AI teacher’s assistant

January 12th, 2024

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Achoo. Who else is nursing a cold, the flu, or even COVID right now? A lot of things are going around, so keep washing those hands, getting a good night’s rest, and drinking that Emergen-C. No one can pour from an empty cup, so take extra care this holiday weekend. We need you. The world needs you, too.

In other news… chatbots are the new TAs, Seth MacFarlane creates his own version of Industrial Light & Magic, and Nike doesn’t make nearly enough of its product.

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ChatGPT chalkboard // Illustration by Kait Cunniff with Midjourney

Chatbots come for the classroom

The Future. Several new education-focused chatbots are hoping to become go-to tools for students looking for a more personalized study buddy. While AI still wrestles with significant issues, school-approved bots could one day leverage voice and facial recognition to pinpoint when a student is struggling with assignments and tailor tutoring to fill the gaps in knowledge.

Class is in code
If Silicon Valley has its way, AI chatbots are about to be given their teaching certification.

  • Online learning platform Khan Academy rolled out its “Khanmigo” chatbot, which helps students think through math problems.

  • Duolingo introduced a ChatGPT-powered feature called Roleplay that allows users to simulate real-world conversations.

  • Sizzle AI, started by former Meta AI VP Jerome Pesenti, uses a chatbot to generate multiple-choice math and science questions.

  • Ethiqly, co-founded by former Snap Chief Strategy Officer Jared Grusd, helps students organize and structure essays and then receive feedback.

The idea of AI teaching tutors is still in the early stages, but the concept has gotten a sign-off from The White House, which included resources on how to implement chatbots in the classroom as part of its big AI executive order. Additionally, the American Federation of Teachers is already working on developing guardrails to protect human teachers.

For society at large, this education innovation will require all of us to learn something new.

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Courtesy of Fuzzy Door

Ted acted on the set of his new show thanks to AR

The Future. Ted, the CGI stuffed bear, was really on the set of Seth MacFarlane’s new prequel sitcom for Peacock, thanks to Fuzzy Door Productions’ proprietary AR technology dubbed “ViewScreen Studio.” With the tech already being licensed out to other production companies, MacFarlane may have created his own version of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.

Teddy wrangler
Ted, the show, may have changed the game for how CGI characters interact with their human co-stars.

  • ViewScreen Studio uses AR to project digital characters through the camera’s view so that the crew can see how scenes will actually play with the characters in them.

  • This tech allows MacFarlane, who plays Ted while also directing, to have his facial expressions captured in real time and projected onto the digital bear in frame, which is manipulated by crew members using a video game controller.

  • MacFarlane is able to do that without having to wear a motion capture suit or even leave his workstation.

Crucially, just because something is filmed with the digital characters inserted doesn’t mean that those shots are locked as final. VFX artists can still tweak them, as they did with Ted, at any point in the process.

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Courtesy of Nike

Nike doesn’t want everyone to get a pair of shoes

The Future. Nike receives 12 billion bot attempts on its SNKRS app per month (and allegedly blocks 98% of them), but that doesn’t mean bots are solely to blame for the lack of high-profile shoes available. In reality, the footwear giant doesn’t make nearly enough of its product to meet demand. As the collectible market reaches a fever pitch, companies may be able to start producing more limited-edition products and still deem them “exclusive.”

Short supply and demand
The drop for the Kobe 6 Protro “Reverse” highlights how bots are only part of the supply issue, argues Business of Fashion.

  • After many customers couldn’t snag a pair of what are known as the “Reverse Grinch” late last year, they took to social media to complain — calling out that bots were to blame.

  • But it’s estimated that only 300,000 pairs were made available, despite millions of people wanting them (it was the fifth-most in-demand sneaker on the app last year).

  • That means even if bots were taken out of the equation, most people who wanted the sneakers still wouldn’t have gotten a pair.

What gives? Keeping supply low juices up demand. Nike VP of Footwear Phil McCartney said the question of how many limited-edition sneakers the company should produce for a given drop is “the most debated question that we have as a team.”

At the end of the day, people love exclusivity… even if it leads to frustration.

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

Do you value limited-edition clothing and footwear?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

50.6% of you voted No in yesterday’s poll: Do you have a side hustle?

“Unless you count child-rearing lol.”

“I’d have to spend all my waking hours working to have a side hustle on top of my full-time job. If it was absolutely necessary... sure, though that’d say how messed up things are here! Otherwise, life’s for more than working.”

“I’ve found that if I fully focus on my job, the money comes. If I divide my time, money, and attention between two or three, I can’t do justice to any of them.”

“No, but now I feel lazy that I don’t.”

“I started a side hustle because I realized most, if not all, corporations have no loyalty to employees, and I have too many financial goals that can’t depend on the uncertainty of my day job.”

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The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Disney will stream its D23 fan event on Disney+ this year to expand the convention’s reach. Read More → deadline

  • Cyberpunk 2077 was a $300 million flop riddled with glitches when it came out three years ago… now, it’s a hit. Read More → wsj

  • Brat TV, the Gen Z digital studio behind shows like Chicken Girls, has acquired the Blumhouse-backed horror media startup CryptTV. Read More → deadline

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Mid-2000s fashion favorites American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch are very much back in style after posting sales way above expectations. Read More → bof

  • Harry Styles has become an investor in the UK fashion label S.S. Daley. Read More → hypebeast

  • Burger King employees now have to give a crown to every customer and tell them “you rule” (no joke). Read More → bloomberg

Tech, Web3, & AI

In partnership with Shortform

  • Google is seemingly making an exit from the AR hardware business with hundreds of layoffs — essentially throwing up a white flag to Apple’s Vision Pro headset. Read More → theverge

  • SpaceX employees sent their first direct-to-cell text messages via Starlink’s satellite and T-Mobile’s network. Read More → theinformation

  • Overmoon wants to be the Venn Diagram between hotels and Airbnb short-term rentals using a novel tax feature. Read More → techcrunch

Don’t let 2024 pass by without achieving your reading goals. Whether you’re looking to broaden your non-fiction horizons or simply stay on top of your reading game, Shortform has got you covered. Keep track of your progress, get insightful analyses, discover new books, and find inspiration in different genres ranging from Personal Finance to Tech. Plus, as a FutureParty subscriber, enjoy a free trial and 20% discount. So, why wait? Upgrade your knowledge with Shortform today.

Creator Economy

  • X is increasing creator payouts after MrBeast said “no thank you” to posting on the platform. Read More → tubefilter

  • TikTok Shop is partnering with LVMH to ensure that counterfeit products aren’t sold on the platform. Read More → hypebeast

  • TikTok has become obsessed with a pair of empty nesters who are on a nine-month-long Royal Caribbean cruise — underlining how virality works in mysterious ways. Read More → techcrunch

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Today’s email was written by David Vendrell.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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