Episode 107

AI In The Middle School with Dr. Nisha Talagala

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About this Episode

Have you ever wondered how Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant can understand and respond to our commands? Or how Netflix or YouTube recommend the next video for us to watch? The answer lies in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a branch of computer science that allows machines to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, image processing, and decision-making. In this episode of The Teaching Python podcast, Dr. Nisha Talagala, the founder and CEO of AIClub, a nonprofit organization that teaches AI to students and educators, joins hosts Sean Tibor and Kelly Schuster-Paredes to demystify AI and Machine Learning (ML) for middle school students.

Dr. Talagala starts by explaining how she started teaching her then 9-year old daughter about AI and quickly realized that there were a lot of gaps in the available AI materials for teaching. She started assembling resources and organizing the content in a way that worked well for kids while providing them with room to grow their knowledge and skills. This quickly turned into a book project, The Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence, Volume 1 with her co-author Dr. Sindhu Ghanta.

Next, the conversation shifts to teaching the ethics of AI and the potential risks and benefits of AI for society. Dr. Talagala explains how students need projects that they can relate to and easily adapt to answer the questions they generate. She suggests that middle school students can play a role in shaping the future of AI by learning about these issues, questioning the status quo, and advocating for responsible AI practices. The episode ends with resources and recommendations for teachers who want to learn more about AI and ML.

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