AI Programming by Children

Dr KAHN, Ken, Senior Researcher, Department of Education, University of Oxford
Chaired by
Dr HENZ, Martin, Associate Professor, School of Computing

  29 Jan 2019 Tuesday, 03:00 PM to 04:00 PM

 Executive Classroom, COM2-04-02


The idea of children constructing AI programs is about fifty years old. When Seymour Papert and colleagues designed and implemented the Logo programming language the kinds of example projects by children that they suggested included robotics, natural language processing, and more. In addition to the exposure to the powerful ideas associated with constructing computer programs, the children could become more reflective about their own thinking. Recently Stephen Wolfram added a machine learning chapter to a high school Mathematica textbook and then blogged about how middle schoolers might program machine learning. Dale Lane recently created the Machine Learning for Kids website where children can train a model with texts, images, or numbers and use that model in the Scratch programming language. Stefania Druga at the Media Lab has been developing Cognimates Platform for AI education. As part of the eCraft2Learn project the speaker has enhanced the Snap! programming language with blocks for speech input and output, image recognition, machine learning, and word embeddings. A live demo will be presented.


Ken Kahn did his doctoral research at the MIT AI Lab where he was first exposed to the ideas of Seymour Papert and Marvin Minsky about how the proper use of computers could change education dramatically. After 12 years of research in programming languages and AI he returned to research on computational learning environments. He designed and developed ToonTalk - a programming environment for children where programs are created by demonstration in a game-like virtual world. As part of the European eCraft2Learn project, he returned to his interest in children creating AI programs.