Future ambassadors have a tryst with AI, robotics

[Students learn to build computers as part of the Future Programmes at Harvard University. – Supplied photo]

The newly-appointed Ministry of Artificial Intelligence has been placing special focus introducing AI camps to students.

As the UAE plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) in government departments and education sector, authorities believe that the natural step would be training young generations to deal with machines.

The Ministry of Education selected 38 Emirati students to participate in the two-week Future Ambassadors programme that tackled the use of AI, machine learning and coding at Harvard University in Boston.

The 38 students, from Grade 9 to 11, were among 160 young future ambassadors who were divided among four distinguished universities in the US, as part of the ministry’s ambassadors programme that aims to equip the youth with skills in different fields.

The programme enabled students to build their own computer, program and code it. On the first week, they were trained EE through using Raspberry Pi, a small computer used to learn programming.

The second week discussed the uses of AI and the process and tools of machine learning. The young aspiring coders tackled the basis of programming with Scratch, created a machine learning model with Watson and got an introduction to programming with Python.

They also got to explore with Machine Learning projects on the web and use TensorFlow to create an interactive chat programme.

Talal Al Nuaimi, robots specialist at the ministry who supervised the students at Harvard University, said as the youth must learn coding to interact with the machines that are expected to take over in the near future.

It’s believed that by 2071, AI will already be at least as intelligent as humans and able to surpass humans at most cognitive tasks.

The newly-appointed Ministry of Artificial Intelligence has been placing special focus introducing AI camps to students. There has been collaboration with the Ministry of Education to send teams to participate in events that included sessions on big data management, AI in transportation and new technology in daily lives.

“The students were empowered with new knowledge that allowed them to gain a better understanding of machines and AI. It will prepare them to collaborate with intelligent machines in the future to increase efficiency, instead of fearing that machines will take over their jobs.”

Most of the students took the programme as an opportunity to launch their projects. They plan to participate in Think Science, the UAE science competition, to bring their projects to life and benefit their community with different services.

Al Nuaimi said while coding and programing wasn’t entirely new to students as it was introduced to them in their schools, the new advanced knowledge elevated their skills to a new level. “Now they got a practical experience on how to find, analyse and clean a dataset,” he said.

Students, he said, were selected in the Future Ambassadors programme among other applicants based on their ambitions and passion to learn programing.

“While some students had initially applied for another programme, the ministry moved some of them to the Future Ambassadors programme as their interests seemed to fit more for the course.”

Accomplishing goals for Expo 2020

Shahd Abdullah Al Kaabi, a Grade 10 student from Al Maali School in Al Ain, came into the programme to accomplish three projects. One of them is medical info, an app that immediately sends emergency equipment to the elderly once needed.

“Through the programme, I learned tech design and programing, which are the skills I need to finish my projects before Expo2020,” said Al Kaabi, who plans to become a surgeon and complete her studies at Harvard University.

“I loved learning how to build a computer and program it myself and how to create electric circuits. Such skills will help me develop my projects and knowledge of programing for even bigger future projects,” she said.

Echoing similar thoughts was Khalifa Al Mosaabi, 16, from Al Sammalia School in Abu Dhabi who said he wanted to enhance his skills to be ready for Expo 2020.

“I want to be a renewable energy engineer in the future. I’m here to learn to develop the right smart systems that would enhance tourist experience on the run up to Expo 2020,” Al Mosaabi said.

Coding a game and learning computer design introduced Al Mosaabi to a new facet of technology and its uses.

The ambassadors programme was started in 2016. This year , it saw 1,080 Emirati school and university students and teachers participating in programmes at distinguished college campuses in the US and Europe to cover six fields of the future, innovation, giving, diplomacy, sports excellence and masterpieces.

Know The Future programme

As part of the programme, 38 Emirati school pupils explored the use of AI, programming and coding:

  • Learned EE with Raspberry Pi
  • Discussed the uses of Artificial intelligence
  • Understood the process and tools of machine learning
  • Explored Machine Learning projects on the web
  • Tackled the basics of programming with Scratch to create a dynamic program
  • Created a machine learning model with Watson
  • Applied machine learning Model to Scratch project to create a smart program
  • Used TensorFlow to create an interactive chat program
  • Found, analyzed and cleaned a dataset to create a base for the language of your chatbot
  • Got an introduction to programming with Python
  • Learned how to implement AI to learn to play a game
  • Adapted parameters to improve dataset

Source: Khaleej Times