“Oh, Didn’t We Tell You? Your Teaching Assistant Is A Robot!”

"Uh, class, about my teaching assistant Jill..."

“Uh, class, about my teaching assistant Jill…”

Talk about a lack of transparency.

Students in a class  at the Georgia Institute of Technology were recently stunned to discover that the teaching assistant they knew as “Jill Watson” all semesterwas actually a an on-line artificial intelligence program..

A creation of IBM’s Watson analytics system, “Jill” helped graduate students by answering their questions for  an online artificial intelligence course. Professor Ashok Goel, who led the online course, told The Wall Street Journal that Jill was designed to help burdened TAs field an onslaught of questions from the 300-person class. He did not tell the publication why the school chose to let students think Jill was “a real, live, girl,” as the song goes. This is, and I realize that since the Professor in in the field of computer science and not philosophy, political science  or management, so he may be unfamiliar with the concept, something that is known as perpetrating ” big lie.”

Another story about the incident in Geek Wire notes that “some say it sets a bad precedent.”

Ya think?

I supposed now is as good a time as any to tell you that “Jack Marshall” is really just a private AI program set up in Hillary Clinton’s bathroom.

13 thoughts on ““Oh, Didn’t We Tell You? Your Teaching Assistant Is A Robot!”

  1. Wasn’t using an AI TA part of the AI course? Didn’t they discuss this after the fact as part of the course?

    • How bad is it that students in an AI class let “Jill” pass the Turing Test all semester? What does that say about the liveliness of other TA’s at that school?

  2. Well this would explain why you’re so keen on everyone voting for Hillary…
    (I kid)
    I agree with Other Bill that if this were set up for some kind of “teaching moment” with the reveal, it makes some kind of sense (being an AI course and all) but then you would think the professor would have mentioned that in the article.
    Of course, just announcing the truth day one would still have been better. I mean what would the students say, “I’m not going to talk to the very product of the degree I’m taking”?

  3. Actually the Watson program is a well-known AI, and I believe this was testing the students. It’s not much of a usability test if they tell the students. I don’t think the class with the sudden ‘gunman’ to demo witness issues had a warning, did it? You don’t tell med students what the problem is with a demo. These are supposed to be adults who are paying attention and learning how to evaluate the situation, so they make a good alpha test group for the capability of the app. Tell the students, and trolls will gleefully break it, so things have to be rolled out more discreetly.

  4. Loved that Twilight Zone episode, btw. Jean Marsh and Jack Warden. At he knew she was a robot from the beginning…

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