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Tech Talk Live Blog

Artificial Intelligence – Boon or Bane?

Litty Kurian


Artificial Intelligence has been in the news quite a lot recently. We hear about the use of Artificial Intelligence being used in Intelligent Personal Assistants, self-driving vehicles, medical treatment, etc.

So what exactly is Artificial Intelligence aka AI? Artificial Intelligence is intelligence exhibited by non-biological entities such as machines, robots, etc. that exhibit cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving that we normally associate with humans and other animals. An example would be the ability of a self-driving automobile to process images of a road and traffic using its cameras or other sensors, and not only guide the car, but also learn from how other cars react to it and change its driving based on learning from that experience.

Education is one field that can have a tremendous boost from Artificial Intelligence. There are AI systems commercially available which can mimic the effect of one-to-one tutoring by being able to understand the skill level of a student and tailor material to suit their skill level. It can also understand how a student thinks during problem solving and provide feedback and guidance to the student, in addition to correcting erroneous behavior. Carnegie Learning’s “Mika” software provides personalized tutoring and real-time feedback for students using AI and cognitive science. AI is also being used in the field of content delivery where educators can create a syllabus and use AI to then fill in the core content of a book that holds true to the syllabus. Companies such as Content Technologies, Inc., and Netex Learning are active in this area.

Education is an area which has a huge amount of interaction between groups of people, and AI has not been as advanced in this area as compared to other areas such as image and speech recognition. But the scope for AI to advance the field of education is well understood now and a great deal of research is being done in this area.

Five key areas that has been proposed for research by the AI community are:
1. Mentors for every learner
2. Learning 21st century skills
3. Interactive data for learning
4. Universal access to global classrooms
5. Life-long and life-wide learning

Ref: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c716/527bb6bb3bc1abc13cd8571e98dcf8fd88dc.pdf

What caught my attention and prompted me to read up on AI was reports of an argument between Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, etc., and Mark Zuckerberg, who is famous for having created Facebook. Musk has been for many years warning us about the perils of Artificial Intelligence; research into the field, according to him, will invariably lead to machines which are more intelligent than humans. So he feels this type of research should be tightly controlled by governments. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, feels just the opposite. In response to a question about Musk’s views, he said the following. “If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents. And you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick. I just don’t see how, in good conscience, some people can do that. I’m just much more optimistic on this, in general, than probably a lot of folks are.” It would seem that Zuckerberg is assuming that Musk is against AI as a whole, which is not the case as he is involved with several companies that are leading research in this field.

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