Education, work and Australian society in an AI world

A/Prof Kalervo N. Gulson, A/Prof Andrew Murphie and Simon Taylor, Dr Sam Sellar

A report by A/Prof Kalervo N. Gulson, A/Prof Andrew Murphie and Simon Taylor (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Dr. Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University, England).

This review addresses three key questions:  

1. What is education itself going to look like in an AI world? 
2. How do we prepare people to work in an AI world? 
3. How do we prepare Australian society to adjust to an increasingly AI world?  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) describes the use of computers to do the kinds of things that minds can do. There are two main goals for AI: (1) developing computer systems to do intelligent things and (2) using computer systems to model and learn about minds. AI is already part of media that we use in everyday life, but it is rapidly becoming more powerful and pervasive.  

The current organisation of education will shape how new AI technologies are adopted, but corporate interests and technological advances will also shape this adoption. Like other areas of social and political life, decisions about the uses of AI in education need to be enlarged beyond considerations of what is technically possible. AI in education will bring with it profound normative and ethical challenges to the social, economic and political purposes of education, including what is learnt and how we teach.  

The future of education could be one of atomised ‘personalisation’, but the role of schools and universities is likely, at least in the near future, to remain important as physical sites that are locally based organisations, with important community building functions. It is already evident that technological changes associated with AI could exacerbate inequalities in education. We must also entertain the possibility that in an AI world our conception of learning and education will change, in response to new insights into how minds work, as could our perception of the world and ourselves through our engagement with AI embedded in new media.  

Finally, while we have good research evidence relating to past and current trends in education, work and technology, the nature of our emerging AI world requires us to consider a very diverse set of possible future scenarios, and it also requires us to acknowledge inherent limitations on our capacities for prediction and planning.  

Read the report