The Machines Are Learning, and So Are the Students – The New York Times

Riiid claims students can increase their scores by 20 percent or more with just 20 hours of study. It has already incorporated machine-learning algorithms into its program to prepare students for English-language proficiency tests and has introduced test prep programs for the SAT. It expects to enter the United States in 2020.

Still more transformational applications are being developed that could revolutionize education altogether. Acuitus, a Silicon Valley start-up, has drawn on lessons learned over the past 50 years in education cognitive psychology, social psychology, computer science, linguistics and artificial intelligence to create a digital tutor that it claims can train experts in months rather than years.

Acuituss system was originally funded by the Defense Departments Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for training Navy information technology specialists. John Newkirk, the companys co-founder and chief executive, said Acuitus focused on teaching concepts and understanding.

The company has taught nearly 1,000 students with its course on information technology and is in the prototype stage for a system that will teach algebra. Dr. Newkirk said the underlying A.I. technology was content-agnostic and could be used to teach the full range of STEM subjects.

Dr. Newkirk likens A.I.-powered education today to the Wright brothers early exhibition flights proof that it can be done, but far from what it will be a decade or two from now.

The world will still need schools, classrooms and teachers to motivate students and to teach social skills, teamwork and soft subjects like art, music and sports. The challenge for A.I.-aided learning, some people say, is not the technology, but bureaucratic barriers that protect the status quo.

There are gatekeepers at every step, said Dr. Sejnowski, who together with Barbara Oakley, a computer-science engineer at Michigans Oakland University, created a massive open online course, or MOOC, called Learning How to Learn.

He said that by using machine-learning systems and the internet, new education technology would bypass the gatekeepers and go directly to students in their homes. Parents are figuring out that they can get much better educational lessons for their kids through the internet than theyre getting at school, he said.

Craig S. Smith is a former correspondent for The Times and hosts the podcast Eye on A.I.

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The Machines Are Learning, and So Are the Students - The New York Times

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