Artificial intelligence will never replace teachers, but it can provide an objective basis for curricular choices and conversations with parents

What AI can and can’t do in education


Artificial intelligence will never replace teachers, but it can provide an objective basis for curricular choices and conversations with parents

When some people hear the term “artificial intelligence,” they think of robots like the ones in the Steven Spielberg movie AI. In education today, AI is something less glamorous.

As a tool among others in the software developer’s toolbox, it is used under the hood in many services and applications that teachers and students use every day in schools and families rely on at home. For example, it enables natural-language processing (search engines, speech recognition, spell checking), social media (interest profiling, sentiment analysis, add targeting), and computer vision (object detection, face recognition, augmented reality).

Despite its many uses, AI has raised some concerns among parents and teachers. According to the report “AI and the Future of Learning” from the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences, three of those worries are students’ privacy, the potential for bias, and the possibility of teachers losing their jobs to AI.

Some concerns about privacy are legitimate. AI solutions rely on data and work with data. It is important that service providers are transparent about how they safeguard privacy and stay updated on current legislation and best practices. On the other hand, concerns about AI replacing teachers are unjustified. AI lacks the human touch. It can’t express feelings, it doesn’t dream, it doesn’t aspire, and it will never be able to support a young, inquisitive mind the way a real teacher does. But it can aid teachers—and even give them superpowers.

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