By Karen Hao
A student recaps how he would describe artificial intelligence to a friend: “It’s kind of like a baby or a human brain because it has to learn,” he says in a video, “and it stores [...] and uses that information to figure things out.”
Most adults would struggle to put together such a cogent definition of a complex subject. This student was just 10 years old.
The student was one of 28 middle schoolers, ages 9 to 14, who participated in a pilot program this summer designed to teach them about AI. The curriculum, developed by Blakeley Payne, a graduate research assistant at the MIT Media Lab, is part of a broader initiative to make these concepts an integral part of middle school classrooms. She has since open-sourced the curriculum, which includes several interactive activities that help students discover how algorithms are developed and how those processes go on to affect people’s lives.