A call for Digital Education
Good educators are rare. In some areas of the world even teachers are almost non extant.
On the other hand
technical gadgets have become omnipresent. Some people seek (and find)
interesting and useful knowledge in their Smartphones and tablets. That
does not yet make these
gadgets into coaches, teachers or professors. For that, it takes more.
It takes the cloud, it takes artificial intelligence (AI) quite some
more work – and it takes better visions.
These pages are
about the “impossible” task of developing future AI sets that can teach
humans useful skills and even social skills. The task will have to aim
knowledge transfer and beyond Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that
broadcast classical teaching. More than ever, education has to guide
single individuals to actual physical experiences in order to
accomplish practical competences. Seeing something in a movie ist fine for preparations, but does not replace personal experience.
has to yield revenue, too. It must lead to new jobs (and better trained
applicants, not only for IT companies), to more customers, to cash
generated (for shareholders)
or to better educated citizens and professionals (for states and
Seeing the scarcity
of good teachers even in rich countries (leave alone the poor ones),
there is hardly an alternative to digital help. Training good teachers
has always taken decades.
It has always been expensive and will be so for many decades to come.
The recent boom of online tutoring in China shows the need but does not
carry far enough.
Intelligent Education (AIE) for all learners will spread much faster
than conentional education. It will be a lot cheaper.
Now is the time to
set the worldwide course of education and evolution of societies. Will
our (worldwide!) grandchilds be educated to:
- be blindly obedient to a central government or religious authority?
- develop ambitions to become polymaths or geniuses regardless of gender, wealth and origin?
- be stupid consumers for greedy industries?
- fight for human rights, their environment and higher idols?
All this and much more depends on education.
As in 2019 we talk
to Alexa (Amazon), Watson (IBM) or Siri (Apple) - and get some useful
answers! Similarly Cortana (Microsoft), the Google Assistant, Baidu
Assistant, Bixby (Samsung),
Braina, Jibo and others, lesser known. We cannot speak to them yet as
we do with humans, but a whole multi-billion industry is working on it,
establishing AI as the “next big thing”.
A high class digital
education program needs to be much more than those assistants are
today. It must be much more than a standardized teacher inside a
tablet. It must not be restricted
to recite given lectures or to quote out of a standardized set of
lessons. An ideal digital education program utilizes a constantly
growing pool of knowledge plus a vast variety of pedagogical
approaches. Ideally, it adapts
itself to every pupil in every situation anew. Given enough time (and a
much broader database like “human literature” plus some genius
programmers), educational AI can even behave fancy and surprising
pupils to keep their interest high.
To accomplish its
goal of better and cheaper education for the masses, it needs to be
more interesting than Facebook or YouTube. To “know” its learners
better, it will accumulate
more personal data (and thus attract advertisers).
Brad Smith [President of Microsoft], calls digital assistants “the alter ego of the future”.
Imagine playful, lifelong learning with a constantly present electronic GENIUS at your side! How different would your life have been so far?
On the other hand
think of some applicants you might have seen or heard of recently. Did
some of them have good notes in classes - and no idea of work and daily
Your grandchildren should face a better future - at least as regards education.
It will be
visionaries, shareholders, programmers and inventors who decide whether
AI Education becomes a soulless monster or mankinds beloved next big
thing. Their and your children,
grandchildren and neighbours will be their judges.
These pages ar not
about buying some tablets for school classes or about new lessons nor
programming. It rather combines visionary views of Universities, tech
and single researchers, bridging between classical humanism and coming
AI. It excerpts research in present AI education developments,
worldwide. It also gives programmers some hints to competitors and
broadens the prospect