On Tuesday, February 16, 2023, I had the pleasure of participating in an afternoon session on the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in education. Led by Marije Brom from the Rotterdam University of Aplied Science (RUAS) AI & Ethics program at the Communication Media Information Technology (CMI) location.
Generative AI in Education: Policy and Ethics
The session began with the notion of a need for policy about the use of generative AI at RUAS. Ilyaz Nasrullah provided a strategic advice in August 2023. This emphasizes the importance of a ‘principled position’: mapping the use, working from a shared educational vision, determining the skills students should develop, how they are assessed, and how generative AI can be integrated into the curriculum. More internal-information about the development of generative AI at RUAS can be found here: HR’s HINT page.
Generative AI: The Slot Machine of the Future
A significant metaphor for AI, according to Marije, is the slot machine, as we don’t fully understand how the results are generated, and control is crucial. A basic definition applied by The programme AI & Ethics.
“Generative AI enables users to rapidly generate new content based on a variety of inputs. This input is transformed by AI tools into specific outputs, such as text, images, sounds, 3D animations, or other types of data”.
This definition is from a recommended Dutch publication on the use of AI in higher Education; Chatten met Napoleon (2023). This publication shares a lot of useful insights for teachers in education.
Creative Applications of Generative Technology
The presentation continued with practical examples of generative technology in various fields such as: language-models (ChatGPT, Bard, Gemini, Meta, Claude2). Image-generation models (Stable Diffusion, clipdrop, Dall-e, Canva, Midjourney, bing, Adobe Firefly), video-models (2short.ai, Opus clips, runway, synthesia, audio-models (Elevenlabs, Mubert, Adobe (Podcasts), Soundraw), and code-models (Open AI Codex, Github Copilot). The rapid developments of these various AI-models raised questions about how to embrace this technology amidst al its uncertainties, and if things aren’t going too fast for mankind.
“We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us,” J. Culkin (1928-1993).
The Dark Sides of AI
Various ‘negative aspects’ of AI utilization were explored, for example issues of transparency and explainability (uncertainty surrounding how models make decisions), non-compliance with laws and regulations, the existence of AI farms in Asia and Africa where individuals work tirelessly for meager wages to moderate content, the dangers of misinformation and fake news, and inherent biases. The data, used by AI is often primarily sourced from the US and Europe, which significantly shapes outcomes. AI frequently amplifies existing biases and aligns with the prevailing online narrative. A recommended Belgian reference on the responsible use of AI is found in “Verantwoord gebruik van Generatieve AI in onderzoek, KU Leuven -2023.” A less emphasized perspective was the environmental concerns regarding the substantial energy consumption of AI machines.
AI application and Prompt Engineering
Prompt Engineering is an important skill for using AI. It involves consciously studying AI through instructions. The recommended method is ‘Chain-of-Thought-Prompting.’ In this approach, each logical step is articulated. Providing context, such as the perspective of an academic researcher or using English prompts, can yield more diverse AI responses. After the instructions the best way to experience the AI-tools was to engage in hands-on experiences. We use the introduction programme ‘exploring generative AI with Copilot’ using Bing by Microsoft.
Conclusion: A New Era in Education and Technology
The visit to the AI Try Out offered a fascinating glimpse into the future of education, where AI seems is playing an increasingly prominent role. It raises not only questions about how to integrate this technology but also about the ethical responsibilities that come with it. I consider a baseline introduction such as this session relevant for both tutors and students.