Educational, ethical challenges of AI


The ethical challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) are significant and multifaceted. One key concern is the potential for biased or misleading content generated by AI algorithms, which may perpetuate stereotypes, misinformation, or discrimination. Additionally, with the issue of AI-generated content, ownership and plagiarism arises, as AI systems can replicate existing articles without proper attribution.

These factors all contribute to the growing awareness of AI’s influence. AI poses difficult and complex questions to general society, but more specifically academic institutions, today. In fact, the first 54 words of this article were written by the infamous ChatGPT. Thus, as technology advances, education systems need to take into account the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence. 

In the KO community, the use of ChatGPT has gotten a lot of attention, and Head of the Upper School Dan Gleason hopes to create a more open dialogue between students and faculty to address these new changes.

The results of a schoolwide poll show that many students use ChatGPT for brainstorming or generating ideas for their schoolwork. Other popular uses were for writing and essays, as well as math. “I use it for citing sources, finding basic information or combing the web, taking notes, getting ideas, spellchecking, and fixing grammar,” one student said.

For as much controversy as it is causing in the community, around 83% of students and teachers have never used or rarely use AI, academically or otherwise. However, many student responses noted the two “extreme” impacts.

Some negative reactions to the use of AI include concerns about academic integrity, especially considering the effects in application processes with KO Admissions and college counselors. Teachers and administrators are still seeking ways to limit the dishonest uses of this tool. “We want students to learn how to use it productively, but not to do so in a way that replaces their own critical thinking, writing, or research skills,” one teacher said.

Dr. Gleason agrees, saying that plagiarism could be a potential issue facing KO teachers. “Right now, it seems like a version of SparkNotes in a way, but one that can be customized to your needs,” he said. This deficit of student work can become a major issue if not addressed. Dr. Gleason noted that there have been a number of conversations around the use of AI at KO, involving Dean of Students Kata Baker and department chairs.

Beyond its impact at KO, artificial intelligence is likely to have major effects on the rest of the world as well. Issues like AI hallucination (spread of fake news by AI engines) and program error must be addressed before technology impacts human lives.

AI hallucination is the spread of fake news by AI engines, and it is an increasingly recognized problem in many online programs. “This technology, called generative AI, relies on a complex algorithm that analyzes the way humans put words together on the internet,” New York Times reporters Karen Weise and Cade Metz wrote.

Artificial intelligence is known to fabricate information and provide false sources in its responses to chatbot users. “AI and graphics could be harnessed to generate persuasive, realistic renderings of political leaders saying things they had not said,” Microsoft writer Eric Horvitz said.

Because the misinformation AI engines make is added to global internet intelligence, these programs are becoming increasingly unreliable. In a New York Times experiment on Google’s Bard, the same question produced two very different responses. While the first answer included wrong information and a fabricated quote, the second produced a false year of an event and left analysts with half a response.

This undependable use of artificial intelligence chatbots can have effects in the classroom, but could also make it easier for teachers to recognize the use of AI in their assignments.

Aside from KO students, a survey conducted by Walton Family Foundation uncovered that approximately 40% of teachers use ChatGPT on a weekly basis for a variety of purposes. Furthermore, this research helps to showcase why educational systems must adapt to the growing and complex problems associated with AI technology. “The survey also found 63% of students and 72% of teachers agreed with the sentiment that ChatGPT is ‘just another example of why we can’t keep doing things the old way for schools in the modern world,’” journalist Kayla Jimenez from USA Today wrote.

Additionally, AI is finding its way in students’ social lives, specifically with the new creation of Snapchat’s “My AI.” This AI machine acts like a “friend” to the user, answering the user’s questions and sending responses to the photos the user sends to it. However, these responses are not general; instead, the response specifically relates to what was sent in the photo.

This program specifically presents problems due to its very nature. Users may forget they are conversing with a machine because of its specific responses. According to an article by CNN, many Snapchat users are demanding an end to this feature. However, users cannot permanently remove the AI without becoming a premium member of Snapchat, and thus paying a fee.

Additionally, several parents find this troubling due to the fact that 60% of American teens use Snapchat. Thus, My AI is directly experimenting with children and their relationship with an AI machine. However, the founder of Weekly Advice for Young Entrepreneurs, Sinead Bovell, urged people to consider AI’s impact. “Chatbots are not your friend,” she said simply.

One student at KO disagreed with this sentiment. Junior Maia Killory recently published a KO News article focusing on the positive benefit of AI technology in the future. “AI is often villainized,” she said. “However, AI is actually beneficial to classroom environments. Its technology can digest complex information, making it more simplistic. This can actually increase understanding and comprehension.”

However, it cannot be denied that AI is a significant issue for the future. In order to combat these issues, educators must work to find solutions that limit the use of AI in students’ assignments. One idea that seems to be the most successful is personalizing assignments to be more individualized to the student and their work. With the errors in information from AI, the student would be tasked with doing their own research to make a unique connection rather than research a topic and craft an argument.

A similar alternative would be for teachers to craft more creative assignments that the capabilities of AI often overlook. These shortcomings can include lack of expressing or assessing emotion and using other cognitive skills in responses.

A final option would be to assess students’ writing in a more structured process. This would allow them to only write, edit, and revise one part at a time, which works to prevent the use of artificial intelligence for an entire essay or paragraph. Teachers may find it easier to recognize the use of AI engines if assessing in this way.

Although it seems like AI could only have small impacts because of its low usage rates at schools and jobs, once its use becomes integral to societal function, humans will form a reliance on this technology. “Top academics and researchers behind the leading artificial intelligence took a massive survey,” Dr. Gleason said, “and about half of those surveyed stated that there was a 10% greater chance of human extinction from future AI systems.”

While this staggering statistic can give some pause, Dr. Gleason also mentioned what still has to be done to fully understand AI. “It can be used in powerful ways,” he said, “and we’re not sure what it can do with all those scary and potentially tantalizing skills.”

A more positive lens among responses to ChatGPT, from students and teachers alike, surrounds the possibilities for use in the classroom and other academic settings. “It allows for more efficiency and more in-depth understanding of topics,” a student said. “It should be accepted with wide arms.”

Sophomore Andy Chen recognizes all of AI’s uses in more personal settings as well. “There’s a lot of kinds of AI, not just ChatGPT,” he said. “There’s also graphic generation, and there are a lot of different companies in this.” This engine generates pieces that can be used as inspiration and for creativity in arts classes.

There is still so much yet to learn about artificial intelligence, and its implications for education systems around the world, but for now, its capabilities have allowed for more freedoms in the classroom. “I would like to explore the creative side of these AI features,” an anonymous teacher said. “I need time to really research, but I hope to use it in a way that breaks open this stigma that it is all bad.”