Artificial intelligence is an indispensable tool for human progress

A webinar on the opening day of a hybrid “AI and education conference” taking place on February 25, 2023. Screenshot

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not just a purely technological solution. Instead, it’s a powerful tool we can use to move forward as a society, much like we did with the discoveries of fire, the wheel, electricity and the internet, said Furqan Khan, a Canada-based software engineer. on Saturday

He was speaking in a webinar on the opening day of a hybrid “AI and Education Conference” hosted by the non-profit organization Off The School (OTS).

“Looking ahead, AI software used to generate 3D videos to explain complex ideas or processes, software for self-paced learning, and real-time speech-to-speech translation will show us the language barriers in education can bridge. ‘ Khan said.

He discussed the potential areas where AI can be used to bridge the accessibility of education, such as: B. AI personal assistants, distance learning, translation, mock exam creation, exam scoring and fact checking, especially in the context of the education crisis in Pakistan. Khan also introduced various AI tools such as Google Assistant, Wolfram Alpha, Otter and ChatGPT to the webinar’s hundreds of participants from multiple countries.

Referring to AI helping school children, Pakistani computer scientist Ahsun Tariq, who has a master’s degree in AI from the University of Edinburgh, discussed the potential for AI in middle school through college.

“We need systems to support scaffolding attributes,” he said. “There is work being done in this area, such as developing Algorithm Visualization (ALVIS) software to help children visualize how algorithms work. These systems help people visualize and develop better mental models of algorithms, solving the problem of creating a better teaching environment.”

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Tariq, a researcher at Oregon State University in the US, highlighted the limitations of “Pakistan’s rigid and doctrinaire educational system.” Still, he saw the potential for AI as a recommendation engine that could learn students’ strengths and recommend various topics from around the world. He also mentioned that current AI systems like Chat-GPT can help students find quick fixes, but stressed the importance of data collection, annotation, and debiasing for AI to be truly effective.

Speaking before the webinar, OTS founder and journalist Najam Soharwardi said it was a tragedy that 22.8 million children in Pakistan were out of school and that recent climate disasters have only made this crisis worse.

“Innovation is the key to addressing educational challenges in Pakistan. Without them, the cycle of poverty and inequality will continue, leaving countless children without the opportunities they deserve,” Soharwardi said.

“The use of AI-powered chatbots is just one example of the innovative solutions needed to address the problem of out-of-school children. By creating tailored lesson plans and teaching materials, at OTS we give these children the chance to break the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential.”

Syed Kazim Jamal, Advisor for Digital and Technology Transformation at Ernst & Young Global Limited, spoke about the importance of using AI to address educational inequalities and ensure access and equal opportunities for all. “Education is often touted as the great leveler, the key to advancement and a better life. However, the reality is that not everyone has access to quality education and many are left behind due to systemic inequalities. We can’t afford to leave anyone behind,” Jamal said.

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He also spoke about the great promise of AI to address these injustices and how it is not just a technological solution but a moral imperative.

Waqas Ansari, an engineer at US company Motive, emphasized the potential of AI in solving complex problems and increasing efficiency in various industries. He highlighted the importance of deep learning and reinforcement learning in AI and spoke about recent advances in AI technology due to improved hardware, software and data availability.

However, Waqas also acknowledged the ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI, such as its impact on jobs and privacy. He emphasized the need for professionals with AI-related skills and the importance of further education and research in AI to realize its full potential and mitigate potential risks.

Entrepreneur and digital marketer Mubashir Sakhi and Omama Ansari, Head of OTS Edtech also spoke about the webinar, which ended with a question-and-answer session from educators, parents and students. The two-day conference concludes today (Sunday) with an on-campus workshop on the use of AI-powered chatbots at OTS.