While the U.S. is working to equip students to learn coding, China is rushing ahead to include artificial intelligence (AI) in its K-12 curriculum. But why does that matter?
AI has been at the forefront of technical innovation for the last decade, and whether you realize it or not, has already played a big role in your daily life.
Reading featured news on Facebook? Buying a recommended gift on Amazon? Searching for a show you’ll like on Netflix? Yup, all of them are powered by artificial intelligence.
“The economic potential of AI is enormous…None of us can predict how many jobs AI will create as new interfaces and industries emerge…We need to get serious about making sure that today’s students — future ninjas among them — are adequately prepared for tomorrow’s workforce,” said a World Economic Forum Global Agenda piece, published earlier this month.
And while all the top companies in the AI field are still in the U.S., other countries around the world are quickly pressing forward. One of the most notable is China, which made news in 2017, when they announced plans to drive the country’s AI industry value up to USD $150 billion by 2030.
The country didn’t stop at high-level economics though — to show how it would achieve its goals, the Education Ministry launched an AI for kids curriculum pilot across 40 high school schools in Shanghai. The next year, it expanded the material to stretch down to 20,000 kindergarteners. The government has even published aims for infrastructure upgrades in areas of teacher training, high school “AI labs,” and broadband connectivity. However, details remain unclear for how exactly “AI labs” will be built and used to support the upcoming curriculum.
“The US was in this totally unique position for most of these breakthrough technologies. Now the US is still very much the leader, but not in the same dominant, dominant way,” said Microsoft founder, Bill Gates last week at the opening of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.
As parents, this, of course, causes us to reflect on how we’re doing to guide our children into the future of rapidly evolving technology. As with any major industry revolution, this digital transformation creates opportunities to leap ahead but also to be left behind.
About the author — Create & Learn
While technology innovations have been accelerating, very little of it has been taught to students in K-9. At Create & Learn, our mission is to deliver STEM Learning at the Pace of Innovation. Founded by tech experts from Google and Uber, we teach K-9 students cutting edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Science in fun and relatable ways, and with a strong focus on developing creativity & critical thinking skills.