Maestro – Tufts Magazine

A new artificial intelligence system designed at Tufts has made it faster and easier to learn to play the piano. Is it the future of education? 

Illustration by Gaby D’Allesandro

In a fourth-floor Tufts lab, a computer program was in the process of convincing a student that she was actually interacting with a human. It was spring 2015, and the student had come to the lab for a study involving a new way of teaching people to play the piano.

Yuksel and Oleson call their AI system Brain Automated Chorales, or BACh. It’s the first AI system to collect brain data and use that information to adapt a task for learners in real time. “It’s a huge deal,” said H. Chad Lane, an educational psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies intelligent technologies for learning. “No one has really successfully integrated neuroscience into interactive digital learning very well yet.”

With BACh’s flexibility, it becomes possible to envision brain-based AI tutoring systems that students could use in daily life—while doing homework, for example.

Read the full story in Tufts Magazine.

Artificial Intelligence Offers a Better Way to Diagnose Malaria

Image credit: Intellectual Ventures Laboratory

An algorithm for spotting malaria under the microscope could bring accurate, rapid diagnosis to understaffed areas.

For all our efforts to control malaria, diagnosing it in many parts of the world still requires counting malaria parasites under the microscope on a glass slide smeared with blood. Now an artificial intelligence program can do it more reliably than most humans.

Read the full article in MIT Technology Review.

Scenic sat-nav will take you on the prettiest route

Image credit: PictureScotland signs/Alamy Stock Photo

Smartphones and route-planning apps have changed the way we navigate, guiding us from A to B with maximum efficiency. But what if we want to take the scenic route?

Soon they may help us do that, too. An AI system called Autobahn can use Google Street View images to optimise your route for a particular type of scenery, such as mountains or views of the ocean.

Read the full article in New Scientist.

Taskmaster robots watch while you work in case you miss a step

Image credit: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ellie works on a car engine assembly line. Despite her best efforts, she occasionally forgets to screw in one of the bolts, but a laser beam from the ceiling highlights the loose piece as the engine passes, reminding her to tighten it.

This imagined scenario could soon be reality. A robot called Watch-Bot can watch people work, learn the steps that make up the task, then remind people when they forget a step. In 24 trials watching humans at work in the office and kitchen, Watch-Bot was about 60 per cent accurate in shining a laser pointer at the missed task, such as returning milk to the fridge.

Read the full article in New Scientist.