The Edtech Podcast: what is AI?

#94: on AI and what it has got to do with teachers and students

What’s in this episode?

With global leaders tweeting about artificial intelligence (AI) as the next arms race, and forecasts predicting the near-term decimation of existing jobs markets due to artificial intelligence and automation, episode 2 is a great time to explore the question, ‘what is AI and what has it got to do with me and my students?’

What AI is and is not. The difference between narrow AI, general AI and super-intelligence. What type of AI is used now in education, and which AI do people fear, which may never exist? How do students and teachers already use AI to their advantage? Thinking about AI in the context of past educational tools, including the pocket calculator and printed encyclopedia. What questions might teachers want to use when thinking about AI in education? 


Sophie Bailey  

Sophie is the founder and presenter of the iTunes new and noteworthy, The Edtech Podcast. The mission of The Edtech Podcast is to improve the dialogue between ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ for better innovation, through storytelling. The podcast is downloaded 1500+ times a week, from up to 109 countries with the UK, US & Aus in the top three. Sophie is a mentor and advisor within the edtech community. If she’s not interviewing a university lecturer, school leader, ex-Angry Bird, NGO, or investor about education innovation, she’s chasing her three-year-old around the park or binge-reading Homo Deus.

Twitter: @podcastedtech

Denis Hurley

Denis Hurley leads the global Future Technologies program within the Advanced Computing and Data Science Lab (“The Lab”) at Pearson. The Lab applies advanced computing and data science to create innovative software capabilities, processes, and frameworks that improve Person’s digital products, advance digital ways of working, and change how we approach digital education. The Future Technologies program is a pan-Pearson, cross-disciplinary, collaborative community of hundreds of colleagues, that has completed over 40 prototypes and roundtable discussions.


Stephen Wolfram

Stephen Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language; the author of A New Kind of Science; and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. Over the course of nearly four decades, he has been a pioneer in the development and application of computational thinking—and has been responsible for many discoveries, inventions and innovations in science, technology and business.

Murray Shanahan 

Murray Shanahan is Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London and a Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind. He works on artificial intelligence, neurodynamics, and philosophy of mind. Educated at Imperial College and Cambridge University (King’s College), he became a full professor at Imperial in 2006, and joined DeepMind in 2017. He was scientific advisor to the film Ex Machina, and regularly appears in the media to comment on artificial intelligence and robotics. As well as many scientific papers, he has published several books, including Embodiment and the Inner Life (Oxford University Press, 2010) and The Technological Singularity (MIT Press, 2015).

Peter Foltz 

Dr. Peter Foltz is Vice President in Pearson’s Advanced Computing and Data Sciences Laboratory and Research Professor at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Cognitive Science.  His work covers reading comprehension and writing skills, 21st Century skills learning, large-scale data analytics, artificial intelligence, and uses of machine learning and natural language processing for educational and clinical assessments.  Much of his work has focused on techniques for automatically analyzing the meaning of language through writing and speaking. The approaches are used for assessing abilities, for providing feedback, and for understanding underlying cognitive mechanisms in the brain.  The methods he has pioneered are used by millions of students annually to improve student achievement, expand student access, and make learning materials more affordable. 

For full references and further reading for this episode, don’t forget to visit The Edtech Podcast here.

Tell us your story

We’d love to hear about innovative technology or approaches you are developing or using in education. Leave your stories in the comments below. Alternately, record a quick free voicemail via speakpipe for inclusion in the next episode. Finally, you can post your thoughts or follow-on links via twitter @podcastedtech @denishurley or via The Edtech Podcast Facebook page.