11/7/2020 Artificial Intelligence: How Computers Learn Virtual TechShop Recap

Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch

Screenshot of young women on Zoom conference call

How do virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri recognize your voice and learn new commands? Through TechGirlz’s “Artificial Intelligence: How Computers Learn” workshop, girls learn about the machine learning techniques that are fundamental to these technologies.

TechGirlz volunteer Radhika assisted in teaching this virtual TechShop on November 7th. She and her fellow volunteers gave an overview of machine learning and discussed real-world applications of artificial intelligence (AI).

Radhika’s favorite part of the TechShop was guiding the girls through interactive exercises. These activities illustrated how computers learn to tell apart different people, animals, and objects. Since the workshop was virtual, breakout rooms were helpful for separating into small groups.

In one activity, the girls listed traits that are associated with pigs, which a computer could use to differentiate between a pig and other animals or objects. Radhika was impressed by the range of traits the girls identified.

Another exercise ー which the girls especially liked ー involved someone drawing a number and then having the computer try to recognize that number.

“It was lots of fun to watch as the girls made new discoveries and came up with ideas as to why the computer correctly or incorrectly identified their drawing,” Radhika explained.

As a high school student, Radhika uses technology on a daily basis and recognizes its potential for sharing ideas and uniting people. For Radhika, building websites is a creative outlet and a way to communicate with others. She’s also fascinated by AI and amazed by how much people are able to teach computers.

“Since I have some coding experience, it has taught me how to identify key characteristics that differentiate certain objects from others in a logical manner, which is a key part of machine learning,” Radhika says.

For anyone teaching this TechShop in the future, Radhika recommends leaving sufficient time for the interactive exercises and using breakout rooms for these activities.

“[The exercises] were really helpful in showing the girls the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, so I would recommend setting aside a good amount of time for them,” Radhika notes.

Help girls learn about cutting-edge technologies. Run your own TechShop today!