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Internet of Things Technology Will Connect Highways, Street Lights, and Vehicles

Cars have gotten smart. Can roads catch up?

3 min read
Photo illustration of a connected roadway
Photo: Shutterstock

Photo illustration of a connected roadwayPhoto-illustration: Shutterstock

THE INSTITUTEAs more and more intelligent cars and autonomous vehicles hit the road, some engineers are thinking about what can be done to smarten up the streets on which they travel.

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How Duolingo’s AI Learns What You Need to Learn

The AI that powers the language-learning app today could disrupt education tomorrow

9 min read
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This playful illustration shows Duolingo’s owl mascot, cut away down the midline, showing hidden inside a high-tech skeleton suggestive of some sort of AI robot.
Eddie Guy
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It’s lunchtime when your phone pings you with a green owl who cheerily reminds you to “Keep Duo Happy!” It’s a nudge from Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, whose algorithms know you’re most likely to do your 5 minutes of Spanish practice at this time of day. The app chooses its notification words based on what has worked for you in the past and the specifics of your recent achievements, adding a dash of attention-catching novelty. When you open the app, the lesson that’s queued up is calibrated for your skill level, and it includes a review of some words and concepts you flubbed during your last session.

Duolingo, with its gamelike approach and cast of bright cartoon characters, presents a simple user interface to guide learners through a curriculum that leads to language proficiency, or even fluency. But behind the scenes, sophisticated artificial-intelligence (AI) systems are at work. One system in particular, called Birdbrain, is continuously improving the learner’s experience with algorithms based on decades of research in educational psychology, combined with recent advances in machine learning. But from the learner’s perspective, it simply feels as though the green owl is getting better and better at personalizing lessons.

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