How the Hour of Code will teach students about issues related to artificial intelligence
Launched in 2013, the Hour of Code is an annual tradition started by the educational nonprofit Code.org (which provides free coding classes to schools). Its FAQ describes the December event for K-12 students as “a global effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities,” and more than 100 million schoolchildren have participated over the years.
This year’s theme is “Creativity with AI,” and the Computer Vision lesson includes a short video (less than 7 minutes) featuring a Tesla Autopilot product manager from its computer vision team. In the video they say: “I make self-driving cars.” “I think anywhere where resources can be used more efficiently is where technology can play a role. But of course, I hope one of the best ways AI can be impacted is through self-driving cars.” (The video then goes on to explain how much of the training data eventually generates a statistical model, “which is just a fancy way of saying, a guessing machine.”)
The 7-minute video is part of a larger lesson plan (45 minutes total time) in which students tackle an engaging story problem. If the scoreboard in a sports arena displays numerical numbers, what series of patterns must the machine vision system recognize to identify each number? (Students are asked to collaborate in groups.) It is just one of seven 45-minute lessons, each accompanied by a short video. (The longest video is 7 minutes and 28 seconds, and if all seven videos are watched consecutively, they will play for approximately 31 minutes.)
Not all of the lessons involve actual programming, but the goal seems to be to introduce students (starting at the sixth grade level) to today’s artificial intelligence and the issues it raises. The penultimate lesson is titled “Algorithmic Bias” — with a video including interviews with an ethicist at Open AI and an AI-focused professor from MIT and Stanford. The final lesson – “Our AI Ethics Blog” – challenges students to compile documents and videos on the “ethical pitfalls” of AI, and then compile their discoveries into an educational resource “for AI creators and legislators everywhere.”
This year’s batch is being described as “the largest educational event in history.” It’s scheduled to take place the week of December 4, so it coincides with Computer Science Education Week (a computer science education event launched in 2009 by the Association for Computing Machinery, with help from partners including Intel, Microsoft, Google, and National Science). institution).