The 50th anniversary of the movie “2001: Space Odyssey” has inspired a new initiative to stimulate discussion amongst teenagers on artificial intelligence and deep learning as well as the controls and information that we give our devices and computers in our daily lives. The ‘HAL’ Programme is now being rolled out by CEIA – Cork’s Technology Network to primary schools.
HAL (Heuristically-programmed Algorithmic computer) was the central robot computer that controlled the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacted with the spaceship’s astronaut crew in the fictional Space Odyssey. During the movie, HAL takes control of the operations of the spaceship, which leads to the ultimate showdown between man and the machine.
“With devices like Alexa Echo, Apple HomePod and SmartLock in our homes, the ‘intelligent personal assistant’ SIRI and Google in our pockets, we have to become more aware that we are giving devices an incredible amount of personal data and control to machines. Our young people are growing up where this is normal practice and more and more common. This initiative is about giving students the opportunity to reflect on the control and information that we freely hand over, and about examining some of the potential outcomes in society as we give more and more to machines and machine learning. HAL was a concept 50 years ago, a warning of sorts, that is still valid today. We want the students to have fun, and to see the opportunities as well as the challenges of the incredible technology we have in our world today and potentially tomorrow,” said Valerie Cowman, Chair of the Skills & Education Committee of the CEIA – Cork’s Technology Network.
As an industry representative body, the CEIA – Cork’s Technology Network is committed to encouraging STEM learning and programmes. The HAL programme is a positive way to engage students in the exciting world of artificial intelligence. It is also a way to encourage students to think more profoundly about our use of technology and automation, robotics, surveillance and potential inequality as a result of AI in the future. The students will discuss the implications for our daily lives, society and the world around us, as the new frontier of ethics and risk assessment for emerging technology permeates our world.
The CEIA HAL programme will provide an online resource kit for teachers of 5th and 6th class students, which will initiate discussion firstly around HAL in Space Odyssey but then more widely and deeply about technology on a macro and micro level, from our society to our homes and the ethical consideration for the future. Running in the final school term, students will storyboard their HAL story and work on poster and video presentations which will be shared with their peers and by a panel of technology leaders. All participating schools will be invited to send a representative group of students to share their learnings at a final event in June 2018, when students receive certification of completion.
For more information, see www.ceia.ie