AI – a new tomorrow for education

Jonas-Ivarsson-Göteborgs-universitetThe labour market is changing at a rapid pace because of new technologies. To avoid falling behind, education and training systems need to adapt with a focus on technical skills, humanism and ethical awareness.

– Technology is evolving faster than ever before. Historically, technological shifts have replaced manual labour, saving us tedious work and increasing efficiency. Machines such as chainsaws have proven to be robust and easy to learn to use over time. But today’s technology is digital and focuses on automating intellectual and creative tasks, something we haven’t seen before to the same extent. This is a new development that is changing the way we look at tasks and the role of technology in society, says Jonas Ivarsson, professor of informatics at the University of Gothenburg.

A technology that is extremely scalable

Jonas Ivarsson’s research concerns knowledge development, new technologies and AI. He is particularly interested in the interaction between humans and technology, and the societal consequences of AI’s various applications.

Since the new technologies can be copied and multiplied, Jonas believes that they are extremely scalable. A system can perform many different tasks and also be replicated to do the same thing in many places at the same time. Compared to previous technologies that were customised for specific tasks, this is a big difference.

In future, technology will replace more than just physical labour. Intellectual labour will also face competition, according to Jonas Ivarsson.

– In the past, we have seen software such as Excel automate certain tasks, but now we are talking about systems that can perform a wide variety of tasks at a high level.

Training is of critical importance for tomorrow’s specialists
The most important challenge we face is the customisation of tomorrow’s education system. As AI does the groundwork, we need to look for ways to train people for more creative and complex tasks. We need to develop the knowledge and skills to work with, and monitor, the new advanced systems. This requires a combination of technical expertise and a strong ethical foundation, with humanistic perspectives playing a central role.

– A new master’s programme, Human Centered AI, was launched last autumn to focus on the intersections between AI and humans. The programme addresses ethical issues and aims to design systems both for individuals and at a societal level. Even if these are not the biggest issues in AI, they are evolving and very interesting.

– The future will require us to understand both the technical and the human and ethical dimensions of technology use. This means that we need to have a holistic approach to education that includes technical knowledge and a deep understanding of human behaviour and societal implications, Jonas Ivarsson explains.

Potential beyond our means

Together, they create something powerful that enhances our capabilities – this is the essence of human-machine interaction.

– AI systems can do things beyond my capabilities. If I have a lot of knowledge about a field, it will be a great reinforcement of my knowledge. I can let the AI do the work and quickly check that it’s sound. As a good programmer, I can give instructions and get the code produced, often better than I expected. With the right knowledge, it can lift us and give a big increase in productivity.

However, if the knowledge or skills are not available and you start using AI systems anyway, there could be problems. Although you can get help, you potentially lack the ability to recognise when things are going wrong.

An interesting problem

– I may have code produced, but I don’t know what it means and then I don’t know if it does what I intended it to do. It’s easy to lose control while not knowing if the result was good or not. There is an interesting challenge in this to limit your use, so you don’t rely on too much help. In this way you can develop better skills on your own so that you can take things forward. I think that many learning processes and training programmes, even in the professions, will have problems here, Jonas says.

There are further challenges in the new technology. Even if you have the skills and know-how to increase productivity, it is not certain that your colleague does.

– The concern is that there is no way to bring in a beginner and have them go from beginner to expert, because you have replaced the basic work with an AI system. Today’s experts have become experts by performing quite basic tasks and advancing gradually to this level. But we haven’t built our skills development to enable us to go from newbie to expert without the middle ground. So, I think that’s going to be a problem in the future. How are we going to recruit new people when the old ones leave?

More and more like us

There’s a question Jonas Ivarsson has been asking more and more lately – what does it mean when AI becomes so interactive that we talk to it as if it were a human?

– When we realise that we are talking to AI instead of a human, this can create suspicion for future interactions. We may feel cheated, which can influence other interactions. It can lead us to start treating people as if they were AIs, just because we recognise certain things that feel unnatural. This can happen even if we are actually talking to a human, Jonas says.

He believes that the suspicion that potentially exists can lead to us over-interpreting signals and assuming that it is a robot we are talking to – even though it is not.

– The question is what happens to our interactions and relationships when AI becomes such an everyday part of our communication. How does it affect our interactions and our ability to trust each other?

Jonas will participate in the AI Arena during Scanautomatic, the Nordic region’s leading meeting place for industrial automation and digital transformation, which will take place at the Swedish Exhibition Centre in Gothenburg, 8-10 October 2024. He will be talking about all this and tell us about how tough it will be recruiting tomorrow’s specialists.

– Because how are we going to get them? What does it mean to remove the mundane and routine? Routine is often the foundation on which we stand, and the basis for detecting anomalies. It requires a keen eye, expertise and experience to know what is “normal”. If you leave the identification of the routine to machines, an experienced person can still identify the anomalous and understand it. But a new employee will not have the same feeling for the anomalous, Jonas concludes.

Don’t miss Jonas Ivarsson’s lecture and all the other exciting things that will be going on at Scanautomatic.

Get your free admission ticket here