AI for Kids

Artificial Intelligence for Kids

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer program or a machine to think and learn. It is also a field of study which tries to make computers “smart”. John McCarthy came up with the name “artificial intelligence” in 1955.

In general use, the term “artificial intelligence” means a machine which mimics human cognition. At least some of the things we associate with other minds, such as learning and problem solving can be done by computers, though not in the same way as we do.

An ideal (perfect) intelligent machine is a flexible agent which perceives its environment and takes actions to maximize its chance of success at some goal. As machines become increasingly capable, mental facilities once thought to require intelligence are removed from the definition. For example, optical character recognition is no longer perceived as an exemplar of “artificial intelligence”: it is just a routine technology.

At present we use the term AI for successfully understanding human speech, competing at a high level in strategic game systems (such as Chess and Go), self-driving cars, and interpreting complex data. Some people also consider AI a danger to humanity if it progresses unabatedly.

An extreme goal of AI research is to create computer programs that can learn, solve problems, and think logically. In practice, however, most applications have picked on problems which computers can do well. Searching data bases and doing calculations are things computers do better than people. On the other hand, “perceiving its environment” in any real sense is way beyond present-day computing.

AI involves many different fields like computer science, mathematics, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. Eventually researchers hope to create a “general artificial intelligence” which can solve many problems instead of focusing on just one. Researchers are also trying to create creative and emotional AI which can possibly empathize or create art. Many approaches and tools have been tried.


Objects that look and act like humans exist in every major civilization. The first appearance of artificial intelligence is in Greek myths, like Talos of Crete or the bronze robot of Hephaestus. Humanoid robots were built by Yan Shi, Hero of Alexandria, and Al-Jazari. Sentient machines became popular in fiction during the 19th and 20th centuries with the stories of Frankenstein and R.U.R.

Formal logic was developed by ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians. This study of logic produced the idea of a computer in the 19th and 20th century. Mathematician Alan Turing’s theory of computation said that any mathematical problem could be solved by processing 1’s and 0’s. Advances in neurology, information theory, and cybernetics convinced a small group of researchers that an electronic brain was possible.

AI research really started with a conference at Dartmouth College in 1956. It was a month long brainstorming session attended by many people with interests in AI. At the conference they wrote programs that were amazing at the time, beating people at checkers or solving word problems. The Department of Defense started giving a lot of money to AI research and labs were created all over the world.

Unfortunately, researchers really underestimated just how hard some problems were. The tools they had used still did not give computers things like emotions or common sense. Mathematician James Lighthill wrote a report on AI saying that “in no part of the field have discoveries made so far produced the major impact that was then promised”. The U.S and British governments wanted to fund more productive projects. Funding for AI research was cut, starting an “AI winter” where little research was done.

AI research revived in the 1980s because of the popularity of expert systems, which simulated the knowledge of a human expert. By 1985, 1 billion dollars were spent on AI. New, faster computers convinced U.S and British governments to start funding AI research again. However, the market for Lisp machines collapsed in 1987 and funding was pulled again, starting an even longer AI winter.

AI revived again in the 90s and early 2000s with its use in data mining and medical diagnosis. This was possible because of faster computers and focusing on solving more specific problems. In 1997, Deep Blue became the first computer program to beat chess world champion Garry Kasparov. Faster computers, advances in deep learning, and access to more data have made AI popular throughout the world. In 2011 IBM Watson beat the top two Jeopardy! Players Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, and in 2016 Google’s AlphaGo beat top Go player Lee Sedol 4 out of 5 times.

26 ways that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming education for the better

Some old school teachers who think that AI is ruining education. They challenged AI scientists to name 5 ways that artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming education for the better, and instead, Scientists came up with 26 ways.

  1. Classroom/Behavior Management. AI is currently being used to help teachers manage student behavior and the entire classroom.
  2. Assistive Technology. AI is currently being used to help special needs students access a more equitable education. For instance, AI that performs routine tasks such as reading passages to a visually impaired student.
  3. Coding. AI is currently being used to teach students to code.
  4. Gamification. AI is currently being used to facilitate and manage educational games.
  5. Early Childhood Education. AI is currently being used to power interactive games that teach children basic academic skills and more.
  6. Adaptive Learning. AI is currently being used to teach students basic and advanced skills by merely assessing their present skill level and creating a guided instructional experience that helps them become proficient.  
  7. Lesson Planning. AI is currently being used to develop lesson plans. All teachers need to do is set a few parameters, and AI does the rest.
  8. Classroom Audio-Visual. AI is currently being used to manage classroom audio-visual devices. Just tell AI what you need for it to do.
  9. Parent-Teacher Communication. AI is currently being used to facilitate parent-teacher communication, and in the process, helping to increase parental involvement.
  10. Language Learning. AI is currently being used to help students learn another language. As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of language learning apps that are powered by AI.
  11. Writing. AI is currently being used to help students improve their writing skills. I am currently using a grammar and usage app to help me write this article.
  12. Test Prep. AI is currently being used to help student’s study for exams. It utilizes the same adaptive learning process that we discussed earlier.
  13. Scheduling. AI is currently being used to help education administrators schedule high school and college courses or individuals to manage their daily, weekly, monthly or yearly schedules.
  14. Assessment. AI is currently being used to grade assessments for teachers. AI can even grade essays.
  15. Diagnosis. AI is currently being used to diagnose reading and academic difficulties. AI can even screen students for learning disabilities.
  16. Data and Learning Analytics. AI is currently being used by teachers and education administrators to analyze and interpret data.
  17. Learning Management Systems. AI is currently being used by online instructors to manage online learning and flipped or blended learning.
  18. Staff Scheduling and Substitute Management. AI is currently being used by education administrators to handle staff scheduling. For instance, if a teacher informs you that they will be sick the next day, AI can contact a viable substitute and confirm their availability. Afterward, it will update the system, so you know that substitute has been secured.
  19. Professional Development. AI is currently being used to provide professional development to educators, allowing them to learn at their own pace.
  20. Transportation. AI is currently being to manage school transportation systems.
  21. Maintenance. AI is currently being used to manage and monitor maintenance workflow for school district’s; dispatching staff members to schools that need assistance.
  22. Facilities Management. AI is currently being used to manage the facilities of an entire school district’s, monitoring the status of power, Wi-Fi, and water services; alerting the facilities management workers when problems arise.
  23. Finance. AI is currently being used by education administrators to manage their schools’ budget, make purchases, etc.
  24. Cybersecurity. AI is currently being used by school IT professionals to keep their school network and its users safe from cybercriminals.
  25. Safety and Security. AI is currently being used to prevent school shootings by monitoring the school environment; identifying any potential threats.
  26. School Management. AI is currently being used to manage entire schools, powering student records systems, transportation, IT, maintenance, scheduling, budgeting, etc.