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Merlyn Mind’s CEO profiled by EdSurge, reveals why full AI tutors can’t work

Dr. Satya Nitta, former Head of Solutions for Learning on IBM’s Watson project and now Merlyn Mind’s CEO, was recently interviewed by EdSurge on the topic of AI tutors.

By:
Merlyn Mind
January 30, 2024

Dr. Satya Nitta, former Head of Solutions for Learning on IBM’s Watson project and now Merlyn Mind’s CEO, was recently interviewed on the topic of AI tutors.

“We’ll have flying cars before we will have AI tutors,” Nitta said. “[Teaching] is a deeply human process that AI is hopelessly incapable of meeting in a meaningful way. It’s like being a therapist or like being a nurse.”

While at IBM, Nitta led the use of IBM’s Watson platform for the creation of the Watson Tutor, a conversational-agent-based adaptive learning system. Nitta had the privilege of being years ahead of the generative AI boom we’re currently experiencing. 

He found himself extremely hopeful about the technology’s usability as a tool for experts. Nitta’s belief is that generative AI will change the world because it can “automate things that humans don’t like to do” — not because it will replace human workers entirely.

This was the initial inspiration for Nitta’s co-founding of Merlyn Mind, whose first product was an in-classroom AI assistant for teachers. By creating a new education-focused large language model from the ground up, Merlyn Mind’s team of over 25 PhDs was able to reduce the incorrect information (hallucinations) offered by competing platforms built on top of ChatGPT.  

Though an AI tutor may never be able to provide the same human motivation or empathetic knowledge as a real teacher, it will be able to augment human tutors in ways never before imagined. Merlyn Mind has had the good fortune of working with domain experts who have been building this future for decades.

We extend our thanks to EdSurge for its thoughtful feature, which you can read here