Are you smarter than your smartphone?

More labor and money goes to artificial intelligence than literacy, report says

Artificial intelligence will "begin to outpace the reading skills of millions of people," according to the latest report from Project Literacy, which hopes to eliminate illiteracy by 2030.

Project Literacy was launched by Pearson in cooperation with 95 other partner organizations, including UNESCO and the Clinton Foundation, Dian Schaffhauser reports for Campus Technology.

The latest Project Literacy report compares current and predicted future levels of human and machine literacy, as well as public investment in each. The researchers argue that technological advances have brought us close to "reaching a point where the smartphones in our pockets will be better at reading and writing than 758 million people alive today."

Furthermore, within the next year, "more people and more dollars will be focused on literacy for machines than for humans," Schaffhauser writes. The United States is projected to have nearly one million more software engineers than school teachers next year, and billions more dollars are spent on artificial intelligence each year than public education.

However, "it doesn't have to be a zero-sum game," says Kate James, spokesperson at Project Literacy and chief corporate affairs and global marketing officer at Pearson. Some Project Literacy partners are using technology to support their literacy efforts. For example, Worldreader uses mobile apps to make free books more widely available, among other projects (Worldreader site, accessed 3/13; Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, 3/9).

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