A grifter’s paradise

So, what about that AI eh? I get it, there’s a lot of fun to be had and it will undoubtedly be really useful in education. I’m not anti-AI (I have a PhD in it, but back when we though symbolic AI was the way to go), and I’m going to do a few more posts on it – I get why it’s everywhere at the moment, it really will have a big impact. But at the same time, I’m also just really uninterested by it all. Part of the reason I’m getting out of the game (after one last job, obviously) is that in order to stay relevant as an ed tech person, I’d have to be all over AI. And I just can’t.

Why is that? Partly it’s because the sort of educational technology I’ve always been excited by is that which creates opportunities for people to undertake education in different ways. That applies to AI to an extent, but it is also often about removing people from the process, and that’s not a vision that interests me. To be clear, there are definitely uses of AI that keep people in the loop and where it acts as a creative tool. But there are also versions that have AI generated content shared on social media, which is consumed by AI bots and reshared.

But I think I could live with fighting for the human centred version. The clincher for what makes it unappealing is the presence of so many grifters suddenly reinventing themselves as AI gurus. Mostly guys, they’ve been around ed tech for a while, and with a few prompts in Midjourney and ChatGPT they’re now the highly paid voice who can guide your institution through these turbulent waters. They are here for the AI rapture declaring “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In AI’s name shall they cast out doubt; they shall speak with new acronyms”. And I just don’t have the energy for that anymore.

It’s not always a 100% reliable sign, but the sort of people pushing themselves forward as the guides for a new tech development are a good indication as to whether you want to spend your time there. AI is ripe for grifters because we don’t really know how it’s going to play out, but we know that it will have an impact, so people are desperate for some reassurance, and confident sounding men are here to provide it. You don’t even have to convince people that it will be a big deal (the grifters associated with cryptocurrency have to work really hard making the case that this stuff will be relevant, because, erm, it won’t). All of that work is done for you with AI, you just need to sound half-knowledgeable.

Ironically, AI is actually pretty good at writing the sort of stuff these guys will present to you. For example, here’s a ChatGPT response to a prompt to write a blog post about the future of AI in higher education.

Title: Transforming Education: The Uncharted Frontier of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

The world of higher education has been witnessing a remarkable transformation in recent years, thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. AI is reshaping the way students learn, educators teach, and institutions operate. In this blog post, we will explore the myriad uses of artificial intelligence in higher education, highlighting its potential to revolutionize the learning experience and improve administrative efficiency.

  1. Personalized Learning

One of the most significant contributions of AI to higher education is personalized learning. AI algorithms analyze student data, including learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses, to create customized learning pathways. This ensures that each student receives a tailored education experience, optimizing their chances of success. Adaptive learning platforms, powered by AI, provide real-time feedback, enabling students to progress at their own pace and revisit challenging concepts.

  1. Enhanced Teaching

AI doesn’t just benefit students; it aids educators as well. AI-driven tools assist teachers in developing course materials, grading assignments, and providing timely feedback. For instance, AI-powered essay scoring systems can quickly evaluate student work, freeing up instructors to focus on more meaningful aspects of teaching, such as student engagement and mentorship.

  1. Predictive Analytics

Institutions can utilize AI-driven predictive analytics to identify students at risk of dropping out or struggling academically. By analyzing historical data and patterns, AI systems can alert educators and administrators to intervene with timely support, such as tutoring, counseling, or additional resources. This proactive approach increases student retention rates and improves overall graduation rates.

  1. Virtual Classrooms

Especially in the face of unforeseen challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, AI-enabled virtual classrooms have become invaluable. AI can facilitate virtual lectures, automate administrative tasks, and even monitor students’ engagement and participation. Virtual classrooms also offer accessibility benefits, allowing students from diverse geographical locations to access higher education without the constraints of physical distance.

  1. Intelligent Content Creation

AI-powered content creation tools are making it easier for educators to develop engaging and interactive learning materials. These tools can generate quizzes, videos, and simulations, helping instructors diversify their teaching methods and keep students engaged. AI can also aid in content curation, recommending relevant resources from the vast sea of educational content available online.

  1. Administrative Efficiency

Beyond the classroom, AI streamlines administrative processes within higher education institutions. Chatbots and virtual assistants can handle routine inquiries, freeing up staff for more complex tasks. AI can also optimize resource allocation, helping institutions manage budgets and staffing more efficiently.

  1. Research and Discovery

In the realm of research, AI accelerates the pace of discovery. Machine learning algorithms can analyze vast datasets, identify trends, and generate hypotheses. Researchers can harness AI to process large volumes of literature, making it easier to stay current in their fields. Additionally, AI can assist in automating experiments and simulations, further expediting scientific progress.

Challenges and Considerations

While the potential benefits of AI in higher education are significant, it is crucial to acknowledge and address the challenges. These include concerns about data privacy, algorithmic bias, and the need for faculty and staff to adapt to new technologies. Institutions must implement robust data security measures and ensure that AI systems are designed to be fair and equitable.


Artificial intelligence is reshaping the landscape of higher education, revolutionizing the way students learn, educators teach, and institutions operate. From personalized learning to administrative efficiency, the applications of AI in higher education are vast and transformative. As institutions continue to harness the power of AI, they are poised to create more inclusive, efficient, and effective educational experiences for all.

So you can save yourself money and just get AI to tell you about AI. It knows a lot about that subject. More seriously though, what it does mean, is that you need really good people to advise you on this topic. Ones who understand the implications, appreciate the student perspective, can avoid the hype, won’t dismiss it and know how it works sufficiently well to see where it’s going. Look carefully for those people, and avoid the grifters.

To demonstrate there is fun and a lot of pain to be had still, here is a song with the lyrics generated by the prompt “Gangsters paradise lyrics changed to be about AI”. Then using SongR I converted the lyrics to a ‘hip-hop’ song. I really can’t apologise enough:

One Comment

  • Gardner Campbell

    A gold rush and a land grab. Always good times for the grift.

    Thanks for these thoughts. Looking for some of the potential good amidst so much demonstrable danger and already-worrying trends (one of my students last term likely used generative AI to compose a non-graded discussion forum post–smh) is discouraging and, finally, dismaying.

    I shared some really early thoughts here, and I don’t see much to persuade me otherwise, seven months later.

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