AI and the Ethics of Early Childhood Research: Unpacking the Impact of Generative Tools​

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Paper


As resesarchers in Early Childhood we are interested in, reflect on and use multiple modes of ethical thinking. These include codes we choose to abide by such as ECA’s Code of ethics, the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the Committee on Publication Ethics; and tools that support ethical engagement including university policies or ECA’s “Ethics in Action”. The advent of new technologies, or in this case increased use of technologies, reminds us of the need for ethical engagement.
Artificial Intelligence is not new (Woolf et al. 2013), but since 2022 generative AI, such as Chat GTP, Petal, Chat PDF or LoveHeartTM have become increasingly common. Generative AI tools are of specific interest as they take key information (for example from the web, photos, previous examples or from academic literature such as a PDF) and then use this to generate “new content”. In academic writing, these tools could be used to summarise a research paper, or in early childhood education and care services they could be used to generate documentation or lesson plans. These resources can be highly personalised, responding to your “tone”, integrating your pedagogical preferences or connecting with documents you cite, essentially the technology “learns” your preferences and content generated responds to this. These tools raise specific ethical concerns, particularly in academic writing and for our sector.
The current project explores AI in academic writing, focusing on AI tools for literature reviews. Using a blinded methodology the researchers reviewed a set of 20 papers analysing for key themes, key words and implications for practice. Simultaneous analysis of half of these papers identified the “conditional” responses of AI with the responses given becoming increasingly similar. This work raises significant ethical provocations, including key questions of authorship and duplication as well as concerns of bias and a lack of transperancy of how AI tools generate content.
This paper presents key data from this analysis and begins to explore the ethics of AI in Early Childhood research, including disuccion of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, the role of empathy (Kurian, 2023) and considerations of anthropomorphism. It shares current data and discusses how our sector should consider the risks and benefits of generative AI in research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2024
EventAJEC Research Symposium - Canberra, Australia
Duration: 8 Feb 20249 Feb 2024


ConferenceAJEC Research Symposium
Internet address


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