Democratising AI education

A new company, DataWorkout, is raising awareness of disruptive innovation through cinematic filmmaking. Why? Founder and chief executive Angel Javier Salazar says it’s crucial to democratise education of technologies as powerful and transformational as artificial intelligence

How has artificial intelligence evolved over the years?

It goes back further than many people realise. Alan Turing took the first steps to test a machine’s ability to model human intelligence in post-war Britain and Frank Rosenblatt’s 1958 invention of the perceptron algorithm accelerated the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) could mimic human thinking. But the next truly major milestone didn’t arrive until 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. The new millennium flared inspiration. Honda launched ASIMO, a humanoid robot purposed to offer home assistance for people with mobility issues. IBM’s new super computer Watson was victorious in the American quiz show Jeopardy and Google’s AlphaGo became the first machine to beat a human professional at Go, a complicated board game. AI is no longer just an abstract sci-fi concept; it is part of our everyday lives, through smart cars, robotic devices and virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa.

What did you learn about AI in your time in academia?

I spent 29 years in academia including 19 years as a lecturer. What struck me was how little the average person understands about AI and what it can and can’t do, as well as the lack of alignment on the subject between scientists, academics, technology professionals, business leaders and wider society. At its simplest level, AI enables human integration with intelligent sensors feeding data, progressing to levels of hyper-connectivity within all economic spheres. But nobody is explaining this in a way that is easily digestible and understandable or dispelling fears. Some people restrict AI education because they try to mystify it. They’ll charge thousands of pounds for courses they deliver over numerous weeks. We make it mainstream by delivering the same information in a highly engaging, feature-length cinematic film. We’re democratising AI education and we’re the only ones doing it in this format, partly because nobody else has the courage to do it.

Why is it so important that people are better educated on AI?

A big question is how we support and protect people as the AI revolution explodes. As cloud computing takes over the world of data, the workplace is no longer in one physical location, it is atomised and scattered. The puzzle of co-ordinating product quality, service and operations, and worker performance in the AI era, will need a new map of clues, dramatically changing management styles from traditional top-down structures to decentralised and remote-working practices. AI is interweaving into our lives in ways we would never have imagined; people need to understand its impact.

A lot of people fear AI will steal their jobs. Are they right to have these concerns?

A power struggle is in the process of erupting as a shift towards automation and predictive systems will displace workers. Those carrying out roles that can largely be automated may feel they are losing power, while incomprehensible volumes of power will be placed in the hands of others. Our AI journey must be clearly mapped out. AI cannot be left to drive its own train of progress. Its flexibility gives everyone the freedom to steer it in different directions. The destination must be clear from the onset, with a societal sat nav of directions. This is why democratising AI education is so vital.

What films do you have in the pipeline to achieve that democratisation?

Visitors to our website can now rent our first film The Quest for Super Intelligence. The cinematic educational experience provides a comprehensive view of the evolution, risks and challenges to implement AI in businesses and for the benefit of society. We explore how intelligence is evolving to mimic us as humans, the fears of automation, the new skills required, the platforms available, and issues around employment, diversity and inclusion. Released in January, our second film The Lord of the Blocks: Blockchain Unchained, directed by Dr Christian de Vartavan, takes viewers back to a medieval setting of castles, wizards and knights to explain this revolutionary new technology. We are planning several more films with engaging stories to demystify new technologies. Our mission is to inspire and help enthusiastic people enjoy learning from the comfort of their home. DataWorkout will directly contribute to developing the skills of the future workforce through entertaining “edufilms” that spark innovation.

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