Japanese education services company Benesse Corp. will offer a new service to help elementary school students with their research projects using generative artificial intelligence during the summer break.

The service, which will be provided for free on its website for parents, will make suggestions and offer tips to help students search research themes and compile their findings, the company said in a recent press release.

For example, if one asks "How can I study the biology of dinosaurs?" the AI would give such advice as "How about finding out what they ate?" without giving exact answers, the company said.

The service, customized for education based on government guidelines allowing the limited use of the technology in schools, cannot be used to write a book report even if asked to do so. It will instead offer advice on how to write one, Benesse said.

Photo shows a parent and child using Benesse Corp.'s new artificial intelligence service at its trial event in Tokyo on July 12, 2023. (Kyodo)

As it is intended to be used by students with their parents or guardians, the service will be accessible only after receiving their consent via email. The service will be available from July 25 through Sept. 11, it said.

Benesse's new service will be released after Japan's education ministry unveiled early July guidelines calling for particular caution regarding use by elementary school students, while stating that passing off AI-assisted schoolwork as one's own will be deemed cheating.

In an effort to encourage children to think on their own, the service limits the number of questions they can ask per day and the information entered by a student will not be used to respond to other students' questions, the company said.

At a trial event for the service held in Tokyo earlier this month, fifth grader Ko Takachiho, while consulting with his mother, told the AI that he wanted to know his roots.

He said its response was not what he had expected but expressed his willingness to use it. "I'm not sure if it'd really help me with my research project, but I'd like to make the best use of it," he said.

The new service was made on a generative AI offered by Microsoft Corp.

Benesse, which offers correspondence education materials, will consider providing different services in the future, it said.

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