Reports  |  ,   |  February 4, 2020

Towards a Shared Vision of Ethical AI in Education

Interim Report. Published by The Institute for Ethical AI in Education. The University of Buckingham. 35 pages.


The Institute for Ethical AI in Education was founded to enable all learners to benefit optimally from Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, and to be protected against the risks this technology presents. Our definitions of ‘learners’ and ‘education’ are appropriately broad. From young children using smart toys to adults learning via adaptive tutoring software, all learners deserve to benefit from ethical innovation – from cradle to grave.

The risks posed by AI in education are profound. But so too are the benefits that could be leveraged to tackle entrenched injustices faced by learners across the globe, and here in the UK. Learners, educators and societies as a whole should without question be cautious about introducing AI into any form of learning environment. However, there could well be tremendous opportunity costs to overzealous levels of caution. The right balance needs to be struck. We want to see AI being used to increase access to education, to advance teaching and learning, and to broaden educational opportunities – thereby enabling inclusive, holistic human flourishing. But we cannot allow learning to be dehumanised or become a means of surveillance and control. And we must certainly not allow AI to widen the gaps between the privileged and the vulnerable. This is non-negotiable. It would be utterly shameful if this transformative technology becomes commonplace, but societies still routinely fail to equitably support learners who face the greatest levels of disadvantage and discrimination. That is why The Institute for Ethical AI in Education is especially committed to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable learners and enabling AI to benefit everyone, not just the privileged few.

An ethical approach is essential for achieving these goals. Ethical thinking will crystallise people’s understanding of the benefits and risks of AI in education, and ensure that the concrete measures to realise responsible practice are grounded in human values. The purpose of this interim report, however, is not to put forward an ethical framework for AI in education. Our role is not to conjure up an ethical framework in isolation. It is to provide a platform for the perspectives of stakeholders and experts to be listened to and learned from. This report sets out how we can collectively develop a shared vision of ethical AI in education and together decide on the structures needed to support this vision. We encourage educators, academics, activists, technologists, parents and of course learners to contribute to this shared vision. The interim report is also intended to inform stakeholders about AI, its applications in education, its overarching risks and benefits, and the underlying ethical implications. Harnessing the potential of AI in Education will require responsibility and application from all individuals and organisations involved in the design, development, and deployment of AI in Education. From the drawing room to the classroom, professionals involved in utilising this innovation will need to be empowered to make ethical decisions in the best interests of learners. Educating people about AI in education is hence a necessary starting point. [ . . . ]

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Sir Anthony Seldon, Professor Rose Luckin, Priya Lakhani OBE, Lord Tim Clement-Jones
  • An Introduction to AI in Education
  • Risks and Benefits of AI in Education
  • Developing an Ethical Framework for AI in Education
  • Realising a Shared Vision of Ethical AI in Education
  • References