Japan Is Prioritizing Educating AI Comprehension

Japan’s education ministry has emphasized the need for students to understand artificial intelligence in new guidelines released Tuesday, setting out how generative AI can be integrated into schools and the precautions needed to address associated risks.

Students should comprehend the characteristics of AI, including its advantages and disadvantages, with the latter including personal information leakages and copyright infringement, before they use it, according to the guidelines. They explicitly state that passing off reports, essays or any other works produced by AI as one’s own is inappropriate.

Furthermore, the guidelines promote the use of AI in English learning and encourage its integration into group activities, so students can ask about and address different perspectives, enhancing the depth of discussion.

“We are committed to addressing these concerns, enhancing teachers’ understanding and skills, and fostering a safe and effective environment for AI utilization in education,” education minister Keiko Nagaoka said Tuesday.

The guidelines will be shared with boards of education and other organizations on Tuesday.

“I believe that it is necessary to proceed with some experimental activities (based on the guidelines) in schools, taking full consideration of personal data protection, security and copyright to fully examine the outcomes and contribute to further discussions in the future,” Hisanobu Muto, a school digitization project team leader at the ministry, said Monday.

The ministry also stressed the importance of AI literacy among teachers. The guidelines encourage teachers to use fake information generated by AI as teaching materials for students so they can learn how to fact-check. They also promote the use of AI tools to reduce teachers’ workloads by streamlining administrative tasks and improving their teaching practices.

They also suggest that teachers may need to discard traditional exam and homework methods, such as writing reports, that can be easily done using AI.

“If teachers themselves become familiar with the new technology and learn how to use it in a convenient, safe and smart way, they will be able to respond appropriately in their educational activities. We need to improve teachers’ AI literacy and (promote) working style reform by conducting teacher training and promoting the appropriate use of information in public service,” Muto said.

Regarding concerns about personal information leakage, the guidelines advise against inputting such information, as well as setting up the system in such a way that this information won’t be used for machine learning.

The government plans to request that AI companies consider improving their products from the perspective of educational use in Japan, such as by strengthening the filtering of harmful content, implementing personal information protection features and developing AI tools designed for educational use.

The ministry is also planning to collaborate with NHK to produce videos about generative AI learning, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines are intended to be implemented not only in public schools but also other educational institutions.

The ministry said the guidelines are still tentative and will be flexibly updated based on feedback and the development of other rules in relation to the technology.

A survey conducted in April and May by Tokyo-based CyberOwl, which manages online media related to education, showed that approximately 70% of 508 parents of students ranging from third grade to high school believe that regulations for the use of ChatGPT by children are necessary.

Among the respondents, 49% said that they were “relatively anxious,” while approximately 15% were “anxious.” About 35% said that they were worried about “the decrease in critical thinking ability,” and 34% expressed concerns about their children “believing false information.”

However, the percentage of parents who are anxious differs significantly depending on whether they themselves have used ChatGPT or not.

While around 44% of parents who have used ChatGPT said they are worried or relatively worried about the use of such AI chatbots by children, the figure increased to 72.9% for those who have not used ChatGPT.

“Generative AI can be easily used on smartphones and computers, and therefore I believe that teachers and parents should have first-hand experience of using it,” said Tatsuya Horita, a professor of information and technology at Tohoku University.

“Rather than having vague concerns about something they don’t know, it is important to educate them on understanding the mechanisms and using it appropriately.”

Students shown exploring the latest AI trends.

“We are committed to addressing these concerns, enhancing teachers’ understanding and skills, and fostering a safe and effective environment for AI utilization in education, education minister Keiko Nagaoka said Tuesday.”

This story is continuing to evolve.

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