Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education: Benefits and Ethics

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most prevalent technology trends in higher education going into 2023. AI can be used to improve and enhance the educational experience for students, providing personalized learning tailored for each student as well as offering novel ways of accessibility.

AI can help to improve student engagement with course materials contributing to a successful outcome. However, there are also potential ethical concerns which need to be addressed including fairness, bias, and the potential for AI to replace human teachers in the future.

The ethics of Artificial Intelligence in higher education, thus, is a complex yet paramount matter that needs attention and prompt discussion due to some key ethical concerns including:

Bias and discrimination

In today’s stage of AI, AI systems are trained by humans. This means an AI system can be biased if and only if it was trained on biased data which, for instance, it can lead to unfair and discriminatory treatment of students. Consider an AI system which is used for grading essays and may be biased against certain groups of students. This can only happen if the AI system is trained on a biased dataset.

Privacy and security

The use of AI can raise concern about privacy and security as students’ personal data may be collected and used by AI systems. It is paramount for colleges, universities, and other institutions to implement clear policies and safeguards in order to protect students’ privacy and prevent unauthorized access to their data.

Access and inclusion

AI-powered educational technology has the potential to improve access and inclusion for students with disabilities or other learning needs. However, there is a risk that AI-based systems may not be accessible to all students, and may even exacerbate existing inequalities.

Transparency and accountability  

AI-powered systems can be opaque and difficult to understand, making it challenging to hold them accountable for their decisions and actions.This may present a particular concern in higher education, where AI systems may be used to make important decisions about students’ grades and academic progress. Thus, it is paramount that the AI-system is frequently checked by a human in charge to verify that everything is working as it should or if the system needs some retraining or adjustments.

Replacing human teachers

AI is a valuable tool for supporting education. However, it should not be used to replace human teachers altogether. The human element is critical for fostering critical thinking and creativity. It is important that students have access to both human and AI-based educational resources.

It is important to consider the benefits that adopting AI-systems bring to the institutions, teaching, and learning. And it is equally important to recognize the drawbacks of using AI in education, and to take the necessary steps to mitigate any negative impact.

Humans, not Artificial Intelligence systems, need to be ethical for the AI systems to work properly. After all, creating and deploying AI systems is a human responsibility.  

For more articles on Artificial Intelligence in higher education, see:

AI in Higher Ed: Challenges and Practices

Artificial Intelligence Plays Key Role in the Future of Higher Education

Artificial Intelligence to Play Instrumental Role in Future of Higher Education