(This article has been simplified for young children)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer Science-Fiction. It’s not just for scientists and advanced computer programmers – even school kids are getting into it now.
It is already in our daily lives
Google’s driverless car Waymo, Apple’s ‘Siri’ speech recognition, IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ computer beating Russian chess master Garry Kasparov, medical diagnostics, picking complex customer orders in Amazon’s giant warehouses …. the list goes on.
So what is AI and why should we care?
AI is intelligence that is programmed by humans into machines. They use a variety of computer algorithms (a set of logical decision rules, or a complex formula) to do tasks that the intelligent human can do. The machine or device examines its environment and then solves a problem and takes decisions and actions to achieve its goal. Related to AI is ‘machine learning’, where the device examines data and learns as it goes.
Some experts such as Stephen Hawking (the famous physicist) and Elon Musk (the Tesla tech entrepreneur) are concerned however that we humans may be creating machine-learning devices that could one day outsmart their human ‘masters’ and even control us. Others worry that AI devices may take away people’s jobs.
What’s so special about AI?
AI promises many benefits. Humans make mistakes – not AI. Humans get tired and need to sleep – not AI. Humans take forever to study a vast amount of data before we can make intelligent decisions – not AI. Humans get bored doing the same repetitive tasks – not AI. (Or so we think now).
Where do we go from here?
Google scientists believe that many of the jobs of 20 years from now, such as AI jobs, do not yet exist. We cannot train for what we cannot foresee, but what we can do is to be flexible and have an ability to learn new skills such as AI. For our kids now it means learning with a strong STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) and Coding in particular.
And schools must urgently adapt to artificial intelligence by relooking at curriculums, assessment and teaching methods.
But more on all this in another blog.
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