7 questions impacting our children with Ajit Gopalakrishnan
When you read articles discussing the predicted evolution of technology over the next 5 years it feels as though you have fallen into an episode of Black Mirror. Today technology that was regarded as science fiction in our childhood, is freely available and we interact with it daily. As businesspeople we are curious about the 4th industrial revolution and the potential disruption it is going to cause across all industries.
As parents we have many pressing questions:
In our interview with Ajit Gopalakrishnan, software engineer and digital well-being expert, we covered these questions as we prepare ourselves for the only thing, we are able to certainly predict: Change is coming!
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW:
Read on to learn what the disruption will look like and how we can prepare our children for the future.
#1 HOW WILL OUR CHILDREN COPE WITH THE CHANGE?
When discussing the giant leaps we are seeing in the tech sphere parents are immediately concerned about the impact AI will have on their children. According to Ajit children are the least of our concern, as of all generations they are the most adaptive.
Seeing as children are incredibly malleable, learning and exploring the world around them, they adapt to change a lot quicker than adults.
“It is us adults who have built frameworks that we are comfortable within and disruption to those frameworks feels uncomfortable,” Ajit explains.
Another source of discomfort to some adults is that most advancements in technology impacting their children such as ChatGPT, deepfake video technology and robotics are not within their realm of understanding.
I posed the question to Ajit-How does Generative AI work? And why are famous actresses, artists and writers concerned about job security at present.
#2 HOW DOES GENERATIVE AI WORK?
Ajit explains that generative AI is inspired by global content. Similarly, to humans drawing inspiration from our history, experiences, books we have read and movies we have watched, AI creates by drawing inspiration from a global fountain. Generative AI will draw a picture of a dolphin relying on stimulus from a multitude of online resources.
“AI doesn’t cut and paste. It learns from thousands of images out there and then creates its own original.”
#3 IS ‘SHARENTING’ STILL SAFE?
Considering this, the issue of sharenting is often raised.
If AI draws inspiration from social media-surely my child’s face could form part of its creation? What if it uses my child’s images from social media to do this?
“With the type of deepfake technology out there and the rapid advancements of AI, your face could be on anything,” Ajit explains.
To see deepfake technology in action. Watch the following deepfake impersonation of Tom Cruise:
Ajit goes on to explain that the reason Hollywood is on strike is because directors no longer need real life actors or actresses to create a sequel. AI can create a sequel using the footage and audio it already has, at a fraction of the cost of filming it from scratch.
“If this is what is possible with one movie, imagine what else is possible with photos and videos of children online,” Ajit says.
Despite this, we maintain that parents (like us) who have innocently shared images and videos of their children online, should not panic.
We need to understand that our content does form part of a global content library that AI will draw from to create. Additionally, we need to consider that most internet users will become highly sceptical of all online content over time as most of it will be AI generated and not ‘real’.
#4 SHOULD I COPYRIGHT MY CONTENT?
Seeing as content shared on social platforms can be saved on central servers, sold to third parties, and manipulated by AI, we posed the question: Should content then be under copyright so it is legally protected?
According to Ajit, “We are applying archaic laws to godlike tech.”
He says that the belief that legislation will catch up to the rate of change and that tech companies will become more regulated over time is naïve. Copyright laws are redundant when generative AI creates using all the world as its inspiration.
Although governments are creating new legislation for what is presently available, technology is accelerating away at pace and evolving faster than legislation can be passed.
#5 WHAT ABOUT THE METAVERSE?
Recent studies have shown that the younger a child is given a smart device the higher their sense of detachment from reality when they reach the age of 18-24 years old.
It has been said that the Metaverse will be where online gaming and social media meets.
Predicted outcomes suggest that the detachment from reality that young people are experiencing will be exasperated by this.
Ajit raises concerns that most tech products are released into the general public without testing or safety approval.
“What we are doing now is we are combining the addictive nature of social media and gamification into one and releasing it to the general public at scale with no controlled tests for what that means for a human being,” comments Ajit.
Many parents believe that introducing tablets and smart phones at a younger age will assist their children to become tech savvy. On the other side of the debate, the mobility of tablets and smart phones gives technology access to your child at all times. This mobile nature of a smart phone is what makes it addictive.
“It’s the hipflask of technology,” Ajit adds.
Ajit finds middle ground when he suggests:
“Children should have access to technology. You can put a laptop in your lounge, have a family log in, and allow children to access it.”
“This way children are accessing technology; technology isn’t accessing them.”
At Screen Smarts we advocate educating children in robotics, coding, and computer skills. Ajit agrees by suggesting that generative AI tools should form part of a child’s learning. He recommends Microsoft Co-Pilotand ChatGPT as a great starting point.
#7 WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS FALLEN BEHIND?
In our parent workshops we are often asked whether a child will pick up technology if they were not exposed to it at a young age.
Ajit reassures us that the current advancements in technology is so rapid that the landscape will look completely different from one month to the next and so the only requirement for a child to stay up to date is to be fond of learning and exploring.
“Take any tech device, put it in the hands of a child and that child will figure it out better than you,” he says.
Perhaps the greatest comfort we as parents have in this era of change is that our children are netizens-they were born to thrive in a digital age and adapt to rapid disruption. Equipping them with knowledge and allowing them to explore within safe boundaries is therefor the best way forward.
GET TO KNOW AJIT GOPALAKRISHNAN:
Dr Keshara Baw
Ajit Gopalakrishnan is the head of Odin Education, a division of Jendamark Automation. His work experience spans several industries and functions, such as education, engineering, marketing, factory and project management. Ajit holds a degree in engineering from UCT and a master’s degree from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
He is passionate about providing access to education technology to under-privileged children in South Africa. And has a keen interest in ensuring positive use of technology for all our children.
One of his favourite quotes is one by Sir Ken Robinson: “There is nothing social about social-media”. He is driven by the goal to “Make a difference, or die trying” in society.
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