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Socrates of the Future: Some Provocations on AI and the Future of Learning

By April 13, 2023No Comments

This post, the final installment in a three-part series, comes from my keynote address at a recent conference titled “AI is here. Where are we?” hosted by ACS Athens — a Middle States accredited international school in Athens, Greece. 

I had the honor of delivering these remarks in advance of a panel on the impact of AI on education.

Part 3: Socrates of the Future

We are educating the next Socrates right now.

Are we preparing that child in our classroom to work with AI?

Are we allowing that child in our classroom to explore “known unknowns,” especially when it comes to the application of AI to the world around us?

Are we inviting that child in our classroom to ask, “Who am I? Who are we? What matters to us? What are we going to do about it?”

That Socrates of the future will encounter questions like, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” or “Why do AIs hallucinate?” or “Is artificial intelligence a type of cheating machine that schools should ban?”

Are we preparing that student to look in the mirror when they answer?

I hope we can see now that questions about AI are not primarily questions about a machine that has a mind of its own. They are questions about us, as the humans whose data train the AI.

And I hope we can also see that questions about AI in education are not primarily questions about a new internet-enabled technology. They are questions about the purpose of school.

The Temple of Apollo in Athens is a home to the oft-quoted wisdom to “Know thyself.” In his “Protagoras” dialogue, Socrates invokes that same phrase and asks us to look in the proverbial mirror.

If we evolve our schools to explore that same question with AI—not in opposition to it and not in avoidance of it—then we are doing justice for the Socrateses of the future.


Read parts 1 and 2:  Weird Questions and Mirror, Mirror

For my full remarks, watch this video.

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