Artificial intelligence (AI)

Potentially one of the most impactful new technologies is Artificial intelligence (AI). But what is it? How is it being used? And what are the implications for today's students?

What is AI?

AI is a broad term which captures a lot of technologies, like 'machine learning', 'deep learning' and 'natural language processing'. There is no definition of AI agreed on by experts, but there are some similarities between technologies that are called 'AI'. For example, almost all AI needs vast amounts of data, and processes it to perform a complex analytical task. Many AI also have the capacity to adapt themselves over time in order to improve their accuracy or reliability. AI is already all around us and new uses are being devised every day.

Impacts of AI

Machines will increasingly be able to do more of the difficult, dangerous or repetitive work currently done by people. We can use AI to improve our understanding of complex systems, like the climate or the global economy, or improve efficiency and productivity. Yet, the power of this technology can present huge risks. For example, increasing automation is likely to impact the availability of work across many fields. The analytical power of AI can help us to understand complex problems, but can also be used to manipulate consumers and invade privacy.

AI and education

Students will need an advanced understanding of how AI works and the ethical implications of its use to take advantage of its benefits and protect themselves from its misuse. AI also has enormous potential even within the teaching practice to improve education. Yet, the collection and use of this data also presents significant ethical issues. The Education for a Changing World initiative has been discussing these issues with experts in our Edspresso series and is developing a framework for the ethical use of AI by and within the NSW Department of Education.

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