This article was originally written for the Ethos Magazine by Carla Tanas, Dean of the Institute of ACS Athens, and has been condensed for length.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has progressed rapidly and has become an integral part of our lives.
AI has many advantages, such as minimizing human error, around the clock availability, reducing human risk-taking and faster decision-making in industries, such as agriculture, finance, and healthcare to name a few. AI may even have a lower error rate than humans, if coded accurately.
Yet, AI also poses threats including invasion of privacy, loss of human jobs and AI terrorism.
As a society, we must upgrade our knowledge and skills to be part of a world where artificial intelligence makes it possible for machines to learn, adjust and perform human-like tasks. As our world transforms and machines become more intelligent, we must redefine our humanity and existence to include relationships with intelligent machines and each other.
It is vital that educational institutions, particularly those teaching children during their formative K-12 years when they are defining their identity, character and fundamental values, take on the role of guiding students through this journey.
Preparing youth for the age of AI requires enhancing a schoolwide curriculum where incorporating artificial intelligence goes beyond technology classes, but rather integrates the skills, concepts and dispositions of AI in all other academic areas across our school in every grade (from K-12) and every subject – from math and science to history and art, from literature and social studies to art and physical education.
In January 2020, the Institute of ACS Athens, with input from a cross-functional team of colleagues, developed a framework to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Conscious Citizenship (AICC) throughout our schoolwide curriculum to empower ACS Athens students to increase their human intelligence, including mindfulness, creativity and interconnectedness, so they are prepared to engage with, manage and lead tomorrow’s advances and innovation for the good of humanity to improve life and living on the planet.
Defining the meaning of Artificial Intelligence and Conscious Citizenship that represents our vision at ACS Athens was a fundamental first step, and we concluded that:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)” is a human-like intelligence demonstrated by machines; and
Conscious Citizenship (CC) is the act of placing value on being fully human while connecting with a higher purpose; one who values human life and the relationship with all living things, and takes responsibility for transforming skill into action, through ethical decision making, to ultimately improve life and living on the planet.
Our common definition is the foundation that enabled us to onboard faculty members to integrate AICC into class curriculum.
Two years into our AICC strategic plan, we are steadily progressing on our mission with key milestones, including the introduction of the Innovation Lab that will include virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, a STEAM-focused makerspace and artificial intelligence, which will allow for further hands-on learning, experimenting, and exploring as students explore the process of innovation from insightful research to the creation of solution-oriented products. Our vision for the Innovation Lab is that it will serve as a hub for AICC development for our students, as well as for those in the surrounding community since we hope to welcome other students in coming years.
The Innovation Lab, along with our new AICC digital library, which to date already includes more than 750 titles and continues to grow, are just two examples of the multiple initiatives underway under the AICC umbrella that we are developing for the benefit of our students and community.
The journey is as exciting as it is necessary, and we are honored to be your partners in pioneering this path forward.