Artificial Intelligence: Meet Sophia, the First Robot Citizen
This November, Ali and I spent three days attending the EdTech Teacher Summit in Boston and learning about exciting ways to integrate technology into our classrooms and conversations. The conference divided workshops into three threads: EdTechNow for classroom teachers getting started in tech integration, EdTechNext for educators seeking advanced strategies and approaches to tech integration, and EdTechThought for education leaders & admin exploring innovation in education. I tried to attend a mix of sessions, both to guide my own thinking and to find new ideas to bring back to our classrooms.
I gathered lots of great ideas and new tools, but there was one session that had attendees buzzing: Artificial Intelligence & EdTech. This session explored ways that AI is already impacting our daily lives, and demonstrated some simple ways that we can introduce this topic in our classrooms.
According to the dictionary, artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. In other words, AI is a computer’s ability to do unscripted tasks, but gathering information, processing it for patterns, and then making a prediction.
Let’s look at an example:
When I enter “Assembly” into my calendar for every Monday & Thursday at 8am, I do not add a location. But my iPhone’s location settings know that I am at school every Monday & Thursday at 8am.
So after a few Mondays & Thursdays, my iPhone will predict that Assembly is at school. This will cause the iPhone to trigger the Maps app to send me a reminder.
Each Monday & Thursday, shortly before 8am, I am reminded to leave for school so that, given the typical traffic patterns, I will arrive at school in time for the Assembly.
I never told my iPhone that Assembly is at school, nor did I request a reminder. However the iPhone gathers information from different apps and settings, predicts the location of Assembly, and sends me a reminder anyways, courtesy of AI.
There are many adjectives that people apply to Artificial Intelligence: “cool,” “convenient,” “scary,” “helpful,” among others. For my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers, AI could have helped remind her to take medicine. But for others, it feels as if computers are developing a mind of their own. Jimmy Fallon introduced his audience to artificial intelligence, including Sophia the robot, who was recently granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia:
How do we introduce artificial intelligence to our students, who are growing up in a world where intelligence is both a human and computational trait? The site Google Experiments has some great activities and tools:
- Google’s Quick, Draw – Can Google guess what you are drawing? This is a great tool for introducing young children to the concept of AI. My 6 year old daughter and I love competing against the computer, and one another!
- Google’s Teachable Machine – Teach Google to learn your hand signals. Have you ever played rocks, paper, scissors with a computer?
- Google’s Autodraw – Sketch a picture and let Google make it into clipart for you.
Whether you find artificial intelligence useful, unnerving, or both, it is here to stay. And it will be important to help our students to understand how AI works, encouraging them to engage with the digital world in positive and meaningful ways.
What is your response to artificial intelligence? How can we help our students understand and interact with AI in positive and meaningful ways?
Don't miss my next post!
Enter your email to have my next post delivered right to your inbox.