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FROM THE VICE CHANCELLOR'S DESK

For decades, authors of science fiction, futurists, and art makers alike have been predicting the hyper real (and sometimes catastrophic) changes that will arise with the advent of widespread Artificial Intelligence (AI). So far, AI hasn’t made any such waves, and in many ways has quietly become ubiquitous in numerous aspects of our daily lives. From the intelligent sensors that help us take perfect pictures, to the automatic parking features in ultra vehicles to the personal assistants in smart phones, artificial intelligence of one kind or another is all around us.

While the area of almost all the professions are yet not under its feet, it has spread its arms to the level that does not leave any room for anyone in urbanized space to remain aloof of it. One place where artificial intelligence is poised to make big changes (and in some cases already did) is in education. While we may not see humanoid robots acting as teachers within the next decade, there are many projects already in the works that use digital intelligence to help students and teachers get more out of the educational experience. From kindergarten to graduate school, one of the key ways artificial intelligence will impact education is through the application of greater levels of individualized learning. Some of this is already happening through growing numbers of adaptive learning programs, games, and software. These systems respond to the needs of the student, putting greater emphasis on certain topics, repeating things that students haven’t mastered, and generally helping students to work at their own pace, whatever that may be.

With these sea-changes within the field of education, there are some to assume that the role of a teacher is in the danger. There is an impending fear that in near future a self-sustained humanoid will take place of the living teacher and with such machine-revolution we will be able to change the world of academia. I differ in my views on this prophecy. However, I do believe that the frustration that pervades in the society because of the crumbling institutional values of education force some to fantasize such changes but this supposed alternative can itself augment the present crisis rather than diminishing the woes of current situation. First of all, it is required to understand that it is not possible to change a living entity with the help of a machine especially in the academic world. The world of academia is of ideas and innovation. It is about intellectual evolution and emotional growth. It aims at metamorphose of the society by bringing a positive ideational change among the would-be citizens hence it is not about mass production but of creating an aura-original being. I firmly believe that a journey of education is a journey that leads one from what s/he is to one’s core and in such a spiritual expedition, it is not wise step to introduce a techno-man as a replacement of a human mind. However, I personally feel that the digital world can and, in fact, is proving a good assistant of the living teacher.

What is required in present time is a creation of courses that helps the students comprehend the importance of moderate use of the technology. We do not have methods of moral teaching that creates a type of restraint among the students regarding the use of the technology. As a result, the virtual games are in vogue and consume lots of time of our children and leave no room for the physical exercises. Likewise a digi-memory is amply used which lessens the capacity of individual memory. The availability of online materials frees the worries of writing and preparing one’s pre-class materials and so on. I personally believe that it is a time to include this part as well in the higher education. Aneed of eawareness is the need of this digital age. Moreover, we need to change our outlook towards the existing methods of research as well. The innovation of style and selection of research topic require witnessing a transformative moment.

With this mark of caution and hope I wish good luck to all the academicians and students who are working in this direction. I hope the present age be the age of Bharat in true sense wherein the ancient wisdom of our past will play the greater role as being the guiding beacon fire to our ship of modern progress.

Prof. (Dr.) K.S. Likhia,
Vice-Chancellor,
Children's University,
Gandhinagar-382020,
Gujarat.