Artificial intelligence (AI) may not be advanced enough to replace teachers now, but according to Bill Gates, that time is not far off.
“The AIs will get to that ability to be as good a tutor as any human ever could,” the Microsoft co-founder said at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego on April 18.
“We have enough sample sets of those things being done well that the training can be done,” he added. “So, I’d say that is a very worthwhile milestone, is to engage in a dialogue where you’re helping to understand what they’re missing. And we’re not that far.”
Gates’ comments came within the context of a larger conversation about the future role of technology in education with Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning.
“AI has, ever since the focus became machine learning, it’s achieved some unbelievable milestones,” Gates told Woolley-Wilson. “You know, it can listen to speech and recognize speech better than humans. It can recognize images and videos better than humans. The area that it was essentially useless in was in reading and writing. You could not take, say, a biology textbook and read it and pass the AP exam.”
However, Gates noted that, where previous iterations of AI were incapable of replicating human understanding, emerging systems, like Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s GPT-4, had begun to bridge the gap.
“The breakthrough we have now, which is very recent, is more to do with reading and writing—this incredible fluency to say, ‘Write a letter … like Einstein or Shakespeare would have written this thing,’ and to be at least 80 percent of the time very stunned by it.”
Threat to Humanity
In truth, industry experts have not only been stunned but, in many cases, unnerved by recent advancements in the evolution of AI, fearing the ripple effects of such technology on society.
“AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs,” warns a March 22 letter that has more than 27,500 signatures, with dozens of AI experts among them.