Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, in Canberra

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft visited Canberra on November 21, 2019

Matthew Phillipps, IT Teacher at UC Senior Secondary College, Lake Ginninderra, had the privilege of meeting and speaking at length with Satya about his work at the 3A Institute.

Matthew is completing a Masters of Applied Cybernetics at the 3A Institute. He was selected to be a member of the first cohort of 16 Masters students through a rigorous application process which attracted 173 applicants from around the world.

In second semester, students were divided into teams of 4 students to complete projects building new cyber-physical systems. Matthew’s team, including Sam Backwell, Olivia Reeves and Felicity Millman were given the theme “Education, Play and Toys”.

Satya Nadella visits the 3A Institute, 21 Nov 2019 (courtesy 3A Institute)

After much discussion, the team decided to address the research question: what is different between how humans learn and how machines learn, using a system which enables players to play a game using cubes. The system is called “Cognitive Cubes“. The Cognitive Cubes system senses and tracks the players moves, inferring from this the strategies employed and cognitive traits of the player. The player may be presented with a game adapted to their learning needs. The adaptive system can help the researchers investigate the research question, as we compare player strategies and abilities with machine agents and automated strategies for game solving. The system may be used to leverage possibilities for adaptive teaching and learning, and personalised learning for students.

It’s deep personalisation meets the classroom. I’ve always felt that we can have any curriculum deeply personalised to meet the distribution of cognitive capability in real time.”

“That would be democratising classrooms. In real time — where the teacher says in real time ‘if I did this, this student is going to be able to crack it’.

Potentially AI-augmented learning could have immense personal and societal impact according to Nadella. “What if you had a system that said every kid can solve the Rubik’s Cube — and all it needs is commodity camera and a kid with a Rubik’s Cube and at your own pace we will get you there. Imagine how a middle school kid in a public school with a cell phone gets that sense of accomplishment.

Nadella was clearly intrigued by the educational potential of the Cognitive Cubes. (from

You can read more about Satya’s visit to Canberra and the 3A Institute here:

Microsoft Australia: 3A Institute charts path to responsible, ethical AI at scale with support from Microsoft

Australian Financial Review: A brief step into the world of Satya Nadella

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