The importance of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool for personalised learning has been emphasised by HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum yesterday.
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad al-Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, with a group of delegates at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum.
As AI and technology become increasingly powerful global tools, their role in shaping the future of education is among the topics being focused on at the annual multinational platform for dialogue, which brings together thought-leaders and decision-makers to identify solutions to the world’s great challenges, and places the issue of global governance at the top of the international agenda.
The opening day of the forum saw HE Sheikha Hind participate in a discussion on the role of AI in education, which called for the human touch to be retained in a changing technological environment – and saw her urge young people not to simply “knock on the door and wait” in making their voice heard about the future of the world.
Speakers at the session – which was held at La Grande Halle De La Villette in Paris, and also saw Irina Bokova, former Secretary General of Unesco, share her perspectives – discussed the importance of guiding future generations towards becoming true digital citizens by embracing the role education must play in helping to illustrate the risks and benefits of AI. The discussion was moderated by François Taddei, director of The Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI).
During the session, HE Sheikha Hind spoke of the potential for machines and AI to connect learning opportunities and inspire young people. “We talk about AI and machine learning, and it scares us,” she said. “But, in the end, machines are tools that we have created.
“The question is: do I want my child to learn how to compute something that a machine can now do in a nanosecond, or do I want them to be able to design those things, so that tomorrow they could be creating something that is relevant and relates to the world we live in?”
One of the themes of the discussion focused on harnessing the power of technology to inspire passion for learning and make education more personalised. “We should ask ourselves how we can provide a system where you use AI for personalised learning – that’s the only way we can drive passion in young children,” said HE Sheikha Hind.
“It’s a shame that, globally, the education system today has not caught up to customisation and personalisation. I don’t want to wait until college for my children to be able to choose what they want to learn. Let’s do it at a much younger age.”
The speakers also focused on the power of education to allow ideas to grow and transform society, and empower youth to make change happen, with HE Sheikha Hind calling on young people to make sure they use their voice.
“I would encourage youth not to knock at the door and wait, but just barge right in – because that’s the way that they’re going to make a difference,” she told the session. “Our job is to ensure the youth feel like they do have a voice, and to take their voice seriously.
“I hope that every child can find a place in the world, and that they feel that they are productive in the world, because sometimes we lose hope as we think our voices aren’t heard or what we learn does not matter. As a person who has a role to play in education, I will take on as a responsibility to make sure that we provide that place in the world to as many children as possible.
“At Qatar Foundation, we believe in lifelong learning. We don’t just focus on the youth, but on making sure there is a place for everybody who wants to learn and who has a passion for learning. It’s important to instill that passion at a young age, because that will continue and change the mindset of individuals – even how they see the world.”
Bokova echoed the importance of AI to today’s youth, saying: “It’s also about values, about the soft skills that nowadays are more and more important, about having empathy, about teamwork.
“It’s about a very different world where we have to have the right compass of what we want to achieve in a society that is highly technological and interconnected, but also very fragmented. I think AI should help us do this for our children, for the young generation. It’s a great tool.”
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