Generational Knowledge: the Importance of AI Education

Artificial Intelligence is on the rise throughout society; no longer a science-fiction fantasy but a viable, robust technological pillar. Many believe AI familiarity must be nurtured amongst the next generation in order to spark the genesis of a new world, in which humanity and technology will become even more intertwined.

How has AI Education Developed?

Since 2012, countries have been integrating more technological aspects into their curriculums, with Estonia the first to announce programming as an essential area of education; with exponential high-tech advancements occurring across the globe, training the next generation to have an intrinsic knowledge of these systems and demonstrating how to work alongside them will be essential for working life in the future. According to a survey from Stack Overflow, the term ‘Software Developer’ has already become the most common job title in several US states. However, the technology is becoming so essential, so quickly for businesses that education has struggled to keep up: 70% of the people working in these roles are ‘self-taught’. These skills aren’t simply indispensable within tech-based companies either: only around 30% of developers and programmers actually work for software or internet companies. Evidently, this kind of knowledge has become vital for the modern worker. In 2018, the Taiwanese government announced, as part of its 2019-2020 school curriculum, a mandatory integration of AI educational materials into all public school curriculums: embracing the technology as an important aspect of future working life.

“AI will change 100 percent of jobs in the next 10 years, in all sectors”

An education that includes AI is fundamental to the next generation of workers. Those blinkered by the view that it is only relevant within tech-related spheres will be left eating the same humble pie as those in the early 90’s who prophesized that the Internet was inherently doomed to be lost to the annuls of history, left in ruin by the juggernaut of print media. The global economic impact of AI is expected to reach nearly $16 trillion by 2030 and is expected to have applications across every area of society. “AI will change 100 percent of jobs in the next 10 years, in all sectors,” said Kellie Lauth, Chief Executive Officer and President of mindSpark Learning, a nonprofit that provides professional development for educators. AI is a cornerstone of the movement into what the Japanese Government have determined as ‘Society 5.0’; advancing from the archaic views of technology used for singular tasks, towards an embrace of AI across all industries. Such integration will be the critical element in bettering human life, promising healthcare that is personalized to the individual, workplaces made impeccably streamlined with accidents near-eradicated and mobility revolutionized with the realization of autonomous travel in the form of self-driving cars. AI will be applied to nearly every facet of life.

Demystifying the Technology

One of the key challenges that students face in their AI education is recognizing AI as a functional tool; exactly what makes the technology unique and what that means when working with it. The fundamental element of AI is that it is neither human nor a simple tool and students must be taught to realize what makes the technology special compared to existing tech. AI4K12 is an initiative of leading computer scientists that have identified five big ideas that are essential for students to understand AI:

  • Perception: how the technology will see its environment (whether through a sensor, through data etc.)
  • Representation and reasoning: how it determines what it sees
  • Learning: how it may develop with further data
  • Natural Interaction: how it may interact with humans
  • Societal Impact: how it can be applied to other areas

To inherently know what makes this technology so innovative is to know how best to make use of it. These core elements of perception and learning are adaptable ones, able to be applied across workspaces and in everyday life. Even if students are lacking knowledge of more technical programming skills, the ability to recognize problems and implement AI to generate solutions that are more efficient, safer or simply improved, would make these future workers valuable assets within organizations.    

Utilizing VIA Pixetto

For those interested in expanding their knowledge of AI, the VIA Pixetto is a fantastic guide to lead you through the murky waters of a typically technically uncompromising and jargon-heavy sector. Aimed at students and makers alike, the technology is able to teach about all aspects of AI4K12’s key areas: it utilizes a sensor to determine its environment; contains pre-coded sensory capabilities of color/shapes/writing and more; can be programmed and adapted to adapt its detection skills to different scenarios and be used in real-world experiments. If you’d like to jumpstart your AI education with the VIA Pixetto, there are a swathe of expertly-written Tutorials available here.

Our work within schools demonstrates just how accessible the sensor is to all, regardless of prior knowledge. This is because the platform’s edge lies in its ease of use; despite the inherently daunting nature of concepts such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, it is simple enough to be programmed by schoolchildren, with a huge breadth of compatible programming languages. Vice-President of International Marketing at VIA, Richard Brown, stated at the product’s launch that ‘it’s never been more important for schools worldwide to equip their students with a theoretical and practical knowledge of how these technologies work and how they can be applied’. The time is now to ride the wave of AI!

Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.

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