What's in this week's edition?

  1. The humans of the gaps: Why comparing human with AI is futile (Article)
  2. Safeguarding the digital frontier: A conversation about AI's impact on safety (Article)
  3. Cheating with AI (Webinar)
  4. Upcoming this week
  5. 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 waned.

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 tomorrow.

But here's the problem. 

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.

So what's the solution? 

Shifting the paradigm. 

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 technology

What are your thoughts?

Safeguarding the digital frontier: A conversation about AI's impact on safety

Made with ChatGPT Plus with the new Dall-e 3 function

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 online. 

We chatted about the implications for AI on digital literacy and online safety for children. 

Here's the transcript...

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 them.

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 for children.

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 tasks.

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 spreadsheet.

Caroline Allams: Okay.

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 employees.

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. 

Check out what I have for you below 👇