New institute for ethical Ai in education

Written by Julian Blake, Editor at DigitalAgenda

A new institute for ethical Ai in education has been unveiled – with a remit to tackle the threat young people face from the rapid growth of technology. Its new head says it will demand more ethical practice from tech companies.

The new institute, unveiled at the House of Lords last week, will be based at the University of Buckingham. It is led by educationalist Sir Anthony Seldon, Ai in education scientist Rose Luckin and social impact entrepreneur Priya Lakhani, and supported by an advisory council of academics, politicians and entrepreneurs.

Sir Anthony, vice chancellor of the University of Buckingham and author of a book on the impact of AI on education, 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.”

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.”

Lakhani, who founded  Ai for schools platform CENTURY, said: “We must make sure all learners and educators are protected from the risks that unethical use of AI in education could bring about.”

The new institute, based at the University of Buckingham, will “see how data and Ai within education can be designed and deployed ethically”. It aims to “make the UK a world leader in ethical Ai for education”, by engaging with 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.

The institute’s founders say they will demand more from our large technology companies on ethical practice and ethical education and training for educators, trainers, parents and students. And it will seek support for the tech startup community to ensure their ethical practice.

It will also consider the assumptions about human behaviour that underlie current Ai development and how social values are manifested in Ai design.

Advisory board members include founders4schools chair Sherry Coutu and Freeformers chief executive Gi Fernando.


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