Schools in Japan allowed limited AI use

Japan’s Education Ministry has published guidelines allowing for the limited use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in elementary, junior, and high schools.

The government guidelines outline how generative AI platforms like ChatGPT could become part of the learning process, and set out safeguards needed to address associated risks.

According to the guidelines, students should be fully informed of the technology’s benefits, as well as its drawbacks, before using it.

The guidelines also explicitly state that trying to pass AI work as one’s own will be deemed cheating.

Recognizing that AI could negatively impact students’ critical thinking and other skills, the directive says that using the technology in group activities could enhance the “depth” of discussion by offering different perspectives on the topic.

The use of AI will also be promoted in learning subjects like English.

According to Education Minister Keiko Nagaoka, the government is “committed” to addressing any concerns arising with the adoption of AI in education, as reported by The Japan Times.

Nagaoka said the government would work on “enhancing teachers’ understanding and skills, and fostering a safe and effective environment for AI utilization in education.”

The guidelines are provisional and will be reviewed based on trials set to start in the fall – in a select number of junior high and high schools.

A more cautious approach is called when it comes to elementary school students. While ChatGPT terms of use recommend it only be used by those aged 13 and over, the guidelines say that younger students could be allowed to do so under a teacher’s supervision.

It comes as Japan is increasingly embracing the use of AI, which the government is betting could become a driver of economic growth in its aging society.

The country is reportedly considering a softer approach to AI regulation than the EU, and has set up a task group exploring ways that generative AI could be used to streamline state bureaucracy.

In a similar announcement this week, the top 20 leading universities in the UK, including institutions like Cambridge and Oxford, agreed on their own principles of AI use in education.

This is in marked contrast to initial moves to ban AI in schools shortly after ChatGPT was released last year.

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