Artificial Intelligence (AI) will democratise knowing and thinking. The future is always open to suggestions. AI will alter schools. If democracy is to work, it requires knowledgeable and curious citizens and for that reason alone, education in the e-Age has a moral purpose.
Democracy is about preparing citizens with the capabilities to take on the responsibility of making well-informed choices that lead to the public good. Democracy is concerned with the development of reasoned agency; with involvement in a life of reason. Releasing the imagination becomes the overarching aim of education.
The emphasis is on what learners are released for as against what they were released from. Learners are released for ethical and intellectual sovereignty. Their capabilities are amplified and enlarged by widening their horizons, increasing their awareness of choice, extending their points of reference, and layering their levels of perception.
The task of the human is to transform the world. To move toward ever-new possibilities of life that are richer and fuller – socially and privately. The world to which we relate is not static; rather, it is a problem to be worked on and solved. It is the material we use to overcome that which is dehumanizing at any particular time and place, and to create our possible worlds using our actual minds. The world remains incomplete.
Democracy is not just a political system. Democracy is an ethical ideal seething with active and informed participation by citizens. Constellations of beliefs, technologies and recognized ways of doing things must be critically grilled and interrogated in the light of the unfreedoms that AI has just only removed.
Institutions that once worked to transmit knowledge and preserve spatial inequalities, social stratification and manage forms-of-work chained to habitus, will find the future unbearable. Making knowledge will be the focus of the curriculum. Learners will search for tutoring bars to engage content experts to discuss tasks.
Tutors will offer suggestions on slices of problems inside a distributed problem-framing process, that accepts minimum viable cognitive products. Untested ideas. We will act to realize a world that we re-imagine constantly. This way, we are able to envisage endings ahead of their appearance. Outcomes that are imperceptible, impossible, and unexampled in experience.
The “occasion to learn” or what was previously called “the lesson” will take place in an “opportunity web” that gives access to nine sets of resources. This changes the old relationship between teacher resources and curriculum goals. Rather, the “opportunity web” gives the student access to any educational resource which may help them to define and achieve their own learning goals for a given task.
The “opportunity web” may offer: (1) Content and Learning Objects; (2) Digital Humanities Laboratories; (3) Futures Skill Exchanges–where learners master new skills that enable them to work on a project or to solve a problem; (4) A Skills Exchange that lists projects which may have become marooned, or those in need of unexampled experience; (5) Communication Networks that allow students to describe a learning activity they find engaging, with the aim of attracting talent to the project team; (6) Tutoring Bars; (7) Directories that provide user feedback and reviews, like Trip Advisor, and recommendations like Netflix, and Playlists of Projects that resemble Spotify; (8) Code Banks – that allow students to build Apps using no-code low-code digital skills; and (9) Skills Swap – or Structured task-focused opportunities to master skills like Data Visualization at another school.
Schools become networks of knowledge production sites, with students providing and offering short peer-to-peer learning opportunities as they make new contacts and build trust, while being supported by coordinators and having their interests, and privacy protected by agreements.
Over 40% of the world’s population is under 24. Schools cannot fail to empower this generation of youth to live creative lives at a time of grave existential risk. The consequences on social and economic peace may be calamitous.
At present, generative AI may help some students to cheat in exams and to excel in grades. But grade savvy-students may not have the grit to reimagine the world. As platforms become smarter, schools may consider how to guide learners to ask better questions. This is not the same as coaching students on how to craft the prompts for conversational AI. Curiosity must be encouraged in schools.
The Smart School is not a site with high-speed internet. Rather, it is a place where changes in labour markets, the gig economy, and the circular economy become central to curricula. The Time Table is constructed around Multiple Intelligences, and is not a spreadsheet to order the flow of discrete subjects.
AI will amplify the proliferation of misinformation. Anyone with Wi-Fi will produce rigorous arguments on any issue by inputting a prompt into an AI platform. The outputs will vine across manicured trellises and the rhizomes and tubers will undermine foundations from beneath our feet from surprising places.
There will be no common ground. Only – discord. Using AI, the flames of extremism and polarisation will spread. The climate catastrophe, pandemics, food security, digital trade barriers and economic migration — will require unimaginable levels of collaboration.
Legislation may soon seek to categorize applications of AI into levels of risks, and to restrict biometric identification systems and indiscriminate data collection. Democracy is built on the freedom of the imagination and in the e-Age this calls for well-informed and curious citizens.