(SNews) – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has called for human teachers to be replaced with artificial intelligence-powered machines in schools across America, arguing that AI bots would make “great” educators.
Gates argues that AI teachers could ensure students get a better education in public schools because the bots would encourage children to “step up” their learning.
Specifically, AI chatbots will soon be able to offer helpful feedback on essays, including how to write with more clarity and make well-reasoned arguments, Gates said on his “Unconfuse Me” podcast.
He pitched the idea during a recent episode featuring Khan Academy CEO Sal Khan.
Replacing human teachers with machines would be a huge step for global education, Gates said.
He lamented that the software programs used by today’s teachers are “not that great” at teaching reading or writing skills.
However, by using AI-powered bots, schools could overcome the shortcomings of human teachers and their regular software programs, according to Gates.
“Very few students get feedback [from teachers] on an essay that ‘this could be clearer,’ ‘you really skipped this piece and the reasoning,’” Gates explains.
He continued by arguing that an AI would be more thorough in reviewing a student’s work and would encourage them to improve.
“I do think the AI will be like a great high school teacher who really marks your essay, and you go back and think, ‘OK, I need to step up there,’” he said.
Gates suggested that a single AI machine could replace several human teachers who are often overworked and don’t have the time to give individual students their attention.
Chatbots could be put to work around the clock and help “close the [education] gap” for low-income students around the world, he said.
For that to happen, however, the AI bots would need to first learn from human teachers before they can replace them, Gates admitted.
Nevertheless, Gates seemingly has a plan to overcome teachers’ concerns about being replaced by robots.
Gates explained that teachers would need to be convinced that the machines are not being trained to replace them.
Instead, he said that human teachers could be told that AI tutoring programs will need to incorporate feedback from them to learn how the technology can best “help them” do their jobs.
“When we bring new technology into the classroom, if we don’t do it well, the teacher feels like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to denigrate my creativity or freedom, or you’re suggesting I’m not capable on my own,’” Gates said.
The key would be to remind them that “we all know teachers are heroic, one of the most important, hardest jobs in the world.”
And while it may seem like a plan for the distant future, some AI tutors already exist, including one called Khanmigo that’s being developed by Khan Academy.
It’s powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool, which also fuels the AI integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The AI teacher can already “act like a fairly good human tutor,” Khan said.
The program shows an ability to walk students through the steps of solving math problems or other classroom lessons.
The chatbot has received some criticisms from human teachers, meanwhile.
The New York Times reported in June that some teachers have expressed concerns that the AI machine is too quick to provide students with answers, rather than helping them learn to solve problems themselves.
Khan Academy is also experimenting with using the tool to help facilitate student discussions.
The tool could potentially provide “an army of teaching assistants for every teacher,” Khan added.
The machine could then take the lead and teach students without needing the human, Khan explains.
The chatbot could, for example, help initiate and lead educational breakout sessions, guiding students through a discussion topic or difficult math problem.
“Let’s make them explain the math to each other,” Khan said.
He added that a goal of AI teaching bots should be to recreate the experience of “sitting with friends and working on a particularly hard problem.”