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Chatbots vs. Teachers: Gates claims that AI Chatbots could Replace Human Tutors in less that 18 months.
Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's Bard could become human-level tutors within the next 18 months, according to billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Gates believes AI chatbots will help children learn to read, write and improve their writing skills in ways that technology has never been able to before.
The chatbots have "incredible fluency at being able to read and write", which makes them useful for reading research and giving feedback on writing. Teaching writing skills to a computer has been challenging as it requires looking for narrative structure and clarity of prose, which has been tough to replicate in code. However, AI chatbots' ability to recognise and recreate human-like language could change that. "The AI's will get to that ability, to be as good a tutor as any human ever could", says Gates.
While there is excitement surrounding this technology, there is also debate around possible negative consequences. Some academics warn that the technology is not yet fully formed and can inadvertently introduce significant errors or misinformation. However, proponents say that AI chatbots' ability to summarise and offer feedback on text is impressive, and some are even able to write full essays themselves.
The technology has already been used to improve writing skills. New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose wrote last month that he used ChatGPT to improve his writing, using the AI's ability to quickly search through online style guides. Nonetheless, Gates believes the technology must improve at reading and recreating human language before it can become a viable tutor.
Although chatbots may struggle with mathematical calculations, Gates is confident that the technology will improve within the next two years. Private tutoring may become more affordable and accessible to a wide range of students who might otherwise be unable to afford it. Nonetheless, Gates notes that while ChatGPT and Bing have limited free versions, the former has introduced a subscription plan called ChatGPT Plus that costs $20 per month.
“This should be a leveler”, said Gates. “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.”