GPT Chat or Reclaiming Authority in Education?

GPT Chat or Reclaiming Authority in Education?

GPT Chat or Reclaiming Authority in Education?

We are still in time to establish new rules of the game

Photo by Eren Li: 

License Creative Commons


José Ramón Ubieto


We are surfing the 6th technological wave (Schumpeter) immersed in a hype cycle (Gartner) that characterises the inflated enthusiasm and subsequent disappointment that typically accompanies the introduction of new technologies. We have a tendency to overestimate the short-term effects of a technology, while underestimating its long-term impact. The initial flashes and dazzles have induced a form of collective hypnosis, inhibiting any action other than admiration for the novel.

Understanding all the ramifications, including the darker aspects of this novelty, requires time. Following this period, organised protests begin to emerge through social movements aiming to rectify negative biases. Initially, we witnessed the ‘digital repentants’, industry executives and designers who resigned from their positions due to what they perceived as a lack of ethical standards within their companies. Subsequently, certain schools and parents initiated local disconnection projects, and then governments, albeit tentatively and in response to the threat of AI, began to establish regulatory agreements.

All these initiatives demonstrate that we already inhabit in a new ‘figital’ world that is advancing at a colossal pace (Ubieto). Sixteen years ago, when the first iPhone was introduced, digital was merely an adjunct to our analogue lives. The physical world constituted the central axis and occasionally (more so for children and teenagers) we would respond to an email, seek information or post a family photo on the nascent Facebook. Today, those gadgets and their algorithms have created a new world in which we all reside, and which is now indistinguishable from the physical due to the hybridisation: teenagers sitting in a park engrossed in their mobiles and commenting among themselves what they observe there; elderly individuals chatting with robots provided by care services to keep them company and monitor their condition; parents communicating with their deceased children via griefbots that ‘resurrect’ them or artists married to a hologram or engaging with the GPT chat or DALL-E2 to design their works.

Gadgets have evolved beyond simple electronic objects; they now serve as interfaces that act as connective gateways in this new world. The smartphone, undoubtedly the star gadget due to its portability and personalisation, has become a kind of subjective prosthesis to the extent that many children and teenagers feel that its removal equates to mutilation.

We all voluntarily inhabit this world, to which we have delegated such significant matters as knowledge and satisfaction. Our trust in its intelligence is increasing, and our affection for machines is growing. Its allure is justified by the conveniences it offers: it appears free, it is intuitive, and it imposes few rules. However, this deceptive friendliness has already revealed its servitudes, the most significant being the hijacking of our attention. This hijacking has already had its effects: loss of sleep hours, poor academic performance – as evidenced every three years by the PISA reports -, decline in social skills and creative activities (reading, hobbies) and sports, in addition to all forms of digital violence.

It is time to cease being hostages of ourselves and this digital allure by reclaiming that attention.  To achieve this, its use must be regulated, a task that falls to everyone: governments, industry, media, families, schools, and each individual. The choice we face is clear: either we assume this shared responsibility (each with their own part) or we continue to place our trust in the guilt of the weakest (teachers, families, and teenagers) to whom, naively or cynically, we ask them to regulate what the most powerful government on the planet has failed to do in its confrontation with technology companies.

We have transitioned from the paternal figure to the iPad, and it is now time to reverse this process, reinstating families and teachers to their rightful status as primary influencers, without neglecting other potentially positive virtual references.

The recovery of lost authority is not achieved solely by legislative decree – although this can undoubtedly provide collective support – as it necessitates the proactivity of all stakeholders. Education in the virtual realm shares the same premises as education in reality: it is a complex task that cannot be reduced to a single variable.

This task, which is specific to schools and families, necessitates a broader framework that encompasses not only the norms and laws that prohibit, but also those that permit the learning of the novelties that each era brings. The aim is not to idealise these novelties, but to embrace them in an open and critical manner (Heidegger). The technomyths (digital natives, neutral technology, connection-link equivalence) are not inevitable outcomes to which we must resign ourselves. We still have the opportunity to establish new rules of the game, but for these to be effective, it is advisable that they be collective, consensual, and implemented gradually.

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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