8 reasons why Artificial Intelligence matters

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We often share examples of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an exponential and disruptive technology that has huge implications for how we work, live and learn. But what exactly does Artificial Intelligence do, how does it work, and how does it help? And are robots really taking away people’s jobs?

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science, in which a machine simulates human-like intelligence such as reasoning, problem solving, visual perception and speech recognition. AI is driven by powerful computers and complex algorithms, and can process and understand huge amounts of data extremely quickly. Within AI, there are branches developing ‘Weak AI’ (for particular tasks) and ‘Strong AI’ (general intelligence systems). Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI, in which computers learn in a similar way to humans by interpreting data, classifying it, and learning from positive or negative experiences. Amazon.com could not run its highly complex yet efficient business model without machine learning.

This article looks at AI pioneers that are transforming our world, and we’ve gone through and had a look at their work. Here are three we thought you might like:

1. CognitiveScale – analyses and cross-checks huge amounts of company, market and public data in real time to learn about a business and help leaders make informed decisions. Data includes text, images, and video, e-Commerce platforms, Electronic Health Records, data warehouses, transaction records, social media, individual devices – every part of the business and its market is under constant scrutiny.

2. Primer – automatic analysis and summaries of huge sets of data generated in fortune 50 companies, governments, financial institutions and global media. It reads text, graphs and datasets, operates in multiple languages and generates human-readable reports automatically.

3. Pymetrics – bias-free hiring of workers through neuroscience games and automatic matching of identified personal traits to work opportunities.

AI has already entered the education space, with companies looking at automating back-office tasks, AI-driven private tuition and remedial learning, customised resource materials, powering wearable technology – the list goes on.

There is no doubt that AI will become a major part of education and learning, and could become a powerful partner in enhancing learning for our students. With the power of AI, one downside might include a tendency to find and track every possible data point where none currently exist. 

Imagine tracking attendance, family engagement, classroom noise, student movement, on or off-task behaviour, teacher/student interactions, toilet breaks, books read, words written, movement around playgrounds, social interactions, devices currently in use, assessment results – all recorded and analysed in real time, with recommendations for teachers and school leaders.

Is this desirable?

Along with the hype and attention surrounding the potential of Artificial Intelligence, there is criticism that AI in its present form can only tackle certain classes of problems. The Allen AI Science Challenge was an attempt to use AI to test modeling, reasoning, use of language and common sense knowledge to answer a series of 8th Grade Science questions.

While not designed to test AI to its limits, answering 8th Grade science questions do test capabilities commonly associated with human intelligence and require a range of responses, from the simple to the complex. Teams had 4 months to write software that could solve the questions, and once the tests were taken the results were fascinating. The winning AI scored 59%, and although AI clearly has some way to go, don’t be surprised to see these test results climb higher very quickly in the near future.

Would science tests then be rendered obsolete? What are the implications for learning?

Our next article from Futurism looks at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming indispensable in the modern workplace, with its application already widespread in law, business administration and medicine. The scope and use of AI will accelerate, and within a decade it is likely that there will not be an industry or profession that has not been disrupted in some way, shape or form by it.

The potential for the use of AI appears to be almost limitless, and the disruptive effects it will have on business and work cannot be overstated. Futurism had exclusive access to the World Government Summit in Dubai, attended by some of the world’s leading governments, businesses, thinkers and technologists. The agreement from this meeting is that AI should augment human capability, and that a roadmap or plan for doing so should be shared and in place.

From a learning perspective, are students in schools having discussions about this transformation that will affect every single one of them? Are they engaging critically with potential benefits and pitfalls? Are they identifying possible future opportunities? Do they have the opportunity to become informed about what knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need?

Deepfaking is very much a part of young people’s lives, and again will only continue to grow. So what’s a Deepfake? Here’s a definition from techtarget.com:

“Deepfake is an AI-based technology used to produce or alter video content so that it presents something that didn’t, in fact, occur. The word, which applies to both the technologies and the videos created with it, is a portmanteau of deep learning and fake.”

Here’s one example that provides a good idea (who thought of a Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Lawrence mashup?) of what can be done, and the implications for young people are quite concerning. We’re already seeing examples of young women’s faces being superimposed over porn actresses (bullying), politicians’ speeches being altered (post truth) and completely false news being shared by respected broadcasters.

To grapple with each of the above examples, learning knowledge by traditional means is not enough – our young people need to understand how to think, and be aware of what’s going on.

In our ‘fake news’ reality, Project Debater from IBM Research is looking to cut through the post-fact world of one-sided narratives and misinformation. It uses AI to digest huge amounts of information on a topic, and construct thoughtful, critical arguments uninhibited by bias or emotion.

The team is working to increase AI’s comprehension and narrative language abilities in order to provide diverse, well-informed viewpoints during actual debates vs. a human opponent. What’s interesting is that the debate topic is not known in advance, and the AI is not pre-trained. The AI is designed to quickly mine hundreds of millions of information sources such as journals and newspaper articles, pick the most compelling and well-supported arguments, and present them. It also listens and responds to the human debater using Watson speech to text.

Have a look at the video embedded in the page – it’s pretty incredible even in its early stages. So what are the implications for learning?

Our post-fact, fake-news reality appears to have evolved from an inability to engage critically with the information we receive. We are unable (and/or unwilling) to look beyond our personal biases, explore the pros and cons of multiple viewpoints and maintain an open and thoughtful approach when encountering something new. Us humans are very capable of doing this, which like all skills can be learned and practiced.

We need to wage a war on lazy, superficial thinking in our schools and workplaces, and it needs to happen urgently. If we don’t, AI might end up doing it for us. Surely humans are better than that.

From the World Economic Forum via The Exponential View, this article explores the rise in artificial intelligence, with WEC research highlighting the opportunities available, but also the widening gaps between those prepared and those not. Education is emphasised, asking how we can on the one hand embrace this technology and on the other create inclusive opportunities for all. Dynamic life-long learning, taking action, experimentation, collaboration, being open-minded and curious are foremost among the skills needed to thrive.

To side-step a little and conclude this week, from our ‘Robots are taking our jobs’ desk we have two pieces of research. The first discusses the effects of robots on individuals and employment generally in Germany, an economy with many more robots per 1000 workers than elsewhere in Europe or the United States. Briefly, robots have had a significant negative impact on employment in certain industries, particularly automotive manufacturing. Robots have not (yet) affected employment as a whole, but there are challenges.

The second is from https://ark-invest.com, and looks at industrial robot cost decline. The average robot manufacturing unit will soon cost about US$11,000 each, down from US$120,000 20 years ago. Sales are expected to increase rapidly as costs continue to come down, and each robot will pay for itself in a matter of months – not good news for any worker in a repetitive manual role. 

Are teachers in schools having these conversations with our students? Are our students aware of the skill sets they are going to need? Do they have the opportunity to learn about and practice these skills in school? If not, why not, and how can we change that?

The research conducted and insights gained during the writing of this article have inspired the Indigo Schools Framework, the details of which can found in the Primer on our Resources Page. Send us an email at info@indigoschools.net or complete the form below if you’d like to learn more about how the Indigo Schools Framework can be successfully applied within your school. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Linkedin for our latest updates.

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