人工智能与学汉语 Whether to learn Chinese with AI ?HSK 5-6

我一直很关注众筹项目,第二个研究生的论文也研究的是跟众筹有关的课题。众筹是一种方法,在互联网时代的浪潮中浮沉多年。比如说,大家都不是第一次听说Kickstarter或者Indiegogo这样的网站了吧,可是,更多的新众筹方式和网站总是层出不穷,起起落落,考验着人们的关注、产品的价值和众筹这一方式的成熟度。

今天要说的确实也是一个众筹项目,我不是做广告,这个项目已经达到众筹目标,我也不拿提成。我之所以要说是因为这个项目的产品跟我目前的工作有着非常大的联系——通过人工智能Lily学习中文。众筹的是产品,当然也是这个产品的想法。

这个项目要解决的问题是困扰很多汉语学习者的问题,那就是虽然花了时间和精力学习了汉语,但是没有机会能够随时随地地练习汉语,因为不是每个人都有中国朋友,也不是每个人都能接触到中国的社会或者说中文的人。另外,现在市面上有谷歌、亚马逊的Alexa等等,但是,这些人工智能产品都还没有达到听懂中文或者用中文回答的程度。我敢肯定,谷歌和亚马逊等大公司都告诉消费者,这样的日子指日可待,然而,指日可待之时,Lily这个解决方案应运而生了。

Indiegogo网站上的解释很详尽,当然也简明易懂——这是一个经过精心设计的、将各种科学知识背景融为一体的人工智能产品。公司名字叫Maybe,背后的投资公司更不乏华为、腾讯、三星、百度这样的大咖,如果阿里巴巴也在,BAT算是齐全了!Maybe公司给出下面这个比较图表,意在说明Lily这个产品的好处:

screenshot 2019-01-04 at 17.03.28

就教学质量而言,老师的质量是最高的,可是方便性而言,老师不能时刻都在学生身边,这就让人工智能产品有了“可乘之机”。如果学生在家里做瑜伽的时候也能够跟Lily说几句中文,似乎效果应该不错的。加之现在是大数据时代,如果能够用收集来的信息研究出更智能的产品或者更有效的学习曲线,岂不是一举两得了?想到这里,我记起了中国的一句话——“师父领进门,修行在个人”。这是说,老师和师傅的角色是将学生带入到学习这门专业知识或者技术中去,但是,接下来的努力和进步更多是需要学生自己摸索才能够实现的,这就是一个人的“修行”了。虽然italki也有这样的“即时辅导”项目,但在灵活性上当然不能与机器人相比。不过话说回来了,机器人在很多方面也是很大程度上不能跟人类相提并论的。

其实我挺期待这个产品的,不知道效果怎么样,如果它引起了类似于爆款killer app之类的效应,虽然不能证明它一定好,但是应该会慢慢改变我们的生活,至少先改变我们学习语言的方式。

Crowdfunding projects always have my attention. In the era of Internet, crowdfunding websites have won waves of praises, but also created disputes. People are all familiar with Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and attentions sometimes can also put the product under microscope. Whether a product can stand the trial of time, it is not the crowd could tell.

This product caught my attention because it is an interesting AI innovative product that highly related to what I do — teaching Chinese. It allows Chinese learners to speak to the AI named Lily any time. It is a well integrated complex emerged in the crucial time when neither Google’s AI or Amazon’s Alexa could understand or speak Chinese. A perfect solution on a perfect timing!

As a language learner myself, I am craving for such a thing. Even though it seems the only realisation right now is Lily the Chinese Teacher, soon I believe there will be more, Hans the German Teacher for instance.

Learning a language is hard, learning Chinese especially, given the fact that Chinese language is a completely different language system from what are familiar to westerners. But AI has been changing the eco-system of language learning using Machine Learning. I have seen quite some progresses. It is not that machines cannot learn, only we will need to teach them. After being taught, they can come to practice with us, at least for language learning beginners. For this, I am optimistic.