9 AI experts on why young Australians need AI education

AI technology is reshaping the way we live, work, and even learn. It’s evident that AI education is no longer an accessory and is now more of a necessity if we want to adequately equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the challenges and opportunities that pave the path to our future tech-driven world.

But don’t just take our word for it—we asked nine Aussie AI experts why they think it’s important to empower young Australians with access to AI education.

From cultivating our future workforce to fostering tomorrow’s creators and innovators and ensuring equitable AI for everyone, there’s lots to discuss. Let’s dive in.

 

AI is impacting industries across the board, not just tech.

 

Alex Mirrington, Machine Learning Engineer at Rokt

“It’s important that people have a high-level understanding of the capabilities and limitations of AI, in the same way that they have an understanding of mathematics, language or science. Just like not everyone will be a mathematician, author or scientist, not everyone will necessarily work in AI – but I believe that a fundamental understanding of AI will help people in a multitude of professions do their job better and make more informed decisions in the same way that mathematics, language or science skills do now.”

 

Isabell Kiral, Senior Machine Learning Engineer at Culture Amp

“The world of AI is moving very quickly and is touching nearly all aspects of our lives. It’s really important for students to know about, and having a sophisticated understanding of, the role data and AI can play in health care, information dissemination, and politics.”

 

AI has the potential to deliver significant benefits to society. Our future leaders and innovators must know how to harness AI ethically for our collective benefit.

 

Professor Mary-Anne Williams, Michael J Crouch Chair for Innovation at UNSW

“It is fun to use AI to solve problems because you can make a difference in people’s lives, change what is possible, and reshape how society works. Our human environment is becoming increasingly digital. People are overwhelmed by lots of data and are unable to make good decisions without tools like AI. The ability to use AI tools is necessary if you want to design, create, explore, and exploit digital opportunities to build and shape the future.”

 

Bahar Salehi, Senior Data Scientist at Go1

“The amount of generated data is growing daily in our society and the more data we have the more we can do with AI. However, data doesn’t have value by itself. It needs to be cleaned, processed, and interpreted. Therefore, we need more experts to know how to properly use data to build those magnificent AI tools that can bring value to society. By empowering our young Australians with proper AI education, we contribute to data and AI democratisation, which means the AI strengths are not only available to a small subset of the population, but the whole world.”

 

AI is already part of our everyday lives—it’s essential that young Australians understand how this technology impacts and influences them.

 

Dr Sue Keay, Partner and Director of Future Work Group

“Fear of AI is often fear of the unknown. As AI becomes more ubiquitous, young Australians need to understand what AI is, what are its limitations and how AI may be influencing their lives and for them to be empowered to choose how AI is applied to them.”

 

Understanding that AI may have risks and limitations (as well as benefits) will help students be critical users of the technologies.

 

Dr Sebastian Sardina, Professor at RMIT University

“To me the most important reason is to promote informed and critical Australian and world citizens. Because AI is sharing our lives, jobs, and societies in profound ways, I believe it is fundamental to understand, at a reasonable level, how AI and computer systems work, what their main ingredients are, and importantly what their limitations are.

It’s important that people don’t see AI as “magic” or unknown because this reduces our ability to question aspects of the technology or apply critical thinking. This is not to say everyone needs to be an AI expert, in the same way we’re not all journalists but still have a good grasp of current affairs, reading and writing.”

 

Ben Akres, Machine Learning Engineer at Rokt

Over time AI is likely to play an increasingly large role in many aspects of our lives, so it would be highly beneficial for young Australians to have a strong education when it comes to these skills. One obvious reason is the demand for engineers to build the next generation of AI systems; however, we also need a broader population who has a basic understanding of AI so they can grapple with the border legal, ethical and societal implications of this technology. For example, self driving cars, automation in the workforce, and issues surrounding echo bubbles on social media platforms are all broad societal issues which will be best solved by having a population that is well versed in AI and all it involves.

 

A fundamental grounding in the basics of AI will enable students to build on this knowledge as they learn and grow.

 

Tony Abi Khalil, VP of Digital Engineering and Technology at Pet Circle 

“Like everything in life, the early bird gets the worm. As our lives move more and more down this path, it’s imperative that our young generation has the front foot in the door from an early age so that they can continue to learn and innovate in this field and harness the power and opportunities AI has to offer.”

 

AI technology is rapidly evolving. Continually reviewing and realigning AI education is necessary for students to stay up-to-date.

 

Danny Doan, Senior Applied Scientist at Xero

“AI is a new and fast-evolving field. The best technology today might become obsolete in a few years. It is important to continuously learn and keep up-to-date with AI. The power of AI comes with its own challenges, such as privacy, fairness and bias. We need to carefully study and address these problems to ensure AI is fair to everyone and serves our best interests. Having access to AI education at an early age provides a solid foundation for understanding what AI is, what it can do, and how to use it in the correct way.”


*All featured quotes have been collated from our Faces of AI series, which can be found here: Faces of AI.


Have you registered for the Day of AI 2024 yet?

Equip your students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in an increasingly AI-powered world. The Day of AI is a free full day of engaging and interactive learning for students in Years 5 – 10. The Day can be taught at any time during Term 2. Materials will be made available to registered teachers from early April.