OECD, a French intergovernmental organization with 38 countries, recently released a report on ‘Attitudes and Values of 2030’. The report acknowledges the need to incorporate human values in education curricula globally. The report also brings forth an interesting finding that to build competency, the right attitude and values are as important as the right skills and knowledge; and to navigate ethically through rapid technological developments, human values are the only right tool we have at the moment. 

Embedding human values in every curriculum will prepare the students for ethical use of AI.

Hence, this article has been drafted to highlight the need of human values into the curriculum to gauge the ethical usage of Artificial intelligence and technology in general. 

Moral education was the basis of ancient education:

Human values have been the part of education curriculum for ages. The Mesopotamian civilization taught about scientific concepts through religious texts to maintain a delicate balance between knowledge and moral values in 3500 BCE. In Ancient China, the concept of Confucianism, which is a complete system of morals, social, political, and religious thought, formed the basis of Chinese education system (around 551–479 BCE). 

The Vedic period in India (around 1500 BCE) emphasized moral values through texts like the Vedas and Upanishads. Concepts of dharma (duty) and karma (action) were central to Indian education. In ancient India, the concept of Gurukul, akin to modern-day schools, emphasized on the concept of character development alongside knowledge development. 

This concept of moral education was part of education until recently. The Renaissance (around 14th to 17th century CE) emphasized humanistic education, including moral philosophy and character development. In the Middle Ages as well, monastic schools, the most important schools for higher education in Latin West, also taught religion, ethics, and values alongside Latin. 

The loss of human values from education:

For the loss of human values from education, philosophers pin the blame on the recent industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the concept of public schools has been around for centuries, the global industrial revolution changed the meaning of education.

During those times, the students were needed to be prepared for specialized roles in the military, offices and factories. Education at that time gravitated more on political literacy, numerical ability, and practical competencies. Moral education lagged, facing competition from subjects deemed more directly applicable to economic productivity.

Moreover, secularism led to the loss of religious teachings from the education curriculum. Modern education now serves diverse populations with varying cultural, religious, and ethical backgrounds. Harmonizing moral teachings across this diversity became challenging.

The Enlightenment thinkers emphasized reason, science and individual rights. The moral education was reduced to the labels of ‘superstitious’ and ‘dogmatic’.

Somewhere down the line, the pursuit of scientific knowledge overshadowed moral education and rationality and empirical evidence gained prominence. 

Moral education, which once formed the basis of entire education curriculum, was now reduced to the level of optional subject in schools. The education curriculum became wider and accommodating moral education became tougher. 

But today, educators from around the world are addressing the need for moral education in modern curricula. Foreseeing the challenge of navigating the ‘reckless’ and ‘carefree’ generation, the lack of moral compass in rapid technological developments, defining individual character, and developing global interconnectedness, moral education has become the need of hour. 

Incorporating moral education into the curriculum:

Nations are increasingly addressing the need to incorporate moral sciences in education, especially in the younger generation. Singapore’s latest National learning framework recognizes the need of respect, responsibility, and care in its education curriculum. Estonia has developed a programme for Value Development in Estonian society, addressing that right human values are the mantra for happy personal life and is imperative for successful functioning of a society. 

Norway, Sweden, Japan, India, The USA, and The UK, among others, are also shifting their focus to moral education. This shift in focus aims to equip individuals with the necessary tools to lead fulfilling lives, make ethical decisions, and navigate the complexities of our rapidly evolving technological landscape. This is, indeed, the most crucial learning and teaching of moral education for the younger generation- to be able to make ethical decisions independently, which not only benefit themselves but the entire society, environment, and the coming generations. 

Navigating the moral compass in technological developments:

The world is constantly changing geographically, politically, economically, and most importantly, technologically. This is the era of automation, neural sciences, and artificial intelligence, which are constantly shaping our lives. 

The recent innovations such as self-driving vehicles, 3D-printing technologies, or generative AI pose significant challenges and scope for ethical decision-making. Determining the responsibility of accidents in self-driving vehicles, regulating 3D printing to prevent the creation of illegal weapons, or establishing digital data privacy standards require a moral compass to navigate effectively. This moral compass is essential for making sound decisions in unfamiliar and unforeseen circumstances; ensuring innovation is only guided by ethical principles and societal well-being.

Just as preparing a generation that was technically, politically, and numerically proficient was crucial during the Industrial Revolution; today it is imperative to cultivate a morally sound, socially conscious, and compassionate generation capable of making independent ethical decisions. 

Conclusion:

The fast-paced technological advancements, especially in the artificial intelligence arena, have put ethics and human values in center stage. Some are focusing on imbuing intelligent machines with these traits to make ethical decisions, while others aim to instill these qualities in humans to guide the development of ethical AI.

Regardless of one's stance, our primary focus should be on creating ethically intelligent systems driven by human ethical decisions. This ensures that as AI continues to advance, it aligns with our values and respects ethical considerations.

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