IBM’s artificial intelligence system (Watson) has helped in analysing medical data in treating diseases like cancer in the past and not just that, it has been helping make some really good movie trailers too. Now though, they are extending Watson’s duties to the classroom. The New York Times (NYT) reports that “The idea was to build a personal adviser, so a teacher would be able to find the best lesson and then customize the lesson based upon their classroom needs,” said Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM Foundation.“By loading a massive amount of content, of teaching strategies, lesson plans, you’d actually make Watson the teacher coach,” Mr. Litow said. The Watson technology began as a platform designed to answer questions, as it did on “Jeopardy!,” but it has been broadened and adapted. Oncologists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City have trained it to analyze research and a patient’s medical history to suggest potential treatment options to doctors. Watson for Oncology is now being used at more than 20 medical centers in Asia.
Systems like Watson are able to pull together related subject across a wide database to assist teachers and children alike learn better. For teachers, they are able to prepare better tests for children and for children, the system is able to help them understand better how to apply the many formulas they are taught in today’s schools every day.
While today’s pupils and teachers have access to more information than they need, they are not able to make sense of them all which is where Watson could be useful. The bad side to the tons of data available to children is that it hasn’t produced better grades overall at least in Nigeria and some other nations I read about recently.
Seeing as this program for education at is being initiated by the IBM Foundation, NYT says it will be available for free teachers of third grade pupils in the United States. They also plan to extend this to other subjects and other grades in future.
In a related subject, I recently watched IBM CEO’s interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. In the interview Ginni Rometty predicted a good working relationship between humans and Watson without necessary taking the job from them. She went on to say, IBM was created to help humans analyse data which they can use to make informed decisions.