How do leaders in Education feel about the rise of large language models and generative AI? How are Edtech giants planning to use it?
I just came back from the ASU+GSV Summit, the world's largest Edtech event attended by over 7,000 people including a good portion of Deans, Education Programmes Heads and Superintendents. Speakers included the likes of Sam Altman, Bill Gates, Josh Bersin and CEOs of big players like Khan Academy or BYJU'S
AI was at the center of every conversation, eclipsing pretty much every other topic. Curiosity, excitement or fear being the dominating emotions.
Trying to process this slightly overwhelming experience, here’s what I’ll take home:
🛣 AI is INEVITABLE: OpenAI went from 20 million to 1.2 billion monthly sessions in less than 6 months. AI is in every productivity tool (Microsoft Office and Bing, Google Suite, Adobe) and every major edtech company is spending tons of money integrating it into their offering.
🦍 AI is very POWERFUL, and will get better. It shouldn’t be dismissed based on current limitations. Most demos I’ve seen focus on one of 3 value propositions: giving every student a tutor, giving every teacher an assistant, or making the creation of learning content much faster and cheaper.
⚠️ AI is UNPREDICTABLE and DANGEROUS: although excitement dominated amongst educators, there was a range of questions on education jobs displacement, ethics and regulation, or equitable access. Industry leaders shrugged off these concerns. No one seriously considered pausing and reflecting, pretty much laughing off the Future of Life Institute open letter signed by the likes of Steve Wozniak or Elon Musk. Regulators will once again be left to play catch-up.
Finally, this was a very US-centric conference with the usual narrative of “the market will sort itself out” as the answer to many threats identified. Looking for example at the impact the social media industry had in less than 15 years, I find this shortsighted and worrying. However, I leave the event mostly optimistic about the benefits the technology will have in global education, especially around equitable access, but I wish Europe and the rest of the world had an equally influential voice in the debate.