free environment.  

  There is another concern that if AI is put in place in schools, colleges and universities, we may diminish the role of teachers. It will be similar situation as in case of cricket where role of field umpire is significantly becoming irrelevant due to use of advance technology (Hot Spot, Hawk Eye). Therefore, there is fear that AI may replace the role of teachers and the concept of organized school system will be replaced by digital school system.

  Knowing the importance of both traditional learning process and AI based education, there is need to integrate both aspects in order to boost academic and social competencies. There is huge scope for both to flourish if they are integrated in a balanced manner. Artificial intelligence should not be used to replace the prevailing learning process, rather it should act as an extension or additional features to the education system. It is also important for think tanks and policy makers to looks how AI fits in our education system without hindering mainstream education process. 

Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is SERB-DST Fast Track Fellow, Department of Zoology, CUK, Sonwar Campus

((The views expressed in the article are author's own and do not necessarily reflect views of the Institution or the organization with which he is associated)

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