According to the Financial Times, Pablo Picasso once said, "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." Unfortunately for us, computers may now be asking more questions than they answer. As a result, the possibilities are rather overwhelming, with answers more ambiguous and uncertain than straightforward. Similarly, we might ask ourselves where we draw the line when it comes to what we find ethically acceptable in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) as it relates to composition/creation in the worlds of art, writing, performing arts and music--as well as liberal arts education.
In this article, we describe a deployed educational technology application: the Criterion Online Essay Evaluation Service, a web-based system that provides automated scoring and evaluation of student essays. Criterion has two complementary applications: (1) CritiqueWriting Analysis Tools, a suite of programs that detect errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, that identify discourse elements in the essay, and that recognize potentially undesirable elements of style, and (2) e-rater version 2.0, an automated essay scoring system. Critique and e-rater provide students with feedback that is specific to their writing in order to help them improve their writing skills and is intended to be used under the instruction of a classroom teacher. All of these capabilities outperform baseline algorithms, and some of the tools agree with human judges in their evaluations as often as two judges agree with each other.
AI experts believe that computers will write as well as humans within the next 15 years. This means that any student will be able to input a poorly-written essay into a software program, which will analyze the text and reconstruct it as well-written, grammatically correct text. Since we use calculators as an extension of our minds, shouldn't we also use AI software to become better writers? This is not a hypothetical question. Across the world, teams of computer scientists are racing at a breakneck speed to construct advanced artificial intelligence that can automate thinking and writing.
Virtual patients are becoming a useful tool for medical students and a resource for medical schools. The obvious reality that students can make mistakes with no risk to the "patient" is part of the attraction to this technology. "Virtual patients allow students to learn without putting real patients at risk," said Norm Berman, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the lead author of a perspective piece recently published by the journal Academic Medicine. "No actual patients are harmed in the process of learning from virtual patients." The authors outlined the role of virtual patients in relation to the challenges and opportunities within medical education.
Yi Wang was hearing the same refrain over and over: Why are English classes in China so expensive? The former Google product manager decided to do something about it and started an app called LiuLiShuo, which basically means "speaking fluently" in Mandarin. The app, which claims more than 30 million users, is one of scores of English-learning startups looking to disrupt China's hidebound language schools. To differentiate itself from products started by Internet giants like Baidu and Tencent, LiuLiShuo brings gaming and social media features to the genre. Users win points when they move to the next level and text each other encouragement and tips.