Michigan University pioneers AI-powered students

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The university became the first in the United States to develop AI students who can gain academic degrees like humans, showcasing the enormous capacity of Artificial Intelligence. 

Ferris State University, based in Michigan has developed two AI students, who are enrolling as freshmen in 2024. Named Ann and Fry, they will be able to participate in classes just like human students, listening to lectures, turning in assignments and participating in classroom discussions.  

While the two AI students will only be able to observe classes in their early stages, the project lead Kasey Thompson said Ann and Fry will be developed to speak during classroom discussions and have two-way conversations with their classmates in the future. 

Accordingly, computer systems and microphones will be set up in Ann and Fry’s classrooms to enable them to listen to lectures and classroom discussions.  

Interestingly, the two AI students will have the liberty to choose their course of study. “Ann and Fry will be able to pick their classes and elect a major, eventually earning their undergraduate degree – if they choose to do so”, Thompson remarked

“Like any student, our hope is that they continue their educational experience all the way up as far as they can go, through their PhD,” the Ferris State associate professor added. 

At press time, the two virtual students were not assigned gender or demographic information. Also, Ann and Fry won’t have a physical, robotic form initially. Per the announcement, the research team’s primary focus is classroom experience before delving into the mobility of the AI students. 

Why AI Students?

The experiment holds so much in store for the advancement of both education and AI. According to Thompson, the primary goal of the AI student experiment is to help Ferris State staff to know student experience in the 21st century. 

Accordingly, this knowledge will help them serve future students better and make higher education more accessible, citing that many no longer fancy traditional academic patterns but instead prefer remote learning experiences.  

In her words: “We actually came up with the idea to help us better understand, how do we serve the future students at Ferris State university? What does the higher educational experience look like for students who may not just be 10 feet from the professor in a traditional classroom setting?”   

In other words, the AI student experiment aims to help researchers know what being a university student entails, from the admissions and registration process, to how it feels to be a freshman in a new school. Of course, if successful, the experiment will produce the first machine learning agents (MLA) to earn a degree via classroom education. 

Ferris State University and AI 

Ferris State is among the few colleges in the world paying attention to AI technology. In particular, it is among the three colleges in the US offering undergraduate AI programs, according to the university website. 

In December 2023, the school hosted its first AI Day, which attracted around 300 high school students to participate in a series of interactive exhibitions and workshops. However, the university is not among those that accept cryptocurrency for tuition

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