What's in this week's edition?
- The humans of the gaps: Why comparing human with AI is futile (Article)
- Safeguarding the digital frontier: A conversation about AI's impact on
- Cheating with AI (Webinar)
- Upcoming this week
- Enquire about New York
This is later than usual because the wifi on my flight was terrible. But, it's
technically still Sunday here in Peru! Enjoy...
Humans of the gaps: Why comparing humans with AI is futile
At the BESA conference in London this week I said that we are in danger of a
'Humans of the gaps' scenario if we aren't careful.
A few people have asked me to expand on this, so here goes...
For centuries, the "God of the gaps" argument has been used to attribute
phenomena beyond human understanding to divine intervention. In an era where
the frontiers of science were enigmatic, a deity served as a catch-all
explanation for everything from weather patterns to the origins of life. As
scientific knowledge expanded, the need for a supernatural explanation has
Today, some teachers and educational leaders seem to be taking a similar yet
human-centric approach: Let's call it the "Human of the gaps." The idea, that
I often hear, is to teach students skills that artificial intelligence
currently lacks, supposedly making them indispensable in the workforce of
AI is an evolving field, accelerating at a pace that renders today's
limitations obsolete tomorrow. If we continue down this path, we risk
relegating humanity's value to a shrinking set of skills that machines have yet
to master. The endgame? Humans getting squeezed out of these gaps, as our
'usefulness' becomes increasingly marginalised.
The worth of an individual should not solely be gauged by what they can 'do'
better than a machine. While this may not be your personal belief, it is the
lens through which society often appraises human value.
We need to envision a future where human worth is not pitted against machine
capability. A future where, regardless of AI's advancements, the value of a
human life isn't determined by its utility in filling the gaps left by
Safeguarding the digital frontier: A conversation about AI's impact on
I was delighted to chat with Caroline Allams, Co-founder of Natterhub, a
platform designed to build children's digital literacy and keep them safe
We chatted about the implications for AI on digital literacy and online safety
Caroline Allams: It's truly lovely to have you here, Dan.
Thank you for your time. I wanted to delve into the aspect of safety and what
children need to learn to develop as digital citizens in this blended world
they now find themselves in. My concern primarily revolves around primary
school-aged children transitioning into secondary education. We often encounter
a misconception where the ability to handle the functionality of technology is
confused with managing its interactivity, which in reality, has a more profound
impact. So, as a parent or educator of a primary-aged child, what's your take
on what they need to know about AI? It's indeed a broad question.
Dan Fitzpatrick: You've highlighted an important point,
Caroline. There’s a common assumption that students are more technologically
adept than adults. Especially when it comes to artificial intelligence, many
believe that we need to catch up with our children to level the playing field.
However, this assumption can be misleading. I've noticed through my teaching
experience that students often lack basic digital skills. For instance, during
my tenure as the head of careers at a school, I discovered that many students
struggled with composing a simple email. This could indicate either a
generational shift in communication methods or a gap in basic digital literacy.
Furthermore, students’ interactions with digital tools are significantly
influenced by YouTubers and peers, which isn’t inherently negative, but there’s
a lack of discourse around the ethical implications of technology use among
Caroline Allams: Absolutely.
Dan Fitzpatrick: Teachers and parents play a crucial role in guiding the
ethical use of technology. It's not imperative for them to be tech wizards, but
having a basic understanding of how AI works can be beneficial. They can bring
life experiences into discussions about technology, helping children make
informed decisions. This guidance helps in creating a safer digital environment
Caroline Allams: I wholeheartedly agree, Dan. The power of
dialogue is often underestimated in addressing online safety issues. Creating
the right conversational environment enables parents and educators to overcome
any technological knowledge gaps they might have compared to their children.
Dan Fitzpatrick: Yes, and there are times where a firm “no”
is necessary to protect children from certain digital dangers. For example, my
four-year-old daughter uses my old mobile phone occasionally. While I’ve
allowed her to download certain apps, others require my permission. This
selective accessibility instils a sense of caution and understanding of
potential risks, establishing a healthy digital boundary.
Caroline Allams: That's an insightful approach.
Transitioning a bit, I am curious about the exciting aspects of AI in the
context of primary education. Despite the challenges, there’s a lot to look
forward to. How do you think the relationship with AI will shape their future?
Dan Fitzpatrick: A lesson can be drawn from the internet
boom about two decades ago when digital literacy started becoming a necessity.
Now, AI is heading in a similar direction. Being proficient in collaborating
with AI could significantly benefit individuals in the workplace and their
lives. For instance, training on how to prompt AI effectively could be crucial
as it requires good articulation and communication skills. While these skills
aren’t new, they haven’t been emphasised enough in the educational curriculum.
Looking forward, those who can work alongside AI will likely excel in producing
faster and higher-quality work.
Caroline Allams: Indeed, and it’s exhilarating to think
about the creative possibilities AI brings to the table. It can act as a
scaffold for thought processes, helping children organise their ideas better.
I've witnessed this with my own daughter, who now uses AI to structure her
responses better. Especially for children with neurodiversity, AI could be a
valuable tool to increase productivity and reduce the time spent on challenging
Dan Fitzpatrick: Absolutely, Caroline. AI has the potential
to take over mundane tasks, allowing us more freedom to engage in human-centric
and creative pursuits. It's about guiding AI in a direction that enriches our
lives, helps us connect with nature, enjoy friendships, and essentially be more
human. Through reflective use of technology, we can foster a culture where
children are not merely extensions of computers but are empowered to interact
with AI in a manner that enhances their learning and life experiences.
There's recent research indicating that high proficiency in a particular skill
doesn’t significantly benefit from AI assistance. It's more beneficial for
those less skilled, helping to level them up. This resonates with your point
about honing a passion and skill. Personally, in my business, I’ve found I
excel more on the creative side rather than say, managing finances on a
Dan Fitzpatrick: Acknowledging areas where we need help and employing AI to
assist us can free up time to focus on enhancing our strengths, which
ultimately adds value. A book by Reid Hoffman, the creator of LinkedIn, titled
"The Start-Up of You", suggests treating our lives as a startup company. This
aligns with instilling entrepreneurial thinking in children from a young age,
contrary to our education system designed to prepare individuals to be
Caroline Allams: Yeah, 100%.
Dan Fitzpatrick: It's a challenge for large education
systems to encourage individuality due to their mass production nature, whereas
entrepreneurship requires a unique stance. AI can assist in this regard by
taking over basic knowledge acquisition, like the Synthesis School in America
is doing with AI chatbots for teaching basic subjects, freeing up time for
students to engage in problem-solving, collaboration, and communication.
Caroline Allams: It's about applying what's learned and
empowering children with a voice, reducing digital vulnerability through a
balanced approach. Focusing on soft skills development is crucial.
Dan Fitzpatrick: Absolutely, and it also ties back to the
connection between technology and career advice. It's essential to keep looking
towards the horizon, understanding the changing world, and adapting the
educational approach to prepare students for real-world challenges.
Caroline Allams: Exactly. It's about building skills in
children to navigate risks while also embracing AI and technology to enhance
learning and life experiences.
Dan Fitzpatrick: One way to reduce fear about AI interaction
among both parents and children is to explore it together. A friend of mine
created a tailored ChatGPT tool to help his daughter with maths, which proved
beneficial for both of them. Engaging with technology alongside children can
demystify it, creating a sense of control and understanding.
Caroline Allams: It’s about taking the journey together,
overcoming fears, and realizing the potential of AI in education. This
discussion has been enlightening, Dan. Thank you for your insights.
Dan Fitzpatrick: Thank you, Caroline. It's always a pleasure
to delve into these critical discussions on education and technology.
Cheating with AI?
It's with great pleasure that I can announce an exclusive webinar co-presented
by myself and Matt Miller.
This is the first collaboration between 'Ditch that Textbook' and 'The AI
Educator', aimed at bringing you an interactive webinar on facilitating
students' use of AI for school.
We both work in a lot of schools around the world and we have noticed that most
questions are focussed on this area. A lot of teachers and leaders are unsure
on their message to students and the policies they should write.
This will be a thought-provoking and interactive webinar called "Cheating with
AI?", we'll delve into the ethical implications of using artificial
intelligence in educational settings. Is it cheating, or merely a sign of the
times? Discover innovative ways to redesign assignments, while also fostering
critical skills necessary for the AI Era.
Wednesday 25th October 2023. 18:00 GMT+1 / 13:00 EST / 10:00 PST
Don't miss this opportunity to explore these timely issues and engage in the
conversation. Register now to secure your spot and submit your questions for an
engaging dialogue! 👇
This week I am excited (and jet-lagged 😴) to be in Lima, Peru, to keynote at
the Latin America Head's Conference.
If you are in the north-east of the USA I am coming to you in December. I have
limited days left, so please reach out if you are looking for some AI PD based
on the best-selling book The AI Classroom.
Have a great week and thank you for reading.
If you need me check out theaieducator.io
Dan Fitzpatrick - The AI Educator ✌️
Check out what I have for you below 👇