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What should a child know about artificial intelligence?

An American task force is currently examining the type of knowledge preschool, elementary and secondary school students should have and the skills they should develop in connection with artificial intelligence.

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An American task force is currently examining the kind of knowledge preschool, elementary and secondary school students should have and the skills they should develop in relation to artificial intelligence (AI). 

Their goal is to establish guidelines for the development of future study programs, in addition to creating a directory of online resources that will assist educators. Their starting point: young people (and their teachers) must be better informed about the technologies with which they interact on a daily basis. Let's not forget that most cell phones are equipped with a voice assistant and there are several home devices with similar functionality.

 “There is a persistent lack of understanding of AI (West & Allen, 2018). We need to consider the role we play as AI researchers and educators in helping people understand the science behind our research, its limitations and potential impacts on society ”, do we read in the report translated into French by François Bocquet in the Watch book and promotion of research work on technologies in education.

The initiative is led by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Association of Computer Science Teachers (CSTA). It is inspired by the approach already carried out by the CSTA to establish national standards for teaching information from primary to secondary school (already in force), but specifically concerns "artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics" . 

Before guidelines, big ideas

The working group has not yet released its guidelines, but it is refining the process by proposing five main ideas. 

  1. Computers perceive the world using sensors. 
  2. Agents maintain models / representations of the world and use them to “reason”. 
  3. Computers can learn from data. 
  4. Getting agents to interact comfortably with humans is a big challenge for AI developers. 
  5. AI applications can impact society, both positively and negatively. 

For each, the group puts forward skills and knowledge that preschool students should master, as well as for each cycle of primary and secondary. They are detailed in the report

A directory of resources in preparation 

Along with more theoretical work, the group is working on a repository of resources, which should "provide fun and inspiring ways to engage students in various aspects of AI, such as robotics, modeling and simulation, game and machine learning ”. 

Already, some resources are available, especially : 

  • Cognimates offers a set of Scratch extensions that provide access to speech generation, speech recognition, text categorization, object recognition and robot control APIs. 
  • Google has uploaded a series of AI experiments such as "Teachable Machine" (training a visual classifier) and "QuickDraw" (a neural network tries to guess what you are drawing). 


The report originally published in English. Touretzky, D., Gardner-McCune, C., Martin, F., & Seehorn, D. (2019). Envisioning AI for K-12: What Should Every Child Know about AI? Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 33, 9795-9799. 

In addition, Carrefour education offers you Decodes algorithms, a series of initiation and reflection activities on algorithms and AI.

Dimension (s) of digital competence related to this article
2- Develop and mobilize your technological skills

To see the Framework.

About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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