Economies across the world are set to go through an AI transformation that will come to dominate many industries. Contrary to perception that the transformation will put many of us out of jobs, this will create a lot of jobs. But to ensure that we do not become redundant in doing those jobs, we need to ensure we reskill the current talent pool.
Education and learning ecosystems need to play a big role in filling the gap. We must debunk the notion that technological innovation is a challenge to people’s jobs. According to Gartner, AI will automate 1.8 million jobs and create 2.3 million — a net increase of 500,000. A World Economic Forum report estimates AI could create 58 million net new jobs by 2022.
If students aren’t upskilled in AI, some may find their skills obsolete for the next century. As AI expands, so will related job positions. Future jobs in AI have the potential to uplift entire communities including underdeveloped and underserved communities.
Emergence of Cloud and Data Science
As Cloud and data science matures and continue to make a significant impact on society, we would see required introductory courses in these subjects enter standard curriculum. People talk about the potential impact of AI, but less so about how it works. By educating students and existing workforce on artificial intelligence, we will demystify technology and drive less fearful, more productive dialogue on its impact.
With global lockdowns, many schools and universities transitioned to online course delivery and operations almost immediately. But this need of transition to online learning due to Covid-19 has exposed significant gaps in education supply chain. The answer to that too lies with AI. While there have been many technological advancements in the past decade, the education industry has been slower to adapt. With the right level of support from tech giants, government and willingness of education industry to invest can allow the quick adoption of cloud to conduct and process tuitions, evaluations and entrance examinations. Government and social sector interventions can help ensure the percolation of AI is egalitarian.
Even the niche yet growing edutech sector saw a surge in scale and responded with broader services and offerings. The market for AI tutoring has been projected to reach nearly $120 billion by 2021.
AI is changing how we learn and comprehend. Traditionally we have seen numerous barriers prevent education from reaching its full potential: money, space, availability, affordability and accessibility, among others.
AI offers a promising solution by solving most of these issues as it offers personalised education on an unmatched scale. For now it’s only available to a fortunate few. In that sense it is widening the learning gap which needs to be addressed through social interventions.
How can AI help us?
With AI powered Education Apps and smart content ranging from mathematics, arts, science to writing, AI systems can address specific learning needs of students and provide individualised and efficient feedback in addition to adaptive behavioural analytics with positive and data-driven learning experience.
Stanford’s 100 Year Study on Artificial Intelligence says: “This development will facilitate more customisable approaches to learning, in which students can learn at their own pace using educational techniques that work best for them.”
If we can combine AI with virtual reality (VR), it can make the classroom feel out of this world. Platforms like ClassVR offer technology allowing students to interact, gesture control etc. This helps in raising engagement and knowledge retention for students of all ages.
AI and Machine Leaning (ML) tools combined with Digital Assistants can help establish global classrooms to overcome the barrier of language used for education delivery or for that matter for cater to those with visual or hearing impairments. Today, Presentation Translator (or other tools like Google Translator) provides a free plug-in for PowerPoint that creates subtitles in real time for what the teacher is saying.
This also opens up possibilities of converting niche courses to On-demand for students who might not be able to attend school due to illness or who require learning at a different level or on a particular subject that isn’t available in their own school or geography.
AI can drive personalization, efficiency for knowledge dispensation, and streamline associated admin tasks to allow teachers the much-required time to provide understanding and tool for adapting lessons for unique human capabilities where machines would struggle.
It can also help teachers. Teachers spend hours grading. AI can automate the grading process allowing teachers to spend more time with their students and focus on actual learning and practical knowledge. According to a report by UNESCO, roughly 60,000 schools in China have implemented an essay-grading machine that matches humans 92% of the time.
But for all this to work we need to ensure AI is implemented ethically with unbiased algorithms. AI technology can’t ever replace an in-person instructor with a full spectrum of emotions. Not for young children at least. As the power of AI, VR, AR and Cloud is growing exponentially, it’s important to leverage it ethically for good, not just for efficiency and scale. It will be important for educators and policymakers to explore the intersection of education and artificial intelligence.
As AI educational solutions continue to mature, it can help fill needs gaps in learning and teaching and allow schools and teachers to stretch the boundaries of what was thought to be possible in education.