Using artificial intelligence safely

Artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving, and it’s quickly becoming integrated into various aspects of our lives. From Siri on your phone and Alexa in your home, to self-driving cars and manufacturing robots, there’s plenty of different types of AI technology out there! As educators and parents, we need to help guide children in understanding and using artificial intelligence safely.

Artificial Intelligence

There’s plenty of benefits of artificial intelligence. It can process huge amounts of information quickly, provide tailored and efficient responses in no time at all, and support the development of ideas and knowledge.

But with AI being more widely available, more people are becoming concerned about how it might impact us at home, work and in school. Especially with the DfE’s requirements clearly stating the need for digital safeguarding through firewalls and filtering in schools. So let’s take a look at what AI is and the risks and opportunities associated with it.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way we engage with technology, and it seems like the possibilities are endless! But what is it?

AI refers to systems and technology that can simulate human intelligence (such as learning, problem-solving and decision making). There are some really advanced AIs that are able to understand human speech and pictures. Some can even talk like humans! AI works by using set patterns and rules to make decisions based on the data it gets. And the more data it gets, the better it becomes at making decisions. Just like how we get better at things the more we practice!

Tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard are generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools built on large language models (LLMs). They can answer questions, respond to prompts in a human-like way and complete written tasks. Other forms of generative AI can produce audio, code, images, text, simulations and videos. We generated the image for this article using AI!

AI isn’t a new concept. Back in the 1950’s, computers were created that were able to learn from us to increase their accuracy and abilities. And more recently, we’ve been using it for email spam filtering, media recommendation systems, navigation apps and online chatbots. But it’s only been in recent years we’ve been able to interact with AI  in our day to day lives thanks to smartphones, computers and home assistants. However, advances in technology mean we can now use tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard to produce AI generated content. Chat GPT only launched in November 2022 and already has over 100 million users!

While it holds an immense potential for innovation and efficiency, it also raises concerns about privacy, security  and ethical issues. Especially when it comes to children.

AI in education.

There’s lots of opportunities for embracing AI in education! It can help teachers in analysing, structing and writing text, and turning prompts into audio, video and images to be used in learning materials.

AI can also help by automating tasks to reduce workload across the education sector. This can free up teachers’ time to let them do what they do best – teaching! And by exposing children to AI technology safely, it can help develop their skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and digital literacy.

But with so much potential to help, there’s still some big debates happening around AI in education. This year, the Department for Education published a document about “Generative artificial intelligence“. It looks at how educators can use AI effectively and how to protect your data, students, and staff.

The risks of AI.

As with most technologies, there are also risks and challenges associated with using AI in education. The content produced by AI could be inaccurate, inappropriate, biased, taken out of context, taken without permission, be out of date or unreliable. And although it can help make tasks quicker and more efficient, it should never replace our ability to learn, knowledge and expertise and memory!

Currently there’s a lack of regulation around AI. With how rapidly it’s evolved, it’s been harder to monitor and regulate. This means we need to be extra careful making sure we’re using artificial intelligence safely.

We also need to consider data security and privacy. Collecting data for AI applications (especially when it comes to students) raises privacy concerns. It’s essential to make sure that all student data is only used when absolutely necessarily and handled securely at all times.

Teaching children safe tech use.

We want children to be safe and confident in using technology and going online! But it can be harder for children to recognise the risks and understand the implications of AI.

Another big issue facing children (and adults too!) is how hard it can be to differentiate between what has been generated by technology and reality. As AI technology continues to evolve, so does the difficulty in being able to tell what’s real and not.

As educators and parents, we need to educate children about using artificial intelligence safely and responsibly. But how can we do this?

  • Prepare children for changing technologies. The technology that’s available now, was very different to when we were at school! We need to teach children how to adapt to and embrace change.
  • Digital literacy. Educate students about what AI is, what it can do and the risks of using it. It’s not about stopping them from using AI, but instead to encourage them  to still think for themselves and interact with it positively.
  • Be responsible. As part of online safety education, we need to teach children about the importance of protecting their personal information online. AI uses data input from users to function, so we need to make sure we’re keeping our personal information safe and secure (just like we would  when interacting with strangers online!).
  • Encourage communication. Create an environment where children can come and talk to you about their experiences online and come to you if they have any concerns.

How can we help?

We’re your school’s first line of defence in online safety! We provide schools and trusts all over the UK with the very best bespoke broadband, safeguarding and security solutions. This means your students stay safe while they surf the web.

Our super web filtering, monitoring, firewalls and anti-virus solutions keep your school safe too. Plus it’s all fully compliant with KCSIE, Prevent Duty and Internet Watch Foundation standards!

Just get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we can help you with your school or trust’s connectivity or safeguarding!

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