Governments and companies around the globe are proclaiming that the world is entering the ‘era of artificial intelligence”. Using advances in AI, companies today are developing devices that understand speech, cameras that recognize faces, cars that drive by themselves and computers that identify patterns among huge databases of information.
In today’s world, kids are surrounded by artificial intelligence and they must know how it works and what to do with it.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines and computers to do things that exhibit traits associated with human intelligence. In other words, it is the simulation of intelligence associated with a human mind. For instance, attributes like processing language, learning, understanding pictures, detecting patterns and problem-solving.
The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is its ability to rationalize and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal. These attributes are now being applied in applications – from recommending videos and purchases to self-driving cars.
If you are a parent, you may be asking: Why should my child learn about AI at an early age?
Here is Why?
1. Design Thinking
To lead innovations in AI, one must first figure out why, where and how it can be applied to solve a problem. Here, the role of design thinking in Artificial Intelligence comes into play.
Design thinking is a solution-based technique that stresses creative problem-solving. It inspires kids to ask questions and come up with new ideas with the added value of an entrepreneurial outlook. Design-thinking re-aligns technology and innovation; creates an environment that challenges the status quo and encourages smart risk-taking.
The ‘Five’ Phases of Design Thinking:
- Empathise – With users and care about their lives
- Define – User’s needs and problems to evaluate competing ideas
- Ideate – By challenging assumptions and stepping beyond accustomed solutions
- Prototype – To start creating solutions. It can be a skit, hand-made models, or a poster
- Test – Solutions to learn and iterate towards the best solution
2. Programming Skills
To build efficient AI systems, one must learn at least one programming language among Python, C++, Java and many more.
Learning to code and program at an early age sets kids up for a lifetime of opportunities. Coding for children is typically under the guide of games which makes the learning process fun and engaging. For instance, they may write the code that outlines the way non-playable characters in a game operate.
Programming at an early age can pave the way to develop a very high level of programming ability and have outstanding maths skills.
The concept of programming teaches us to approach a large problem by breaking it down into smaller pieces thus children also develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
Through fundamentals of programs and learning to code, children direct computers to perform tasks, it helps children to materialise concepts – such as decision making, selection, iteration and sequencing. It also results in a better understanding of different psychological behaviours, developing resilience, and thinking logically.
3. Breeds Creative Thinking Skills
Learning AI in early childhood breeds creativity and provides children more freedom to test out innovative ideas and accelerate prototypes.
AI is quickly becoming indispensable for all sectors and will be used to enhance technological innovation now and in the not-so-distant future. In the age of artificial intelligence and technology, creative thinking skills hold the most importance as man-made machines of today may never invent new things.
Kids with innovative ideas to solve a problem effectively will always have an advantage when it comes to imagination and creativity. Whether it is a math problem or a real-life issue, children need to understand there are different and creative ways to solve each problem.
As computers and robots take over mundane tasks, it frees up one to focus on tasks that require more imagination and creativeness. While serving as inspiration is one role learning AI can play in the process, it provides children with opportunities to work on projects, based on their passions, in collaboration with peers and a playful spirit.
Learning artificial intelligence speeds up the creative process; enables their mind to look at things from different perspectives and even solve problems that do not have a clear answer.
Moreover, creative activities bring joy, meaning and purpose to a child’s life.
4. Morality and Humanity
As artificial intelligence looms large in Science-Fiction, the topic opens up discussions about literature, ethics, philosophy and social studies. So, AI and machine learning just don’t teach children hard skills. But also teaches ethical and moral values. The era of AI forces one to reconsider what it means to be human. Hence, it provides a great platform to connect the “how” with the “why”.
Most of all, learning artificial intelligence is not only about how to build AI applications but foremost why we should do it.
Following or even defying AI-based developments allows children to question –
- What does it mean to be human?
- What is morality and how to guide morality for a machine?
- What does it mean to delegate decision-making and reasoning to machines?
- How much automation is possible without compromising human well-being?
These may seem heavy for young minds to tackle, but do not underestimate your child’s ability to reflect deeply about humanity and morality. Artificial intelligence overall is not just an economic imperative, it is also a path towards human fulfilment, an opportunity for humans to be more human.
5. Future Job Opportunities
According to Fortune Business Insights, “the global AI market is projected to reach USD 266.92 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 33.2% from 2019-2027.
As artificial intelligence promises to deliver some of the most significant and disruptive innovations of this century. AI careers are future proof and are likely to survive well in the future, whether in the technology sector, finance, retail, health, or others. Self-driving cars, robotic assistants and automated devices are all products of an emerging AI revolution that will reshape how we live and work.
The future has more focus on automation, AI and ML and rightfully so, will be integrated into many common systems.
Contrary to the belief that it will replace jobs, it would create more job opportunities as a matter of fact. What coding has done for job opportunities in the last twenty years, AI will do the same for the next twenty years. Therefore, early insight into AI’s promises and perils will make children confident in their ability to understand the new-age technologies and will prepare them for incredible future opportunities.
The age of artificial intelligence has arrived. It will continue to change the world around us in exciting and unpredictable ways. Future is all about creators, innovators and problem solvers who can adapt and pivot when necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Children’s brains need and search for context. Learning with only a fuzzy context or without context can be difficult for kids and artificial intelligence celebrates the power of possibility.
We have gone through some great reasons why introducing children to artificial intelligence is important. If you have a child, introducing them to smart technologies and getting them to learn the way computers work will set them up for a successful future.
Today, children use programmable devices, such as robotic toys and iPads, daily. It’s never too soon to begin having conversations with children about the role of artificial intelligence in their lives.
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