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Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


The future is Super Intelligent, not Artificially Intelligent and education must respond

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 21 June 2018

Rose Luckin
I love teaching and I love learning and I hope that I will be doing both of these things for many years to come. I know that learning is something I need to do every day to keep myself up to date and to help me understand more and different concepts. As we live longer and with the knowledge that many future jobs do not yet exist, it seems pretty clear that we are all going to need to learn for much more of our lives than we currently do. Therefore, the demands on educators must surely be set for a huge increase?
However, before we feel too comfortable about the continuing demands for our profession’s expertise, we need to make sure that we are able to prepare our students (and ourselves) for a super intelligent world.
Super Intelligence is the result of blending the best of human intelligence and the best of artificial intelligence (AI) and it is what will increasingly drive our lives at work and at leisure. It’s a topic explored in my new book, to be launched at the London Festival of Learning, which starts tomorrow at the UCL Institute of Education.
For society to benefit from the potential of this blended human and artificial super intelligence, we humans need to hone our own intelligence to complement our AI ‘peers’. It would be just plain daft to hone our intelligence to be good at the same things as AI, because now that AI can learn very effectively and quickly, it will outsmart us in a jiffy. We need instead for our human intelligence to be good at what AI cannot do. We therefore need education systems to provide young people with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to thrive, be happy, healthy and able to continually outwit the robots. In short, we need to build on from the knowledge-based curriculum to develop and implement an intelligence-based curriculum instead.
Human intelligence is a complex, interwoven mesh of elements that interact and develop over our lifetimes and we need an education system that recognises a far wider repertoire of the interwoven whole than is currently the case.
The elements of interwoven human intelligence are:
Academic intelligence is what we often think of when we refer to someone as ‘intelligent’. It includes knowing facts and using our knowledge to understand the complexity of the world and to act in practical ways as a result. AI is extremely good at this element of intelligence: it is fast at learning, does not forget and can recall the details in a second.
Social intelligence arises from the way that social interaction forms the basis for our individual thoughts and it is much more the domain of us humans. AI can make a good stab at some basic aspects of social interaction, but it is not able to compare with us, especially when it comes to things like the communal intelligence we use in collaboration with others and that enables us to work together and to be more effective when we do.
But it is the remaining five elements of intelligence that really set us aside from our AIs and these are all elements of our human meta intelligence: these elements are about what goes on inside ourselves:
First, we need to know about knowing, because we can only make meaningful judgements if we understand what knowledge is. What does it mean to know something? And what constitutes good evidence?
During the coming week, we aim to find out. The EDUCATE programme is hosting the London Festival of Learning (June 22-30) – a unique bringing-together of three education conferences of academics and technologists from ICLS, L@S and AIED.
The event will be held here, at UCL IOE, as we welcome delegates from all over the world. There has never been a more important time for sharing practice and ideas, discussing evidence and research and how this underpins how and what we teach.
We need to use our understanding of knowledge to interpret our own ideas, so we can be sure that our interpretations are grounded in good evidence about the world.
Now emotions come into play − because intelligence cannot be human without them. We need to recognize our emotions and the emotions of others, so we can regulate our emotions, behaviour and motivations in relation to others and for the context we find ourselves in.
Meta-intelligence also has a physical dimension, because we use our bodies to interact with the world. This aspect of human intelligence enables us to recognize when our instincts need to be followed and when they can be ignored.
The final and most important element of interwoven human intelligence is having an expectation of success that is based on meaningful and accurate judgements about our own knowledge and understanding, our emotions, motivations and personal context along with an understanding of the knowledge, understanding, emotions, motivations and contexts of the other people who are part of our lives. We need to know our own ability to succeed in a specific situation and to accomplish tasks both alone and with others. This is the most important element of human intelligence and is highly connected to the others.
These 7 elements of interwoven intelligence are available to all of us, but they must be nurtured just as much as academic and social intelligence. They must also be valued and that means moving beyond a system that perceives academic intelligence as being the bees’ knees of human intelligence. The simple truth is that if we fail to move on from merely valuing academic knowledge, then we risk handing too much of our humanity to AI − because AI is quite brilliant at this sort of knowledge.
The dilemma that educators now face is not caused by any inherent fault in the knowledge-based curriculum approach, in fact it is rather the contrary. The knowledge-based curriculum here in the UK for example, is extremely well specified and rigorous. And therein lies the problem: it is precisely because we can so carefully specify exactly what is involved in teaching and assessing the knowledge- based approach to education that it is so easy for AI to learn it AND what is more for AI to teach it. Our knowledge-based curriculum not wrong in and of itself, it is just wrong for today, it is not what we need for us to be the Human complement of the super intelligence society needs.
The dystopian scenario of the machines being responsible for teaching students is not one any of us would want to entertain, but that possibility is real IF we stick to the knowledge-based approach.
We must therefore move on and to do this effectively we must:

  • Accept the need for an intelligence-based approach to education that will ensure that we develop much more sophisticated human intelligence that is different and complementary to our AI;
  • Engage educators in the conversation about how best to achieve this ASAP;
  • Develop AI systems that can use data about learning and teaching to help us be better at learning and teaching and develop that all important accurate perceived self-efficacy. For example, AI (machine learning, the most prevalent form of AI) cannot justify the decisions it makes: one of the key requirements for good collaborative problem solvers. AI can, however, support humans to learn to be better at working together to solve problems. AI can engage human students in working together to teach an AI student, for example (see Betty’s Brain;
  • Insist that any AI company developing a product or service for the education sector MUST involve educators in the design and development of their technology.

At the London Festival of Learning, we will be engaging educators in some important discussions. In particular, it is important to involve the teaching profession. Their input in helping to shape the educational technology of the future will determine how successful we are, as humans, control teaching and learning.
Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: The future of education for the 21st century, by Rosemary Luckin, is published on 22 June by UCL IOE Press. Paperback, £19.99. Colleagues wishing to come to the book launch should email Sally Sigmund, s.sigmund@ucl.ac.uk
Tickets for the EDUCATE awards ceremony at the London Festival of Learning can be booked here and for other events, here (choice of ticket by day). Free tickets for IOE Student Teachers wanting to attend Practitioner/Teacher Day are here.

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