Rethinking AI in Schools: UNESCO Calls for Age Limits

Artificial intelligence will inevitably be part of every child’s life. But parents may have concerns about powerful AI tools like ChatGPT entering classrooms. In new guidance published Thursday, UNESCO urged governments to “quickly regulate” the use of AI in schools, including restricting use for younger students.

Prioritizing Emotional Wellbeing

The UN highlighted ethical issues with integrating AI programs in education. Replacing teachers with AI could negatively impact children’s emotional wellbeing and make them vulnerable to manipulation, the Paris-based agency warned.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General, said AI like ChatGPT “can be a tremendous opportunity for human development, but it can also be the source of harm and prejudice.” She emphasized that public engagement and government oversight are essential before bringing such tools into schools.

Proposed Minimum Age

The guidance suggests governments define a minimum age for AI use, no lower than 13 years old. ChatGPT has already implemented that age cutoff based on US law. But many experts argue 16 is more appropriate.

UNESCO indicated AI tools could help students with special needs by generating captions or translation. However, teachers, developers, and researchers must be involved in designing such assistive technologies. And governments should regulate their use.

Calls for Urgent Action

The rapid growth of AI like ChatGPT has fueled concerns about plagiarism and cheating in schools. But the education market’s profit potential remains strong.

UNESCO’s recommendations urge policymakers to act quickly given AI’s fast-moving advances. While specific regulations will vary, governments must address key principles:

  • Protecting children’s wellbeing and privacy
  • Teacher involvement in AI integration
  • Transparent AI design and use policies
  • Oversight and accountability mechanisms

Schools exploring AI must carefully weigh risks versus rewards. And policymakers need to define boundaries so innovation improves, not harms, education. UNESCO aims to spur debate on establishing safeguards as AI shapes classrooms of the future.

Key Takeaways

  • UNESCO published new guidance on use of AI like ChatGPT in schools
  • It calls for minimum age limits and regulation of AI in education
  • Concerns include emotional impacts and manipulation risks for kids
  • Policy action is urged to protect students as AI advances rapidly

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About the Author: Anabel@WAS