Imagine, if you will, a President of the United States that truly understands AI’s potential: how to use it, when to trust it, and how to stop it if necessary.
Is this prospect terrifying or exciting? It’s hard to say for sure. It seems obvious that up-and-coming generations will bring a new, if not radically different perspective to government, in part because they are the world’s first digital natives.
While those born in the mid-80s were early adopters of technology in their teenage years, younger millennials and the following generation Z, will be more familiar with innovations like AI, VR, and robotics by the time they get to Capitol Hill.
Having used these technologies throughout their entire lives and educations, tomorrow’s leaders are certain to have an edge on their predecessors. With luck, this will give them a natural grasp on the implications of tech like AI, and where it might provide useful solutions to fiscal, social, and geopolitical concerns.
To nurture such leaders now, however, we will need to amp up innovation in classrooms across the country. Should AI edtech be implemented in schools with care, I believe we’re on the cusp of what could be a game-changer.
How education and tech shape policy
As you might expect, today’s politicians bring with them to the public sector the values and methods they were raised and educated with (or without). As late adopters of technology, the average baby boomer is less familiar with AI and other emerging technologies than younger adult generations, who have interacted with it since their youth.
For better or worse, boomers are a product of their time. The limits of their education system have resulted, at times, in lingering old-school perspectives — and at worst, in a misunderstanding of historical and scientific realities.
Technology was not common in the classroom until the 2000s; prior to this, most students dealt with a handful of instruments: calculators, projectors, and basic computers. With email only gaining prominence in 1995, well into boomers’ young adulthood, it’s no surprise that the government lags behind when it comes to important issues like cyber security, or that real-time fact-checking is such a new and controversial phenomenon.
With machine learning only now hitting its strides in consumer electronics, informed AI policy will likely lag even further. But you can bet it will hit classrooms sooner — in fact, it’s here already.
AI in the classroom
Today’s students have their own set of issues, stemming from funding deficits, teacher shortages,…
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