German Students Debate Artificial Intelligence

This is a guest story written by Matthias Mller and Andreas Weber. At the German International School Boston (GISB) students in grade 8 prepared a debate on the use of artificial intelligence in their German lessons. The debate culture in the 8th grade is highly developed; students participate in competitions annually. Learners are able to gather information, to find arguments for both sides and debate the topic in standardized format. The point of departure for the current debate on artificial intelligence is the IBM Project Debater. Scientists at IBM have succeeded in creating an artificial intelligence that is capable of meeting a human being at least equally in a standardized debate: The video sequence of a debate by the IBM Project Debater on digital technologies and technological progress is the motivation for the lesson and the students' inclusive debate. In order to enable them (at least as a starting point) to assume the role of a programmer and thus be able to prepare more intensely for the debate, the learners have ventured their own first steps in programming. In keeping with the lesson, they have (jointly) developed an app to accompany the debate with a questionnaire. The learners worked with the MIT App Inventor for this. In particular, students have described working with the MIT App Inventor as extremely important in preparing for the debate. The results of the survey show a differentiated picture of the use of new technologies. In addition to programming, the MIT App Inventor is therefore a door opener for a discussion on the appropriate use of digital media in the classroom and beyond. With this approach, the lesson is in the tradition of Seymour Papert's Mindstorms. Students in grade 8 built apps in German class with MIT App Inventor and the support of Mr. Mueller, who offers a Lego Mindstorm course. He gave a three hour basic coding session and students debated the benefits and challenges of AI and IBM's Project Debate. Students in grade 8 invited their parents for breakfast. While sharing food, they presented a debate about self-driven cars, explaining their short coding project, and highlighting their recent meetings with Boston's Jewish Community Day School students.