Future of Education is AI + Teachers + Blockchain
George Washington University
13 Nov 2018
Introduction - The AI Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Age has arrived with apocalyptic prophesies by eminent
scientists and Hollywood blockbusters of Matrix-like virtual worlds, Terminator and
Lucy - inspired scary scenarios, the paranoia that AI will replace human beings, the
arrival of cyborgs, a comeback by authoritarianism; and the age Singularity, wherein
machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence.
Regrettably, educationists have a binary view on the introduction of AI in
education: AI will replace teachers, vs AI can never replace teachers. This attitude has
generated a lot of hype, hope and fear. I will argue that, the future in education is AI
plus teachers.
Our objective of eliminating poverty by equal access to quality education, is still
a pipe-dream. The world is short of 20 million primary and secondary teachers. We
will need another 48.6 million by 2027 due to retirement and other reasons.
Only AI can fill the gap.
Education in most countries is “completely broken”, as it continues to be
teacher-centric and content-driven. The challenge is becoming increasingly daunting,
because humans will not be able to compete with computers and algorithms. If we do
not change the education system, we shall be in a dire situation. People will be hired
not for the knowledge they have, but what they can do with that knowledge. With lack
of creativity and competencies to re-skill themselves continuously, large sections of
society will be socially disadvantaged, emotionally challenged and unemployable.
Consequently, they will have no economic and political value.
I believe that future competition will not be between competing political
ideologies and competing economic systems, but between competing education
systems. The individual, and the nation that has the better education system is the
one that will succeed and flourish.
Our vision is to harness the positive power of Human Intelligence,
Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, by providing a level playing field to both
the privileged and the less-privileged, through quality and affordable education:
for any person, of any age, anywhere, anytime, at the click of a mobile phone.
I am here to share this vision with you. I also urge you to join me in making it
Artificial Intelligence will usher in a radical revolution in school education - it will
help us to outsmart computers and algorithms! For the past 1000 years, education has
been controlling the outer world. Now for the first time, Artificial Intelligence will enable
us to access the inner world, and reconnect us with our emotions, feelings and
thoughts; and in the process to expand our consciousness. With such emotional and
spiritual strengths, we shall be able to challenge the probability of Singularity.
New Realities in Education 4.0
The new realities in Education 4.0 are staring us in the face.
Thus far, education in the past has focused on controlling the outer world; and
hence the emphasis on science and math and consuming nature. This is changing. AI
now enables us to access the inner world - our consciousness, emotions, feelings,
thoughts and apprehensions.
Innovation is the #1 leadership and spiritual competency. To succeed, in the
past millennium we relied on a combination of analytical and emotional intelligences,
based on knowledge and past experiences. In the 4th Industrial Age we need a new
type of intelligence - innovative intelligence to succeed and be competitive.
This intelligence will enable us to:
Reinvent ourselves continuously because of the obsolescence of
knowledge, of jobs and technology.
Gain insight into problems we yet do not know.
Operate through uncertainties, ambiguities and complexities.
Work collaboratively as teams to first define and then solve problems
creatively, and figure out new possibilities of doing things.
Purpose of Education
Ever since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1439, education has
been, and regrettably continues to focus on understanding and sharpening the human
brain. We need a new purpose for education that addresses the head, the heart and
the mind. The brain and the mind are not the same, nor are their functions.
The brain is a physical organ containing 100 billion neurons or nerve cells, with
each neuron connected to about 10,000 other neurons which communicate through
synapses that are communication channels. It is the central processing unit of the
human body. The mind, on the other hand, goes beyond the brain and is associated
with our feelings, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, imagination; and above all,
consciousness or awareness of oneself. This is the domain, wherein, machine
intelligence cannot compete with human beings!
The purpose of education should be to educate both the heart and the mind
and not the brain alone, in order to prepare a child to be a lifelong learner, to give
meaning to life, and unlock her human potential to succeed in a VUCA world.
Where self-actualization, purpose, meaning, vision and values will be the
new model for educating the heart and the mind - the inner world.
Where innovation will unlock the child’s potential.
Where man will need to reinvent and reskill himself continuously.
Where habits of excellence and competencies for innovation will be the
Rise of Man-Machine Teams
Thus far, for five millenniums, the delivery of learning in schools has been the
sole responsibility of the teacher - a one person show. The trajectory of learning has
been binary - either teachers or AI; with nothing in between. This has already been
changed. Talent now resides in man-machine teams and not in the individual any
The education system of the previous Industrial Ages was directed towards
teacher-centric learning, namely, the teacher teaching X number of students in a
classroom. We now know for certain that this is an inefficient method for learning, as
the teacher is no longer the sole repository of knowledge. Regrettably, this model is
still prevalent in most schools of the world even today.
The second model is one-to one tutoring which is a variation of teacher-centric
The third model aims at student-autonomy in learning, and is, therefore,
student-centric, whereby the responsibility for learning shifts from teachers to
students. This is not an alternative because of the demands of high levels of student
motivation, and the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge which only a teacher would
be able to manage.
The fourth model advocates is machine learning where teachers are replaced
by inspirational robots that read the emotions and facial expressions of students, and
adjust their teaching accordingly. Technologically this may be feasible in the future,
but humans will always have a distinct edge in educating the heart and the mind.
Future teaching and learning will be done collaboratively by Man-Machine
teams, a close partnership between humans and AI. In this partnership, teachers will
be learning companions to students and robots. This collaborative model is founded
on the scientific belief that, in the 21st century, talent resides in the team and not in
individuals any longer. It is based on the close partnership between humans and AI,
resulting in super-human performance. Call it humanistic AI.
Research and findings in detection of metastatic breast cancer in biopsies
bears testimony to this phenomenon.
We are now looking at a future in which man and machine work together as
partners rather than competitors.
Humanity AI Model for Teaching
Nearly 95% of a teacher’s time is taken up in:
Preparation and delivery of content
Formative and summative assignment
Record-keeping tasks
Additional school responsibilities
This leaves no time or talent to teach the child and personalize learning. With
robots (AI) taking over repetitive traditional tasks of the teacher, she can now devote
all her time to the child.
The humanistic AI model of learning - Teacher, Student and Robot, is shown
Blockchain and Credentialing
Blockchain and credentialing play a key role in the success of the humanistic
AI model. The two are inseparable as they provide easy access to quality education,
as well as bestowing a level playing field for children of the haves and have-nots.
The introduction of blockchain in 2008 has unlocked the potential of the Internet
- from Internet of Information and IOT, to Internet of Value, for both personal and
professional advantages. The Internet of Value will trigger new innovation in reskilling
human beings, providing financial inclusion to billions of people who are left out of the
structured financial system, compelling people to be innovative; and exchanging
assets of value with others - from stocks, to frequent flyer points, to intellectual
Blockchain and Credentialing are part of the AI package in education - they are
force-multipliers - they empower AI. Blockchain is rich in data that cannot be altered,
and enables AI to create algorithms, make predictions, discover patterns, and develop
The introduction of blockchain in schools will be revolutionary, as less-
privileged children will be the greatest beneficiaries. People don’t care what your
achievements are. They want to know what you have done with your achievements.
Presently, blockchain and credentialing support services in India and
developing countries is woefully deficient and unaffordable for the less privileged.
WES and Credly blockchain ONLY in education, not citizenship,
reskilling competencies and identity.
One time storage uploading is $160, whereas the less-privileged Indian
family income is below $140 per month.
Companies and schools will boost their performance when machines and
humans work together as allies; and not as competitors, thereby taking advantage of
each other’s complementary strengths.
The glue that will bind the man-machine team is Blockchain, Credentialing, VR
and AR. Without them, the benefits of AI and human teachers will elude us, so will
Consequently, the future of education is AI, plus teachers, plus blockchain -
the emerging man-machine teams that will make a difference in
21st century
education. In one stroke, it will cut the Gordian knot of personalization, a critical aspect
of education we have not been able to crack so far. Only then will teachers become
Schools of Future will be schools of innovation. The new paradigm will be
education of the heart and the mind, and not the head alone - the grand strategy to
expand human consciousness, and combat the probability of singularity.
We have the: