As we think about what we will discuss on the 20th of April 2023–our special session on text in the agreement of AI & Academic Writing, with a broad focus which includes all levels of education–I present an outline for the start of a sort of ‘Manifesto’ to help align our thinking and ask for your comments.
We define ‘text’ in this context as:
The basic character set of a written language,
plus attributes of presentation including font styles, layout and so on,
as well as text in other forms connected to the written form,
such as spoken words,
the connection between texts and
connections between text and other media,
such as images and video,
in traditional two dimensional and
emerging three and four dimensional environments.
We consider ‘AI’ in this context as:
Everything from low level systems, also called ML (Machine Learning), such as speech to text, to advanced analysis, visualisation and conversational systems such as ChatGPT.
We accept that AI is an aspirational term where more and more capabilities will be realised and more and more capabilities relegated to be seen as being part of background capabilities.
Those of us who agree to meet to discuss the future of text with AI recognise the dangers of what AI can do to us, from simple laziness to that presented to us at the 2022 Symposium by Jaron Lanier.
We equally accept that AI is here to stay and though some lobby a development pause or development stop, we do not think this is feasible. We therefore need to look for how AI can be integrated in the most useful ways possible.
We believe we must lead by examples of imagination, implementation and infrastructure development.
(draft, V1) Manifesto on Text in the Age of AI
Make it Joyful! Above all, work to make interacting with text a joy.
Make it Powerful! Make interacting with text more powerful by providing more control for viewing text, following and creating connections, as well as making interactions less of a chore by removing clerical work and friction wherever possible.
In general upgrade our view of what text should do for all of us. How should text systems augment our thinking when writing? How can text best communicate our intent?
Specifically, upgrade our view of what text should do for education. How should text systems augment student thinking when writing to encourage the student to learn, reflect and communicate clearly? How can text systems best document and demonstrate the results of student effort to fulfil educational requirements?
Offload more of the current expectation of what long form text should do to other media. More video, more 3D, more whatever works for communication and understanding, don’t be beholden to the legacy of text for every aspect of ‘reading’ and ‘writing’.
Continue and expand this dialog for deeper understanding of opportunities and concerns.
Support the ecosystem. Work together to imagine, develop, build and implement as open as possible infrastructures to support a healthy variety of futures of text.
Actively work on testing how AI can augment rather than supplant our minds by experimenting and experiencing.
Please comment on this first draft by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send a link to a link-accessible resource, such as a blog or email me a manuscript which can then be added as a post on this site, and the final draft before the session will be linked to from this page, as well as the final draft after the session. Please make it easy to credit you.
We can use a shared interface on the day, such as Google Docs, but I think it’s worthwhile to keep full versions of drafts VS. final for future reference as separate, free-standing and citable documents.
Japan, 3rd of April 2023
A note on why I thought I could draft this.
[start self-conscious justification]
You might ask who I am to be so pretentious as to draft a manifesto on the future of text with AI in education. That would be a fair question to ask. I would simply say that someone needs to do it and this are my initial thoughts on the matter. I welcome contributions, which will be duly noted, and if someone has a perspective so different from what I started that we cannot merge it into a common statement then I will be happy to cite that perspective too. What I think we can ill afford however, is to expect and wait for ‘someone else’ to work it out. We have built a pretty good community on the future of text over the years and I truly think we can make something useful come out of this. This work is done by people, we should not pretend otherwise, and expect something neutral to bubble up somehow. Let’s embrace our humanity and write how we want our future to develop and boldly put our signatures by what we believe.
[end self-conscious justification]