US start-up education company Section promises AI tutor to replace current online learning

If you would like to know whether you are part of the AI Class, here's a definition.

"The AI Class, that's someone who can use AI every day, either at work or home. Are you comfortable pulling up an AI and talking to it and getting a good outcome?" asked Greg Shove, CEO of American business education company Section.

Shove is in New Zealand leading a 'mini-MBA' course to 150 Kiwi businesses as part of an initiative sponsored by telecommunications company Spark.

Early this year the company released research by NZIER which found a 20 percent increase in the use of digital technologies could make New Zealand better off by $26 billion in the next decade.

To become part of the AI class, Shove said it takes about 10 hours of learning.

"It's not easy. A lot of people bounce off AI. So I would say the journey for most people is they use AI for the first time. They're amazed, like, 'oh wow'. Like this answer was incredible. They use it again, not so good. And they kind of lose interest."

Shove said it takes a few hours to "bust through that" to become proficient and then AI will become indispensable for everything from parenting advice, travel planning or helping outsource the drudge work.

When asked whether AI will be accessible to all or be an exclusive club, Shove pointed out that while it's not free, he believes it's a good deal.

"For the price of a typical video streaming subscription, and if you have a decent phone or a decent computer, you have access to what I would consider a second brain."

A brain trained on data that has been scraped by the big technology companies developing large language models (LLM) and building chatbots like Open AI's ChatGPT or Google's Gemini.

Shove said the risk of those big tech companies taking other smaller company data is overblown because the LLMs are already trained.

"They don't need to, they don't because they have already stolen all of their data. And they've trained their models on the world's information."

Shove told Newshub those big tech companies like OpenAI, Google and Microsoft will be the winners out of the AI boom.

His company Section is concentrating on replacing the current online education video platforms with AI-powered study.

"We're using AI to help us make the courses. We'll soon be using AI to create our lessons in case studies on video, meaning we are going to be using human-trained AI avatars."

Greg Shove, CEO of American business education company Section.
Greg Shove, CEO of American business education company Section. Photo credit: Newshub

The goal is to have an AI tutor called Prof AI.

"Prof AI will know who you are, where you work, what job you're in. You'll be able to ask Prof AI for case studies relevant to what you do. You'll be able to get feedback on your assignment or project when you submit it to our Prof AI. It'll be a very different experience. "

AI is making its way into everyday business use. Spark uses a programme called 'Made for You Review' that crunches a customer's phone and data use and then recommends the best plan to staff.

Marketing and data director Matt Bain told Newshub that the company doesn't currently have AI agents working directly with customers.

"We think it's too early for that. So we have a human in the loop or kind of co-pilot approach where we provide more quickly the right information to our people so they can serve our customers better."

Spark has been open about how it's been investing in AI over the past four years and has also been talking with staff on how it will restructure to improve efficiency. In a recent statement to the NZX it said strong progress had been made on the company's operating model redesign.

Newshub has previously reported how a trial by energy company Genesis has found workers using generative artificial intelligence powered by Microsoft's Copilot could save up to five hours in lost productivity

Shove believes some jobs will go and others will be reformulated.

"So I think that will happen, but I think there's going to be some bumps in the road for obviously a lot of people."

And as for the AI sceptics and business leaders who believe they've heard all this before, Shove has a message.

"I'm tired of talking to business leaders who have opinions about AI and don't use ChatGPT. Use it and then decide."