AI-powered chatbots and the future of language learning

Chatbots are one of the next big things. Facebook’s experimental feature M, Slack’s Slackbot or bot-add ons for existing messengers like Whatsapp and Telegram such as Murdoch or WhatsBot show where we are heading: Into a world of conversational interfaces based on texting. Despite all fancy interaction tech available, texting has evolved as the world population’s most favourite way of interaction. Over the next years, more people will start to have text conversations with machines, so called bots. Conversations that thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning could feel pretty much like those with people from our “human” contact list. Even though sometimes still, what is presented to be a bot actually could be a human.

One area in which I hope that text-based conversational interfaces will flourish is language learning. The other day, I myself acted as a language learning bot, and the results were promising. Continue Reading

Ask what your country can do for you (and the world)

Over the span of a lifetime, most people have various changing employers/jobs. A couple of decades ago this thought would have upset many. Nowadays, it is considered the default in most developed regions and industries. But when it comes to countries of residence and nationalities, the majority of people follow the ideal of lifelong loyalty and dedication to one country and culture – usually the one they grew up in.

Many, if not most people, have internalized the idea of belonging into the country they are citizen of. Some are even developing quite an advanced level of patriotism and nationalism. Others do not go quite that far, but still are willing to put an effort into “their” country. John F. Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” stands emblematic for that mindset. Continue Reading