The future has arrived.
While to many machine learning and artificial intelligence might sound like technologies of the future, the truth of the matter is that ML and AI are already everywhere. These technologies can be found in autonomous cars and the search engines that recommend our next e-commerce purchases. They also play a role in the way we are treated by companies.
This being the case, it is critical that we all start learning about these technologies as soon as we can. Failure to understand the power of ML and AI will make us become passive actors in the modern world—thereby losing control of our own destiny.
As weird as it may sound, I believe that we should begin educating our kids from an early age—maybe even 6-years-old—so that they are familiar with these transformative platforms that will shape the future of the world. There’s a growing body of research that suggests kids understand technology better than their parents do, anyway.
The Experts Weigh In
Mankind has long since feared technology would evolve to the point where machines became smarter than humans and took over. To that end, it comes as no surprise that some of the smartest minds alive today are very vocal about their concerns with AI.
Stephen Hawking, for example, says that AI will either be the best or the worst thing for humanity. Elon Musk—who is using an incredible amount of AI for Tesla’s electric cars—has come out and said that artificial intelligence is humanity’s largest existential threat.
To this end, Musk, along with Bill Gates and others, have created the Open AI initiative which seeks to discover and implement the safest path to artificial intelligence.
While this initiative and other massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a good way to get the public started on becoming educated about machine learning and AI, they are not enough. Truly learning about these world-changing technologies requires access to the best resources, a significant amount of time devoted to learning, passion, and a lot of practice.
The Best Way Forward
I believe that it’s time for educators to consider teaching machine learning and artificial intelligence in the same way that math and English are taught today. It might even be time to place more emphasis on these technologies in the classroom.
This is no doubt a tall undertaking. But it’s not impossible.
The best way forward, in my opinion, would be to create something equivalent to the programs offered by MIT’s Scratch or Mommy Poppins, a site that caters to kids and offers a number of programming and tech-related experiences. That way, kids get to learn about powerful and transformative technologies in a way that’s proven to be helpful and inspiring.
It’s important to remember that this digital divide will only increase over time if no action is taken. The fewer people who understand the power and potential of AI and machine learning, the more likely Musk’s prediction about AI becoming humanity’s largest threat will come true.
Quite simply, understanding how machine learning and artificial intelligence work and how to control these technologies is part of the essential toolkits people need to thrive and develop our five minds for the future.
As stated in the book Superintelligence: “Instead of passively drifting, we need to steer a course.”