Jelena Mamula, Online ESL teacher, Educator at Acadsoc
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Technology is developing so rapidly that it’s more about humans keeping up rather than containing it. The role that technology has played in the classroom and in education as a whole, is very vital. One aspect of this vitality is the emergence of artificial intelligence, which is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages’. This raises a lot of questions based on what role this intelligence will play in the coming years.
To answer this question, it is imperative to look at the topic holistically, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages that may arise through its continued use.
A.I.’s First Uses in The Educational System
When we first think of artificial intelligence we imagine a human-like robot that is standing in front of the classroom replacing the role of a teacher. What we may not realize is that artificial intelligence has been part of the educational system for a while. The first uses of artificial intelligence in the educational system can be attributed to the use of computers in the classroom. The use of e-learning applications such as ‘Thinkster Math’ which is a tutoring application that assists both teachers and students to aid in mental awareness and mental progress in the field of mathematics. The use of computers has developed the efficiency of organization and research, which is a vital component in the transfer of knowledge, cutting down in the time needed for teachers to prepare their classes, and the time students spend in the library doing research.
Moving forward, we need to keep this in mind when we look at how artificial intelligence has influenced the future of learning, what our needs are, how far we are willing to take it, and how soon. To determine all of this, we need to be cognizant of all the questions that will, or may arise concerning this topic.
Ethical Questions Arising from A.I.
To understand and make informed decisions on the topic of artificial intelligence, it is important to view the good with the bad. Part of the bad is considering all the ethics around this topic in an educational framework. There are two extensive ethical questions to consider when we look at education:
- New Slaves?
A large factor of economic participation is being compensated for the contribution you make. An important aspect that raises questions is, how people will be compensated for the contribution made by computers, robots, or technology. For many libraries across the world, they do not enjoy the same frequency of visitation due to the emergence of e-books and online libraries that can be accessed anywhere in the world. This affects the value added by these institutions and may soon render them obsolete. One other factor to consider is that teachers have a skill of being able to understand beyond student’s accents and hand-writing to better derive answers and give due credit. Machines on the other hand (currently), can only be programmed to accept a certain type of accent and visible hand-writing – because of this, students may be held back based on their accents and hand-writing rather than the content of their answers. This may bring about more problems than solutions as students try to conform to those standards.
For now, A.I. is heavily dependent on human proactivity, but what will happen when these machines do not need us to grow or innovate further? Imagine a scenario where a machine can take over the class just as effectively as a teacher can, who then becomes the slave?
The core of freedom is the ability to make our own choices and define ourselves. When it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence, who will control who? Will humans have control over A.I. or will A.I. have control over humans? It’s premature to answer this question especially when humans do not know the role they will play as the world continues to adopt A.I. on a larger scale. Keeping in line with the economic participation, salaries decrease as skills become obsolete – when teachers become less needed in the class, they will eventually do whatever it takes to survive economically, meaning that they will serve whatever purpose A.I. needs them to fulfill, effectively reversing the roles of the hierarchy.
- Teacher-Scientist Caution
As of today, there are so many concerns that exist pertaining to the security threats that computers pose. Cumulatively, the world loses billions through corruption by hacking syndicates, and as A.I. becomes more powerful and complex, we need to realize the security threats that exist through its independence from humans. Students are very tech savvy and are inclined to create profiles to participate in social media. The power of A.I is that it can access these profiles and even webcams, meaning that the younger generation is at risk when it comes to their privacy been invaded.
Pioneers who are at the forefront of A.I. and technology on a larger scale, warn us of the problems that increased reliance on A.I. will have on us. In an interview with Javier E. David of CNBC (2017) Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla warns us, “In the end, the machines will win.” That says it all. Machines are governed not by ethics or morality, but by purpose – a purpose that they seek to fulfill at all costs, even if that means the total wipeout of humanity. The mere fact that a pioneer in the technological sphere is sending such chilling warnings should not go unnoticed. Picture a scenario when a machine is programmed to be the best teacher in the world, any teacher that seeks to interfere will be considered a threat to the ‘purpose’ and ‘corrective’ action may be taken. Imagine a case where a student is just not perfect enough in the classroom, it would be easy for them to be excluded – machines do not have the luxury of empathy or sympathy, let alone patience – so we can only imagine what will happen to all the people who are anomalies in that environment.
For us to make informed decisions, we need to consider all factors that are in play, for us to remember what makes us unique as humans and not taint that. In the same interview with Javier E. David of CNBC (2017), Elon Musk again stresses, “The introduction of A.I needs to be regulated” – this is so that we do not find ourselves creating robots that mimic human behavior, because in-turn, those same machines will want to program us in a way that mimics machine behavior.
The Role of Teachers Moving Forward
The future of learning is still hopeful, however. E-learning is a growing platform and for teachers who are not certain about their future in the classroom, they can visit ESL companies such as Acadsoc. The company is a balanced mix between the skills of teachers with the organizational advantages of artificial intelligence. This means that teachers can continue to provide their expertise through a platform that the world is embracing through online education.
Artificial intelligence is a heavily debated topic and it is riddled with disadvantages and advantages. There needs to be more engagement on it especially when it comes to its role in the educational framework. Luckily, for teachers who need more certainty or who feel the need to adapt to an ever-changing world, companies like Acadsoc exist to fulfill this purpose and bridge the gap between the conventional way of teaching and the advancement of technology.
Matthew Lynch. (2017). Five Examples of Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from
Julia Bossman. (2016). Top Nine Ethical Questions in Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from
Javier E. David. (2017). Elon Musk issues a stark warning about A.I. Retrieved from
Acadsoc. (2016). The Leading English Platform in China. Retrieved from