Could you give us a brief overview of your project and how it aligns with responsible technology?
At the core of it, we are a group of students who care a tremendous amount about education and learning. In February, when we discovered the mismatch between AI’s immense potential to amplify learning and schools banning its use, we realized that as students in the very thick of it, we were in a perfect spot to help education responsibly embrace this opportunity. We hope to inspire invaluable discourse between stakeholders – students, educators, and administrators – and help bring together diverse perspectives that can push the field forwards.
While this goal will require advocacy for the integration of AI tools in education, it also means highlighting the very real negative consequences AI tools can have for cheating and learning. This means responsibly embracing technology and the benefits it can bring us, but keeping the betterment of education at the core of everything we do. This is why we founded AI Consensus.
What inspired you to pursue this particular project and apply for the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund?
We experienced firsthand how ChatGPT took education by storm. Overnight, with a few clever prompts, assignments that once took days could now be polished and submitted within an hour, at times without having read a single paper. Scenarios like these raised many difficult questions that everyone in education was forced to confront: When is using AI tools cheating? How does AI change what skills are valuable for the future? …What was the point of writing the essay in the first place?
While we are slowly forming better answers to these questions, it is also clear to us that the best way to do so is through thoughtful discussion and the free exchange of ideas. Thus, we decided to create a space where students and teachers alike can voice concerns as well as excitement and find direction to responsibly embrace AI tools in the classroom. We launched our initiative and, during the Aideathon in Hyderabad’s T-Hub Incubator, began discussing best Use Cases and potential classroom policies for Minerva.
In the process, it became clear that the challenges related to AI tools are best tackled with students and educators working together, combining youth’s enthusiasm with masterly experience. This is a challenge none can solve alone and so one we must work on as a collective.
Tell us more about the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund and how you plan to utilize the $35,000 funding to further develop and expand your project?
We were so gracious to have found the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund, where youth from all over the world are given the chance to forge their own paths and work on moonshot social ventures. This grant allows us to build the foundations for this movement we could not accomplish ourselves. While we know we are well positioned to make an impact, we are also aware of our weaknesses, and having these resources allows us to make the best of our abilities by drawing on the strengths of others.
Practically, we are hosting a series of events that bring together both students and educators to create collaborative discourse so that we can move into the future of education together.
What kind of impact do you hope to make in the field of responsible technology through your project?
We have two intertwined goals: to promote best practices for the use of AI tools in education, and to engage diverse stakeholders to solve a pressing global problem. By incorporating next-generation decision-making tools like pol.is within a global platform, we will be able to connect people that wouldn’t otherwise get to, giving a voice to previously underrepresented groups, and allowing us to centralize use cases and discussions around AI tools that can serve as a launchpad for effective more education.
How has your Minerva journey helped you build AI Consensus and secure funding for it?
We are very thankful for the position Minerva has put us in. We want to highlight a couple of factors:
(1) Minerva’s learning philosophy. Minerva encourages us to think about the real issues, look beyond the classroom, and not be afraid of solving the biggest problems that are out there. Its integrated learning philosophy, which we applied during our Foundation Year with Civic Projects and where we balance theoretical and practical learning, was surely one of the driving forces behind the project.
(2) Minerva’s Pedagogy. Minerva’s meta-competencies (Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts) have given us the tools and skillset to critically assess the situation, identify a tractable problem, and translate that into clear, tangible actions which move us closer toward our final goal. In fact, we see what AiC is trying to accomplish not just as a huge opportunity not just for education, but also for us as Minerva students to prove the university’s reputation as a global educational and innovative leader.
(3) Minerva as a talent incubator. Living and constantly interacting with brilliant individuals from different backgrounds, levels of experience, lifestyles, and perspectives are ideal conditions for inspiration and action. While it is surely more difficult than working in a homogenous culture, it is all the more rewarding when you find that spark to make something happen. We believe no other school could give us an education where we would be so open-minded and able to endure and pivot that much. Fundamentally, Minerva’s philosophy is a startup one and we really appreciate that.
How did Minerva professors support you in your venture?
We would like to give a big huge shoutout to Professors Davis, Watson, and Powers who are part of our advisory committee and have been an invaluable sounding board for anything from advice and feedback to practical and emotional support. Thank you for all of your help so far and we would not be here without you.
At the same time, feedback from faculty was not all positive at the beginning and we met quite a bit of resistance. However, getting this feedback from the people who stand closest to what we are trying to accomplish was also a cardinal reminder of the headwind we will have to face and to stand strong and keep pushing.
What are your long-term goals for your project beyond the funding received from the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund?
We want to set a precedent for how we approach technology in education and in the ability for students to have a voice in their own learning. This means creating the go-to platform for the use of AI tools in education and the equivalent of a global student think-tank: a community of students from all over the world who are interested in the intersection of technology and sociology. We can not pretend our goals aren’t ambitious, but growth only starts by pushing boundaries.
You can learn more about AI Consensus and their events at aiconsensus.org.
If you were inspired by this story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, consider applying to Minerva.