I used to believe the future was in our children’s hands. That today’s problems can be solved by those little hands. But some organizations are generating very powerful technology, so fast, that our children are already receiving the impact of it. At the same time most adults are struggling to figure out what’s happening and if it’s even a problem. The future, and our children's future is in our hands.
Technology can be distributed extremely fast and with the lack of regulations, that distribution happens mostly without our consent. We hardly understand what's included in the new updates of our phone, apps or software, where and to whom our data is being sent, or what are the design biases of the technology. But we now understand these are questions we can ask. At the same time that we are invaded with all this data collection and privacy abused, we have the possibility to learn so much online. More and more learning communities are sharing their know-hows and opening their discoveries to the public. We have the power to understand what’s happening, to participate, share our opinion, organize and change our reality. But that journey has a rocky road.
For the last 10 years I have been dedicated to improve children’s education. But a few weeks ago I started a Spanish speaking gathering for adults to talk about AI. I’m fairly new to AI, but creating the conditions for learning is my gift. I was lucky enough to be selected as an OpenAI scholar and one of my goals is to share what I’m learning. So, I posted an invite on FB for an AI gathering, many friends my age responded, but few of them came, the people that came and are still coming are my parent’s friends (60+ years old).
Most of AI resources I found, are not designed for that population even when they participate politically (70-80% of them vote in the US) and they represent ~20% of the total voting population in the US and Europe. This is the beginning of a projects that studies what would be the curriculum for this population, what they want to know and how deep they want to go. So far we have play with Weakinator, learn about how different types of Machine Learning methods works, what are some uses of AI today and a few of the ethical concerns we should be aware of (thanks to my hero Cathy O'Neil and Well Santo for the inspiration). All the participants have very clear questions regarding AI: Which jobs will AI take, how can I prepare my grandchildren, what can AI do, how can I use it, how does it work, what's up with the self-driving cars, does AI means humans are obsolete? Working with them is really inspiring, none of the starting participants have missed the meet-up yet. This is a population that probably prefer gathering than online information.
Another adult-learning project I’m working on in parallel, is to explore with educators ways to teach AI to children and to think how AI is changing how, why and what children need to learn. I co-host with Stefania Druga (good friend and expert in AI-tools for education), a gathering for educators at the FabLearn conference at Columbia University NYC this last Saturday. Educators came together and talked about AI, and tested some AI learning tools. Educators are a great population to think how to use AI to support human development instead of just using it for profit, finding ways to use tools for learning is their everyday life.
I showed the unicorn example of the language model that OpenAI partially released a few weeks ago. One of the questions I asked was: How could we use a model like this? These are some of the very interesting comments they said (thanks to James Dec and Corinne Takara for some of these comments):
We can all understand AI because it's about learning and intelligence, something we are all familiar with. Together we can think of many ways to use it and regulate it. We need to create more access points to it, but my prediction is that getting into AI will be many more times easier than getting into coding because... IT'S SO MUCH MORE EXCITING!!!