(Intended to pique the interest of the budding engineer / scientist)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer Sci-Fi. 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 diagnosis, evaluating job applications, picking 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) to do tasks that humans need intelligence to 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 renowned physicist) and Elon Musk (the Tesla tech entrepreneur) are concerned however that we humans may be letting loose 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. But more on all that in another blog.
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 trove 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 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. 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.
The 21 Century focus. For young leaders of the future.