Report calls for the development of an ethical framework for AI in education

AI has the potential to drive significant and lasting change across the entire education sector

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to drive an education revolution, offering the means to considerably reduce teacher workloads, boost learner development and eliminate global education barriers, but ethical considerations must take centre stage to safeguard learners, a new report has found.

The interim report, Towards a shared vision of ethical AI in education, describes how AI can be used as an engine to transform the education sector on all corners of the world, but notes that a balance must be struck between the benefits and potential risks to learners, according to the Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED).

The study proposes an ethical framework that promotes the positive use of AI, while simultaneously safeguarding learners from risks – such as intrusions on individual freedoms.

“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,” said Sir Anthony Seldon, co-founder of the Institute.

“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.”


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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 suggests that the framework be developed alongside industry stakeholders to reflect a shared vision of ethical AI in education.

The IEAIED will seek to find a consensus on the perks of AI in education, setting out exactly where learners must be protected from significant risks; where the benefits of AI in education counteract the risks; and how the risks can be managed, mitigated and, where possible, removed.

The Institute will now invoke a programme of consultation and deliberation, which will involve focus groups, roundtables, and an international conference. The findings will directly inform the content of the framework for ethical AI in education.

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