Helping Future Citizens Navigate an Automated, Datafied World
19 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2019
Date Written: January 1, 2019
If there is one thing everyone has an opinion on, it is education. Everyone has been to school and many people go on to have opinions on the experiences of their children. I am therefore conscious that I am neither a school principal nor a teacher, but rather stand at a unique point in the broader education system. In particular, I teach tertiary students enrolled in a law degree and conduct research at the intersection of law and technology. One subject I teach is practical – how to design expert systems and run a small technical project for a not for profit to improve access to justice. This requires students to think about technical solutions to assist in resolving a practical challenge in access to justice (navigating complex information, under-resourced centres, understanding community needs). The other subject is more theoretical – what legal issues arise as technology changes, how does law deal with disruptive innovation, and how can we retain core protections in the face of developments such as automated data-driven decision making. I am therefore accustomed to encouraging students to think outside the disciplinary box to which they are otherwise assigned. Because of my role, I do have some insights into the challenges of teaching in an interdisciplinary context. I am also researching legal and ethical challenges that society is facing relating to datadriven inferencing and decision-making. Many of the new tools being developed are described as artificial intelligence, and I will discuss the relationship among these ideas below. Developing technologies including those associated with artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning, are changing the world that young people need to learn to navigate. When tools are used by those who don’t understand them, there can be individual and community harms. There are thus important questions being asked about how the education system needs to take account of these new technological developments. This essay articulates a vision or idea about how education could best equip students to navigate an increasingly automated and datafied world. It also develops a broader argument about crossdisciplinary learning that can be applied to other important modern challenges that cannot be solved within a single discipline.
Keywords: education, automation, AI, data, inferencing, decision-making, artificial intelligence, machine learning
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