UNESCO unveils new AI roadmap to chart a safer digital path for classrooms

Artificial Intelligence. Image credit: Unsplash/D Kor

New York: With an aim  to explore risks and rewards of using chatbots in classrooms,  the first global meeting with education ministers from around the world was convened by the UN, announcing on Friday a new roadmap to chart a safer digital path for all.

Formal guidance on using wildly popular artificial intelligence (AI) tools, like the chatbot software ChatGPT are followed by less than 10 percent of schools and universities, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which hosted more than 40 ministers at an groundbreaking online meeting on Thursday.

While exchanging policy approaches and plans, the ministers also took into consideration the agency’s new roadmap on education and generative AI, which, besides creating data and content based on existing algorithms, can also make alarming factual errors, just like humans.  

“Generative AI opens new horizons and challenges for education, but we urgently need to take action to ensure that new AI technologies are integrated into education on our terms,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education. “It is our duty to prioritize safety, inclusion, diversity, transparency and quality.”

A new UNESCO survey of more than 450 schools and universities revealed that institutions are being challenged in crafting a response to the sudden emergence of these powerful AI apps.

At the same time, according to UNESCO,  appropriate policy responses in a rapidly evolving education landscape  shaping  are being processed with great precautions by the governments worldwide, while also further developing or refining national strategies on AI, data protection, and other regulatory frameworks.

These AI tools pose risks to students exposed to false or biased information, some ministers said at the global meeting.

Other common concerns revealed by the debate include how to mitigate the chatbots’ inherent flaws of producing glaring errors. 

The best integration of these tools into curricula, teaching methods, and exams, and adapting education systems to the disruptions with generative AI was also addressed by the ministers.

Considering the vital role teachers play in this new era as learning facilitators  UNESCO said teachers need guidance and training to meet these challenges

For its part, the agency said that it will continue to promote the global dialogue with policy makers, partners, academia, and civil society, in line with its paper, AI and education: A guide for policy-makers and Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, as well as the Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence and Education.

Policy guidelines on the use of generative AI in education and research as well as frameworks of AI competencies for students and teachers for classrooms.are also being developed by the  UNESCO.

These new tools, said UNESCO will be launched
during Digital Learning Week, to be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 4 to 7 September.

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