Artificially helpful

The creative juices are not always flowing as freely as I would like when I sit down to write my weekly blog, but perhaps ChatGPT, Bard or one of their friends will in future be able to rescue me! (And for the avoidance of doubt, this blog is my own.)

AI is a very hot topic currently, with many saying that we should eagerly embrace its hugely positive potential, and with an equal number warning of possibly apocalyptic consequences unless we control its development. Italy banned ChatGPT until certain privacy concerns were addressed, and national governments throughout the world are considering how to respond to an ethically taxing dilemma.

I am very far from being an expert, but I can assure you that we are currently working with other school leaders to consider appropriate guidance for pupils – which we hope to publish in September. It will initially be incomplete in the absence of formal guidance, but we need to offer support to pupils, so as to ensure healthy and proper use. As teachers, we also need to consider the sort of homework tasks we are setting and the nature of assessment.

There will undoubtedly be increasing benefits of AI, but I sincerely hope that we will not ‘let the genie out of the bottle’ too quickly and without sufficient controls – as has sadly been the case with social media and unregulated online access. I am sure that AI will help us and serve us, and that incredibly clever technological advances will save lives as well as making our lives easier or more productive in certain respects.

However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we learn most and that our brains develop most when we have to think hard and grapple with challenge and understanding before reaching a solution. We see that every day in the classroom, as well as in the joyful satisfaction which comes with eureka moments. I also believe that the uniquely human qualities of imagination, creativity, emotional intelligence and personal interaction will continue to set us apart and to enrich the spiritual dimension of our lives. It is why we focus in an LGS education on topics which go beyond the syllabus, co-curricular activities and teamwork, and such programmes as the Sixth Form Ivy House leadership award – all of which will develop the soft skills which will be so important to the future success and happiness of our pupils.

When I asked ChatGPT about the importance of soft skills, it was a matter of seconds before it came up with seven reasons and a summary: “Yes, soft skills are highly important in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, professional settings, and overall well-being.”

It’s also far more polite than many humans: “You're welcome! I'm glad I could provide you with the information you needed. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. I'm here to help!”

Best wishes,

John Watson