12 months of ChatGPT – a call to action

12 months of ChatGPT – a call to action

11.12.23

“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
William Gibson

This Quote by William Gibson, a brilliant science fiction author, describes disturbingly well the situation of many educators and educational institutions with AI. 

A year ago, the future arrived in the form of ChatGPT, but this future is still very unevenly distributed.

The early adopters quickly started learning about and experimenting with AI and began sharing their thoughts and ideas about how to leverage the potential of this new technology with other educators, and there were vibrant discussions regarding the positive and negative impact this technology would have (and was already having) on higher education. For those in the right bubble it seemed at times that no topic was more important (and still is) and that everybody was familiar and concerned with what was going on.

But once you step outside this bubble you realise that the future that arrived on November 30, 2022 is far from evenly distributed. Too many educators have allowed themselves to only observe and comment from a distance or ignore the topic all together. And if discussions are happening, they’re mostly concerned with how to prevent students from cheating using ChatGPT.

For years, even decades now, universities have been criticised for not keeping up with technological development, for lagging behind when it comes to the changes happening in our society. So given that the rapid change we currently experience in the field of AI seems to dwarf the speed of technological development we saw in the last decades, isn’t that even more of a reason to accept the fact that our universities won’t be able to keep up?

I very much hope the exact opposite is going to happen! Right now the uncertainty regarding how this new technology will impact our jobs and our society as a whole is at a peak. Everybody is looking for guidance. 

Imagine universities were to fill this void by bringing together all their experts on philosophy, technology and the different aspects of our society and by encouraging them to initiate and lead the public discussions we desperately need to have with regards to AI and its potential impact on our society.

If you are a member of an academic institution that has not started working on its own AI strategy, this is your call to action: 

  • Gather your colleagues and (fellow) students and start asking questions: How will AI change our field of research, the way we learn, teach, and do research, the job market we prepare our students for, and our own organisations?
  • Learn about AI, start experimenting with potential use cases, and start coming up with ideas, scenarios and recommendations that could help us figure out how to use AI to change our society for the better.
  • Start sharing your ideas and recommendations in places where not only other academics can find them. Invite others to join the discussion so we can all learn from each other.
  • And last but not least: Have a discussion about how to best prepare today’s students to thrive in a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity – and AI.

Let’s all make sure the future that has arrived 12 months ago gets distributed more evenly – and more responsibly.

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