Generative AI: ‘Bubblegum’ for the mind | Inquirer Opinion
On The Move

Generative AI: ‘Bubblegum’ for the mind

Somebody described the advent of color television as “bubblegum for the eyes.” I feel similarly enthused.

So far, it’s been an exhilarating ride for this baby boomer. I was introduced to computers in 1974 as a graduate student at Northwestern University. Back in the Philippines at that time, I thought keypunching was a real computer course. When my class got our orientation to the Vogelback Computing Center, I was amazed that we were taught keypunching in just 15 minutes. Our statistics professor told us the keypunch machine was nothing more than an electronic typewriter that used IBM cards rather than paper. This “hot approach to learning” worked. We learned to create programs and data decks in SPSS, struggling to perfect our program and data decks so they would not be returned the next day with error messages, as was frequently the case.

The public debut of Generative AI in November 2022 is, to me, the equivalent event of my access to a computer for the first time. I have found it so indispensable in my consultancy work — writing project proposals, generating strategic planning workshop designs, and writing project accomplishment reports. Such a delightful research assistant!


In my teaching, I have found it very useful in formulating and enhancing my syllabi, scanning for and identifying new references, summarizing long articles into slides, formulating multiple choice and comprehensive examination questions, and improving the structure of papers I write. This tremendous uplift must have been felt by hundreds of millions of people across the world who have taken to using Generative AI tools.


AI might pose dangers for people who have yet to solidify their foundations of knowledge and skills. AI can short-circuit the learning process, inducing easy answers with less critical thinking. Educational institutions need to be proactive in purposively reaping the benefits and mitigating the risks that AI poses in the education landscape.

Understandably, Ateneo now requires the faculty to include in their syllabi a policy on the use of AI, alongside the usual ethics, gender, honesty, and other guidelines. I have generally encouraged my students to use AI in problem-solving and research work, following the advice that AI use should not be punished or penalized, but creatively used to generate better student output through genuine collaborative engagement.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has officially recognized the potential of AI for education. It has partnered with companies and universities on pilot projects exploring AI’s use in personalized learning, adaptive assessments, and educational resource management. I am hopeful that this cautious but positive attitude of DepEd and the government toward AI could turn around our dismal performance in literacy and basic education.

For instance, what can AI do to help with the problem of 10-year-olds who cannot read material appropriate for their age? I got these very good insights from Google Bard. One major area of AI assistance is in identifying struggling readers with specific areas of difficulty such as fluency, comprehension, and decoding skills. AI-powered assessments can guide targeted interventions by DepEd. It may also create new avenues for participation by NGOs and private organizations. Another area is to identify ways of supporting teachers, schools, and the educational system as a whole through the analysis of classroom data and student outputs.

More exciting is the use of AI for gamification and interactive learning. AI-powered games and interactive activities can make learning engaging even for students with differing learning styles. There are also AI-powered reading tutors. These virtual tutors can offer personalized reading instruction and feedback, providing additional support outside of classroom hours. Text-to-speech and assistive technology is another area. Text-to-speech tools and other assistive technologies powered by AI can help struggling readers overcome specific challenges, like phonological awareness or decoding difficulties.

The downside is, these solutions are going to be expensive. Still, schools, teachers, parents, legislators, policymakers, local government officials, and community leaders should get themselves motivated by learning more about how AI can provide systemic improvements in our educational system. We must learn to use AI fast. We are now just learning about the surge in AI tools. Among these are Lexalytics which offers AI-powered text analysis tools that can help analyze student writing and identify reading difficulties. DreamReader provides AI-powered virtual tutors that offer personalized reading instruction and feedback for struggling readers. Reading Rockets gives resources and information on using technology to support literacy development and address reading difficulties.

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TAGS: artificial intelligence, generative AI, On The Move

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