Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots can greatly assist children with reading and writing and perform as well as any human teacher.
The billionaire philanthropist made the remarks in his keynote speech at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego. According to him, AI tools will be able to assist children in learning to read and write within 18 months.
“The AI’s will get to that ability, to be as good a tutor as any human ever could,” Gates said.
While there are diverse opinions on the latest AI tools, Gates sees only the upside of the technology. He said, “At first, we’ll be most stunned by how it helps with reading — being a reading research assistant — and giving you feedback on writing.”
This will be possible because AI chatbots can now recognize and replicate human-like language, which gives them “incredible fluency at being able to read and write.” They can use that to teach students how to improve their reading and writing.
Bill Gates says A.I. chatbots will teach kids to read within 18 months: "You’ll be ‘stunned by how it helps.’
"The AI’s will get to that ability, to be as good a tutor as any human ever could."
It’s a new beginning of the education system. pic.twitter.com/AfVtpalxpW
— Lorenzo Green 〰️ (@mrgreen) April 25, 2023
With such abilities, Gates believes private tutoring could become more accessible to students who cannot afford it. This would be cheaper than one-on-one human tutors and should be a leveler.
“Because having access to a tutor is too expensive for most students — especially having that tutor adapt and remember everything that you’ve done and look across your entire body of work.”
AI’s have mathematics potential
Gates also believes chatbots can get better at maths over time. While generative AI has excelled with written content, they struggle at maths. This is because doing so will require not just relying on solutions in the datasets the AI is trained on but calculating the solutions.
Current AI technologies do not have the reasoning capabilities for this yet. But Gates believes that could change in the next two years.
The Microsoft founder’s statement confirms him as one of the believers in the transformative powers of AI. His company has already invested billions into OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, while Microsoft Bing search engine has already integrated the chatbot.
Can AI take the role of tutors?
However, not everyone is optimistic about the abilities of AI. On Twitter, one user responded to Gates’ claims by saying, “Bill Gates is dumber than you think. So are the AI teacher-bots he’s pushing. AI will make kids dumber than you could imagine.”
Last month, thousands of academics, tech CEOs, and individuals signed an open letter calling for a moratorium on further AI developments.
Some academics have also warned that there is plenty of room for growth before AI tools can take on the role of tutors.
Whatever the prevailing opinion, there are signs that AI technology has a future as a tutor. Popular language learning app Duolingo recently integrated Chat-GPT into its product for Duolingo Max.
According to the company, this enables users to role-play their language learning in conversations with a responsive and interactive chatbot and receive feedback and tips that will help their future conversations.