This University Is Enrolling AI-Powered Students Who Will Turn In Assignments

Ferris State University in Michigan is embarking on an experiment that involves AI-powered “students” participating in classes alongside human students. These AI students, named Ann and Fry, won’t have physical bodies but will interact with classmates through computers, microphones, and speakers.

The initiative, led by associate professor Kasey Thompson, aims to explore the transformative impact of emerging AI technology on education and career pathways.

The university, announcing the experiment during AI Day, expressed its interest in connecting high school students with potential educational and career paths in fields influenced by AI. The project seeks to understand the implications and benefits of integrating AI into traditional classroom settings.

Thompson takes a unique approach by allowing Ann and Fry to autonomously decide which undergraduate degree to pursue, highlighting the experimental nature of the project. The AI students will attend general courses and, according to Thompson, might progress through undergraduate and graduate degrees.

“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,” Thompson told MLive. “But we are literally learning as we go, and we’re allowing the two AI students to pick the courses that they’re going to take.”

“We’re in general courses at this point, but hopefully they will complete their undergraduate degree and even graduate degrees and even further than that,” she added.

The AI students will initially listen to lectures and discussions through microphones and computer systems. The long-term goal is for them to actively participate in conversations, providing feedback during discussions. The university aims to leverage this initiative to better understand how to cater to future students at Ferris State University.

“We actually came up with the idea to help us better understand, how do we serve the future students at Ferris State University?” she told MLive.

The success of this experiment will be evaluated based on the data gathered during Ann and Fry’s participation. Researchers plan to analyze what the AI students have learned and, conversely, what the university has learned from them.

The broader implications of AI integration into education, including the potential impact on future job prospects for AI “graduates” like Ann and Fry, remain uncertain. The experiment reflects the ongoing exploration of AI’s role in education and its potential to shape the academic landscape.

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