Students of Georgia Institute of Technology were played a huge prank recently by one of their professors. As Wall Street Journal reported, Ashok Goel, a computer science faculty recruited a teaching assistant named “Jill Watson,” an AI-powered robot who did regular TA work, like reminding due dates to students and answering their questions via emails since January. This was one of the best examples of the Turing test in recent times.
Few months ago, a student named Eric Wilson sent her a message pleading to revise an assignment. Just after 13 minutes, she replied, “Unfortunately, there is not a way to edit submitted feedback.”
And, you know what? Last week he found out that the person who he was seeking assistance from, was actually a robot.
Powered by IBM Corp.’s Watson analytics system, Ms. Watson replied students saying “Yep!” and “we’d love to,” while speaking on behalf of her fellow TAs. Surprisingly, IBM, the company constantly looking out for new PR opportunities wasn’t directly involved in this project. The Georgia Tech researchers trained the bot. Also, they told that you shouldn’t confuse it with the customer-service chatbots, noting that Ms. Watson only replies if she is at least 97% confident about the answer.
“Most chatbots operate at the level of a novice,” said Mr. Goel. “Jill operates at the level of an expert.”
Being far away from the robot from “Ex Machina,” Ms.Watson is still just as exciting, according to Mr. Goel. He is already planning to tell his students that next year they will get a robot as their TA but the name will be unannounced.
This is quite exciting as well as terrifying. While it’s easy to sneak an AI-powered robot into a critical educational email system, it’s also possible that this will start happening all over the places. This incident intends that the future is not so far when humans will be ruled by the robots.