“Unlocking the Future”: Everyone needs to become Data and AI literate by Prasad Prabhakaran

Executive Education IIM Bangalore > Uncategorized > “Unlocking the Future”: Everyone needs to become Data and AI literate by Prasad Prabhakaran

(Contributed by Prasad Prabhakaran (EGMP 27))

A Personal Journey of Introducing AI and Data to Children. 

As a parent, witnessing the transformative impact of AI on my child’s growth has been both remarkable and inspiring.

My son, Rohit, had speech and language development challenges. It was a source of concern for us as parents, but we found hope in an AI-powered speech therapy app. This interactive tool used voice recognition and AI algorithms to engage Rohit in speech exercises and provide real-time feedback. It was like having a dedicated speech therapist in our own home. Rohit’s speech and language skills flourished with consistent practice and guidance from the AI app. It was a joyous moment when he began expressing himself more clearly, engaging in conversations, and building connections with others. AI became a catalyst for breaking communication barriers and enabling Rohit to find his voice.

My daughter, Jo, had an immense passion for art. To nurture her creativity, we discovered an AI-powered tool that generated unique art prompts and suggestions. The AI became Jo’s creative companion, offering fresh ideas and challenging her to explore new techniques and styles. This collaboration between human creativity and AI innovation led to astonishing results. Jo’s artwork transcended boundaries, showcasing a fusion of her originality and the AI’s unique inputs. It was a testament to how AI can inspire and elevate creative endeavours, enabling children to push the boundaries of their imagination.

I wondered if Jo and Rohit are curious about what’s happening under the hood. How does it work? How does it impact them and the world around us?

Recognising the immense potential, emotional personal experience, and need to cultivate this curiosity, I embarked on a journey to introduce AI and data to my children through engaging stories, captivating case studies, and personal anecdotes.

One evening, trying to pick a book to read, I stumbled upon a tale titled “The Adventures of Alby the AI Assistant”. The protagonist, a friendly AI assistant, embarked on thrilling quests to help people solve everyday problems using AI technology. My children were curious about the book cover of Alby’s Adventures and began asking questions about it. This sparked their curiosity and laid a foundation for their journey to discover AI.

To start with, I decided to nurture their understanding of data, I introduced them to the concept through practical scenarios. We conducted a mini experiment in our kitchen (of course, when mom was not around), comparing different recipes for chocolate chip cookies. By meticulously documenting the ingredients and variations, we collected data on taste preferences. Through this hands-on experience, my children discovered the power of data-driven decision-making and how analysing information can lead to delicious outcomes.

Recognising that children learn best through hands-on experiences, I sought to incorporate interactive activities into their AI and data literacy journey. We embarked on a project to create their own AI-powered chatbot. Together, we brainstormed ideas for its purpose and designed a simple chatbot interface, first on pen and paper. By teaching the chatbot to respond to specific questions or provide helpful information, they learned about algorithms, inputs, and outputs, fostering their understanding of AI in a fun and interactive way.

As their knowledge deepened, addressing the ethical considerations associated with AI and data usage was crucial. We discussed a news article about facial recognition technology and its potential impact on privacy. My children were startled by the implications and started asking questions about the responsible use of AI. We had heartfelt conversations about the importance of respecting individuals’ privacy and the need for transparent and fair algorithms. This experience allowed them to develop a strong sense of ethics in their exploration of AI and data.

As a coincidence, the next day, we stumbled upon an article: “A popular social media platform has been collecting users’ data, including their profiles, posts, and private messages. Recently, it was discovered that the platform has been sharing this data with third-party companies without obtaining proper consent from its users.” My teen daughter, Jo, immediately asked, ‘How does sharing personal data without consent impact anyone’s privacy?’. What are the risks of targeted advertising based on my data? 

Tell me, do I need a reason to become happier?

All these were great; I worried about encouraging them to leave the building.

I organised a “Data Detectives Club” with their friends to encourage collaboration and teamwork. Together, they took on exciting challenges, such as analysing weather patterns to predict the best time for outdoor activities. By pooling their data, discussing their findings, and sharing insights, they strengthened their understanding of data analysis and honed their communication and teamwork skills. They discovered the power of collaboration in tackling complex problems and generating innovative solutions.

Through introducing AI and data to my children using stories, case studies, personal anecdotes, and practical scenarios, I have witnessed the transformative impact it has had on their intellectual growth and personal development. Their curiosity has been awakened, their critical thinking abilities have flourished, and their ethical awareness has deepened. This conviction led me to build Hello AI (HAILabs.ai), a self-learning and exploration platform that gently introduces children and teenagers to age-appropriate data, data science, and AI skills via activities and projects with the support of an AI tutor. Together, let us continue to inspire and nurture the next generation, unlocking their potential to shape a future where AI and data are harnessed for the betterment of society.

About the author:

With over 20 years of experience, Prasad excels at building digital and data products, guiding businesses, and partnering with CXOs. As an Agile Leader of the Year and Startup Leadership Fellow in London, he is recognised for his expertise. Prasad serves as an ambassador for STEM.UK, an Education Development Trust advisor, actively empowers schools and students. He specialises in data product development for banks and insurance companies and enables decision scientists to create AI systems. Prasad’s role as CEO of Hello AI (hailabs.ai) focuses on enhancing AI and data literacy in teens, empowering the next generation with essential skills.

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