I spent a bunch of time out and about in education circles this week. The buzz was of one thing. AI & Chat-GPT…and also Bard. The excitement across multiple industries is, no doubt, buzzing. For education, especially so. Watching teachers listening in to talks about AI, was akin to teens getting excited by the next K-Pop ban. For years, the promise of digital education has not been realised. Digital-as-a-channel for education is, of course, prominent with multiple online courses available across multiple platforms. But the mode and power of educational attainment have much further to go. The concept of AI in education is certainly not new, but it has completely smashed its way onto the scene. In Gates’ piece, The Age of AI has Begun, he summarises:
AI-driven software will finally deliver on the promise of revolutionizing the way people teach and learn. It will know your interests and your learning style so it can tailor content that will keep you engaged. It will measure your understanding, notice when you’re losing interest, and understand what kind of motivation you respond to. It will give immediate feedback. I know a lot of teachers are worried that students are using GPT to write their essays. Educators are already discussing ways to adapt to the new technology, and I suspect those conversations will continue for quite some time. I’ve heard about teachers who have found clever ways to incorporate the technology into their work—like by allowing students to use GPT to create a first draft that they have to personalize.
The way we learn and teach is evolving as the world changes, with technological advancements and global issues driving this shift. Education must adapt to become more accessible, personal and effective, and develop lifelong learners with problem-solving mindsets. In education, just as there exists Maslow's hierarchy of needs for life, a hierarchy of needs also exists. While some educators and leaders focus on building for the future, others are preoccupied with immediate challenges like student attendance or literacy. This nuanced, complex process will shape the future of education, rather than a single wave of change. And this has been part of the problem of the educational ecosystem. Additionally, perspectives on education's role vary significantly across different markets. Levelling up versus excelling on the world’s stage are very different problem sets.
These recent developments in AI are transforming the landscape of education, offering unparalleled benefits for both students and teachers. One of the most significant advantages is the ability of AI to personalise the learning experience for students by analyzing their strengths and weaknesses - real adaptive learning across multiple subjects in real-time. This enables the development of individualised study plans that cater to the specific needs of each student, promoting better academic outcomes - which is what education is all about. Additionally, AI facilitates real-time feedback and communication between students and teachers, enabling them to address learning difficulties at an earlier stage. The technology can also support the creation of intelligent tutoring systems that provide personalized guidance and support to students. Finally, AI can enable the creation of immersive learning experiences, such as virtual and augmented reality simulations, that enhance student engagement and understanding of complex concepts. As AI continues to revolutionise the education sector, it is clear that its impact will be felt for years to come. This is just the beginning and I’m sure we are soon to see the escalation of work that has been happening behind the scenes for years. That, and the upstarts who will see the opportunity for mass and scale change.
Google’s recent report on the Future of Education covered 9 key themes
The Rising Demand for Global Problem Solvers
Change in the skill sets required for work
Shift to a lifelong learning mindset
Making learning personal
Reimagining learning design
Elevating the teacher
Upgrading learning environments
Empowering educators with data
Re-evaluating student progress
These areas of focus are, in my mind, not controversial and will pave the path for the future. As technology evolves, the skills that students learn and will require will evolve. The OECD report on Education from 2018 talks about a new framework and a bunch of skills that will be important. Spoiler alert - soft skills will be the defining skills of the future ( not that hard skills aren’t). And it’s not just what we teach. It’s how we teach.
What this means is that the one on one model of education will become central, as long as we use technology appropriately. Once only available to those with financial means, services like tutoring, coaching, mentorship, and therapy can now be democratized through the use of AI. The 2 sigma problem, which found that students who received one-on-one teaching performed two standard deviations better than those in a traditional classroom, now has a solution through AI. AI can potentially act as a live tutor for anyone, with humans providing in-depth knowledge and emotional and behavioural support. Academic tool Numerade's AI tutor, Ace, can generate personalized study plans for students based on their skill levels. Additionally, AI can provide access to time-constrained experts and academic celebrities for all learners, regardless of their resources. This development is particularly beneficial for professions where mentorship and apprenticeship are crucial.
We may even see the reality of augmented reality becoming accessible for the masses. By 2050, the education system will have integrated adaptive learning systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI), providing personalised learning experiences that cater to individual learning styles. Adaptive assessments will adjust in real-time based on performance, and AI will be used to analyse students' work and predict future performance, helping teachers identify and assist students who need additional guidance. Students will receive immediate feedback and personalised tutoring tailored to their strengths and weaknesses. The use of AI and augmented reality will also facilitate more immersive and interactive learning experiences, particularly in STEM subjects, where students can virtually dissect the human brain, analyse chemical compounds, or make size comparisons of dinosaurs.
There will be more tools - and hopefully, educators will jump on the bandwagon.
Many educators argue that ChatGPT is a technology that should be integrated with learning and teaching, and that leveraging AI will be a crucial career skill in the future. To realize this, we’ll need to make a series of adjustments in the classroom and in how we assess classroom achievement—and make adjustments, just like we did when Wikipedia, calculators, the internet, personal laptops, and more came onto the scene and eventually became pivotal classroom technologies. We’re excited to see the emergence of both next generation tools that can help schools better assess student learning outcomes and award credentials, and AI-leveraging tools that can make teachers and students’ lives better and easier.
And yet some teachers and schools are banning the use of Chat-GPT and related AI technologies in school. It reminds me of this image - when teachers were protesting about the use of calculators at school:
Times are different, the technology is different but the premise is the same. Whether we are talking about education or the job you are in - it’s figuring out how to embrace technology rather than fight it. It’s not about whether we have Chat-GPT at school, it’s about how to give the GPT skills to the student for us at the right time.
There’s a piece I have linked to today about how technology will affect 300M jobs - but for me, it’s not about losing those jobs, but more how we reinvent and retrain the people within those jobs - how we upskill for a new age. That’s where embracing technology and education come in. Society and education are moving at pace. Get on the ride.
Stat Significant is a weekly newsletter featuring data-centric essays about culture, economics, sports, statistics, and more. Are Best Picture winners getting worse? Is Christmas season coming earlier? What is the dollar value of a yard in the NFL? Subscribe for free to find out!
Here are my recommendations for this week:
All the beauty and the brain damage of Gwyneth Paltrow’s surreal ski trial - Countersuing an optometrist for a ski slope collision is basically Gwyneth Paltrow’s White Lotus audition.
Hollywood, music industry brace for a TikTok ban - I see TikTok as the old days of free network TV. … Taking it away would go back to an era where we’re relying on legacy media brands and what Hollywood wants us to watch because they’re the only ones who can afford a marketing budget to find an audience. TikTok has allowed those who have traditionally been shut out of the media and entertainment industry a way to circumvent legacy gatekeepers and get a foot in the door.
A.I. Is Sucking the Entire Internet In. What If You Could Yank Some Back Out? - Over the coming years, A.I. companies will release even more advanced models that will remind us that this is just the beginning. At least one of these tools will be different in an important way: It will be prohibited from seeing 80 million of the images that helped teach its predecessors to draw and paint. If you think of A.I. image training sets as lesson plans and word-to-image tools like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion as college students, it’s kind of like saying that incoming freshmen are prohibited from taking one of the outgoing seniors’ core requirement classes.
The influencers getting rich by teaching you how to get rich - Kat Norton, better known as “Miss Excel,” who in 2020 began going viral for her high-energy, 15-second TikTok dances superimposed with hacks for navigating the popular data software program Microsoft Excel. Within months, she’d launched her very own digital class: the Excelerator Course, made up of 100 sub-10-minute video tutorials and packaged for the price of $297. Students can complete the tutorials and corresponding workbooks at their own pace, on their own time. They choose between the original or the advanced course (or shell out $997 for a course on the full Microsoft Office Suite), going from a total Excel newbie to a pro in just 12 hours.
BuzzFeed Is Quietly Publishing Whole AI-Generated Articles, Not Just Quizzes - These read like a proof of concept for replacing human writers.
A.I., Brain Scans and Cameras: The Spread of Police Surveillance Tech- A brain wave reader that can detect lies. Miniaturized cameras that sit inside vape pens and disposable coffee cups. Massive video cameras that zoom in more than a kilometer to capture faces and license plates. At a police conference in Dubai in March, new technologies for the security forces of the future were up for sale. Far from the eyes of the general public, the event provided a rare look at what tools are now available to law enforcement around the world: better and harder-to-detect surveillance, facial recognition software that automatically tracks individuals across cities and computers to break into phones.
Big tech and the pursuit of AI dominance - Barely four months after Chatgpt captured the world’s imagination, Microsoft and Google have introduced the new-look Bing, Bard and their ai-assisted productivity programs. Alphabet and Meta offer a tool which automatically generates an ad campaign based on the advertiser’s objectives, such as boosting sales or winning more customers. Microsoft is making Openai’s technology available to customers of its Azure cloud platform. It probably won’t be long before ai. Music and Credit Kudos pops up in Apple’s music-streaming service and its growing financial offering, or an Amazon chatbot will recommend purchases uncannily matched to shoppers’ desires. If the platform-shift thesis is correct, big tech could yet be upset by newcomers, rather than by an earlier generation of technology giants. The mass of resources that big tech is ploughing into the technology reflects a desire to remain not just relevant, but dominant. Whether or not they succeed, one thing is certain: these are just the modest beginnings of the ai revolution.
Cryptocurrencies add nothing useful to society, says chip-maker Nvidia - Tech chief says the development of chatbots is a more worthwhile use of processing power than crypto mining
OpenAI: the Next Tech Giant? - Plugins allow ChatGPT to browse the web and interact with services like Kayak and Instacart to perform tasks for users beyond just generating text. The news marks OpenAI’s definitive step out of the land of research and into a vastly ambitious and uncertain new world, competing to earn its place as perhaps the newest tech giant, alongside Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Also see: The Accidental Consumer Tech Company; ChatGPT, Meta, and Product-Market Fit; Aggregation and APIs
$335,000 Pay for ‘AI Whisperer’ Jobs Appears in Red-Hot Market - They’re called “prompt engineers,” people who spend their day coaxing the AI to produce better results and help companies train their workforce to harness the tools. Also see Generative AI set to affect 300 million jobs across major economies
Every day Refind picks 5 links from around the web that make you smarter and tailored to your interests. Loved by 100k+ curious minds. Sign up here for their free newsletter
If you enjoyed this edition of Box of Amazing, please share and help me grow this group. If you share it on Twitter or LinkedIn, please tag me so that I can thank you.