All the recent talk about ChatGPT has caused me to revisit the work I did in 2018 on talking with children about the ethical uses of technology. As I wrote in my article “Teach Artificial Intelligence in Kindergarten,” it’s never too soon to begin having conversations with children about the role of technology in their lives.
The topic of ethics is particularly relevant when we consider the growing role of artificial intelligence in devices used by children, families, and schools. The broad question we must all consider is: What decisions will we let computers make for us?
The prevalence of AI in the daily lives of families means we must begin talking with children about computer science and artificial intelligence topics at an early age. We can’t wait until they have learned to program computers and engineer robots. But how do we begin?
The foundations for critical thinking and ethical decision-making can be established during early childhood through conversations, problem solving, stories, and play. As Mitchel Resnick describes in his book, Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers and Play, young children can begin learning about computer science through hands-on experiences with physical and tangible materials, such as blocks and robots. The richest conversations will take place during collaborative, social play experiences.
Artificial intelligence experts like Mark Stehlik of Carnegie Mellon University emphasize the importance of teaching critical thinking and ethics to computer science students. In a recent presentation at SXSWedu, Stehlik described the importance of demystifying artificial intelligence. “People shouldn’t be afraid of AI. They should understand what it can and cannot do.” I agree that ethics should be a core component of computer science content at every level of instruction, including early childhood.
To read more, visit my article “Teach Artificial Intelligence in Kindergarten,” in Early Insights.