Khanmigo Struggles with Basic Math, Showed a Report

IBL News | New York

Khanmigo, Khan Academy’s ChatGPT-powered tutoring bot, makes frequent calculation errors, The Wall Street Journal reported after testing it. “We tested an AI tutor for kids. It struggled with basic math,” wrote the paper.

Last year, Educator Sal Khan promised to “give every student on the planet an artificially intelligent but amazing personal tutor.”

“Asking ChatGPT to do math is sort of like asking a goldfish to ride a bicycle—it’s just not what ChatGPT is for,” said Tom McCoy, a professor at Yale University who studies AI.

According to the paper, “Khanmigo frequently made basic arithmetic errors, miscalculating subtraction problems such as 343 minus 17. It also didn’t consistently know how to round answers or calculate square roots. Khanmigo typically didn’t correct mistakes when asked to double-check solutions.”

Now being piloted by about 65,000 students in 44 school districts, Khanmigo emphasizes to students and teachers that it is imperfect.

Sal Khan said he expects “a million or two million” students to be using it by next school year at a price to schools of $35 a student.

Unlike ChatGPT, Khanmigo is trained not to give students the right answer but to guide them through problems. It offers tutoring in third grade and up in math, language arts, history and science. It can give feedback on student essays, engage in simulated dialogue as famous literary characters and debate contemporary issues.

In testing the product, the WSJ asked Khanmigo for help finding the length of the third side of a right triangle, a problem that students would likely encounter in eighth-grade math.

Khanmigo correctly identified the Pythagorean theorem, a2 + b2 = c2, as crucial to finding the answer. When asked for the solution the bot offered responses such as: “I’m here to help you learn, not just give answers!”

But Khanmigo struggled with math operations. When trying to solve a right triangle with a hypotenuse of 27 units and a side of 17, a reporter offered the wrong answer (430 rather than 440) to 272 minus 172. “Excellent!” Khanmigo responded. Later, it accepted the incorrect answer to the square root of 440.

In another instance, Khanmigo constructed its own triangle problem with a hypotenuse of 15 units and a leg of nine. But when a reporter correctly said that 152 minus 92 equals 144, Khanmigo suggested the response was wrong. “I see where you’re coming from, but let’s take another look at the subtraction,” it said.