Betsy DeVos’ vision for an indebted future? An AI student loan chatbot
Financial aid professionals in attendance applauded the demonstration, but these tools can also have negative consequences for their future. EdSurge reports that AIDAN is not the first chatbot used for financial aid purposes. The article touts a press release from a small private university saying their chatbot helps provide 24-hour financial aid services, which it couldn’t afford to offer “if it had to staff its 24/7 help desk for human workers ”.
Ocelot, an education technology company, presents itself as having emerged since 2017 as “the leading national provider of custom AI conversational chatbots, video content and other self-service customer service tools for colleges“. Universities can mark their individual Ocelot bot, as a mascot for the financial aid department.
Ocelot boasts that its software can “Solve over 96.5% of all interactions without the need for a human”. It appears that the Next Gen initiative will attempt to apply a similar model to the entire federal student aid system with AIDAN, but it is not clear if the chatbot will be text-based, if it will use also verbal communications, or if the chatbot will. be the only way to contact the FSA for financial assistance.
No matter how much AIDAN can increase efficiency, it frustrate student borrowers and collect their data. Chatbots are harmful customers and customer service staff, and their introduction to federal student aid is likely to be no exception.
In the context of the upcoming 2020 election, DeVos is signaling wealthy donors and corporations that if Trump remains in power, the Education Department will remain open for business. In his worldview, public education is a commodity to be bought, sold and capitalized like any other, not a universal human right – and if you are not rich enough to buy political influence, it’s a shame.
According to DeVos, “We are living in some of the most exciting times and the richest in opportunity.” At a time when the future of organized human life depends on achieving zero carbon emissions As fast as possible, but the extraction of fossil fuels is still accelerating, this claim does not correspond to reality.
Even if the world wasn’t literally on fire, how can DeVos expect students to be “responsible consumers of education”? Is it responsible for the government to lend money to students for education, and allows Wall Street to speculate on debt? Is it morally defensible to justify the existence of student debt when so many people are suffering and will never pay it back, and when economists indicate that canceling student debt would in fact be? stimulate the economy?
It is not surprising that DeVos, richest member of Trump’s cabinet, is disconnected from the lives of students and the 44 million student borrowers it is supposed to defend. Before her appointment to ED, she had a career at the head of “School choice” movement to privatize public education.
DeVos attended private schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and a private college. His take on what has changed since the creation of the FSA in 1965 is that students “don’t pay for higher education like they did” back then. “Today, they use different financial instruments in a different and constantly iterating economy”.
This constantly iterating economy is due to a recession, and while Betsy DeVos is in charge, her intention is to make a final spin on student loan collection – extracting as much capital as possible from students before the whole system collapses.
Automating financial aid with dystopian chatbots and streamlined websites won’t solve the student debt crisis; the problem is the very existence of student debt. Authorized congress $ 29 trillion taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street ten years ago, but $ 1.6 trillion in student debt has to be paid until the ice caps melt?
At a time when US household debt is at an all time high, it is the same support for the cancellation of student debt. Massive debt cancellation has become a necessity, and the next president will face the movement of people calling for it, whether they support him or not.