Invited speaker - Dr. Kenneth Kahn, University of Oxford

Date & Time: 8 November 2017, 11:00 am (GMT+2)

Place: Joensuu TB248, Kuopio F213

Title: AI Programming by Children

Abstract. 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 supported included robotics, natural language processing, and more [1]. In addition to the exposure to the powerful ideas associated with constructing computer programs, the children became 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 [2]. Dale Lane recently created the Machine Learning for Kids website [3] where children can train a model with texts, images, or numbers and use that model in the Scratch programming language. Google recently published an experiment in enabling novices to do machine learning in their browser [4]. As part of the eCraft2Learn project [5] the speaker has enhanced the Snap! [6] programming language with blocks for speech input and output, and image recognition [7]. Live demos of these systems will be presented.


1. Ken Kahn, Three Interactions between AI and Education, 1977

2. Stephen Wolfram, Machine Learning for Middle Schoolers, 2017

3. https://machinelearningforkids.co.uk/#!/about

4. https://experiments.withgoogle.com/ai/teachable-machine

5. http://project.ecraft2learn.eu/

6. https://snap.berkeley.edu/

7. Ken Kahn and Niall Winters, Child-friendly Programming Interfaces to AI Cloud Services, EC-TEL 2017

Bio. 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. At the University of Oxford, he has focused on supporting non-programmers in building agent-based models in their fields of study. He designed and developed the Behaviour Composer to enable learners and researchers to build computer models by composing, enhancing, and customising behaviours. Most recently he has returned to his interest in children creating AI programs.