Artificial intelligence has captured the imaginations of filmmakers, authors, and scientists who collectively describe smart homes, robot domination, or simply a more efficient future. Recently, artificial intelligence captured the imagination of teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County who visited Mighty AI, a Seattle-based tech start-up that develops artificial intelligence for self-driving cars.
Like many tech start-ups, Mighty AI’s office space is both collaborative and youthful. After taking an elevator to the 11th floor, the teens eagerly accepted snacks and relaxed at wooden picnic tables. Soon, Mighty AI employees sat down facing the teens and talked with them about their jobs, educational paths, and how to become software developers. “The speed networking was interesting and surprising,” remarked Zoey from the Anacortes Club, “it was cool because I found out why most of them work there.” After the speed networking activity, all of the kids were energized and excited to learn more about AI.
According to the professionals at Mighty AI, students encounter artificial intelligence every day. Artificial intelligence directs them with maps, decides what music they listen to, and acts as their personal assistant on their phones. In the Seattle office, students also learned how technology can model objects.
Self-driving cars need to be able to recognize and classify objects as they drive because drivers react differently to signs, pedestrians, buildings, and other cars. Mighty AI specializes in the software that interprets camera feeds to help cars interact with the world around them. How does it work? “I liked learning about how they are using mostly physics” said Rhiannon, a 7th grader. One of the Mighty AI presenters explained that calculus, linear algebra, and physics are all used in the algorithms that work in artificial intelligence. Students saw a basic example of this complex software by watching how a computer could take the input of a drawing of a cat and turn it into a more complex image of a cat. The teens enjoyed drawing cat-like shapes and watching the computer add fur, paws, and eyes to fill in their outlines.
“STEM education should always be fun,” said Nathan Allen, the Director of STEM Initiatives for Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County. “Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly prevalent and important. We’re grateful that Mighty AI got our kids excited about new technologies and helped them understand how to pursue STEM careers in the future.”
Educational experiences such as the trip to Mighty AI inspire kids. By interacting with innovative professions, students begin journeys that could eventually lead to careers or passions. In the rapidly developing field of artificial intelligence, youth have the opportunity to become the next greatest innovators. For some of the kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County, the opportunity to visit Mighty AI already opened their horizons to technology they might one day improve.