School & District Management Opinion

#AskAboutAI: Learning to See and Speak

By Tom Vander Ark — September 19, 2016 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This month, Stanford launched a 100 year study of AI (AI100) with a report: Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030. The 16 member study panel issuing the report sees increasingly useful applications of AI, with potentially profound positive impacts on our society and economy over the next decade.

The study identifies eight domains where AI is already having or is projected to have the greatest impact: transportation, healthcare, education, low-resource communities, public safety and security, employment and workplace, home/service robots and entertainment.

New to the subject of AI and its uses in education? Check out this Pearson video (and our review of their report):

Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring developments in these eight categories and the implications for employment and education. This series, #AskAboutAI, will encourage parents, teachers, mentors, and advisors to engage young people in a dialog about the emerging automation economy and the ethical and economic implications of artificial intelligence (AI).

Let’s start with public safety and a few emerging AI applications.

Speech, Sight, Safety & Security

Google’s AI artificial company DeepMind announced an app that generates human-like speech. Called WaveNet, it marks an advancement over existing speech synthesizers--and it can write pretty good classical music. We can hope that virtual AI assistants like Siri or Cortana get better soon.

DeepMind’s recently beat the world champion of the complex 19 layer game Go. Rather than programming solutions, the machine learning program plows through millions of games in minutes and teaches itself winning strategies. Check out this video for more on DeepMind:

Facial recognition also getting better. AI was used to judge a beauty contest (where it showed a preference for white western).

AI can even predict looks from DNA sequencing. Scientist Riccardo Sabatini says we have the power to read this code, predicting things like height, eye color, age — all from a vial of blood.

Using facial recognition and biometrics, AI can recognize human emotions which could prove useful in suicide prevention and aiding people on the autism spectrum.

The ability for smart machines to recognize faces and speech, and to carry on conversations raises some ethical and economic issues.

Call centers in Bangalore will close, replaced by boutiques in Boston that combine AI, brand managers, and creative content writers. Customer service workers will be replaced by roving robots.

Last month, we outlined seven other current application of AI in safety and security:

  • Detect and identify bad behaviors from good behaviors (Economic Times)
  • Predict a defendant’s future criminality (Propublica)
  • Quickly find security vulnerabilities (Defense One)
  • Detect security anomaly using machine vision (IBM)
  • Predictive models for crime to improve resource allocation (IBM)
  • Autonomous aerial and undersea warfighting (Nextgov)
  • Cruise missile guidance (Express)

Five big tech companies (Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft) are working on a standard of ethics for AI applications, even warfare. Let’s explore a couple of the questions they are likely to discuss.

Ethics & Economics of Recognition

Now that AI can recognize faces and cameras are everywhere, is there no assumption of privacy in public places? Are we all a Person of Interest where every move is tracked by smart machines?

Will pervasive surveillance make us safer? Or, as Thomas Ricks suggests, will AI and smart swarms profoundly upset security assumptions in modern cities?

What biases will AI surveillance learn? What kind of sanctioned profiling will this lead to? Could a court order tell a computer to unlearn a profile?

What job clusters will grow as foreign call centers are closed and replaced by smart chatbots? What new centers of expertise will form around AI, marketing, and customer service?

How will speech recognition and conversational AI change language acquisition--or the need for language acquisition?

These developments make it a good time to #AskAboutAI.

For more see:

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educator Stress, Anti-Racism, and Pandemic Response: How You're Feeling
A new nationally representative survey offers key takeaways from teachers, principals, and district leaders.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
2021 BI COVER no text DATA crop
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Download 8 Tips for Building a Digital Learning Plan That Conquers Chaos
Craft flexible strategies, encourage experimentation with new instructional models, and regularly solicit feedback.
1 min read
onsr edtech tips
School & District Management Opinion New Polling Shows the K-12 COVID Fights Aren’t Going Anywhere
Teachers, administrators, and school boards will continue to be squeezed between two angry, distrustful camps when it comes to COVID-19.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty