As we immerse ourselves in this rapid, technology-fuelled age, we find ourselves on the cusp of a significant pivot in education: an optimistic blending of a traditional structured syllabus and adaptive learning. Conventional curriculums provide a steady framework, grounding students in foundational concepts. In contrast, adaptive learning offers a more fluid platform, fostering pivotal skills such as creativity and adaptability while allowing us to craft personalised education pathways.

In this process, technology emerges not as a disruptive force, but as a bridge between the structured and the fluid, fortifying the interactive delivery of syllabus content and enabling precision-feedback. It equips students with a treasure trove of resources, nudging them towards digital and data literacy, and honing their problem-solving abilities.

Screening vulnerability: A new perspective

Yet, the proliferation of digital screens has profound implications for ethics and vulnerability. While digital interfaces have amplified connectivity, they have also subtly crafted barriers, occasionally diluting the authenticity of human interactions. But rather than seeing this as a purely negative fallout, we can view it as an opportunity to redress the balance, seeking a more wholesome, authentic interaction in the digital space. By bringing mindfulness to our digital practice, we can ensure popularity is not reduced to a mere number, and our outreach remains authentic.

Technology: A catalyst for thinking

Similarly, the interplay of technology and thought can be seen through a more hopeful lens. Rather than viewing technology as a potential impediment to our cognitive abilities, we can regard it as a tool that amplifies human potential, a lever for profound thinking. As search engines become more predictive, it’s true that the formulation of our own questions might take a backseat. But instead of seeing this as a diminishing of our intellectual engagement, we can see it as an opportunity to reach higher levels of abstraction and inquiry. If technology is used as a tool to extend human capabilities and enhance understanding, it can support and stimulate thinking.

A rethink on  following and followers

In the age of algorithms, it’s tempting to speculate that we’ve surrendered our independent thought. However, that’s not a forgone conclusion. We possess the power to decide how we interact with technology. It is our approach towards using technology that shapes our intellectual independence.

In the shadow of ‘surveillance capitalism,’ where personal data is harvested and turned into prediction products, it might seem like our decision-making power is eroded. Yet this is not an unavoidable fate. We have the agency to redefine these dynamics through our behaviours and demand regulatory changes where necessary.

Turning the tide: The power of education and regulation

To counterbalance these potential negative effects, we need to foster a culture of awareness and assertive regulatory norms. This includes a call to elevate the minimum age for social media use and strict age verification measures to guard the mental well-being of our youth during a critical phase of development.

Embracing a healthy digital mindset

The advent of smartphones and social media has catalysed a shift in how the ‘digital generation’ spends its time outside school, reducing face-to-face interactions and impacting sleep patterns. However, with the right education and support, these challenges can be mitigated, enabling the youth to leverage technology’s positive aspects. Parents need support to learn how to guide and supervise the use of technology by their children. The abdication of this responsibility is generally due to an undervaluation of the perils which may exist in the digital sphere.

AI: A leap beyond consciousness

The realm of Artificial Intelligence has taken significant strides, expanding the boundaries of machine capabilities. Despite some misconceptions, AI isn’t attaining human consciousness. It’s merely a tool, an advanced tool, but a tool nonetheless. Understanding this difference is essential for maintaining a realistic perspective on what AI can and can’t do.

Consciousness has subjective, first-person causal powers and is not inherently computational the way computer programs are. The human mind has a number of intrinsic characteristics, such as subjectivity, intentionality, teleology which a computer can only simulate. Subsequently machines do not have access to the metaphysical nature of reality. Mirroring reason is not the same as reasoning. And reasoning is not the same thing as consciousness.

Redefining work: The silver lining of automation

The wave of automation brought forth by AI, threatening to replace a significant portion of existing jobs, has instilled fear in many. But let’s consider another angle – could AI free us from mundane, repetitive tasks? Could it offer us the chance to focus on work that adds real value to our lives? As we stride towards this transformative era, our challenge lies in leveraging AI to amplify, rather than diminish, human potential and dignity.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us