Can AI Replace Human Teachers?

Nowadays, people often discuss the possibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing humans in various roles. Undoubtedly, AI can solve numerous problems, but can a teacher be replaced by AI? Some believe that in a few years, most jobs will be performed by AI instead of humans. In the trend of AI development, it seems that everything can be done by AI. However, do people truly understand how AI works?

To determine if AI can replace teachers, we first need to understand its mechanism. Machine learning, a fundamental aspect of AI, operates based on statistical analysis, using existing data to generate results. There are two ways to draw general conclusions: induction and deduction. Today, the AI most people refer to uses induction to ‘think.’ While induction is useful, it can sometimes yield flawed results. A famous example illustrating this is Russell’s Turkey.

Once upon a time, there was a turkey living on a farm. Every morning, the farmer would come and feed the turkey. The turkey observed this behavior day after day. Eventually, the turkey concluded that he would be fed every morning, and his confidence in this prediction grew stronger with each passing day. On the day before Thanksgiving, the turkey was exceptionally confident that he would be fed as usual. However, to the turkey’s great surprise, instead of being fed, he was slaughtered. The story of Russell’s Turkey demonstrates the problem of inductive reasoning, which involves making generalizations based on limited observations. If the turkey does not understand the real reason for the farmer feeding him, his conclusion will always be wrong.

This story also highlights the limitations of current AI. While inductive AI has significantly changed our world, it still has a long way to go before achieving human-like deductive reasoning, as seen in science fiction. AI may replace non-creative jobs, but for roles such as teaching, I remain confident in human superiority. Before ChatGPT existed, there were already numerous math tools and calculators. If students were truly self-motivated, they could learn everything from the internet. However, even with Google, AI, and math calculators, these tools cannot understand what students don’t know and what they need to know. The most critical aspect of studying is identifying knowledge gaps and learning needs, something a supervisor or tutor excels at.

Some IB math students attempt to use ChatGPT to complete their IA projects. They ask ChatGPT for topic suggestions, but GPT can only provide general ideas. Since GPT relies on induction, it often recommends topics that are common and lack originality and creativity, which is not ideal for an IA project. Moreover, GPT cannot guide students through the next steps of their projects, such as mathematical modeling or identifying relevant math areas.

In conclusion, while AI has made significant strides, it cannot replace the nuanced, personalized guidance that human teachers provide. AI tools can supplement learning, but the critical thinking and tailored support of a teacher remain irreplaceable. If you are trying to find a math tutor, Vic Li Math may help!