AI and education

The recent unprecedented breakthroughs in Generative Artificial Intelligence (AGI) have triggered pressing debates amongst academics over the far-reaching implications of AI in traditional educational processes and mechanisms. How the large language models (LLMs) would alter the traditional educational landscape, given their high potential and capabilities in producing human-like responses? It is a matter of fact that since antiquity, education has played a pivotal role in the intellectual, social, and political development of human beings. However, the question is whether artificial intelligence would adversely impact the educational process, or rather enhance it. While answering this question, it is pertinent to peek into the very nature of artificial intelligence and contemplate its underlying operational patterns and methods.
Almost all AI-powered apps including the recent chatbot, ChatGPT, are working on the principles and patterns of (LLMs). These models are given huge and diverse stuffs of information and data, among which they collate and together date, and prepare answers to the given prompts by using the principles of statistical probabilities. More often than not, the answers seem suitable; however, sometimes the answers produced have no credible source, subject relevancy, or context, showing the lack of critical and real-life understanding of artificial intelligence.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of foundational know-how about the workings of artificial intelligence, most of the high school students are blindly relying on AI apps especially ChatGPT for academic purposes, giving no heed to the in-depth and critical knowledge of the subject. Indeed, this covert and superficial attitude of the students shows the abysmal quality of their education which has blatantly failed to inculcate real intellectual, scholarly, and forward-looking values in its students. The effective usages of AI are much narrower in the academic realm, and excessively relying on AI for academic purposes is lethal. Thus academics and students should know where to use AI and where to not.
If used properly with due etiquette, AI can be helpful for academics and students. First, it should be used as a helpful assistant. Second, it should be used for structure, not for content. For instance, if a student is writing an abstract for a thesis, she should not rely entirely on ChatGPT for writing an abstract; rather she should use it only for structure. Moreover, AI should be used as an incredible force in education, as it frees academics and students of cumbersome administrative tasks, and gives them free time to explore critical concepts.
Currently, most universities have authoritatively banned the usage of AI-powered apps for academic activities. It is completely a narrow and short-sighted approach. No one can prevent the phenomenon of creative destruction. Indeed, it is the one constant of history. When the computer was discovered, the academics of that time expressed their deep reservations that it would be hazardous for students’ conceptual understanding. Today no student can smoothly pass an exam without a computer or laptop.
The universities should not be afraid of artificial intelligence as it is the new accepted reality of this century. The universities, being the hub of creative knowledge and discourses, should shun their narrow and lopsided stance. Rather they should chalk out a comprehensive strategy of how to integrate AI into formal educational processes and infrastructure. Besides, they should organise seminars on how to positively use artificial intelligence for better academic outputs. The students should be deeply taught what the underlying working patterns of AI operations are. Moreover, given the widespread applications and adoption, universities should take steps to democratically regulate AI to deter students and academics from misusing it.
Indeed, AI has been discovered by humans, therefore it should serve us not vice versa. It should be used in creative ways in areas where humans want to excel.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Mardan. He can be reached at harisnawaz

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