Since artificial intelligence in its many forms is a technological force already present in many, many areas of our lives, we need to start talking to our children about it now. What do we need to say to them to make them aware of AI and its benefits? How do we keep them safe from its threats? How do we prepare them to use AI and not be used by it?
What do we need to know in order to be the best parents we can be for our children?
As a father, an entrepreneur, and a creator of Personal.ai , I have a few clear thoughts about how I will prepare my children for a world which is increasingly infused with artificial intelligence. This world may be one in which their security and privacy will be challenged if they are not carefully taught how best to protect themselves. I know they will be asked to engage with new ways of learning, new job possibilities, and new methods of maintaining personal relationships through AI. Here’s what I will say to them, no matter their age and stage.
First, I will always create a time to talk with them, a time set apart from the busyness of their lives and mine. Conversation from human to human is irreplaceable. Although our computers can already use language to “talk” to us, and will increasingly do so, when I talk to my kids, I will look into their eyes, I will hold their hands, and I will give them a human presence. We will be at the kitchen table, or maybe in the backyard, and we’ll talk. No computer can or will be able to do that. And as I talk with them, I will save our precious exchanges so I can savor them in the future. Personal.ai will let me do this.
Secondly, I will continue to help them learn the difference between “artificial” and “real.” For young children, the difference can be understood when they hold a stuffed animal or a doll. These are not “real” lions and tigers or “real” babies. Perhaps a trip to the zoo where real animals bask in the sun will help illustrate that, as would seeing a baby in a stroller. I want my children to grasp early on, the difference between artificial and real. A “real” relationship can be saved, savored, known, and recalled. It can be comforting, inspiring, and instructive. With help from Personal.ai, my current startup, preservation of memories and special moments will be nearly effortless.
Carrying that thought forward for older children, I will want them to understand that artificial intelligence is ever-expanding and may surpass our own intelligence in some ways. It will be able to increase their time for relationships if it can be used efficiently. It will be able to help save and organize their memories, communications, and important moments in their personal relationships. Personal.ai will offer them the capacity to save, in a very private way, what they value most. But artificial intelligence will never offer a human relationship, a warm hand or a beating heart. For that they will always need other human beings.
I will want my children to understand that AI will offer them the world’s information, endless games and play, introductions to other humans across the globe, and new job possibilities. But they will need to maintain robust personal relationships and an essential grasp of concrete reality as they embrace artificial intelligence and are subject to its presence. I want my children to effortlessly balance their increasing uses of “artificial” intelligence against the value of “real” relationships, real experiences, real memories, and conversations.
And then I will strive to help my children be aware of all the ways AI is present in their lives. I will teach them to be AI vigilant in ways that keep them safe even as they learn to use AI to their advantage. For example, their cell phones have the capacity to make their locations and communications available, not just to concerned parents and loyal friends, but also to the makers of their devices. That data is not entirely private and can be monetized for the advantage of others. I will want my children to be aware of this and to carefully choose their means of communication.
Their texts, tweets and e-mails, their photos and videos, compose their own personal data set, a valuable asset much sought after by big tech companies. The monetizing of personal data can be a great risk to the privacy and security of my children as artificial intelligence expands beyond even its current capacity. They, and we, need to be aware of this and protect against it.
Equally important, I want my children to approach AI with curiosity, fearlessness, and a strong moral compass. I want them to choose to evaluate the best AI applications available. I want them to demand transparency and privacy in all their AI exchanges. I want them to harness this new force for the good of themselves and others. And that is why my colleagues and I work in the field of artificial intelligence and have created Personal.ai.
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