ADVANTAGES AND RISKS OF AI FOR CHILDREN
Updated: May 8, 2021
Author: Amarjeet, II Year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons) from Institute of Law, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.
We have been locked in our homes for more than a year in which a lot has changed, our lives have completely changed just because of this pandemic. When the pandemic started, and the people were locked in their homes, we faced many problems like how can companies continue their work going, how can students continue their classes, and how to keep the world going while it was locked inside, and the answer to that question was to work from home.
Companies, schools, and universities used the internet to cope up with the issues the pandemic created which resulted in a massive influx of internet users and a huge amount of which were children. The internet was necessary for their online classes but this also resulted in children spending too much time online meanwhile their parents were busy with their work.
The importance of the internet is undeniable, but it can also be very dangerous because of manly reasons like the algorithms the websites use, the unfathomable number of shady websites, etc. One of the most important things to understand is that most websites use some kind of AI to enhance or to better the experience of their users but this can also backfire many times, It is necessary to understand the risks as well as the benefits that the artificial intelligence for children because of them being the most vulnerable to AI.
But before that, what exactly is AI? Answer to that question is itself very difficult because of the indifference between the scientists on its definition and the reason behind it is “how one defines intelligence” the standards of intelligence can vary from person to person but in one way or another the core to that answer is the same Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment.
The idea emerged in the mid-20th when a theory emerged of building a computer with limitless memory that can read and write. Today, we are surrounded by machines that in some ways or others use AI, and we daily visit websites like Facebook, Instagram that use algorithms to find out, ‘what are our likings, and what we don’t like to create a database, but we always hear the news of these websites being hacked or users data being stolen and the children being the most vulnerable are at most risks in these cases. So, it is important to understand the advantages and the risks of AI.
Adaptability: Artificial intelligence can help the kids by adapting to the needs of children which will enhance the learning capabilities. The better the artificial intelligence the better it will be at adapting to the needs. There have been many experiments where AI was used to teach and in time by building databases it was able to better adapts itself to meet the requirements of children. Before the pandemic, the value of online lectures was not understood by many people, but when the lockdown was imposed schools and colleges were forced to start online lectures, and slowly people understood that it can greatly help the students. Currently, many websites use this to create a special plan for the students to help them in their studies but it is still limited and with technological advancement in the future, we will be able to create AI that will be able to meet the requirements.
Better career opportunities: It is assumed that Artificial Intelligence will bring new jobs and new career opportunities in the future. If this becomes reality then one of the biggest problems that are plaguing the world right now can be solved the problem of unemployment because AI will introduce many new and creative jobs in the future because of the assumption that AI cannot run without the help of humans.
Deep understanding of Big Data: Big Data is a term used for a large collection of data that is getting bigger. With advancement, the process of analyzing and collecting information will improve and will help in many other fields. With the help of AI and Deep Data we might be able to find the cures of diseases that right now are incurable, it will also help us to defend against possible pandemics in the future. Management and city planning is also a field that will profit a lot from this because it will help to provide new ideas and technologies to handle sanitation in future cities. Another field that will profit from this is Agriculture because with the help of AI and Big Data we will better understand the cycles and which crop will be beneficial.
Tackling Physical and Mental disabilities: AI includes different types of technologies like smart assistants, algorithms, smart devices, etc, and with the advancements, these devices will be more adaptable to human needs and might be able to help with mental and physical disabilities. Even today the AI is used as a therapist because with the response of the patient the AI will change itself to meet the needs of the patient and it will be more accessible to everyone one because it can just be software that one can install on a phone. Mechanical machines are still used to help people with physical disabilities but today, it is very expansive but with the help of AI, we can develop mechanical parts that will be better adaptable and will also be cheap.
Access to vast skills: with the advancement the need for different kinds of skills are ever-increasing and the race to learn as many kinds of things as possible is also increasing. Even today, there are many courses and lectures you can get access to online but it is also limited to some extent but with AI we can easily tackle this problem and children can easily learn many different things just from the comfort of their homes.
No doubt there are many benefits of Artificial Intelligence for children because it will help them in getting access to better education, better health system, better sanitation and open gates to new kinds of skills but with these benefits, there are also many serious concerns which needs to be tackled.
Privacy concerns: One of the biggest concerns that we urgently need to tackle is that of privacy because in the fourth industrial revolution data is the new oil and many companies are mining this oil for their profit without thinking about the user. “So what they have my data it's not like I’m the president.” this is the answer one gets if you tell someone of data theft but it is not true, your data is the most valuable thing that these companies can have access to because they use them to create a profile of your likes and dislikes and then show specific things that you like so that you spend more time on their products a great example of this is Google showing you add. This can have very dangerous effects on children and can result in tech addiction, depression, etc.
Vulnerability to cyber-crimes: There have been many cases where the database of many social media giants was hacked and the crucial information of users was leaked online which causes these users very vulnerable to cyber crimes like fraud calls, identity theft, swatting, etc. Children’s minds cannot comprehend the dangers and their outcomes so it is necessary to strengthen the security to protect the children.
Inequalities in different fields: It is true that with AI we can enhance education, health, and many other fields but there is also a possibility of inequality that can arise out of this because those students who are not getting access to these might face severe problems in life for example, on one hand, there will be students who will have access to classes enhanced with the help of AI but on the other hand, there will be students who might not be able to have that and will face serious inequalities in life.
Challenge to livelihood: The effect of automation on the livelihood of people is very debatable because some predict that technical advancement creates many new jobs but on the other hand, some are concerned about automation causing unemployment on a large scale and we are already started to see the effects of this, according to a report millions of jobs will be lost to AI in America alone.  It is necessary to understand the dangers of AI stealing jobs in the future because it will seriously affect the livelihood of children.
Effects on children’s mind: The effects of AI on the minds of people is still a new area of research and there have been no definitive outcomes till now but we have some concerns that might emerge, these concerns include social problems, tech addiction, etc and there also emerges many questions that need more research like what are the psychological effects od AI on the minds of children? How effective it will be to tackle depression, loneliness, anxiety, etc? how will it affect the social skills of children? the answer to these questions can only be found with the help of more research but no doubt these are matters of immediate concern.
After understanding the advantages and the concerns that AI will be causing to children it is important to understand that there is no debate on the goods that Artificial Intelligence will bring to this society for the betterment of people and will help in eliminating many problems that are faced by us today but the risks are very much concerning also because they can endanger the future of children. Many international organizations like UNICEF and WEF have been very vocal about the policies of different countries concerning AI and the loopholes that are present in them in regards to children. Today it of utmost importance for world leaders to come together and form an international policy that regulates AI. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.” this is what Elon Musk remarked at MIT which clearly shows his concern about AI and the need to regulate it.