Artificial Intelligence is not the future. It is here today or has been for a long time – depending on who you ask. As we enter 2023, it is not enough to say that 2023 is the “year of AI” – the past few years have all been the “year of AI”. I believe 2023 is the year of AI Education.
What is AI Education? I have previously written articles about AI-Literacy, and the need for everyone in the world to understand AI at some level. AI Education is the process of becoming AI Literate.
The past few years have seen a massive expansion of targeted AI education initiatives. In particular – a shortage of data scientists led to a great increase in data science programs and certifications, as well as tooling to support citizen data science – enabling anyone to build AI and data science models without code. However, the AI education I refer to is not for data science specialists – it’s AI Literacy for everyone.
Why is 2023 our breakout year for AI education? Let’s consider a few factors
- ChatGPT, Large Language Models and Generative AI. Large language models have been with us for a few years – doing everything from telling jokes to creating beautiful art. However, with the advent of the latest language models – these AIs can now be used to write documents, create questions, generate new recipes, and pretty much anything we can think of. Other types of generative AIs are being used for generating medical images and creative art. This development means that AIs are now a valuable support tool for every job.
- AI is in our homes, our cars, and our phones, and the list goes on. AIs surround us every day. These devices learn about us, make decisions for us, and interpret and use our personal information in all sorts of non-obvious ways. As we go about our day – AIs decide everything from the best route to drive, to what movies are recommended to us, to what interest rates we get, and whether shops with cameras consider us risky.
- AI teaching has entered K-12. The past year has seen a massive increase in AI programs in K-12, with books and programs targeting students from elementary to middle school and high school. Teachers are introducing AI into their classrooms, and students are doing science fair projects and building apps with AI.
- The AI laws (and lawsuits) have begun. This is a sure sign of technology reaching the mainstream – society needs to deal with the positive and negative aspects of technology, with its laws racing to keep up with the outcomes. Governments are starting to introduce AI frameworks – from the United States AI Bill of Rights to the European Union’s AI Act.
- The pervasiveness of AI technologies has made it necessary for institutions at all levels of society to make decisions about how to manage the AIs around them – whether it is cities debating the use of facial recognition by police, or schools deciding whether students can use ChatGPT to write term papers.
What does all this mean? It is not just that AI is in our lives and our homes (that has been true for a while now). We have now taken the next step – AI is now in all of our jobs (whether we are lawyers, marketing managers, human resources specialists, nurses, teachers, or school children). There are tools we can benefit from, dangers we need to navigate, and policies we need to understand and implement.
The above factors show why 2023 should be the year of AI education, but how can we believe that it will in fact be the year of AI education? A few (albeit) non-scientific answers come to mind
- I have observed a rapid growth in professionals from all fields wanting to understand “what this AI thing is”.
- We are seeing the start of the “AI-Enabled Practitioner”. An AI enabled practitioner is an individual who is AI Literate and uses their AI knowledge as needed in their job. The practitioner is a shift – no longer is AI the sole province of highly trained computer scientists – AI education is now a requirement for everyone.
- In conversations with hundreds of K12 teachers and school officials, there is near unanimous agreement that they and their students will benefit from greater inclusion of AI understanding in their classrooms.
Its 2023. Time to learn AI.