Why is learning of AI important for students: A talk with Dr. Ken Kahn

expert talk

The rapid progress in the field of artificial intelligence is happening all over the world and it is accelerating quickly. This cutting edge technology has already become an integral part of our life. The education industry is also undergoing a wonderful transformation with the impact of AI. Schools are including AI in the curriculum to fill the need gap and prepare students for the future. 

We asked questions to a senior researcher at the University of Oxford about AI in education and its impact on student’s life. Artificial intelligence offers many opportunities for adaptive learning and personalization. AI is going to be very useful for students as it is adding more value to the existing processes and facilitating a thoughtful path. 

We recently spoke with Dr. Ken Kahn about the significance of learning AI by school students and his recommendations for actions to equip students with the necessary skills. With his enormous experience of working on several AI-based projects, he is now focusing on programming languages for children. Dr Kahn has designed and developed  ToonTalk, a programming system for children, that provides concrete analogs of advanced computational abstractions with a video game look and feel. 


AIWS Team: Why is it of paramount importance for school students to learn AI? 

Dr. Ken Kahn: Here is my usual answer. With the knowledge of AI, students may become better motivated and empowered to produce very capable artifacts. Students may learn about perception, reasoning, psychology, and animal behavior in the process of building perceptive robots and applications. Students may learn about cloud services, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies that are changing the world. Students can see how AI could be used to help and assist people especially those with disabilities, improve medicine, help in emergencies as well as risks. Students may reflect more deeply upon their own abilities to hear, see, and respond appropriately. 


AIWS Team: What are the common misconceptions with regards to AI learning by school children? 

Dr. Ken Kahn: Many teachers assume that while children can learn about AI, they can’t do AI — the misconception is that only experts can build AI applications. 


AIWS Team: What tools or platforms can children use to learn the basics of Artificial Intelligence? 

Dr. Ken Kahn: My favorites are the eCraft2Learn , Snap! libraries , machinelearningforkids.co.uk , Pocket Code and of course AI World School 


AIWS Team:  How far is AI learning relevant to school students? 

Dr. Ken Kahn: Besides AI itself is an important and exciting subject, it can be integrated with Science, Math, Engineering, Art, Music, Language, and much more. Today with the massive base of mobile phones especially in the hands of young people combined with the large availability of mobile apps, they have the potential to play and create with AI, AR, Games, Coding on issues that matter most to them. 


AIWS Team: Are schools equipped enough to train students on advancements in AI? 

Dr. Ken Kahn: Yes and no. Much can be learned using only a laptop with a camera and microphone. Even more, can be explored using smart phones and their sensors as input to AI components. Even more, possibilities open up when applying AI to simple inexpensive robots. While Internet connections can provide access to AI cloud services, there is much one can do without this. Teachers need enough time to learn AI in order to be able to support the students adequately. 


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