It must have been way back in time when I previously (voluntarily) attended an intensive three-hour virtual conference – if it ever happened! – but the web meet on the evening of February 15 was definitely interesting. The EU‘Directorate-General EAC (Education, Youth, Sport and Culture) will, within three months, draw up guidelines for the field of education in Europe regarding the use of ‘Artificial Intelligence and data’. The purpose of the meeting was to gather views from European teachers for the job ahead. Thanks to Lidija Kralj who arranged the invitation to the meeting!
For my part, the concept of AI still feels pretty abstract and I think there might be many colleagues – and apparently also researchers! – who feel the same way. A quote from the Microsoft’s senior researcher and USC professor Kate Crawford, from the Guardian interview: “AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. It is made from natural resources and it is people who are performing the tasks to make the systems appear autonomous.”
Yet AI is becoming increasingly embedded in almost everything that occurs in a modern society today, without us even being aware of what is happening behind the scenes. I mentioned during the Tuesday meeting that all AI variants have (at least) one thing in common: they must be fed – trained – with enormous amounts of data in order to function. Then it is, of course, a necessity to be aware of where all the data is taken from.
The most advanced AI development today takes place within a few giant tech companies and also by nation state actors; in many cases these two overlap or blend completely. In this context, it is also interesting to note the ownership and location of the servers that most often power the digital edu platforms in Sweden. A clue: these servers are rarely owned or run by European organizations. Considering this, it is extremely valuable that the EU thoroughly scrutinizes the suppliers of educational IT – and also draws up guidelines regarding the use of AI in education.
Please note: Call to Action for professional educators from EU Directorate-General EAC – the EU wide survey on AI and data use in education is now online. Give your input in order to improve the AI use in education by completing the survey!