Merlyners share responsible AI principles, startup advice with Stanford students

Merlyn Mind
July 10, 2024

What a gift to be back in the classroom recently with students from Stanford University’s Learning Design Challenge. Latha Ramanan, our Senior VP for Responsible AI, was joined by AI Engineering Manager Annie Shih and AI Research Scientist Aditya Vempaty to review the students’ digital learning business ideas and share our company’s journey in developing Merlyn, a voice-enabled AI assistant for educators.

The project-based workshop challenges students to define specific learning problems, recruit teammates, develop an approach to learning and community-building using digital technology, create prototypes, test them with target learners, and progressively develop and pitch for early-stage grant funding and acceptance into Stanford’s nonprofit student accelerator.

One of the students is a doctor who, based on his experience studying medicine, is leveraging AI to make a scalable alternative to train practitioners. All in all, the Merlyners reviewed 14 student projects, a few of which are well ahead in their path to launch.

“It was inspiring to observe the curiosity of the students and the creative ideas they’ve come up with,” says Aditya. “I appreciate that Stanford brings together students with such different areas of expertise and exposes them to real-world business cases.”

The students leaped at the opportunity to tap into the knowledge and experience that Latha, Annie, and Aditya brought to the session, peppering them with questions about the ed-tech market, school adoption, and user personas.

The students also were treated to a demo of Merlyn Origin's classroom automations and generative AI capabilities, including Annie’s perspective on the challenges of turning ideas into useful products. Additionally, Latha stressed the importance of building AI solutions like Merlyn with the unique privacy, safety, and security needs of education in mind.

“The students were curious about challenges in the K12 landscape,” Latha says, “and they appreciated hearing about Merlyn Mind’s approach to product development and responsible AI. It was a rewarding day.”

Annie agreed.

“I enjoyed learning about the student projects,” she says. “Great vibes and lots of great ideas.”

Learn more about our approach to responsible AI.