Tue. Sep 26th, 2023


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Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s ‘Child Speaker of House’ hears from young ‘MPs’ on AI

3 min read

Young MPs of the Children’s Parliament have issued a heart-wrenching plea to “keep our teachers” in an online debate hosted in partnership with the Daily Express.

Zanna, seven, from St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, Hertfordshire, was one of many child MPs who said the lack of emotion from AI is something she would miss in a teacher as they debated whether the tech would help or destroy the world.

The children, aged seven to 11, were highly engaged throughout the discussion and gave the House of Commons a run for its money in their concern and understanding of the subject matter.

The discussion was opened by Anna Firth MP and co-chaired by Headteacher Champion Peter Spencer-Lane, who was ably helped by eight-year-old Bruno Fortuna, named by Sir Lindsay Hoyle as his “Child Speaker of the House”.

Harry Papworth, the Child MP named by Lee Anderson, also helped to host the debate, the latest by the Wakelet Microsoft 365 Children’s Parliament in the memory of Sir David Amess.

READ MORE Watch live: Children’s Parliament debate on artificial intelligence

Despite being largely run by children, the debate was carried out with more respect and decorum than one might often see in Westminster.

Asked for their thoughts on teachers being replaced by AI, many of the youngsters feared that the lack of human connection would ruin their early years.

Zanna told the Children’s House: “Our teachers love us and teach us with love.

“AI will only teach us because it is programmed to do so. It will not care about us because it has no attachment to us.”

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Her thoughts were echoed by many of the other children, one of whom heartbreakingly added: “I want to be able to see my teacher’s face”.

40 percent of the Child MPs voted that a lack of emotion was the main disadvantage of AI.

Others questioned what the point of learning even would be any more in a world dominated by artificial intelligence.

The young students displayed an incredible understanding of the subject matter, with 12-year-old Alix from Westcliff High School, Southend-on-Sea, even citing a professional study about humans’ inability to distinguish AI and human beings.

Despite the dozens of doomsaying headlines on AI overwhelming public discussion, the children appeared to see straight through the hyperbole, with Max, 12, from Radnor High School, delivering a statement on its medical benefits with the passion of a recently elected MP’s first address.

But former Google AI chief Geoffrey Hinton’s call for a halt to AI development was frequently mentioned as a cause for alarm.

Child Prime Minister Harry Acheampong said he had written a letter to Rishi Sunak with Baronness Uddin, who also joined the discussion, asking for what he would do to protect against the harms of AI.

The event, livestreamed from the Daily Express Facebook page, also saw the Child MPs expressing fears over deepfakes being used to spread faked videos of politicians on TikTok.

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