2023 was certainly a banner year for AI. It exploded and seemingly dominated almost every conversation; from home, to the workplace, to the classroom, it was basically unavoidable. I don’t know about you, but it also was a topic of conversation around the dinner table during the holiday season, and let me tell you, there were some wild opinions shared (looking at you Uncle Mark).
Looking at 2023, it’s clear AI impacted every aspect of life and made us reconsider our thoughts, work, and approach to technology. Now, as we start a new chapter and look forward to the promise 2024 can bring, it’s important we reflect on all that we learned in the past year,look forward, and begin to think about how AI will continue to shape our world in the new year.
To help us with that task, we spoke to our CEO, Kelsey Behringer and our CTO, Craig Booth, and asked them to shed some light on what we can hope for and expect in 2024.
How Will AI Change in 2024?
To start the process of predicting the future, we asked Kelsey and Craig to look into their crystal balls and predict how AI will change in 2024.
Kelsey: I believe 2024 won’t look too different from 2023. Just like last year, change will be rapid, new faces and names in the AI space will be constant, and the difficult conversations educators and administrators have been having the last year will only continue to become even more frequent and spirited.
My predictions for the next 5-10 years look and feel much different than what I predict to come over the next 366 days (leap year!). I know a year seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things it’s shorter than you’d think. AI is still so new and I think we need to learn more before we make any major decisions or changes.
Craig: The biggest change I expect to see in AI is widespread and easy accessibility. Nearly any device could be endowed with local, conversational intelligence. This shift will be revolutionary from a user experience perspective. Interactive and conversational AI will become omnipresent, and mastering the ability to collaborate with a myriad of AI assistants will emerge as a crucial skill for the technologically savvy learners and citizens.
What Historical Trajectory Can AI Be Compared To?
Packback Chief Technology Officer, Craig Booth, has been involved in and around technology for quite some time. Craig has seen everything there is to see in the tech world, so we asked what, if anything, could he compare AI’s current trajectory to. Here is what he had to say.
Craig: To answer that question, I’m going to go back in time, all the way to the 90’s. If you grew up with computers in the 90’s, you know that “having a computer” typically meant having a large, expensive, noisy, beige box stationed in a corner of your living room. And to use this monstrosity of a machine, you had to physically walk over to the desk upon which it was perched and manually boot it up (which took what felt like hours), it was barbaric. However, as new advancements were made, things began to change, especially as laptops began to emerge. They became more affordable, allowing the concept of “going on the computer” to extend to the comfort of one’s couch.
In more recent years, this shift in relationship continued. Computers transitioned from being centralized, bulky boxes to ubiquitous devices. They now exist in everything from phones and tablets to everyday appliances like ovens, fridges, and coffee machines. We are all used to interacting with tens, if not hundreds, of computers per day. This is the type of path I expect generative AI to follow.
How Will AI Impact Education in 2024?
Drawing on her experience as a former educator, we asked Kelsey how she believes AI will impact education in 2024 and beyond. Here is what she had to say.
Kelsey: First and foremost, I think we’ll see enhanced accessibility in classrooms. Accessibility has always been an issue and AI can, and should, be used to make classrooms more accessible to students with disabilities. Here’s a couple examples of how I can see AI solving some pervasive accessibility issues across K-12 and Higher education.
For starters, I foresee the hopeful adoption of real time closed captioning and transcription technologies for students who are hard of hearing or require note taking services; AI-virtual assistants for learning support that can act as a tutor, helping students break down a complex assignment into small tasks; and even real-time AI-powered sign language interpretation. I can go on and on, but thematically we should see accessibility become much more accessible in 2024 with the help of AI, pun absolutely intended 🙂
Second, I predict that educators will embrace AI as something of a teaching assistant, taking on remedial instruction, feedback, and course administration, so that the educator can increase their capacity for individualized student connection and relationship building. AI does a great job letting a student know if they’ve met rubric criteria in a writing assignment or have grammatical issues. AI, however, can’t (yet) sit in front of a classroom of teenagers and sense a hungry student, a student who is emotionally distressed, or provide empathy and compassion through human connection.
If I, a high school chemistry teacher (I was!), didn’t have to spend hours a week grading my students’ grammar or walking them through a simple equation, I could spend much more time doing the really impactful teacher actions that AI simply can’t do (again, yet, because who knows what 2044 will look like). I could complete more parent calls after school, host more office hours for my students who need additional support, and spend more time giving personalized feedback with the intention to coach and motivate my students.
AI, a Hope for a Brighter Future
As we look to the promise of 2024, it’s clear AI will continue to rapidly evolve and integrate itself deeper into the fabric of our daily lives. While broader societal implications remain complex, leaders in education like our own Kelsey Behringer see immense potential for AI in education to transform learning for the better. By taking on repetitive, administrative tasks, AI can free up educators to focus on building meaningful relationships and nurturing students’ intrinsic motivation to help them find their unique voice.
The future of education enhanced by AI is one where students of all abilities have greater access, support, and connection to their teachers. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, AI is NOT replacing educators, instead it will act as a supportive extension, allowing educators to spend more connecting with and inspiring students. Of course, realizing this hopeful vision requires continued thoughtful implementation and ethical guidelines. If integrated properly, AI in 2024 could help unlock barriers to engagement and usher in a new era of personalized, student-centered learning.