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Monday, 23 September 2019

Is China’s race to lead AI bringing Big Brother to the classroom?

Is China’s race to lead AI bringing Big Brother to the classroom? A multi-bn USD project in China constitutes one of the world’s biggest experiments in AI education, but the bid to boost the grades of 200 mn students comes at a high cost, this Wall Street Journal video suggests (watch, runtime: 05:43). Among several high-tech initiatives, the daily use of a brainwave-sensing gadget on groups of children aged around 10 is one of the most controversial. The device picks up on electrical signals sent by neurons in the brain, and feeds this data to a computer, where it is intended to assess the attentiveness of each student.

It generates powerful algorithms, but the data may not be fully reliable: Neuroscientists have expressed concern at this measurement — electroencephalography (EEG) — being used in a classroom. Not only is it notoriously susceptible to false readings, but there are likely no privacy protections in place for the students, and, with their every brainwave under scrutiny, many are feeling additional pressure. Teachers, however, say that ultimately the students are more attentive during class and achieve higher grades as a result.

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