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Artificial intelligence

3 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Copyright: Thomas Trutschel/photothek.net

Artificial intelligence (AI) has long since found its way into our everyday lives. Where flying cars and robots were once seen as symbols of AI, the reality today is more diverse, but no less fascinating. We take a look at where we already encounter artificial intelligence in everyday life and what significance this has for media education.

Artificial intelligence – what is it anyway?

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is a very broad term that describes machines or computer systems that can imitate human intelligence. To do this, they are fed information until they can apply it independently to solve tasks. This also means that they can learn from mistakes and thus constantly improve. For example, if a computer is fed a very large number of photos of human faces, at some point it will be able to tell for sure whether or not a photo has a human face in it. In this case, it is a so-called “weak AI” because it is intelligent only in relation to a specific subject. Research is also being conducted on a “strong AI” that could have the intellectual capabilities of a human, e.g., think logically or plan ahead. However, the strong AI does not yet exist. And if it should exist one day – it will probably not have feelings and thus will be fundamentally different from us humans.

AI in everyday family life

The areas of application for AI in family life are diverse. Facial recognition technologies unlock smartphones, voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri fulfill our commands and streaming services such as Netflix suggest films that match our preferences. Algorithms also play a role in this. Toys(smart toys) can also actively interact with children with the help of AI. For example, an intelligent cuddly toy can search for a child’s questions on the Internet and read out the answers. Chatbots such as ChatGPT can provide support with school tasks.

AI risks

Artificial intelligence can make our lives easier in many situations. But there are also risks associated with the use of AI. For example, so-called deep fakes can be used to create deceptively real images or videos that support the spread of fake news. If AI is used at home, for example via a voice assistant or smart toys, it is also important to look at the manufacturer’s data protection measures and use existing security settings. If the data is not stored on the device itself, but in a cloud, there is a risk that third parties can access and misuse the data. There are also many legal questions for which there is no conclusive solution at the present time: For example, who should be liable in the future if a decision made by an AI causes damage? This is one reason why the use of self-driving cars, for example, is not yet readily possible.

Understanding AI through play

In order to promote a better understanding of AI, it is important that children and young people are familiarized with the concept at an early age. It is important that they understand what AI is and how it works. Younger children often find it difficult at first to distinguish between an object activated by AI and a real living being. Age-appropriate explanatory videos and articles are suitable for teaching children and young people about artificial intelligence. There are also games in which you can train an AI yourself and thus learn to understand how it works in a playful way.

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What parents should pay attention

Open communication: Talk openly with your child about AI and explain how it is used in their everyday life. Encourage them to ask questions and take time to discuss any concerns.

Critical media literacy: Help your child develop a critical attitude towards the information they find online. Show them how to recognize false information and encourage them to check sources.

Data protection: Discuss the importance of data protection with your child and encourage them to handle personal data responsibly. Explain what information can and cannot be shared safely.

Self-determination: Encourage your child to decide for themselves which technologies they want to use. Help them to set their own boundaries and feel comfortable saying no when they feel uncomfortable.

Joint activities: Take the opportunity to play games or do activities together with your child that provide a better understanding of AI. Discuss how AI-based technologies work and let your child gain their own experience.

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