Institute for Ethical AI in Education launches in a UK first

The new institute will investigate how AI can be designed and deployed ethically within education

A new Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED) launched today at Speakers’ House to tackle the threat young people face due to the unduly rapid growth of new technology.

It is being led by educationalist Anthony Seldon, AI in education scientist Professor Rose Luckin and social impact entrepreneur Priya Lakhani, and is supported by an advisory council made up of senior academics, politicians and entrepreneurs. The Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon John Bercow, commended the new Institute.

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said: “We are sleepwalking into the biggest danger that young people have faced eclipsing totally the risk of social media and other forms of digitalisation. The really frightening thing is that the Government is not stepping up to the mark, and the tech companies are eating them alive, making shamefully high profits, preaching platitudes while infantilising our young and exposing them to great dangers. AI could be a considerable boon if we get the ethical dimension right but with each passing month we are losing the battle.”

Professor Rose Luckin, added: “Ethical, thoughtfully designed and implemented AI could save education: from tackling the global teacher shortage to providing high quality education for everyone. The solution is at our finger tips, if only we are able to ensure that the ethical vacuum of much of today’s commercial AI development is filled with the practices, moral values and ethical principles that will ensure society in all its diversity will benefit. Ethics must be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI for use in education, from the moment of its inception to the point of its first use.”

Priya Lakhani has seen the potential of AI to disrupt the ‘one size fits all’ model of education through CENTURY Tech, the learning platform she founded and built with a team of teachers, neuroscientists, and engineers, but believes, “not enough attention is being paid – by government, by industry and by the education system – to the ethical issues that arise from introducing AI into education. We must make sure all learners and educators are protected from the risks that unethical use of AI in education could bring about.”

Ethics must be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI for use in education, from the moment of its inception to the point of its first use.
– Priya Lakhani, CENTURY Tech

The IEAIED, based at the University of Buckingham, will see how data and AI within education can be designed and deployed ethically. The aim is to make the UK a world leader in ethical AI for education by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to protect the vulnerable and maximise the benefits of AI.

The institute will look at how ethics can be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI in education and training from the inception of an idea for an AI product or service to the adoption of that AI within society.

Assumptions about human behaviour that underlie current AI development and how social values are manifested in AI design will be considered. The IEAIED will look at how ethical frameworks can be grounded in responsible innovation and integrated with our assumptions to transform how AI innovators make decisions when designing for educational AI.

The IEAIED will also examine the purposes of a person’s education, in order to ensure that AI in education does not prioritise certain aspects of learning at the expense of others, which can distort the process of learning and human development.

The institute has been set up because the growing volume and diversity of data generated raises ethical concerns about what happens to that data, who owns it, who uses it, for what purposes, and who is accountable for its interpretation and exploitation.

AI in Education beyond academic research, where ethical approval must be sought and granted, is the ‘wild west’, with no consistent or effective governance. Both advertently and inadvertently businesses are taking advantage of people in the way that they are building, implementing and rolling out AI and this needs to be addressed before any more harm is done.

Advisory Board Members include Lord Clement Jones, Sir Tim O’Shea, Geoff Barton, Sherry Coutu, Gi Fernando, David Puttnam, Fiona Boulton, Vivienne Durham, Lucy Heller, Alan Winfield, Essie North and Ann Mroz.