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UN urges schools to introduce guidelines for use of AI tools among children

UNESCO warns that excessive use of AI could be significantly harmful to children

By Web Desk
September 07, 2023
This representational picture shows a metallic figure against a computer. — AFP/File
This representational picture shows a metallic figure against a computer. — AFP/File

The UN demanded schools on Thursday to introduce and implement tight guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in classrooms, including a restriction on their use to older students.

The UN agency for education, UNESCO, cautioned states in new recommendations that public authorities were not prepared to handle the ethical concerns of implementing "generative" AI programmes in schools.

The organisation, based in Paris, warned that relying on such programmes instead of actual teachers could harm a child's emotional health and make them more susceptible to manipulation.

"Generative AI can be a tremendous opportunity for human development, but it can also cause harm and prejudice," said Audrey Azoulay of UNESCO. "It cannot be integrated into education without public engagement, and the necessary safeguards and regulations from governments."

Late last year, ChatGPT, a generative AI programme, made headlines for its remarkable capacity to produce essays, poetry, and dialogues from the shortest inputs.

Although it raised concerns about plagiarism and cheating in schools and colleges, investors flooded the industry and proponents focused on education as a potentially lucrative market.

According to the UNESCO recommendations, AI technologies have the ability to assist kids with special needs, serve as a rival in "Socratic dialogues," or serve as a research assistant.

However, the technologies would not be secure and efficient unless educators, students, and researchers contributed to their design and governments controlled their use, according to AFP.

The advice did not suggest a minimum age for students but did note that ChatGPT had a lower age limit of 13.

"Many commentators understand this threshold to be too young and have advocated for legislation to raise the age to 16," said the guidance.