How do educational leaders view the rise of huge language models and generative AI? What plans do Edtech giants have for it?
I recently returned from the ASU+GSV Summit, which brings together prominent minds focused on reshaping society and business around learning and work. It is the world’s largest Edtech event, with over 7,000 attendees, including many Deans, Education Programme Heads, and Superintendents. Speakers included Sam Altman, Bill Gates, Josh Bersin, and CEOs of major players such as Khan Academy and BYJU’s.
The theme of the Summit was “Brave New World.” The theme for this year reflected the constantly shifting world of education and work, where emerging technologies like generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) are transforming learning and teaching.
AI was at the core of every discussion, eclipsing nearly every other topic. Curiosity, excitement, or fear are the dominant emotions.
Trying to process this slightly overwhelming experience, here’s what I’ll take home:
AI is Inevitable
In less than six months, Open AI grew from 20 million to 1.2 billion monthly sessions.
AI is in every productivity tool (Microsoft Office and Bing, Google Suite, Adobe), and every major tech company invests heavily in incorporating it into its offerings.
AI is Very Powerful and Will Only Improve
It should not be dismissed because of current constraints. Most demos I’ve seen emphasize one of three value propositions:
• Providing a tutor to each student
• Providing an assistant to each teacher
• Making learning content much faster and cheaper
AI is Unpredictable and Dangerous
Although excitement dominated among educators, there were various questions on education jobs displacement, ethics and regulation, or equitable access. Industry executives dismissed these concerns. No one seriously considered pausing and reflecting, laughing off the Future of Life Institute open letter signed by Steve Wozniak or Elon Musk. Regulators will be forced to play catch-up once more.
Finally, this was a very US-centric conference, with the usual narrative of “the market will sort itself out” as the answer to many identified threats.
Looking at the influence of the social media sector in less than 15 years, for example, this is both short-sighted and concerning. However, I leave the event feeling mostly optimistic about the benefits of technology in global education, particularly around equitable access, but I wish Europe and the rest of the world had an equally influential voice in the debate.