High School Students and Teachers share opinions on AI Usage

March 17, 2021

During our 'AI Futures (for high school students)' online session on March 11th during the Mozilla Foundation's MozFest 2021, PreparationTech asked participants to answer a series of straw polls which measured their opinions on AI usage and related consequences, implications and ethics. (Twenty-five people participated over the course of the session.)

Participants think human knowledge is more important than technology, they hold technologists responsible for the consequences of the tech they develop, and 100% of them think that governments should regulate AI usage.

1. Prediction Algorithms & Recommender Systems Developed with Machine Learning

Soraya Hausl, Chief Data Scientist at Carra, an online personalized hair care service, spoke about how many online services are powered by AI and machine learning. Data scientists are using prediction algorithms to guess what people want and need and then generate recommendations. Here are the results of the polls related to machine learning-generated recommendations.

What is your biggest worry when it comes to algorithms which make predictions?
- 43% = bias (racial, gender, cultural, etc.)
- 28% = privacy violations
- 14% = wrong predictions
- 14% = incomplete data

Are prediction algorithms and recommender systems reducing our ability to think for ourselves and make choices?
- 60% = yes
- 40% = no

If an online service recommends a specific product which causes a negative result, who is responsible?
- 67% - AI engineer/data scientist who designed the recommender system
- 33% - consumer who should understand the risks

2. Socially Intelligent, Humanoid Robots

David Hanson, Founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics, spoke about how his team is using AI and machine learning to develop robots which can mimic human movement, speech patterns, facial expressions and thought processes. Here are the results of the polls related to humanoid robots.

Should robots be brought to life? 100% = no

How can we tell if robots are socially intelligent?
- 50% -  if they show emotion
- 50% - if they can ask questions

In what industries should socially-intelligent robots be used first?
- 25% - education
- 25% - health
- 25% - the arts
- 25% - caregiving (elderly, children)
none - military/policing

If AI enables robots to think for themselves, what do you think they will do?
- 67% - challenge humans
- 33% - help humans

3. Smart Farming Tech based on AI & Machine Learning

Jen Selby, Machine Learning Engineer at Blue River Technology talked about how her company is using computer vision and robotics to make farming more sustainabe. Their 'See & Spray' technology identifies weeds and can target them specifically. Here are the results of the polls related to farm tech which integrates AI-driven farm tech.

Who/what is the most important factor for the future of farming?
- 83% - farmers
- 17% - technologists

What is the biggest advantage of using AI in farming?
- 50% - reduced usage of harmful chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc.)
- 33% - the ability to feed more people
- 17% - the increase in the amount of plants grow

What is the biggest disadvantage of using AI in farming?
- 33% - the loss of jobs for farmers and farm workers
- 50% - the loss of traditional knowledge held by small-scale farmers
- 17% - the fact that AI-driven tech is unaffordable for small-scale farmers

If 'smart' farming equipment fails to identify and kill weeds and these weeds are shipped to a store, who is responsible if a consumer eats them and becomes sick?
- 100% - technologist