Grasping AI systems

Dufva, T. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation

Description

The software industry is increasingly introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence to new sectors of society, with the claim of boosting the effectiveness and improving the quality of existing services. In education, new “AI systems” are introduced to do educational analytics and help in giving students better and more individual education. By AI systems in this context, we mean digital platforms and services using machine learning and data analysis to provide insights and analysis for teachers on the performance of students, and automated tutoring and exercises for students as a form of digital self-help.

However, what is often ignored in this frenzy to go after the next big thing and digitalise all that is possible, is the embodied experience of using these new services and more generally the influence of the ubiquity of digital technologies. What do these AI systems feel like? How do they shape our behaviour and experience, or even our understanding of and interaction with other human beings? What is left out when humans and learning are transformed into datasets? For example, how do classroom surveillance systems based on face recognition change the behavior of both students and teachers? How do they feel about such a system? Such perspectives are usually completely ignored. What would be a good way to consider the embodied experience of AI systems and how these experiences affect us? Digitalisation and its consequences are challenging to understand because digital processes are abstract and difficult to grasp, which may easily lead to a detached sense of digital surroundings.

In this paper, we argue that in order to grasp the nature and future of datafication and AI systems in education, an embodied understanding of digitalisation is needed. We use the concept of ‘digi-grasping’ to analyse the awareness and involvement of humans in the digital world. By digi-grasping we mean active sense-making and existing in the world that consists of both a digital and a physical world. We argue that through ‘grasping’ the digital world it is possible to create an ethical and aesthetic attachment to society. This helps in broadening the discussion for instance from which AI system should be preferred or where to gather data to what role should AI and data play in education and society in general and in whose interests is it to promote the AI systems and the inevitability of digitalisation.

Digi-grasping can empower people to understand and question the choices and motivations behind current digital structures and to evaluate future paths in education better. We illustrate the concept with examples representing different modes of being and doing in the interface of digital and physical and highlight what being aware, questioning and creating new could mean in the context of datafication of education. This helps in broadening the range of possible futures for education and highlighting the implicit assumptions made about data futures. A broader range of futures helps in combating the hype around digitalisation and the used future of efficiency through digitalising everything.
Period15 Nov 2018
Event titleFinnish Educational Research Association Conference
Event typeConference
LocationTampere, Finland
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Keywords

  • digi-grasping
  • AI
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Media literacy
  • code literacy
  • postdigital
  • education
  • future studies
  • embodied digitality