Creating Artificial Intelligence

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Over the school holidays, we hosted an Artificial Intelligence (AI) for students in Years 5 to 9 to learn all about how AI drives robotics.

Girls were able to take part in quite a unique and ‘futuristic’ concept, allowing them to start moving ahead with the industry – which will be particularly helpful as the first generation to grow up with these technologies through social media, search engines and personal assistants like Siri.

The session was facilitated by guest experts and IBM employees Salil Ahuja and Aline Cunha.

Salil has worked for IBM in both the USA and Australia for the last decade and has worked on AI technology for the last five years with the hopes of adopting smarter technologies, like AI and the cloud, within businesses.

Salil started the course by introducing the girls to his team of robots. He explored the concept of AI and used film clips to provoke questions about its use, the ethics of using it, and how it might progress in the future. He explored the integration of AI into everyday life, identifying practical applications and discussing and experimenting with the use of new home AI, such as Alexa and Google Home.

Students heard Salil’s stories of projects he has worked on over the years, engaged in thought-provoking conversation about how AI could be used in the future and watched Salil demonstrate how AI is helping experts expand their awareness and understanding of information.

They learned a range of terminology and about the difference between AI, Machine Intelligence (MI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). They learned about the first milestone in AI that was achieved all the way back in 1956 and identified significant leaders in the field of AI – exploring their successes and failures.

Throughout the day, the girls worked through a range of tasks including programming a NAO robot (known as ELLIOT at Perth College) using voice and facial recognition and Choreographe software. They tried facial recognition technology and built and programmed a TJ Bot, bringing it to life utilising a Raspberry Pi as well as add-ons including a microphone, camera, servo motor and RGB LED light.

Students used Scratch, AI and machine learning to create their own versions of chatbots, digital assistants, search engines and spam filters, while the Imaginarium student mentors were able to build chatbots used by industry experts, creating complex links in their programming.

Salil said he was impressed with how quickly the girls picked up the concepts and how diligent and proactive they were in executing their examples. He enjoyed the way they could articulate what they knew, and how they could identify specific areas in which they would like to be challenged further.

We are most grateful for Salil and Aline sharing their time, expertise, and enthusiasm, and for supporting the girls to learn more about this rapidly changing area.