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District looks at impacts of artificial intelligence on education

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Artificial intelligence models, such as Chat GPT, Bing AI Chat and Chatsonic, have the capacity to improve education, but can also be abused. Educators are grappling with the future of AI and how it will impact their students. Courtesy of Pexels

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — Technology is changing at a rapid pace — from Smartboards to distance learning platforms — that have changed the face of education. But now a new and emerging technology could alter the future of schools, and no one is certain what those changes will be.

Artificial intelligence could be a game changer in education, but it also has the capacity to present challenges to educators.

District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey reported at the Aug. 2 meeting of the RCS Board of Education that he had attended a conference by the Northeastern Regional Information Center, or NERIC, which provides technology support to more than 130 BOCES school districts spanning from the Capital Region up to the Canadian border.

“The conference focused primarily on artificial intelligence and the role that it will definitely play not only in education, but in our daily lives,” Bailey told the board of education.

The conference included presentations by the FBI and Homeland Security, along with technology experts.

“They talked about the balance of this new technology and the potential impact on the work that we are doing — enough to be really excited and enough to be really scared, all at the same time,” Bailey said.

Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, particularly computers. AI, as it is known, enables machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as reasoning, problem-solving, learning and understanding language. It can even replicate or mimic human cognitive functions, enabling computers to make decisions, solve problems and even learn from experience.

Those skills can be used to bring improvements to education, but it can also has the capacity to be used by students to do their homework for them, write papers or solve mathematical equations. Indeed, artificial intelligence has the capacity to write a poem, analyze history, perform creative writing and more.

The new technology is offered through AI models such as Chat GPT, Chatsonic, YouChat and Bing AI Chat, among others. Some models are free, others require a fee. Some models can even generate artwork and video based on parameters the user inputs.

The possibilities are endless, but they also pose challenges in the classroom, Bailey said.

“It used to be Google and Wikipedia that were threatening us. Now, the possibility of artificial intelligence writing papers, solving problems, submitting work is definitely a new challenge,” Bailey told the board. “We talked [in the conference] about how we can teach the students to live in a world with this responsibly.”

He expects there to be further regional discussions with BOCES and other district superintendents for how AI can be used and not abused.

“We were talking about professional development for both our staff and the leaders and the board alike, so we are all able to grapple with this,” Bailey said.

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