Bill Gates: AI will be teaching kids literacy within 18 months

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AI chatbots could be used to improve children’s reading and writing skills within the next 18 months, according to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

In a fireside chat at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego, Gates explained that the “AIs will get to that ability, to be as good a tutor as any human ever could.”

AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have developed rapidly in recent months and can now compete with human-level intelligence on some standardised tests.

Teaching writing skills has traditionally been difficult for computers, as they lack the cognitive ability to replicate human thought processes, Gates said. However, AI chatbots are able to recognise and recreate human-like language.

New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose has already used ChatGPT to improve his writing, using the AI’s ability to quickly search through online style guides. Some academics have also been impressed by chatbots’ ability to summarise and offer feedback on text or even to write full essays.

The technology must improve before it can become a viable tutor, and Gates said that AI must get better at reading and recreating human language to better motivate students.

While it may be surprising that chatbots are expected to excel at reading and writing before maths, the latter is often used to develop AI technology and chatbots have difficulties with mathematical calculations.

If a solved math equation already exists within the datasets that the chatbot is trained on, it can provide the answer. However, calculating its own solution is more complex and requires improved reasoning abilities, Gates explained.

Gates is confident that the technology will improve within the next two years and he believes that it could help make private tutoring available to a wide range of students who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

While some free versions of chatbots already exist, Gates expects that more advanced versions will be available for a fee, although he believes that they will be more affordable and accessible than one-on-one tutoring with a human instructor.

You can watch the full talk with Bill Gates below:

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