He wants AI to act as "benevolent servants" to students.
A tony British boarding school has recruited two AI chatbots to work as the school's "principal headteacher" and "head of AI" to act as "servants" to its pupils.
As The Telegraph reports, Cottesmore prep school headmaster and avowed AI booster Tom Rogerson said that the school's chatbots, which are named "Abigail Bailey" and "Jamie Rainer" — both, interestingly, portrayed as people of color — were created to help him with the education management tasks on which they were trained.
The Abigail Bailey chatbot, stylized as a Black woman, is the school's new principal headteacher — basically a fancy term for vice principal — and the Jamie Rainer bot, also portrayed as someone of mixed race, was "hired" on as head of AI after Rogerson told reporters earlier this year that he wanted to recruit someone to run the school's AI initiatives.
"We need to prepare them for a life of using and living with AI and robots which have AI installed in them," Rogerson previously told The Telegraph over the summer. He added that he wants kids to learn to make bots their "benevolent servants" — which, to be fair, does sound like exactly the kind of thing an AI-bullish British prep school headmaster would say.
In the most recent interview, the headmaster of the Sussex, England-based school said that he decided to appoint an AI to run the school's AI systems because it was a "tall order to fulfill all of [the] remits" he was looking for in the role, which included not only being qualified to run and teach the tech, but also the ability to teach gym and other classes, and to be empathetic.
Rogerson didn't explain how he plans to have AI do all of the aforementioned better than a human — we're particularly puzzled by the gym part — but he did let the British newspaper in on his mindset.
"Being a school leader, a headmaster, is a very lonely job," he told The Telegraph. "Of course, we have head teacher’s groups... but just having somebody or something on tap that can help you in this lonely place is very reassuring."
Though he's far from the first person to turn to AI out of loneliness, it's telling not only that Rogerson has chosen to appoint the tech to such high-ranking roles, but also that he made them people of color. We've reached out to Cottsmore for clarity on the racializing of these avatars, especially in the context of them being considered "benevolent servants" by its headmaster.
All told, it's a bit baffling to see AI chatbots taking on important positions while the tech is so far from perfect — but then again, in the race to replace humans with algorithms, technological prematurity usually seems beside the point.
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