Friday, January 12, 2024

AI use is not a sin

The enduring influence of Puritan ethics in American culture presents an intriguing dichotomy. This historical ethos, with its deep roots in hard work and discipline, colors modern perspectives on technology and learning. I am really worried about the disproportional efforts to catch students using AI, as if it was somehow sinful on its own.

Puritan ethics, born from 16th and 17th-century religious reformers, celebrated hard work as a moral virtue. This belief, that success must be earned through effort and toil, subtly shapes American attitudes towards technology, including AI in education. Critics of AI in this realm often argue that it makes learning 'too easy', equating ease with moral decay. They yearn for the 'authenticity' of traditional learning methods, where struggle is seen as the only legitimate path to knowledge.

However, it's crucial to acknowledge that learning does indeed require effort; growth is impossible without it. But this effort need not be synonymous with drudgery. Suffering and effort are not interchangeable. The assumption that struggle is inherently valuable and that ease is inherently suspect is a limited view, overlooking the broader purpose of education.

The Puritanical echo in the debate over AI in education is ironic. The ethos was about self-improvement, yet rejecting AI tools seems counterproductive. AI can democratize and personalize education, making it more accessible and tailored to individual needs.

The overuse of ethical judgments in this context reflects a broader issue. Ethics is often oversimplified, leaving little room for the complexities of life. This misuse of ethics, particularly in education, can hinder innovation.

In re-evaluating these inherited ethical frameworks, it's essential to recognize that ease in learning isn't antithetical to the values of hard work and achievement. Education's true goal is empowerment and enlightenment, and AI offers a transformative potential in reaching this goal.

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