By Paramjeet Berwal
Another of my blog posts imagining what AI future would look like. These posts are merely an imaginative take on several topics and are intended towards a well-informed public discussion on the topic. The future is unknown and the best we could do about it is to imagine it using what we have and the direction in which we are progressing ahead.
The contemporary education system and, in fact, its very genesis has often been subjected to criticism by some of the world’s most influential philosophers, economists, journalists, and intellectuals; Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Slavoj Zizek, Ha Joon Chang and Cornell West to name a few.
Going a little into the reasons as to why the contemporary education system is not what it should be, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that education system is structured to make children conformist, and compete with each other in order to strive to get absorbed by the system that is inefficient and incapable of absorbing all labour force being trained at educational institutions. Also, the same is substantiated by the fact that companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink are hiring people without paying heed to any official or institutionalised experience or even official educational degrees. In education system, even those who are innovative in real sense get filtered out and those who are ‘intelligent’ in a very conformist sense move ahead and up the success ladder because they pose no threat to the status quo and, in fact, end up reinforcing it, which, unfortunately is a desired quality. What will happen to the education system in AI-future?
The question deserves an in-depth analysis; and, writing a blog post to deal with it will not do any justice to the theme under discussion. However, certain aspects could be pointed out.
Education system serves a purpose and that purpose has been to align people with, among others, the society’s economic and social needs. If AI ends up disrupting the social and economic fabric of our society, education system would have to completely change. Why? As it is projected, the AI-future will have exponential economic growth with increased output and productivity levels with almost zero effective human labour requirement. Education system will have to take this into account. It will be futile to acquire knowledge regarding what is within the domain of AI unless one is curious enough to acquire it for pleasure and absolutely no practical purpose.
Given the fact that certain companies are striving for machine and brain interface, it is likely that AI augmented biological brains will be able to have vast amount of knowledge ‘uploaded’ onto them, in a instance. Quantum computing and way cheaper chips will make it practically feasible, at an unprecedented level. In this scenario, education will not be a regular process of gaining information or knowledge about particular thing. It will become more of a subject oriented transaction with timely updates. Would it be possible to learn or ‘upload’ the contemporary lifetime equivalent of education within a fraction of second in AI-mind-merged future? Probably, yes!
Also, the fundamentals of production process will change and therefore, the knowledge of the same will be in the domain of self-replicating and self-improving AI. If AI will be in control of knowledge and information, we will have to mediate or/and negotiate a ‘knowledge-deal’ with AI. What will be the dynamics guided by which AI will allow humans to have access to the changed fundamental knowledge, if at all?
In the wake of general purpose AI and the possible scenario where humans and AI will merge, the stance that is being argued for in order to make human beings capable to compete with AI, the contemporary education system will completely lose its meaning. Earlier, people used to do simple mathematics using mental faculties and thereafter, the task was performed by simple calculators. With auto-correct and auto-text generation features, an average person is on the way to de-learn the intellectual tools that allowed his brain to mediate with various external information. In other words, if people start finding it difficult to calculate even small digit numbers, for calculators are there and do not care to remember the correct spellings anymore, for auto-correct corrects it, their minds will lose the power to do it. In fact, technology is already making us lose our critical thinking and analysis, argues one UCLA Professor of Psychology. Following the same lines, if AI starts to think on behalf of and for humans, would humans lose interest and capacity to perform any intellectual exercise? This does sound like a far fetched idea. However, it is good to toy with this idea, at the moment. Also, another thing might happen. People might develop better analytical skills, for they will not be involved in any process of production. Leisure will allow people to have more time to sharpen their intellectual faculties. However, this sharpening of intellectual faculties in the wake of mergence happening with AI might attain different dimensions and will not be substantially same as it expected to be now. Also, despite having leisure time, humans in AI-future will not have any practical use of the knowledge that they might choose to acquire as an intellectual exercise.
In closing, education system is already showing signs of a complete overhaul. Though skill set, to cope with the changing job environment, will continuously need to be updated as disruption will happen rapidly and make existing jobs obsolete with new jobs, if at all, cropping up, it is difficult to say what exactly the jobs in advanced AI-future will look like. Education, if seen in the sense of gaining more knowledge about our existence, might take different dimensions.
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are that of the Author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions he represents, the Tbilisi Tomorrow Institute or the organisations supporting the Tbilisi Tomorrow Institute.