Brought Up by AI
A whole generation has emerged that’s already markedly different from many of us. Some call them Generation Z or Digital Natives – people who grew up with smart gadgets. The difference is the digital world for them is as natural as a real one. They do not need to learn it – it will soon be in their DNA.
How can AI push this even further?
AI promises to change the way we live. While those changes are not fully understood now, it’s clear that we need to reconsider our relationships with technology. It may happen in the near future that people will rely on robots and smart assistants the same way that we now rely on other people.
Some operators offer smart home kits that include cameras, so that parents can remotely observe what’s happening at home if their child is, for example, being looked after by a babysitter. What may happen is that the capability of such systems will become stronger over time, so that AI will take an increasing role in mentoring the younger generation and providing help if needed.
A smart assistant can start to play with a child, using best in class algorithms to develop basic mental capabilities that are important for life success, like memory, problem-solving, and speaking. Even learning to walk could be done with the help of a robot. These systems may even outperform humans, as AI is all about efficiency.
Later, the smart assistant may continue to form individual capabilities, as a person starts studying things like a language, math, or writing. Having this system in place is akin to having a perfect teacher for children. While in developed countries kindergartens are ubiquitous, in many places these schools are scarce, expensive, or both. In fact, 1 in 5 children globally have never been in school. Moreover, the best teachers are frequently unavailable for people in remote or low-income areas.
AI may work as a tool to decrease knowledge inequality around the world, giving equal chance for children in developing countries to more fully reach their potential.
Equally, AI can help children with disabilities, both in a preventative context and as a means of overcoming barriers.
- TrackAI: A partnership between DIVE Medical, IIS Aragon, and Huawei, Track AI is a device that can detect visual impairments in babies as young as six months, who otherwise cannot communicate in a way that can reveal a potential issue. Up to 80% of visual issues can be prevented or cured if caught early enough, but until now that hasn’t been possible.
- StorySign: For deaf children, learning to read can be a insurmountable challenge. StorySign is an AI-powered app that translates popular children’s books into sign language. The app scans the words of selected, popular children’s books, instantly translating them into sign language using the cute signing avatar, Star.
The most challenging area for artificial intelligence, however, is emotions – something that’s developmentally crucial for children. EQ, self-confidence, the desire to compete, compassion, and empathy are just some of the elements of a healthy individual. How can AI, as a piece of software, connect to the human on an emotional level? This is one problem that limits the widespread adoption of smart assistants.
While some argue that machines will never have the capability to deal with emotions, others are more optimistic. It is true that robots aren’t “wired” in the same way as humans, but with the latest advancements in technology, it is possible to emulate emotional behavior or elicit an emotional response. If it looks perfectly like a true emotion, why should not it work? We already see examples of robots that can entertain us, as researchers continue to study the complexities of machine-human collaborations.
Read more: Inside Our Human-Machine Interaction Lab
As intelligent systems play an increasing role in fostering the younger generation, how will this impact them? We talk about digital natives, but what will AI-natives be like?
First, I believe that students will gain knowledge and skills faster, as they learn from an AI that in turn uses data from real people at scale to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Researchers can put sensors in the classrooms to monitor learning outcomes and measure impact. All unnecessary elements could be eliminated, leaving the essence of effective education coded into working algorithms.
Second, education may become personalized. As AI can learn from huge datasets, it can consider not just the specific characteristics of teachers, but also of students. Some are shy, some cannot sit still for a long time, and others learn better by doing – all these features can be taken into account, and also help students as they understand what works best for them on an individual level.
Third, AI-natives would not see AI as their competitor. They would live with it, understanding that it actually creates more positive outcomes than threats. Their ability to cooperate with AI may become a core competency that helps them build careers.
AI is already infused into our lives and its impact will only grow. While there’s still a long way to go, innovation is happening faster than ever in the digital era. The new generation of AI-natives would find themselves in a post-modern reality, where they learn and work with smart assistance that enriches humanity.
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Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.