Help! This Edtech Company Says It Uses AI. (What Does That Mean? What Should I Ask?)

You know artificial intelligence has hit mainstream when the elderly grocer at the local supermarket asks how he can get into AI. It wasn’t always this way. When...

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You know artificial intelligence has hit mainstream when the elderly grocer at the local supermarket asks how he can get into AI.

It wasn’t always this way. When I started graduate-level work with machine learning tools at UC Berkeley in 2011, few people outside academia were discussing artificial intelligence. Commercially-viable AI still seemed pretty far off. When I co-founded WriteLab in early 2014, a few prominent labs were visibly but cautiously putting together startups powered by that technology.

Come 2017, and AI—or at least the buzz about it—is everywhere. Whether you’ve encountered it as machine learning, natural language processing, or image recognition,…

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