Advances in AI and voice recognition in smartphones will become so advanced they will be able to 'read and write' to a higher level than one in twenty UK adults, a new report forecasts.
Put together by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Project Literacy, the 2027: Human vs Machine Literacy report states that human literacy rates have "stalled since 2000", which leaves "758 million adults worldwide and almost two million Brits illiterate", with 5m of these below that expected of an 11 year old.
But at the same time, AI and voice recognition are skilling up, the report alleging that the humble smartphone - powered by this tech - will "surpass the literacy level of over one in 20 British adults within the next 10 years".
The report explains how while machines still have problems understanding the tone and style of language in an autonomous fashion can already "read" text "in a shallow manner", and at scale, giving them a different set of skills than humans at rapidly processing text for indexing or web search.
The report argues that ‘machine reading' can now be seen to be replacing ‘human reading', for example in the role of lawyers who used to have manually search through documents - but this is still seen as a task more befitting a child.
But tests are also now showing that computers can deal with multiple choice, junior-school level science exams with 75 per cent accuracy.
Chief of corporate affairs Kate James at publishing company Pearson - who founded Project Literacy with Microsoft, Worldreader, the Clinton Foundation and UNESCO - weighed in on the situation, saying the report "highlights the gulf between technological and human progression" but that the tech versus nature issue doesn't have to be a "zero-sum game"
"Technology has a crucial role to play in the fight against illiteracy," she said.
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