Volgens Bill Gates kunnen ‘chatbots’ het onderwijs veranderen

Bill Gates en staatssecretaris Sander Dekker (Onderwijs) bezoeken Stedelijk Museum, januari 2016. Foto ANP/Koen van Weel

Bill Gates is nooit uitgeleerd. Hij leest vijftig boeken per jaar. Ook denkt hij na over hoe technologie het onderwijs kan veranderen en leren toegankelijker maken.

In a new interview with The Verge, Microsoft cofounder and richest man in the world Bill Gates explained the potential for chatbots — programs you can text with like they’re human — in education.

Gates lauds the potential for what he calls “dialogue richness,” where an chatbot can really hold a conversation with a student, essentially making it into a tutor that can walk them through even the toughest, most subjective topics. 

It’s actually similar to how Gates himself likes to learn, he tells The Verge:

“You know, part of the reason I’m so willing to tackle new subjects is that for each of those subjects, if I get utterly confused, I know somebody I can send an email to, and they’ll straighten me out.

“If you can’t have somebody straighten you out, and say, is this as complicated as I think? Am I missing something here? Then you’re probably not as ambitious. For a lot of subjects, as they get older, people are not willing to take that learning risk where they are confused.”

In other words, if you have someone to check your assumptions and gently guide you in the right direction, you’ll learn better and more thoroughly. Chatbots could do that for every kid, at their own pace, on their own devices, at their leisure.

As Gates points out, there are online services where human tutors walk kids through their math lessons. But by using chatbots, a major area of investment for companies like Facebook and Microsoft, these robo-tutors have the potential to be free — while simultaneously reaching millions of kids.

Gates is a big fan of lifelong learning, reading 50 books a year and encouraging others to do the same. It’s clear that he has a lot of passion for applying his technology expertise towards making that kind of learning more accessible to all.