Thursday, March 19, 2020

Machines and Education

From the Guardian an interesting long read on how technology is revolutionizing learning,
When we met, Li rhapsodised about a future in which technology will enable children to learn 10 or even 100 times more than they do today. Wild claims like these, typical of the hyperactive education technology sector, tend to prompt two different reactions. The first is: bullshit – teaching and learning is too complex, too human a craft to be taken over by robots. The second reaction is the one I had when I first met Li in London a year ago: oh no, the robot teachers are coming for education as we know it. There is some truth to both reactions, but the real story of AI education, it turns out, is a whole lot more complicated.

Huang had begun his English course, which would last for one term, a few months earlier with a diagnostic test. He had logged into the Squirrel AI platform on his laptop and answered a series of questions designed to evaluate his mastery of more than 10,000 “knowledge points” (such as the distinction between “belong to” and “belong in”). Based on his answers, Squirrel AI’s software had generated a precise “learning map” for him, which would determine which texts he would read, which videos he would see, which tests he would take.
The answer, Li decided, was adaptive learning, where an intelligent computer-based system adjusts itself automatically to the best method for an individual learner. The idea of adaptive learning was not new, but Li was confident that developments in AI research meant that huge advances were now within reach. Rather than seeking to recreate the general intelligence of a human mind, researchers were getting impressive results by putting AI to work on specialised tasks. AI doctors are now equal to or better than humans at analysing X-rays for certain pathologies, while AI lawyers are carrying out legal research that would once have been done by clerks.

No comments: