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WASP-HS Event: How Does AI Affect Children and Education?

Published: April 21, 2023

Participants at the AI for Humanity and Society 2023 workshops. Photo: Charlotte Carlberg

Protecting children against unfair artificial intelligence (AI) and educating teachers to know how, and when, to use AI were some of the topics discussed at the the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP-HS) event AI, education and children on April 19.

AI is becoming more and more present in our daily lives, especially for children. From virtual assistants to educational games, AI is changing the way children learn and interact with the world. To get a better understanding of how AI affects children and education and what opportunities and consequences AI contributes to, WASP-HS brought together researchers and industry representatives from across Sweden at the online event on April 19.

The afternoon started with a keynote speech by Teemu Roos, Professor, University of Helsinki, Leader of the AI Education Program at the Finnish Center for AI who highlighted the need to identify mechanisms, opportunities, and dynamics of AI in education including weaknesses, biases, and risks.

AI Literacy and Protecting Children

“In order to make AI fair for children we need to analyze the use situation including their values and amplify their perspectives. As recognized throughout our discussion there is a paradox of both highlighting childrens’ interest and values, but still we cannot expect them to be as knowledgeable and we cannot hold them accountable for proposals or decisions. We also discussed that fairness and barriers may differ depending on in what context the child is in, a system that is understood as fair in one situation, might be unfair in another” says Johan Lundin, WASP-HS Professor of Informatics, at Gothenburg University.

As Lundin stresses the importance of analyzing the use situation to ensure fairness and acknowledge the differences in contexts, McGrath emphasizes the need to educate people about the implications of AI and develop teachers’ AI literacy to use these tools effectively.

“During our discussion, it was clear that there is a risk that AI tools are introduced into school settings in a way that are not advantageous for children’s cognitive development. Moreover, there is a risk that those who cannot keep up with AI developments risk being left behind in the societal change that it may bring. It is important that we educate people about the implications of artificial intelligence and how to use it. Developing teachers’ AI literacy is paramount in order to best take advantage of AI tools and systems, but also to empower them to know when such tools and systems should be left alone” says Cormac McGrath, WASP-HS Senior Lecturer at Stockholm University.

The topic of AI, education and children is a sensitive topic to some seeing as children is if the most vulnerable group in society. Linnéa Stenliden, WASP-HS Associate Professor at Linköping University, highlights the importance of listening to all perspectives.

“There are a lot of different opinions on the topic of AI and children and it is important not to polarize the discussion despite our different opinions, but to listen carefully to each other”.

Summary Report

WASP-HS is working on establishing a report based on all discussions that took place during the event. The report will be available within a few weeks for all interested parties to read. See all reports.