We often think of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as a mysterious black box only understood by technical wizards. But the reality is, AI is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives with new technology and tools emerging all the time.
You might not even be aware of just how much AI technology is already being used. From smart home devices like speakers to online chatbots, travel apps and everything in between, both adults and children are benefiting from AI regularly.
But despite this, so many of us are still completely clueless about what AI actually is and how it works.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the key reasons why students should be taught AI and machine learning as part of the curriculum.
AI is only growing
As business and innovators continue to find new ways for AI to make our lives easier, these tools are only growing in popularity. In fact, it has been estimated that the global economic impact of AI will reach nearly $16 trillion by 2030.
This means that today’s students will be entering a workforce that is already heavily powered by AI.
As such, it’s important that they have at least a basic understanding of what machine learning means for them and for their future.
By teaching them about this in school, they’ll be better prepared for the working world and to become an integral part of the future workforce.
This can combat scaremongering
There is a huge amount of scaremongering in the media about robots and AI. Of course, there are some jobs that can be done more efficiently with the help of technology but many publications incorrectly state that robots will replace workers.
This is simply not true. Jobs might change and evolve over the years but humans will never be made redundant. Instead, new roles will be created and people will learn to work alongside machines in what is called ‘collective intelligence’.
If children are taught about AI, its impact, how it works and how it can benefit them from a young age, this can help to combat this rising level of fear and confusion around the subject.
It could help to close the digital skills gap
It is estimated that the current digital skills gap in the UK means a loss of £63 billion in GDP every year. As such, there has been a huge drive over the last decade to try and equip the existing workforce with important digital skills.
However, by equipping the younger generations with these skills earlier on, schools can play a key role in bridging this ongoing skills gap.
Plus, it’s not just learning about the basics of AI, this opens them up to plenty of opportunities to learn other useful skills such as coding, web design, SEO and data security. This can help to create a generation that is entering the workforce already equipped with the technical skills that are most in-demand.
Digital skills can make young people more employable
Following on from the point above, it’s clear that these digital skills are desirable and therefore teaching children about AI and the relevant skills at school could actually make students more employable.
This can make finding a job or an internship much easier when the time comes to join the working world.
AI can be taught across a range of subjects
As we’ve said above, AI impacts so many different aspects of our lives already. This means it doesn’t just need to be taught in an IT capacity, it can be applied to a number of different and exciting subjects.
Children are used to technology in a way that their parents never were and they’re probably familiar with AI through things like Snapchat or Instagram filters, Google Maps giving traffic updates or speaking to Alexa on their parent’s smart speaker.
But AI and machine learning are also used for more important things like agriculture and as such, can be applied to subjects like geography lessons.
This can make students more curious about how these things work and gives teachers a chance to really get them engaged. It can also equip them with a much broader knowledge whilst teaching them about how AI affects a range of different areas of life.
Students will also learn about the limitations of AI
As well as learning about all the benefits of AI, students will also discover its current limitations. This could inspire them to solve problems and try to find new ways to overcome these limitations.
It can therefore be great to get them involved in creating their own AI project or software (if not physically then they can come up with a presentation about the logistics). This gives them a chance to create something they’re proud of and can be a real confidence booster.
Especially if they create something that genuinely works and solves a problem. Teachers could be nurturing the next generation of life-changing tech entrepreneurs.
Learning about AI can spark imagination
Last but not least, learning about AI can really help to spark student’s imaginations. In today’s digital world, young people are more exposed to technology than any other generation before them – they grew up in the era of the internet and smartphones.
As such, not only is learning about new technological advancements important but it can spark their curiosity and imagination. They are tech natives and this is the sort of learning they want to be doing more regularly.
Plus, with AI only growing, this is the type of learning that is going to make a real difference to their future.
It’s time more schools considered teaching AI and machine learning
As you can see from the points above, there are a number of key benefits for teaching AI and machine learning at school. Despite this, many are still not making time for this type of education.
Though some schools have begun to teach useful digital skills like coding, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.
It’s clear that more schools need to teach AI and to equip their students with important digital skills and to prepare them for the workplace of the future.
About the Author
Stuart is the Digital Marketing Manager at MyBaggage.com, luggage shipping specialists helping students all over the world.