The global learning crisis is marked by major inequalities in education around the world. The figures are alarming: Close to 260 million children are out of school; millions are living in countries affected by conflicts, and are in urgent need of educational support. Disabilities, gender and economic inequalities constitute major long-lasting obstacles to learners globally. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionarize learning and is already changing the education landscape globally. But that revolution will not be successful if the use of AI in education is not steered by humanist values. How can we ensure that education systems can integrate AI to support the learning and well-being of diverse populations? And how can this integration lead to better social outcomes, inclusive and equitable quality education, and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all?
UNESCO has identified four core elements that are essential in the future development of AI in education:
- Inclusion, equity and gender equality must be adopted as core values in order to ensure that the development and use of AI in education does not deepen digital divides, gender gaps or inequalities in access to and creation of knowledge and skills.
- AI tools for teaching and learning should empower teachers to practice more inclusive teaching, as well as enable the effective inclusion of students with learning impairments or disabilities, and those studying in a language other than their mother tongue.
- Emerging and hidden ethical issues should be revealed and regulated to avoid ‘deep’ bias against any minority or vulnerable groups. Regulatory frameworks are needed to guarantee ethical, non-discriminatory and gender-equitable development and use of AI algorithms and tools, as well as transparent use of learners’ data.
- Public policies and strategies as well as multi-stakeholder partnerships are required to tackle these factors of exclusion. International cooperation, dialogue and solidarity should also guide the action of the international community.
UNESCO’s Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Inclusion in Paris (2-6 March 2020) will explore the best possible ways to steer the use of the most advanced technologies to deal with the long-lasting challenges of inclusion and equity in education. The potential risks and benefits of AI and inclusion in education will be unpacked under four major theme aiming to:
- Solidify international cooperation to promote inclusive access to AI and digital innovations;
- Leverage AI to advance inclusion in access to quality learning opportunities;
- Foster AI innovations to enhance learning outcomes across learning settings; and
- Ensure non-discriminatory and gender equitable use of AI for lifelong learning.
The Conference provides a platform for global education communities, governments, private companies, civil society organizations and others to join forces and find solutions together. It will also convene innovators developing AI applications, and will facilitate a Policy Forum for ministers and other stakeholders. The event will examine the key policy measures required to implement the key recommendations of the Beijing Consensus on AI and Education.