Strict Rules Against AI Tools Like ChatGPT in Schools – UNESCO

UNESCO on Thursday published its first guidance on use of Generative AI (GenAI) for education, urging governmental agencies to regulate the use of the technology, including protection of data privacy and putting an age limit for users.

In new guidance for governments, the UN’s education body UNESCO is calling on Governments across the world to implement appropriate regulations and teacher training, to ensure a human-centred approach to using Generative AI in education.

The UNESCO Guidance sets an age limit of 13 for the use of AI tools in the classroom and calls for teacher training on this subject.

In its guidance report, UNESCO said, "Publicly available generative AI (GenAI) tools are rapidly emerging, and the release of iterative versions is outpacing the adaptation of national regulatory frameworks. The absence of national regulations on GenAI in most countries leaves the data privacy of users unprotected and educational institutions largely unprepared to validate the tools."

Generative AI can be a tremendous opportunity for human development, but it can also cause harm and prejudice,” said Audrey Azoulay of UNESCO.

In a recent UNESCO global survey, it was found that over 450 schools and universities showed that less than 10% of them had institutional policies and/or formal guidance concerning the use of generative AI applications, largely due to the absence of national regulations.

Students have taken a liking for GenAI, which can generate anything from essays to mathematical calculations with just a few line of prompts.

Among a series of guidelines in a 64-page guidance report, UNESCO stressed on the need for government-sanctioned AI curricula for school education, in technical and vocational education and training.

Presently in India, there's no law to regulate the AI sector. In April this year, the Ministry of Electronics and IT had said that it is not considering any law to regulate the AI sector, with Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw admitting that though AI “had ethical concerns and associated risks”, it had proven to be an enabler of the digital and innovation ecosystem.

However, last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a global framework on the expansion of “ethical” artificial intelligence (AI). In July, India's telecom regulatory body TRAI proposed for immediately establishing an independent statutory authority for ensuring development of responsible AI and regulation of use cases in the country.

Generative AI hit public awareness last year in November with the launch of ChatGPT, which became the fastest growing app in history.
While ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users in January 2023, only one country has released regulation on generative Al in July.
Moving forward with UNESCO guidance report, it further states – "The most fundamental perspective of the long-term implications of GenAI for education and research is still about the complementary relationship between human agency and machines. One of the key questions is whether humans can possibly cede basic levels of thinking and skill-acquisition processes to AI and rather concentrate on higher-order thinking skills based on the outputs provided by AI."

Writing, for example, is often associated with the structuring of thinking. With GenAI, rather than starting from scratch to plan the aims, scope and outline of a set of ideas, humans can now start with a wellstructured outline provided by GenAI.

"Some experts have characterized the use of GenAI to generate text in this way as ‘writing without thinking’ (Chayka, 2023). As these new GenAI-assisted practices become more widely adopted, established methods for the acquisition and assessment of writing skills will need to adapt." - the UNESCO Guidance report mentions.

One option in the future is that the learning of writing may focus on building skills in planning and composing prompts, critical evaluation of the GenAI outputs, higher-order thinking, as well as on co-writing based on GenAI’s outlines.

In concluding remarks the UNESCO Guidance report states — "From the perspective of a human-centred approach, AI tools should be designed to extend or augment human intellectual abilities and social skills – and not undermine them, conflict with them or usurp them, said UNESCO."

While GenAI should be used to serve education and research, we all need to be cognizant that GenAI might also change the established systems and their foundations in these domains. The transformation of education and research to be triggered by GenAI, if any, should be rigorously reviewed and steered by a human-centred approach.

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