EruditeAI: Pioneering Education through Artificial Intelligence

by January 21, 2018 0 comments

Technology has the potential to significantly improve the education system globally. One such company that is transforming the way education is delivered through artificial intelligence (AI) is EruditeAI​.

EruditeAI​ ​delivers​ ​free​ ​private​ ​tutoring​ ​powered​ ​by​ ​peer-to-peer​ ​learning​ ​with AI. The company’s​ ​product​ ​ERI, ​is​ ​a​ ​dedicated​ ​chat​ ​system​ ​for educational​ ​use​ ​that​ ​incorporates​ ​AI​ ​by ​mapping​ ​students’ knowledge and intelligent matching, ​and​ ​generate​s ​feedback​ to​ ​improve​ ​the tutoring​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​peer​-tutors​ ​to​ ​a ​professional level.

The company’s​ ​philosophy​ ​is​ ​to​ ​build​ ​AI​ ​technologies​ ​that​ ​augment​ ​humans​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to replacing​ ​them. ​​This​ ​requires​ ​EruditeAI ​to​ ​integrate​ ​AI​ ​technologies​ ​in​ ​a Human-in-the-Loop​ ​context. So, it becomes important to have​ ​the​ ​UX​ ​and​ ​interface​ ​of​ ​the system​ ​to​ ​work​ ​in​ ​harmony​ ​for​ ​the​ ​human​ ​and​ ​AI​ to work ​in​ ​a tight​ ​closed​ ​loop.

The company​ ​also​ ​offer​s ​development​ ​and​ ​consulting​ ​services​ ​to​ ​corporate​ ​customers who​ ​want​ ​to​ ​take​ ​advantage​ ​of​ AI​ ​techniques. EruditeAI​’s​ ​specialty revolves​ ​around​ ​Deep​ ​Learning, ​​Reinforcement​ ​Learning, ​​Natural​ ​Language Processing​ ​and​ ​Generation besides​ ​​other​ ​techniques​ ​that​ ​are in​ ​the​ ​Machine​ ​Learning​ ​domain.


The Force Behind EruditeAI

Patrick​ ​Poirier,​ ​President of EruditeAI​,​ ​was​ ​a​ ​high​ ​school​ ​dropout and ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​bounce back through​ ​private​ ​tutoring. He ​earned​ ​four​ ​University​ ​degrees​ ​in​ ​Commerce, Computer​ ​Science, ​​Psychiatry, ​​and​ ​Machine​ ​Learning. ​Patrick ​realized​ ​that although​ ​private​ ​tutoring​ ​is​ ​very​ ​effective, ​it​ ​is​ ​very​ ​expensive, ​​hence​ ​the mission​ ​of​ ​EruditeAI​ ​is​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​tutoring​ ​to​ ​learners​ ​entirely​ ​free​ across​ ​students ​worldwide.

Just​ ​like​ ​all​ ​startups,​ ​EruditeAI​ ​went​ ​through​ ​ups​ ​and​ ​down​ ​along​ ​the​ ​way. With ​incremental​ ​refinements, ​​and ​iterations, the company ​presented their ​work​ ​at​ ​the​ ​United​ ​Nations​ ​twice​ ​in​ ​2017, ​​demonstrating​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​possible​ ​to combine​ ​commercial​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​social​ ​impact​ ​using​ ​deep​ ​technology. ​​In 2013, EruditeAI​​ ​started ​building​ ​educational​ ​games and ​moved​ ​into​ ​an​ ​intelligent tutoring​ ​system, ​and​ ​​into​ ​a​ ​peer-to-peer​ ​model after two years.


Innovating Around Education

Patrick,​ ​with​ ​his​ ​background​ ​in​ ​Neuroscience,​ ​brings​ ​a​ ​fresh​ ​outlook​ ​on​ ​AI technology​ ​and​ ​Education. ​He​ ​rethought​ ​the​ ​entire workflow​ ​of​ ​private​ ​tutoring​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​completely​ ​eliminate​ ​cost​ ​to​ ​students using​ ​a​ ​combination​ ​of​ ​not​ ​only​ ​technology, ​​but​ ​human​ ​paradigms​ ​such​ ​as peer-to-peer​ ​tutoring. One​ ​of​ ​Patrick’s​ ​main​ ​contributions​ ​was​ ​to​ ​integrate​ ​a​ ​company​ ​culture​ ​that attracts​ ​high​-quality​ ​AI​ ​expertise. ​

EruditeAI​ ​was​ ​fortunate​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​attract​ ​a​ ​solid​ ​team​ ​of engineers​ ​with​ ​a strong​ ​AI​ ​knowledge. The ​technical​ ​advisors​ ​of the company include ​some​ ​of the​ ​top professional​s ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Dr.​ ​Doina​ ​Precup,​ ​researcher​ ​at​ ​McGill​ ​University​ ​and head​ ​of​ ​research​ ​of​ ​Google​ ​DeepMind​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Montreal​ ​office.

“All​ ​our​ ​staff​ ​have​ ​the​ ​option​ ​to​ ​collaborate​ ​with​ ​University​ ​researchers​ ​at​ ​McGill University​ ​(MILA),​ ​Polytechnique​ ​University​ ​(IVADO),​ ​and​ ​Concordia​ ​University through​ ​our​ ​existing​ ​partnerships.​ ​This​ ​setup​ ​enables​ ​us​ ​to​ ​give​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the industry​ ​through​ ​published​ ​research​ ​but​ ​also​ ​offers​ ​a​ ​technical​ ​research​ ​challenge that​ ​some​ ​crave” says Patrick.


Awards and Accolades

Most​ ​recently, ​EruditeAI ​won​ ​the​ ​Social​ ​Impact​ ​Startup​ ​Prize​ ​by​ ​CIC​ ​of​ ​the Coopérathon​. ​ ​The company was ​the finalist​ ​of​ ​the​ ​​AIconics​​ ​award​ ​for​ ​best​ ​innovation​ ​in Deep​ ​Learning.

For​ ​most​ ​customers, ​AI​ ​is​ ​still​ ​too​ ​new​ ​and​ ​magical, ​it​ ​requires​ ​a​ ​fair​ ​amount​ ​of education​ ​to​ ​explain​ ​how​ ​such​ ​tools​ ​can​ ​be​ ​integrated​ ​into​ ​their​ ​workflow​ ​to increase​ ​revenues​ ​and​ ​efficiency​ ​or​ ​lower​ ​costs. ​The​ ​trick​ ​is​ ​to​ ​challenge​ ​all assumptions. Big​ ​companies​ ​have​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​data​,​ but​ ​it​ ​is​ ​rarely​ ​structured​ ​with​ ​the intention​ ​of​ ​integrating​ ​it with AI.​ ​The​ ​reality ​is​ ​that​ ​for​ ​most​ ​organizations​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be more​ ​advantageous​ ​to​ ​re-assess​ ​their​ ​workflow​ ​and​ ​identify​ ​new​ ​data​ ​that​ ​could be​ ​generated​ ​and​ ​taken​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​by​ ​AI.​ ​​“When​ ​considering​ ​AI​ ​tools,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​not​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​just​ ​integrate​ it ​into current​ ​existing​ ​practice,​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​rethink​ ​how​ ​we​ ​can​ ​change​ ​the​ ​workflow​ ​for the​ ​better” said Patrick.


Investment and Collaboration to Upgrade Education

EruditeAI​ ​invests​ ​heavily​ ​into​ ​academic​ ​research​ ​in​ ​the​ ​area​ ​of​ ​Reinforcement Learning​ ​applied​ ​to​ ​Natural​ ​Language​ ​Generation​ ​in​ ​a​ ​context​ ​of Human-in-the-Loop concept. The company​ ​plans to​ ​publish​ ​research​ ​articles​ ​​to​ ​contribute to​ ​the​ ​field​ ​of​ ​AI. ​​For​ ​companies​ ​and​ ​society​ ​at​ ​large,​ ​this​ ​means advancement​ ​in​ ​AI​ ​technologies​ ​built​ ​to​ ​augment​ ​humans​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​replacing them, ​resulting​ ​in​ ​a​ ​stronger​ ​economy​ ​and​ ​prosperity​ ​for​ ​all.

As​ ​mentioned​ ​earlier,​ ​attracting​ ​talent​ ​in​ ​the​ ​AI​ ​industry​ ​is​ ​very​ ​difficult. ​For​ ​companies​ ​in​ ​the​ ​non-tech​ ​industry,​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be​ ​even​ ​more​ ​difficult,​ ​so​ ​collaborating​ ​with​ ​tech​ ​companies and​ ​even​ ​startups​ ​can​ ​be​ ​very​ ​advantageous​ ​to​ ​attract​ ​such​ ​talent​ ​and technological​ ​advancements​ ​indirectly.


Challenges Acknowledge So Far

Commenting on challenges, Patrick said, as​ ​with​ ​any​ ​startup,​ ​we​ ​made​ ​our​ ​fair​ ​share​ ​of​ ​mistakes, ​​in​ ​our​ ​case,​ ​although​ ​we had​ ​serious​ ​accounting​ ​issues​ ​at​ ​some​ ​point,​ ​our​ ​current​ ​problems​ ​are​ ​now​ ​more related​ ​to​ ​the​ ​difficulty​ ​of​ ​obtaining​ ​large​ ​​dataset​ ​to​ ​train​ ​our​ ​AI technology. ​​Not​ ​every​ ​company​ ​benefits​ ​from​ ​having​ ​large​ ​user​ base​ ​such​ ​as Google​ ​and​ ​Facebook. But with​ ​time,​ ​money,​ ​and​ ​an​ ​attractive​ ​product​ ​the​ ​real problem​ ​can​ ​be solved.

Patrick​ ​often​ ​jokes​ ​that​ ​entrepreneurship​ ​is​ ​a​ ​disease​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​gambling addiction.​ ​The​ ​ups​ ​and​ ​down​ ​have​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​effect​ ​on​ ​your​ ​brain​ ​chemistry​ ​leading to​ ​rearrangement​ ​of​ ​your​ ​neural​ ​pathways.​ ​After​ ​a​ ​long​ ​period​ ​of​ ​struggle,​ ​even the​ ​smallest​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​good​ ​news​ ​can​ ​feel​ ​so​ ​much​ ​better.​ ​This​ ​addiction​ ​however,​ ​is critical​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​​entrepreneurs​ ​have​ ​the​ ​resilience​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​their​ ​innovation to​ ​the​ ​finishing​ ​line.


Going Ahead

Although​ ​EruditeAI​​ ​is​ ​doing​ ​very​ ​well​ ​now​ ​given​ ​the​ ​market​ ​hype​ ​of​ ​AI,​ ​the company​ ​expect there​ ​might​ ​be​ ​a​ ​decrease​ ​of​ ​interest​ ​and​ ​funding​ ​in​ ​the​ ​next​ ​24​ ​months​ ​due​ ​to unrealistic​ ​expectations​ ​of​ ​what​ ​AI​ ​can​ ​deliver. ​However,​ ​they ​are​ ​confident​ ​that some​ ​AI​ ​companies​ ​will​ ​survive​ ​and​ ​thrive​ ​despite​ ​market​ ​conditions, ​​just​ ​like eBay​ ​and​ ​Amazon​ ​succeeded​ ​after​ ​the​ ​dotcom​ ​crash​ ​of​ ​2000.

“We​ ​are​ ​very​ ​fortunate​ ​that​ ​Canada​ ​has​ ​been​ ​and​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​offers​ ​incredible financial​ ​support​ ​for​ ​the​ ​tech​ ​and​ ​specifically​ ​the​ ​AI​ ​industry, and​ ​we​ ​are​ ​looking​ ​forward to​ ​the​ ​next​ ​decade.​ ​We​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​while​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be ​full​ ​automation​ ​for​ ​certain​ ​job​ ​types,​ ​the​ ​vast​ ​majority​ ​will​ ​simply​ ​be​ ​human with​ ​AI​ ​systems​ ​working​ ​together​ ​in​ ​a​ ​more​ ​productive​ ​fashion, ​taking​ ​advantages of​ ​each​ ​other’s​ ​strengths.​ ​As​ ​far​ ​as​ ​our​ ​company​ ​goes,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​large​ ​ambition​ ​to become​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world​ ​leaders​ ​in​ ​education​ ​through​ ​our​ ​peer-to-peer AI-augmented​ ​tutoring​ ​system.​ ​A​ ​quality​ ​and​ ​accessible​ ​education​ ​for​ ​all​ ​of​ ​the 1.8​ ​billion​ ​students​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​our​ ​team​ ​as​ ​we​ ​believe​ ​everyone should​ ​have​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​and​ ​the​ ​tools​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​their​ ​full​ ​potential​ ​in​ ​their​ ​life” Patrick​ said.

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