Choose a job you like and you will never have to work a day in your life
By Vittoria Elena Morini
I have always thought that a job in which each day does not resemble the previous one, was the career path I would have loved to have. Confucius said “choose a job you like and you will never have to work a day in your life,” he could not be more right.
The best part of our job at AI for Good is how diverse it is. Every day is different from the other and always involves new activities and projects.
Last month we did our first FutureMakers session — a day in which students from 12 to 17-year-old imbed in the world of Artificial Intelligence for Social Good and Ethics. This experience makes them aware that technology can be utilised not only for lucrative purposes — apps for clicking more adds — but also for making the world a better place.
The session went really well. We had six students, three girls and three boys, all aged from 12 to 17-year-old. Their computer science teacher attended the session as well and provided extremely positive feedback:
“Just got the students back. Once again, I would like to extend our warm thanks to you and your whole team. The students loved the experience and it really showed from their excitement on their journey home. It will be great if we can keep this going.”
He even suggested that if students had more regular sessions on how to build algorithms and implement them in a semester-long project of building something tangible like a robot, they would see more value in it. This way students will get even more goal-oriented and hence more engaged in the process of studying.
In just one day the students learned a variety of subjects and skills. From the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to basic coding skills (writing code, executing code, debugging) and Programming in Python. From the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence to AI tools: chatbots & AI cognitive services with the Jupyter Notebook. At the end of the day, using the coding skills acquired, they created their own interactive web app focusing on one of the SDG’s and presented it in front of their peers, teachers and the AI for Good team.
The first group focused their app on Mental Health Support for Gamblers. They described the problem as following: gamers get physically and mentally exhausted after hours of non-stop playing (SDG #3). Thus, an activity monitoring system embedded in the game that tracks how much you play against your activity cycle could be the solution. This way, it can stop you from playing even in the middle of the game and encourage you to do some exercises, plus you get bonus points for healthy physical activity.
The second group created a Recycling competition using object recognition app. The problem they chose was that sometimes people do not know what is recyclable and hence forget to do it (SDG #11–12). The solution here could be a scanning system for recyclable objects that works both at the shop till and the competition website. By scanning an item; you get points on your account, free advice on how to reuse or recycle it and how you can make a difference by recycling properly. Bonus, it is also linked to an Instagram challenge to encourage people to recycle more.
Finally, the last group built a Marine biodiversity catalogue app. The problem these students were trying to solve is finding new ways to limit uncontrolled fishing. Indeed, 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity as the world’s largest source of protein, whilst uncontrolled fishing leads to the rapid depletion of many fish species (SDG #14). The solution to this could be a public catalogue of marine species using image recognition. This way people can take pictures of various fish and other underwater species, upload them to a website, label, and store in the catalogue and get points to donate food to the people that are most dependent on the ocean food. In case they do not know what species it is, the smart image recognition system will suggest some options.
The last group was recently featured in the Forbes article about The Greta Thunberg Effect: The Rise of Girl Eco-Warriors. Their teacher who attended the session shared this news with the school staff and sent the commendations letter to families of the students to congratulate them. “It’s not every day that our students can get a mention in Forbes,” says the teacher.
This was the trial session of Sage FutureMakers educational program, which aims to help young people prepare for jobs that don’t even exist yet by bringing together AI and creativity. In partnership with Sage Foundation, we ran a small pilot of the program across several UK schools in 2018.
The role of AI for Good is to create the content to engage young people in AI, so they can apply their creativity, empathy, emotional intelligence, judgement, and reasoning skills to solve global challenges for humanity. We also teach them the ethics of code and human-centered design to educate the next generation of ethical and socially-minded technologists and make sure AI is used as a force for good.
Sage Foundation uses a vast charity network to execute the program around the globe. This year we plan to roll it out in South Africa, US, France, and Spain and apply “train the trainer” model to bring it to more schools in each of these countries. Therefore, we had to make sure that both students and teachers are satisfied with the content before we go ahead.
We also plan to write letters to parents at the end of each workshop to explain what their children have achieved during the day and that they can achieve even more if they continue to their AI + creativity education.
Based on the feedback received and how the day went, FutureMakers workshop can really be impactful for the future of the students. It diverts them from the classic elitist and advantageous nature of artificial intelligence that usually people have, to the accessible and ethical one. When launched and widespread, it will give the tools required for the jobs of tomorrow to the students.
We are finally seeing the results of this project. AI for Good aims at solving the greatest challenges of the world by building AI to accelerate social impact, and FutureMakers can be the first step as it focuses on the curriculum of the leaders of tomorrow.
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