Hal, is in the house.

Harvest
Fall Harvest Photo jmikton

A colleague of mine and her Kindergartners were busy exploring where an egg comes from. “Was it born like a baby? Does it grow on its own? Where do they come from? Different perspectives and ideas were shared enthusiastically. The children discussed and challenged each other with their theories. At the end of the activity, one child turned to her partner and said, “when I get home, I’ll ask Siri for the answer.” A routine response in our classrooms? Or an important moment to understand that artificial intelligence (AI)  has embedded itself in our day to day lives? For a generation of children who have been raised on iPads and Siri,  AI – with a name and voice like a human – is as ubiquitous as any other technology.

AI is a tool that learns, anticipates and predicts. It provides us with instantaneous information or completes routine tasks remotely. The Amazon Echo and Google Home, two new devices that have recently gained traction, have begun to enter the home as personal assistants. The Echo and Home are two of many voice-activated AI assistants that tap into vast artificial intelligence networks. They aggregate information based on our digital footprints and predict our habits based on a learning algorithm that engages continuously with the data we share on our digital devices.

A shift has occurred in our relationship with AI and the impact is profound. It is the seamless adaptation of AI into our lives – a frictionless experience that is slowly making us dependent on this predictive technology. This new relationship meets our unique taste and needs, and only gets better the more it knows about us. Over time, this is changing the way our brain functions when interacting in the digital world. This short video by AcademicEarth.org -“ Cognitive Offloading,” is a reminder of the neurological changes AI is having on our learning.  We collectively feel more and more comfortable subcontracting out tasks to AI. The term ” let me google this” is an example.

For educators, this shift is showing up in our classrooms informally and in some instances invisibly.  Artificial intelligences are important elements of the devices which exist in our school tool kits. These include mobile devices, apps, browsers, search engines, smartwatches, and more. Writer and professor Jason Ohler asks an important question in his article “Bio-Hacked Students On the Outer Edge of Digital Citizenship”. How should we, as educators, shift the curation of a scholastic experience when students come to the classroom with embedded or wearable artificial intelligences? This alters the value of the commodity of knowledge in the classroom and highlights a potentially new hierarchy where AI supplements a user’s expertise. Suddenly, we have 24/7 access to predictive and anticipatory information which has the potential to disrupt the independent learning experience of a typical classroom. In his article “Artificial intelligence is the next giant leap in education“, Alex Wood reflects on the role AI could play in education.

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Coming to terms with these exponential changes takes time to digest. As educators, we need to understand that engagement and critical thinking are vital components of education, especially as AI shifts the classroom narrative. The ethical issues which surround these exponential changes are here now. The complacency that schools engage with in the discourse of what it means to be in a world dominated by AI is a tension we cannot ignore.

What will a world look like when companies can remotely delete pictures and videos which do not fit a predefined perspective fueled by an AI?  Danny Yadron questions this in his article “Apple gets patent for remotely disabling iPhone cameras.” What will a world look like when you scan a person’s image on the street and instantly receive their aggregated digital profile? In Shawn Walker”s  “Face recognition app taking Russia by storm may bring end to public anonymity  ” he shares the dynamics of the “FindFace” application, reminding us of the reality at our doorstep.

As educators, we have a unique opportunity to design curriculums around the narrative of artificial intelligence. We need to be encouraging our students to not only be good digital citizens but proactive digital leaders who understand the complexity of a world fueled by artificial AI. Schools should promote the skills and inquiry mindsets which provide students with the capacity to harness the power and opportunities of AI and not become complacent with the technology. Ultimately, we want our students to be active leaders and architects of AI’s continued growth. As educators, we have a responsibility to ensure our students have a working understanding of how to navigate a complex and changing world fueled by artificial intelligence for the good of future generations.

John@beyonddigital.org

 

 

 

find a place to hide……

So this week Google launches it social network: Buzz , a interesting next step for Google. Already folks are asking will 350 million Facebook users start switching, or at least the 160 million plus Gmail users who might be on Facebook? Buzz as I am starting to understand creates the option of integrating the many tools already available with gmail  blogger , maps, chat, sites, videos and more gmail/gapps tools….into one seamless entity all interconnected and able to help heighten my profile, information and news to a social network I create using these tools . Today I log into my yahoo mail and I am told at all times I can find out about what my contacts are up to, send message etc…a similar interface in the making by Yahoo with a different flavor. In tandem  Facebook Connect is available for developers allowing users to bring their identity and connections everywhere… so by using Facebook as your entry point updates, photos, wall posts, etc… these can be integrated with your twitter, blogs, wetpaint, mobile phone, and more……….

Quickly in the last few months suddenly we are seeing a more aggressive shift of engaging users on a variety of social networks, and portals like Google and Yahoo, to expand their presence and information to a large audience in real time. The idea is if I do a profile update in Facebook then my twitter feed picks this up, as would my blog, and my cell phone or even maybe my own web site. A one stop shop update for all about me!

There is no doubt this is kind of cool, and cuts down on having to post multiple times information or updates on my various Web 2.0 tools. The more I reflect on this, and with the framework that social networks default to public and you have to go and tweek the settings and parameters to make them private, I am realizing that we are entering a new dynamic where there is a push to be public as much as possible to as many of people as possible with our own information, updates, musing and more….. I am not going to be a judge on this, because to be honest I am still trying to work out what are my various options in the settings with these different tools. I am definitely spending more time trying to understand this and getting better at understanding my options to be private, and move from some of the public default settings these mediums start you off with.

…….so it is clear Web 2.0 and social networks are eagerly aggregating all our information for us in one place, thus allowing to socialize at many different levels through different mediums through one single interface available on multiple devices.

With this the question in my mind is the dynamic of privacy and public changing to the point we are moving to  a world, culture and expectation that within my social network, I will want to be able to find out where folks are, what they are doing, with whom, and when, to the point this is available to me on my mobile phone, my console at home, my laptop or some other device still to come all at once. Will this become an expectation and the norm?

For someonee who grew up where you could still be stupid and do rideculous things with friends and have no video, pictures, social network feed, update or public medium to share this….the new aggregate public profile on all my web venues is something I will need to get used and restle in finding a balance…..