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Artificial Intelligence: The downfall of education?

An excerpt from George Orwell’s Animal Farm reads: ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’. What makes man “more equal” to…

An excerpt from George Orwell’s Animal Farm reads: ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’. What makes man “more equal” to other animals you may ask? The answer is just in a single word – education. Just imagine a community where education is non-existent. Definitely, ignorance will be the order of doing things. Such an environment will not witness development till eternity.

Indeed! No prosperous nation will take the issue of education lightly. Because without education, man will be sub-human; his potential will remain un-utilised. Yes! This is why the United Nations sees education as “a fundamental instrument in enhancing quality of human life and ensuring social and economic progress”.  Just contemplate, how the process of imparting knowledge, ideas, skills, and cultural norms from man to man can be feasible without education. It seems impossible.

Meanwhile, in the 21 century, the true identity of education has changed. In fact, we are now in a world where the traditional way of accessing education is fading out due to the evolution of the internet, Artificial Intelligence (AI) inclusive.

Artificial Intelligence refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. This includes tasks such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, language understanding, and even decision-making.

The products of AI such as Robotics, Natural Language Processing tools, OpenAI chatbots (ChatGPT, Bard and more) and their integration into classrooms and learning environments has revolutionised education, thus, creating myriad challenges to the educational sector of every country.

The first challenge is the replacement of human teachers. E-learning classes and automated chatbots are becoming increasingly common and potentially reducing the role of human teachers. This could lead to a lack of critical human qualities such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and mentorship which are crucial for nurturing well-rounded individuals.

Reduction in student’s engagement in critical thinking is another hectic concern. The overreliance on open AI chatbots for assignments and research might suppress students’ critical thinking and creativity.

Traditional education encourages students to engage in discussions, debates, and projects that promote independent thought and problem-solving skills. Relying heavily on AI-guided lessons could lessen these valuable aspects of education, leading to a generation of students who struggle to think outside the box.

The world, which is aggressively accepting AI-driven instructions for education, should not forget the potential of causing ‘digital divide’ where students without access to AI-powered tools are left at a disadvantage compared to their more privileged counterparts.

Therefore, efforts must be made to bridge the digital divide and ensure that AI-powered tools are accessible to all students.

Technology now can be used to deliver learning platforms, distance learning and online courses to students thereby improving access to education and this has been a help to some youths of today. No matter what technology might bring in the future it can never replace human beings because it is human intelligence and this led to the creation of artificial intelligence, whereby it creates room for online learning and teaching.

Universally, nowadays students rely too heavily on technology, and don’t engage themselves in critical thinking skills they need to solve problems i.e. it makes them more relaxed.

Therefore, balancing the benefits of AI with the essential human touch in education will be key to creating a future where technology enhances, rather than replaces, the learning process.

 

Salman Raliya, Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

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