From Myth to Reality: Building a Working Road Map to Respond to the Challenges of Artificial Intelligence

Written by fsmuratet, Wed 16 Oct 2019

Translate by Quinn Johnson

On August 22nd, the VTÉ was present at the launch of the Montreal higher education pole in AI. The event, which was held at Collège Ahuntsic and was attended by Montreal’s education community, was intended to present the mission of this new unit, which is responsible for monitoring CEGEPs and universities with respect to the training needs generated by AI. On the subject of the challenges of artificial intelligence in teaching, the assembly had the opportunity to follow live the conversation of a panel of renowned experts composed of Joshua Bengio (MILA), Lyse Langlois (International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI) and Mathieu Boisclair (CCTT, JACOBB). 

Although the event was a success, a vast majority of the audience left with a feeling of doubt. Understanding artificial intelligence is not an easy task. Science, theory and promises have been read and heard many times, but few concrete examples are offered. Many public figures underline the risk of not being up to the challenge of the profound economic and societal changes to come, but there is still a need for many to conceptualise these changes. Of course, some forms of artificial intelligence is not far away. In the era of hyper-connectivity and associated digital footprints; Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are able to predict movies and articles that fit our tastes. Our intelligent voice-command assistants (Siri and Alexa) predict the meaning of our questions and the most appropriate responses. The artificial intelligence that we are currently in contact with is a specialized general intelligence (AGI), whose learning is restricted to a given context and non-transferable. We are far from the fantasy of artificial superintelligence (ASI), superior to human cognitivity, announced as a risk to humanity, and illustrated by the droid C-3PO in the film Star Wars.

Between myths and realities, education desperately needs to demystify artificial intelligence to build a relevant vision and an actionable road map to develop future generations that will be conscious and equipped to respond to the challenges of the next technological revolution: artificial intelligence.

The VTÉ will be developing one of its upcoming laboratories on the theme of AI. The aim of this laboratory will be to collaboratively create an inventory of pedagogical innovations involving Artificial Intelligence in the world of education.

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