So far, around 30,000 students a month are using the solution, which is designed to assist Taiwan in its goal of becoming bilingual in Chinese and English by 2030. “We want to help our students quickly improve their English skills to compete with other countries,” says Howard Hao-Jan Chen, a professor of English at National Taiwan Normal University.
Early concerns about generative AI in education centered around the fear that students would cheat or miss key steps in their learning. However, Microsoft’s Bartley Johns cites the successful integration of calculators into mathematics education as evidence of the adaptation of learning and assessment methods. “There are a lot of positive opportunities here and I haven’t spoken to anyone in the education sector in Asia who thinks that Generative AI will not be used in universities and schools in the long term,” he says.
What future for generative AI?
These are the early days in the development of generative AI. Regulation is emerging across Asia. However, with great power comes community obligations. It is imperative that the public sector responsibly develop and implement generative AI, in ways that protect data privacy and security, and foster citizen trust.
The first question for governments is to what extent existing laws and regulations apply. The importance of AI operating within legal barriers was addressed by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a recent white paper on the national AI strategywhile the official of the Privacy Commissioner in New Zealand recently published useful guidance on how to comply with the privacy law when using generative AI. New issues could include requiring the public sector to provide basic transparency about the AI models it relies on. Partnering with trusted cloud service providers allows governments to leverage existing privacy and security architectures rather than starting from scratch.
Inclusion is the second key challenge for a technology heralded as a win-win in the world, which invites natural, conversational interaction when the nearest government service center may be hundreds of miles away. This starts with the expansion of mobile broadband connectivity, an area where governments in Asia have made progress, but wide disparities between urban and rural areas remain. The use of personal devices must also be democratized and expanded.
However, Microsoft’s Bartley Johns is optimistic about the transformative potential of generative AI as it’s placed in millions, and ultimately billions, of hands. « There’s a real leapfrog opportunity here, and that’s what we’re hearing from governments across Asia, » he says. « The core technologies are here today. »
This content was produced by Microsoft. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.