Is learning on a road to 0 budget and free for all?

On my travels, I often listen to podcasts and audiobooks. This week I was listening to an interview with Peter Diamandis on the Foundr Podcast. He mentioned that artificial intelligence would eventually make education and healthcare free over time and available to all. The comment sort of stuck in my mind and I started wondering if this could potentially be true?

In our current systems both corporate and governments in most developed worlds, education and learning is big business. It isn’t always the most lucrative of industries, but it still means lots of money floats from providers to schools and companies to provide tools to their students and employees.

One of my favourite gamified language learning apps Duolingo made the promise years ago to provide language learning free of charge and they set up their model in that way. Massive open online courses are being provided often for free by many leading universities, it is only if you want the certification that you actually pay on some. Gamification for learning is often seen as a nice add-on and most companies want it to be as democratically priced as possible and yet at the same time bespoke for the end-user.

From a business perspective, it is a bit of a worrying trend. Now he did say artificial intelligence (AI) being critical to the success of this approach.

In my view, it will take a while and I see a similar trend appearing as in games, where you have a free to play model and a pay to play model. At the moment AI is still developing and whilst innovation in this space is rapid, it is also not yet fully effective. In any case, someone will always need to train the algorithms for them to improve and come up with responses that are desirable. I do think it is only a matter of time before they will prove to be as good at recommending and adapting learning to us as a teacher or trainer is today.

In a capitalist world with venture capital behind most of the companies working in the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, I don’t think totally free works in that space. But I also believe that education should be accessible to all children globally to give them a chance to make the most of their talents. Our current delivery system does need changing and improving, so part of me welcomes this. I think personalisation and adaptive technology at an individual level will be key to have people learn what they actually want to learn and to the best level of their ability.

In my view, learning will remain a combination model with free to play and pay to play solutions. I think school structures, on the other hand, were built to accommodate the industrial age style working during a specific time frame in a mass production style. I think this is where we will see most of the change, mostly from parents taking their children into homeschooling or online/tablet and real-world schooling more appropriate to the needs of their children. Currently, this is not available to all and often a question of access to money, but that is where I think AI will help in creating democratic solutions accessible to more people.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this?


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