Navigating the ethical landscape of AI in the classroom

Navigating the ethical landscape of AI in the classroom

Navigating the ethical landscape of AI in the classroom
In a city where diversity is celebrated, algorithms wield the power to shape the future of entire generations. (Shutterstock)
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In the sprawling metropolis of Techville, a peculiar dance between man and machine unfolds on a daily basis. At the heart of this intricate waltz lies the enigmatic realm of artificial intelligence, where lines blur between what is programmed and what is ethical.

As Techville’s denizens grapple with the moral maze of AI, one question looms larger than a server farm: Can we trust our silicon-based overlords to play nice?

In the bustling corridors of Techville’s cutting-edge research labs, AI algorithms are crafted with the precision of a master chef concocting the perfect recipe. Yet, in this quest for digital nirvana, mishaps are as common as bugs in beta software. One particularly contentious issue revolves around the integration of AI into higher education.

Proponents argue that AI can revolutionize learning, offering personalized curriculums tailored to each student’s unique needs. With the right algorithm, even the most disinterested students might find themselves captivated by quadratic equations or the intricacies of Shakespearean sonnets.

But hold your horses, dear reader, for not all is sunshine and rainbows in the land of AI education. Critics raise the alarm about the inherent biases lurking within these digital tutors. In Techville’s institutions of higher learning, where textbooks are replaced with tablets and lectures are live streamed in virtual reality, a battle rages.

As the philosopher Plato once opined: “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” But when that direction is skewed by the biases of algorithms and data sets, does the road to enlightenment lead to a dead end?

Consider the case of AI-powered grading systems, touted as the saviors of overwhelmed professors drowning in a sea of term papers. Yet, beneath the veneer of efficiency lies a Pandora’s box of biases, where zip codes and surnames become the unwitting judges of academic merit.

Picture this: You are a bright-eyed student, eager to soak up the wisdom of the ages in the hallowed halls of higher education. But wait, there is a twist. Your professors are not flesh and blood; they are algorithms, programmed to teach, grade and occasionally crack a digital joke.

In the immortal words of Socrates: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” But when that flame is fueled by data sets riddled with societal prejudices, who gets burned in the end?

Beneath the veneer of efficiency lies a Pandora’s box of biases, where zip codes and surnames become the unwitting judges of academic merit.

Rafael Hernandez de Santiago

As the brightest minds converge in pursuit of knowledge and innovation, the specter of bias casts a long shadow over higher education. In the famous words of Aristotle: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” But when the heart of AI algorithms beats to the rhythm of societal prejudices, what becomes of the pursuit of truth?

Take, for instance, the case of admissions algorithms tasked with selecting the next generation of Techville students. In a city where diversity is celebrated, these algorithms wield the power to shape the future of entire generations. Yet, in their quest for efficiency, they often fall prey to the very biases they were designed to mitigate.

In the case of AI-powered hiring algorithms designed to sift through resumes with impartiality, beneath the surface lies a labyrinth of biases, where again names, genders and zip codes become weighted variables in an algorithmic equation gone awry. But when those individuals are reduced to mere data points in an AI calculation, what becomes of meritocracy?

In a city where innovation often outpaces introspection, courage may be the rarest commodity of all. As Techville marches boldly into the future, one line of code at a time, the question remains: Will AI be our salvation or our undoing? In this grand theater, where innovation and ethics engage in a perpetual pas de deux, the only certainty is uncertainty itself.

As the wise Islamic philosopher Ibn Khaldun once stated: “The world of today is not the one of yesterday. Tomorrow will be different from today. Do not expect things to remain the same.” And it was Avicenna who once said: “The more brilliant the lighting, the quicker it disappears.”

Perhaps, just perhaps, we will find our way through the maze of AI ethics, emerging on the other side wiser, kinder and infinitely more human. For, in the end, it may be our humility, not our technology, that guides us through the labyrinth of AI and ethics in the city of tomorrow.

 

Rafael Hernandez de Santiago, viscount of Espes, is a Spanish national residing in Saudi Arabia and working at the Gulf Research Center.

 

 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 
Updated 2 min 38 sec ago
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Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 
  • IED blast targeted vehicle carrying security forces in Kurram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • 65 police officials killed, 86 wounded in 237 incidents of terrorism in the province in the past five months

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday his government would continue its “war on terrorism” as five Pakistani soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in northwestern Pakistan.

The IED blast targeted a vehicle carrying security forces personnel in Kurram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, the Pakistan army’s media wing said in a statement, amid a rise in terror attacks mostly by the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, an ally of the Afghan Taliban but a separate group, which has stepped up its assaults in the region since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021. Pakistan says the TTP uses Afghan soil for attacks in Pakistan, a charge that Kabul denies. 

“The entire nation pays tribute to the martyrs and stands united against terrorism,” Sharif said after the latest attack, vowing to “continue the war against the menace till its complete elimination.”

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent years, predominantly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In January 2023 militants killed at least 101 people, mostly police officers, when a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman attacked a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Earlier this month, the counter-terrorism department (CTD) of police in Peshawar issued a report, saying 65 police officials were killed while another 86 were wounded in 237 incidents of terrorism in the province in the past five months. It said police had killed 117 militants and arrested 299 others in a series of operations.

Pakistani authorities often say Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country. The TTP has also said it was not using Afghan soil for targeting troops in Pakistan.
 


Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy

Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy
Updated 28 min 33 sec ago
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Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy

Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy
  • A mob beat the man to death on Thursday night after accusing him of burning pages of the Qur’an
  • Lynchings are common in Islamic republic of Pakistan, where blasphemy can legally carry the death penalty

PESHAWAR: Pakistani authorities have begun an investigation to identify and arrest members of a mob that killed a local tourist accused of blasphemy, after they ransacked a police station holding him in protective custody, officials said on Friday.
A mob beat the man to death on Thursday night after accusing him of burning pages of the Qur’an. They set the police station in the country’s northwest ablaze and injured eight policemen, Malankand division’s regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur told Reuters.
“After initially rescuing the man from a crowd, the police took him to the station in Madyan, but announcements from mosque loud speakers asked locals to come out,” Gandapur said, after which the mob stormed the station.
Lynchings are common in Pakistan, an Islamic republic where blasphemy can legally carry the death penalty.
Legal processes are frequently preceded by vigilante action based on rumors or complaints. 
Graphic videos of the latest incident, verified to Reuters by the police, showed a frenzied mob dragging a naked and bloodied body through the streets, and then setting it on fire. The footage went viral on social media and sparked outcry among Pakistani users.
Gandapur said the situation was under control and a case registered against the organizers of the mob. He added the man had been visiting the Swat Valley, a popular tourist destination, for the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha.
Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Qur’an and later died of his injuries in eastern Pakistan.
In 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched in one of the highest profile incidents in the country. Six people were sentenced to death for their part in the lynching after the incident sparked global outcry.


DR Congo militia kills more than 20 in village raid

DR Congo militia kills more than 20 in village raid
Updated 31 min 18 sec ago
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DR Congo militia kills more than 20 in village raid

DR Congo militia kills more than 20 in village raid
  • Locals blame Codeco militia, which claims to be fighting for the interests of the Lendu tribe against the rival Hema tribe, for the killings

BUNIA, DR Congo: Militia fighters on Friday killed more than 20 civilians in a village in the gold-rich Ituri province in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, local residents said.
The residents blamed the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco) militia for the killings. Codeco claims to be fighting for the interests of the Lendu tribe against the rival Hema tribe.
“Codeco militias attacked the village of Lodjo on Thursday, where they killed eight civilians. They came back on Friday, the current death toll is 36,” Innocent Matukadala, head of the Banyali Kilo administrative center, that takes in Lodjo, told AFP.
He said the Congolese army “arrived too late” to prevent the massacre. “The population is in disarray,” he added.
“For now, there are 28 dead (on Friday) and a massive displacement of the population,” said a civil society leader on condition of anonymity.
Other sources put the number of dead at 23. One said the dead included gold miners, women and children.
Dozens of civilians have been killed in Codeco attacks on villages in the province since the beginning of this year.
Inter-communal violence killed thousands in Ituri from 1999-2003 until an intervention by European forces restored calm.
The conflict erupted again in 2017, resulting in thousands more deaths and the mass displacement of local people.
The southern part of Ituri has also suffered from the inter-communal violence spilling over from neighboring North Kivu province, which has been ravaged by attacks blamed on rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces group, affiliated with Islamic State.
The ADF, originally mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, have established a presence over the past three decades in eastern DR Congo, killing thousands of civilians.
 


Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore

Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore
Updated 39 min 14 sec ago
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Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore

Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore
  • Lahore consistently ranks among world’ most polluted cities every winter when heavy fog envelopes the city
  • Lahore High Court orders police to take action against people who burn crop residue and cause pollution

ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) this week directed traffic police officials to impound vehicles emitting smoke and take stern action against people found burning crop residue in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, state-run media reported, in an attempt to curb pollution in the city. 

Lahore consistently ranks among the world’s most polluted cities every year during the winter season. Last year, toxic smog sickened tens of thousands of people during the winter season, with the thick smog causing flight cancelations and forcing authorities to close schools. The situation got so worse that in a first, Pakistani authorities deployed artificial rain in December 2023 to battle smog.

Lahore, capital of the Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, is in an airshed, an area where pollutants from industry, transportation and other human activities get trapped because of local weather and topography so they cannot disperse easily. The Punjab government has also attributed pollution and smog to crop residue burnt frequently in neighboring India. 

“The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday once again ordered traffic police authorities to take strict action against smoky vehicles and impound them,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said. 

Justice Shahid Karim passed the orders while hearing several identical petitions filed by citizens Haroon Farooq and others against the government’s ineffective measures to control smog. During the proceedings, the court observed that most incidents of crop residue burning took place in the vicinity of the motorway, which connects various cities of the country. 

“Motorway police should take action on the incidents of crop residue burning,” the judge said. “The inspector-general of National Highways and Motorways should ensure the implementation of the court orders.”

Subsequently, the court adjourned further proceedings until the next Friday, June 28.


Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown

Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown
Updated 43 min 48 sec ago
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Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown

Mali political parties say leaders arrested amid crackdown
  • Eleven people arrested at private meeting, mostly political leaders, activists say
  • Political parties accuse authorities of silencing democratic voices, pursuing dictatorship

BAMAKO, Mali: An alliance of political parties and civil society groups in junta-led Mali said several of their leaders were arrested on Thursday evening during a private meeting at a house of a former minister. The alliance in a statement demanded their prompt release. The West African country, which has been under military rule since a coup in 2020, in April issued a decree that restricted political life in the name of maintaining public order.
The political parties and civil society groups did not say how many people were detained, but Boubacar Toure, a representative of one of the parties, told Reuters on Friday that 11 people had been arrested at the private meeting. Most of them were political leaders, he said.
In a statement, the political parties and groups accused the authorities of pursuing “a path to dictatorship ... with the sole aim of staying in power and silencing all democratic and republican voices.”
Mali’s security ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling junta has suspended all activities by political parties and “associations of a political nature” after the group of political parties and civil society organizations jointly criticized the authorities on March 31 for failing to schedule elections within the promised time frame.
In response to the junta’s order, the political parties turned to the Malian Supreme Court but it is not clear when the top court will consider the appeal.
The location of Thursday’s gathering had been shared in a WhatsApp group for activists and political party members, the president of an association told Reuters. He spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his safety.
“The objective of these arbitrary arrests ... is to create fear among citizens, so that no activist, no member of an association, will raise a finger or come out to denounce what is being done,” he said.
Those arrested had gathered during the Eid religious festival to exchange best wishes and also to discuss politics, said the secretary-general of a political party who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
“With the suspension of political parties, the banning of political party activities, it is difficult for people to come together and talk, so every opportunity that allows people to come together is an opportunity to address essential questions,” he said.
He said the arrests would damage confidence in the ruling junta but would not prevent Malians from discussing politics.
“People continue to call each other on the phone, they continue to express their opinions,” he said. “One way or another, we will find the means to meet again, whether in the fields, whether in the orchards, whether around the squares.”