Professor Rose Luckin co-founds the UK’s first Institute for Ethical AI in Education

A new Institute for Ethical AI in Education (IEAIED) is launched today (October 18) at Speakers’ House, in London, to tackle the potential threats to young people of the rapid growth of new technology.

It is being led by Professor Rose Luckin, director of EDUCATE, Sir Anthony Seldon, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and Priya Lakhani, social impact entrepreneur and CEO of CENTURYTech, a former EDUCATE cohort. The launch event was being hosted by the Rt Hon John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

The Institute will seek to ensure the ethical development of AI-led EdTech, and future EDUCATE cohorts using AI as part of their product development will aspire to become exemplars of the principles underpinning the Institute, Professor Luckin, author of Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: The future of education for the 21st century, said.

“Ethical, thoughtfully designed and implemented AI could solve many of the problems facing the education system – from tackling the global teacher shortage to providing high quality education for everyone,” she said.

“The solution is at our finger tips, but we must ensure that the ethical vacuum of much of today’s commercial AI development is filled with practices, moral values and ethical principles, so that society in all its diversity will benefit. Ethics must be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI for use in education, from the moment of its inception to the point of its first use.

“Our aim is for EDUCATE cohorts developing products with the use of AI to be exemplars in this field, and to align with the principles of the Institute. I am thrilled to be working alongside Priya Lakhani, one of our most successful former cohorts, on this important venture.”

Sir Anthony Seldon, who has also written a book on the impact of AI on education, The Fourth Education Revolution, said: “We are sleepwalking into the biggest danger that young people have faced, eclipsing totally the risk of social media and other forms of digitalisation.

“The Government is not stepping up to the mark, and the tech companies are eating them alive, making shamefully high profits, preaching platitudes while infantilising our young and exposing them to great dangers. AI could be a considerable boon if we get the ethical dimension right but with each passing month we are losing the battle.”

Priya Lakhani said it was “important attention is paid – by government, by industry and by the education system – to the ethical issues that arise from introducing AI into education. We must make sure all learners and educators are protected from the risks that unethical use of AI in education could bring about”.

The IEAIED, based at the University of Buckingham, will see how data and AI within education can be designed and deployed ethically. The aim is to make the UK a world leader in ethical AI for education by engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to protect the vulnerable and maximise the benefits of AI.

The institute will look at how ethics can be ‘designed in’ to every aspect of AI in education and training from the inception of an idea for an AI product or service to the adoption of that AI within society.

The Institute will examine the assumptions about human behaviour that underlie current AI development and how social values are manifested in AI design. It will also look at how ethical frameworks can be grounded in responsible innovation and integrated with our assumptions to transform how AI innovators make decisions when designing for educational AI.

The IEAIED will also aim to ensure that AI in education does not prioritise certain aspects of learning at the expense of others, which can distort the process of learning and human development.

The Institute has been set up because the growing volume and diversity of data generated raises ethical concerns about what happens to that data, who owns it, who uses it, for what purposes, and who is accountable for its interpretation and exploitation.

The founders believe that there is currently no consistent or effective governance around AI in education, which has led to it operating like a “wild west” in technology development.