Guest Post: Open Education. A Game of Digital Thrones? By Pip McDonald

Perhaps the Digital Winter is coming. In the meantime, I asked the artificial intelligence tool PhilosopherAI a series of critical questions about open education. What is PhilosopherAI? It is a tool that was developed by Murat Ayfer that uses prompt engineering and GPT-3. You might be thinking what has intelligence got to do with open education? PhilosopherAI is hosted be OpenAI, an organisation that carries out research into artificial intelligence with a view to optimising benefits to humanity. It is possible to ask the tool a question by typing text into a box. After clicking ‘Generate’, a series of responses are produced. What is interesting to note is that PhilosopherAI tool copies views and creates different outputs each time. Previous results were shared on reddit.

I asked PhilosopherAI “What is open education?”. Here are some of the responses:

Reflecting on the responses, it seems that the PhilosopherAI has made some relevant points, particularly in terms of exploring current practice, exposing hierarchies of power and identifying ‘good’. Another response that stood out was the acknowledgement that “We are a system that is designed for one thing: To maintain and advance our own position in the world”. Whilst we may not necessarily agree on the way the tool frames both the design and the purpose of our education system, further responses from the tool explore the tension between seeking to achieve a system of education where there is a balance between quality and accessibility. Perhaps this is something we can all relate to.

The next question I asked PhilosopherAI was ‘why is open education important?’.

The PhilospherAI tool identified some potential reasons why open education is important for example the need to develop in a range of ways and the creation of a better society underpinned by the reinforcement of mutual understanding. It is also possible to identify an additional reference to power which is argued to be a consequence of a closed education system. Can an open education system help us to “live more fulfilling lives?’.

The final question I asked the PhilosopherAI tool was a more specific request for action ‘How can Learning Technologists promote open education?

Perhaps all Learning Technologists are bound to the structures with specific aims. Additionally, it is also possible to relate to the acknowledgment that “maintaining the status quo” can have an impact. Ultimately, the message form PhilosopherAI can be argued to be positive in terms of the provision of different ways of doing things and promoting understanding of “limitations and hierarchies”. Friere talked about teachers being “cultural workers”. Learning Technologists could also be understood in the same way.

It is possible to provide feedback on the responses that the PhilosopherAI tool provides using the output rating.

Whilst it seemed like a bizarre act to ask an artificial intelligence tool about open education, it could be argued that we will need to talk to robots about important topics in the future, for example check out the book How To Talk To Robots: A Girls’ Guide To a Future Dominated by AI by Tabitha Goldstaub. One of the conference themes explores shifts in agency. Another theme also explores using open tools. A close encounter with an artificially intelligent tool could help us to both ask and answer important questions about open education, and beyond. Perhaps it is important to not let learning technology get in the way of our (open) education.