According to Bill Gates, within the next 18 months, AI chatbots will teach children how to read, and people will be amazed by how much it helps.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes that within the next 18 months, AI chatbots will be able to teach children how to read and write, which will significantly improve their grades. In a keynote speech at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego, Gates stated that AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have made significant progress in recent months and can now compete with human-level intelligence on certain standardized tests. Gates sees AI chatbots as “an incredible fluency at being able to read and write,” which will help them teach students to improve their reading and writing skills, something that technology could not do before.

AI chatbots’ ability to recognize and replicate human-like language has impressed many people. New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose wrote that he had used programs such as ChatGPT to improve his writing by quickly searching through style guides online. Some academics have been impressed by chatbots’ ability to summarize and offer feedback on pieces of text or even to write full essays. However, experts warn that the technology is not yet fully developed and can introduce significant errors or misinformation.

Gates believes that AI technology must improve at reading and recreating human language to motivate students better before it can become a viable tutor. He expects that within the next 18 months, AI chatbots will become teacher’s aides that provide feedback on writing and then will be able to help students with math. Although algebra and calculus are often used to develop AI technology, chatbots trained on large datasets often struggle with mathematical calculations. AI needs improved reasoning abilities to handle the complexity of a math calculation.

Gates is confident that the technology will improve, likely within two years, making private tutoring available to a wide swath of students who might otherwise be unable to afford it. While chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bing have limited free versions, the former rolled out a subscription plan called ChatGPT Plus in February, costing $20 per month. However, Gates believes that it will at least be more affordable and accessible than one-on-one tutoring with a human instructor, which is often too expensive for most students.