Experts debate generative AI’s growing impact on higher education

Meeting presented data from first phase of research project on this subject and reflected on how to teach in new technological context
24 June 2024
Experts debate generative AI’s growing impact on higher education

The widespread use of artificial intelligence tools in various human activities, especially education, raises more questions than certainties. For example, what are the ethical limits to the use of applications such as ChatGPT in students’ education and research procedures? What are the educational impacts of this new form of learning? Will the relationship between teachers and students change? What may happen in the emotional sphere, such as students’ growing dependence on generative AI or a weakening of the human relationships that come from learning together with teachers?

These and other issues were debated at a meeting called “Generative Artificial Intelligence and Higher Education,” held by the Center for Education and Research in Innovation (CEPI) at Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo Law School on June 18, 2024, which brought together some leading experts in the field.

The event was part of a research project called “Artificial Intelligence and Higher Education,” carried out in partnership with the FGV Educational Innovation Hub, coordinated by Professor Marina Feferbaum. The project set out to deepen the foundations and applications of generative AI by analyzing the policies and ethical principles for its use that have been adopted by different courses and educational institutions in Brazil and around the world.

During the meeting, CEPI researchers presented the findings of the first phase of the study, which involved a literature review. “We conducted a systematic review of the existing literature on this topic, identifying areas of consensus and potential areas for further exploration,” explained researcher Clio Radomysler.

The researchers looked at the most relevant academic articles on the subject published from 2020 to 2024, and among other things they identified a series of ethical and legal challenges to be overcome in order to make good use of this technology. These challenges include academic integrity, plagiarism, inaccurate data and sources, bias and discrimination, privacy and data security, transparency, and access inequality.

The reviewed literature also explored educational strategies for dealing with the challenges of AI in teaching, such as the incorporation of new forms of assessment, the use of this technology for planning and executing classroom activities, and the incorporation into the curriculum of student AI literacy initiatives.

The next phases of the research project will diagnose how educational institutions are dealing with the ethical, legal and educational challenges of adopting AI and analyze the principles and guidelines for incorporating it at FGV and other educational institutions.

Melina Ferracini, a researcher at Lawgorithm – an artificial intelligence research association run in an interdisciplinary way by University of Sao Paulo professors, with the aim of studying all dimensions of the application of AI – was invited to describe the association’s main activities. They include debating this subject, formulating tools for improving judicial decisions and influencing the sector’s regulations. Juliano Maranhão, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo Law School, presented the results of a survey to identify students’ perceptions regarding the use of generative AI in the school’s activities.

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