Inquire Biology: A Textbook that Answers Questions

AI Magazine

Inquire Biology is a prototype of a new kind of intelligent textbook — one that answers students’ questions, engages their interest, and improves their understanding. Inquire Biology provides unique capabilities via a knowledge representation that captures conceptual knowledge from the textbook and uses inference procedures to answer students’ questions. Students ask questions by typing free-form natural language queries or by selecting passages of text. The system then attempts to answer the question and also generates suggested questions related to the query or selection. The questions supported by the system were chosen to be educationally useful, for example: what is the structure of X? compare X and Y? how does X relate to Y? In user studies, students found this question-answering capability to be extremely useful while reading and while doing problem solving. In an initial controlled experiment, community college students using the Inquire Biology prototype outperformed students using either a hardcopy or conventional E-book version of the same biology textbook. While additional research is needed to fully develop Inquire Biology, the initial prototype clearly demonstrates the promise of applying knowledge representation and question-answering technology to electronic textbooks.


Amazon rolls out Inspire, a free online education service for teachers

ZDNet

Amazon capped off its slow march into the education technology market on Monday with the official announcement for Inspire, an online portal where teachers and other educators can share resources for digital learning. Inspire includes features such as search, discovery and peer reviews on thousands of education materials. It's aim is to provide educators access to upload and share free digital teaching resources, which could help improve instruction and student learning outcomes, the company said. The platform is also open to publishers and other content providers who wish to contribute to the service. For instance, the U.S. Department of Education will provide information from its College Scorecard service, while the Folger Shakespeare Library is offering access to instructional texts about Shakespeare's plays.


MIT, White House co-sponsor workshop on big-data privacy

AITopics Original Links

On Monday, MIT hosted a daylong workshop on big data and privacy, co-sponsored by the White House as part of a 90-day review of data privacy policy that President Barack Obama announced in a Jan. 17 speech on U.S. intelligence gathering. White House Counselor John Podesta, grounded by snow in Washington, delivered his keynote address and took questions over the phone. But Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was on hand, as were MIT President L. Rafael Reif and a host of computer scientists from MIT, Harvard University, and Microsoft Research, who spoke about the technical challenges of protecting privacy in big data sets. In his brief opening remarks, Reif mentioned the promise of big data and the difficulties that managing it responsibly poses, and he offered the example of MIT's online-learning initiative, MITx, to illustrate both. "We want to study the huge quantities of data about how MITx students interact with our digital courses," he said.


IZA World of Labor - Who owns the robots rules the world

#artificialintelligence

The 2012 publication Race against the Machine makes the case that the digitalization of work activities is proceeding so rapidly as to cause dislocations in the job market beyond anything previously experienced [1]. Unlike past mechanization/automation, which affected lower-skill blue-collar and white-collar work, today's information technology affects workers high in the education and skill distribution. Machines can substitute for brains as well as brawn. On one estimate, about 47% of total US employment is at risk of computerization [2]. If you doubt whether a robot or some other machine equipped with digital intelligence connected to the internet could outdo you or me in our work in the foreseeable future, consider news reports about an IBM program to "create" new food dishes (chefs beware), the battle between anesthesiologists and computer programs/robots that do their job much cheaper, and the coming version of Watson ("twice as powerful as the original") based on computers connected over the internet via IBM's Cloud [3].


IZA World of Labor - Who owns the robots rules the world

#artificialintelligence

The 2012 publication Race against the Machine makes the case that the digitalization of work activities is proceeding so rapidly as to cause dislocations in the job market beyond anything previously experienced [1]. Unlike past mechanization/automation, which affected lower-skill blue-collar and white-collar work, today's information technology affects workers high in the education and skill distribution. Machines can substitute for brains as well as brawn. On one estimate, about 47% of total US employment is at risk of computerization [2]. If you doubt whether a robot or some other machine equipped with digital intelligence connected to the internet could outdo you or me in our work in the foreseeable future, consider news reports about an IBM program to "create" new food dishes (chefs beware), the battle between anesthesiologists and computer programs/robots that do their job much cheaper, and the coming version of Watson ("twice as powerful as the original") based on computers connected over the internet via IBM's Cloud [3].