Reflections on AI in Education and looking forward to 2019

In 2018, I submitted written evidence by Nesta to the Education Select Committee on the fourth industrial revolution inquiry. The evidence was on how best to prepare young people for future opportunities brought about by technological change and ensure lifelong learning.

I was excited about my first appearance in UK Parliament for an oral evidence, along with Prof. Rose Luckin and Brian Holliday. I spoke about the work Nesta is doing in EdTech and life-long learning. Here’s the full recording of the Education Select Committee hearing. What was surprising was that a robot from Middlesex University, Pepper answered questions from MPs about future of AI in the classroom.

Top 3 events on AI in Education that I spoke at in 2018:

AI at London EdTech Week

In June, as a co-chair of London’s EdTech Week, Nesta hosted educationalists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, teachers and AI-experts to explore the role of AI in our education system. Hosted an insightful debate with Prof. Rose Luckin, UCL Knowledge Lab, Paul Kett, Director General, Department for Education, Mohit Midha, Co-Founder and CEO, MangaHigh, Angus Reith, Technology Lead, Plymouth School of Creative Arts.

Future Fest

In July, I hosted an in-conversation with Sir Anthony Seldon and Azeem Azhar on Aritificial Intelligence at Nesta’s Future Fest. Some of the questions we discussed were how will children learn what it means to be human in a system made up of machines? What is the potential and what are the risks of the ‘Fourth Education Revolution’ that artificial intelligence promises? Does artificial intelligence promise a low-cost education for all, or yet more advantages for those who can afford it? And who will we trust to guard our children’s data?

AI in Israel

In September, I joined a panel discussion on Educational use of Smart Machines: Scaling Opportunities and Calibrating Concerns. Israel is leading the way in experimenting with education technology in the classroom. Thanks to Avi Warshavsky, CEO of MindCET, Edtech Innovation Centre and Cecilia Waismann, VP for R&D at MindCET for hosting an inspiring event.

Top 3 events that I am excited about in 2019:

AI in Education exploration

The future of AI in Education (AIEd) is a substantial topic so we are focussing on those aspects that will have most impact on educators and learners, and the future of which is most uncertain. Themes for exploration include who controls the data that underpins AI and how these technologies might fundamentally change the assessment of students.

We’ll be launching the AIEd research findings and recommendations at Nesta’s Education conference on 28 Feb 2019. Our research looks at how to maximise the benefit while minimising risks of AIEd in schools, and makes a number of recommendations for government, technology companies and school leaders.

Women in AI research

There is a lot of fear and hype about AI. But a lot of the concern is coming from people who have never studied or worked in AI. Having studied computer science over two decades ago in Singapore, I know that technology can be a force for good depending on how it is built and used. Back then my computer engineering undergraduate class was 25% female. Last year in the UK only 15% of computer science graduates were female. Why are women not choosing a subject that will shape the future? I didn’t see myself as an engineer but I had an amazing school teacher who showed me how computing can be used to solve interesting problems in an efficient and effective way.

Nesta is researching the challenges around Opportunity Lost due to lack of diversity in tech and innovation. We are investigating what inspired women to work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what barriers they faced in industry or academia, with the ultimate aim of learning how we can contribute to closing the gender gap in tech. We are looking to interview women who have studied computing/AI and are working in AI across any sector in UK. The launch of the women in AI research will be announced on 8 Mar, International Women’s Day.

SXSW Edu – session on AI

Looking forward to showcasing Nesta’s AI in Education research and sharing future scenarios set in 2035. Toby BakerLaurie Smith and I will be revealing the most exciting applications of AI and actions that we can take now to avoid negative consequences of an AI-enabled education system.

Here’s to women in AI and shaping the future of AI in Education!

This post originally appeared on Linkedin here.