A solar system with as many planets as our own has been discovered with the help of Kepler space telescope powered with Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is one of the latest startling discoveries made possible last month. Driverless cars are a reality, so is intelligent personal assistant like Alexa that obeys your multiple commands. In educational field, adaptive learning makes education more engaging and personalized. The student-initiated learning environment, Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) and AI assisted educational diagnosis and assessment are shaping the educational scenario in a major way. (See the box for the ways AI is impacting education) AI has made some phenomenal growth in the last couple of years heralding era of data science, big data and emerging possibilities of ‘superintelligence’, a hypothetical agent having intelligence far surpassing most gifted human mind. AI seems to transform the world in a major way. But how much? How soon?And, where is it going? The truth, however, is that the field of AI is still evolving. Even experts have little clue understanding and mapping the progress across the field.

“Without the relevant data for reasoning about the state of AI technology, we are essentially “flying blind” in our conversations and decision-making related to AI.”

AI100, a group of leading AI thinkers from Stanford, decide to find a solution. They aimed at tracking the progress of AI as an emerging field. As a result, came about the AI Index 2017. The AI Index is an initiative to track, collate, distill and visualize data relating to artificial intelligence.

AI and technological progress

The inaugural annual report of AI Index 2017 published in November 2017 showcases the aggregated data and presents discussions and expert commentaries on key trends and ideas. AI Index looked at a number of measures of progress, including “volume of activity” and “technical performance”.“The goal of the AI Index is to provide a fact-based measuring stick against which we can chart progress and fuel a deeper conversation about the future of the field.”, said Prof. Yoav Shoham, Emeritus Faculty, Computer Science, Stanford and one of the moving spirits behind the Index.

Like UN development index or GDP (gross domestic product) the AI Index is supposed to provide a comprehensive baseline on the state of artificial intelligence and measure technological progress. The metrics in the index include evaluations of academic papers published, course enrollment, AI-related startups, job openings, search-term frequency and media mentions, among others. The Index tracks and measures minimum 18 independent vectors including academia, industry, open-source software and public interest among others. It also engages in technical assessments of progress toward “human-level performance” which covers areas like speech recognition, Q&A, algorithms to identify objects and activities in 2D images.

What has it achieved?

Consider the following facts about Artificial Intelligence (AI):

The number of active AI startups increased 14-fold since 2000.

Venture capital investment increased six times in the same period.

Publishing in AI has increased nine times in the last 20 years

Course enrollment in the introductory AI-related machine learning at Stanford has grown 45-fold in the last 30 years.

Some of the charts representing the technological progress are striking. For example, image and speech recognition programs seems to be matching, if not surpassing already, human capabilities in just the past couple of years. The authors note that AI systems have excelled in such real-world applications as object detection, the ability to understand and answer questions and classification of photographic images of skin cancer cells.

Will AI be a real game changer?

Wait and watch. Till then read the AI Index Report at https://aiindex.org/

How AI Impacts Education

Is a robotic teacher round the corner? Could AI-enhanced entities solve our most pervasive and systemic issues in education? We need to wait to get an answer for these questions. But AI is already impacting education in major ways. Some of them are enumerated below.

Adapting Assessment and Educational Support

AI has already made adaptive learning processes possible through assessment software, learning games and digital textbooks to individualize learning. These tools detect patterns, highlight and emphasize key areas where students need support. It also allows one-on-one focus on learning process as per individual needs.

Learning anywhere and at your own pace and way

AI powered MOOCs, online learning classes and blended class experiences offer benefit from customized, individualized learning environment making education available anywhere and as per learner’s choice.

Out of the Classroom Support

Through AI, tutoring and study programs are growing more advanced. Teaching fundamentals to students struggling with basic concepts is simple and personalized through AI.

Immersive Technology in the Classroom

AI has brought about exciting new opportunities in the form of immersive technology like Augmented Reality (AR) and Vitrtual Reality. Now learners are able to see and interact with the human body or a microscopic cell instead of just reading about it in a book transforming how students engage with the educational materials.

Automating educational Administration Tasks

streamline and improve tedious admissions processes by automating the process of paperwork and support for students with common admissions questions via chatbot and interactive website.

What is missing?

Having said that, the question remains if it can’t gauge sarcasm, identify jokes, or account for a million other pieces of cultural context that are crucial to understanding even the most casual conversation? No. The report acknowledges this and includes a critical open section on ‘what is missing’. Diversity and inclusion are two major areas among the missing aspects. The AI Index, in nut shell, is a reminder that we must be “woke” about the major switch that is taking place.