Ethical issues in the Use of AIED
Artificial Intelligence has stepped into almost every part of our regular lives—from Siri, Google Assistant, self-driving cars to stock movements, crime prevention, fingerprint and face recognition, medical diagnoses, you name it. Amidst this, AI has also made its mark in the educational space. Intelligent learning systems are increasingly deployed in the classrooms in schools and universities across the globe. Amazon, Facebook, and Google are investing heavily in the development of Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) products, in addition to established AIED companies. The worth of AIED is rising steadily.
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What is problematic, however, is that the research, development, and use of AIED are largely taking place in a moral vacuum—very little research has been conducted about the use and effects of AIED, and the ethical issues it raises. This is highly problematic because while using AI in education might not have immediate and far-reaching consequences, it influences students and the future of society, and needs to be taken seriously. AIED techniques raise several evident but unanswered questions, of which only a fraction is covered by GDPR. The large volumes of data collected to support AIED lead to several unanswered privacy concerns.
While the vast amounts of data raise ethical concerns, it is not all. If the data incorporated into AIED algorithms is biased, it might impact the students negatively. While this ethical concern is a “known unknown” based on data and bias, there are several “unknown unknowns” that are yet to be identified. If AIED interventions target behavioral change, it is essential that its activities be ethically grounded. This leads to previously unanswered questions, such as the criteria for ethically acceptable AIED, the obligations of private organizations developing AIED products and public authorities involved in the research. More importantly, how are individuals represented in large datasets, and how can they opt out of the same? The ethical cost of inaction, as well as the inability to innovate, needs to be balanced against the potential for AIED innovation to be beneficial to learners, educators, and educational institutions.
Despite the fact that the usage of AIED goes back to nearly 40 years, the engagement with its ethics is almost negligible. This led to the workshop called “Ethics in AIED: Who Cares?” held by openAIED, the Open University research group, at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education 2018-19. The workshop will help researchers exploring ethical issues that are critical to AIED to identify major ethical issues and try to understand how to address them to establish the basis for a meaningful ethical reflection that will help in innovating the field of AIED.
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