The Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, a free, awareness-raising, introductory course offered by the Hungarian Artificial Intelligence Coalition, established in 2018 as part of the Action Plan of Hungary's Artificial Intelligence Strategy until 2025, has already reached more than 100 000 people in recent years. The aim of the Strategy is to prepare the economy and society for the forthcoming changes as a result of AI, both by making good use of existing technologies and by stimulating their development, as adaptation in a global competitive environment will be a central issue in all segments of the economy, including the labour market. In support of the Strategy, the AI Coalition has now brought together 392 member organizations and more than 900 experts in six working groups to discuss the issues involved, including education and awareness-raising.

From ,,machine hallucination” to military security, there are a number of grave concerns to be considered,

but the opportunities presented by technology should also be taken into account alongside the steps to be taken and the regulatory dilemmas.

Indeed, AI can also provide grounds for confidence even in controversial areas such as education. While it is legitimate to ask whether AI will make us smarter or dumber, as Brain Bar 2023 plans to explore, the smarter vs. dumber dichotomy only simplifies a very complex issue. While the supply of teachers is a severe problem and the number of functional illiterates is rapidly growing, the rise of digitization, automation, and AI in the workplace is creating a new set of challenges for employees who should be leaving the classroom equipped with new tools, knowledge, and skills.

What skills are these? In 2022, Bernard Marr, based on his book Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World, summarized for Forbes the ten most important skills alongside expertise he believes employees will need in the decade to come as a result of the new industrial revolution. It is easy to see why the first of the top skills he lists is navigating the online world, but he also considers an attitude assuming responsibility, the ability to change, learn and redesign, curiosity and teamwork to be essential.

In 2021, McKinsey, the world's leading management consultancy, published an analysis based on a survey of eighteen thousand people in fifteen countries that covered all fields identifying fiftysix ,,future-proof” skills and attitudes, and called on governments to take responsibility for shaping education in this way. The research showed that the skills needed do not always correlate with those that can be acquired in the current education system, which is certainly disconcerting. In the future, the study suggests,

employees will be expected to add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines, to operate in a digital environment and to continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations.

To achieve this, it would be important for schools to provide opportunities to develop these skills alongside the acquisition of knowledge, but this requires both – at first sight, seemingly contradictorily – faster progress and efficiency in the acquisition of factual knowledge, and the simultaneous use of individually tailored methods to fill gaps and hinder lagging behind. In this situation, however, schools must not only promote social mobility but provide digital skills that are now lacking even in families of professionals.

The pandemic has accelerated the spread of online learning tools, even though the market for web-based training has long been characterized by a multitude of players competing for students. However, the market has been held back by a number of factors, such as the lack of equipment and internet access, language barriers and a want of motivation. The first two have become less of a problem, but only highly motivated students take up online tutoring or further education courses, which limits the potential of the technology.

It is a long-standing problem in school education that the teacher has to get ahead with the curriculum, but if a student has not mastered the basics covered in previous classes, he or she will be bound to be lag behind, unable to understand the basis on which the new material builds. In a recent podcast (Unconfuse Me), Bill Gates and Sal Khan discussed

how AI can support the teacher's work as a ,,pedagogical assistant", helping students understand in real time and keeping the teacher informed of their progress,

difficulties or even the possibility of giving them individual assignments because they have done well at something. This allows the teacher time to help students develop skills, practice and catch up. The use of AI in the classroom can also eliminate the difficulty that only motivated students take advantage of the technology. Of course, the spread and regular use of the necessary equipment is unlikely to happen overnight. Moreover, things may take unexpected turns: while we expected machines to take over hard labour and art to remain the human activity, machine learning is making inroads in the latter area too.

The Hungarian reader may also be rightly sceptical, since, as Éva Gyarmathy, a clinical and educational psychologist, explained in issue 94 of Országút, the role and methodology of Hungarian teachers is changing, which is a prerequisite for schools to be able to respond to the challenges of the present and to use digital tools. From the triangle of mistrust, uncertainty and judgmental attitude that she describes, a quantum leap of sorts would be required into the world described above, which is made more difficult by the fact we should be embarking on this change with ,,institutions and actors battered children severely harmed by the pandemic”.

In any case, whatever the future, wherever our starting point is, it is worth embarking on the journey to the education of the future as soon as possible.


The Author is a public-administration scholar and research fellow at the Institute for American Studies at the University of Public Service, Budapest


Translated from the Hungarian by Péter Pásztor