1.1. Lesson 1: Intro to AI and Alexa

Time Estimate: 45 minutes

1.1.1. Introduction and Goals

In this lesson you will learn about artificial intelligence (AI). Although AI has been around since the 1950s, it is widely recognized now as one of the fastest-growing fields in technology. From ELIZA to Alexa, AI has become something we interact with every day, and will be a part of our daily life for the foreseeable future. Navigation apps, 3D photography, facial recognition, and smart assistants are just a few of the everyday uses for AI, and you’ll be introduced to more examples. But how can we define AI? And why is the use of AI being extended into space?

Learning Goals: At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Explain how Alexa is an example of AI.
  • Identify how Alexa can be used to perform basic tasks.

Language Goals: At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Define in writing artificial intelligence and voice AI.
  • Orally describe the characteristics of technology that use artificial intelligence.

1.1.2. Learning Activities

Discussion: Introduction

In this lesson, you will be exploring the challenges that exist in space exploration. This video will introduce you to the Artemis Space Program as well as some of the concepts you will learn in this unit. As you watch, write down some difficulties astronauts may encounter while traveling in space.

Exploration: What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. It is a process of programming a computer to make decisions for itself. This video explores the 5 big ideas associated with AI. As you watch the video, write down ways that you can identify AI.

Activity: Is it AI?

In this activity, you will work with a partner or group to identify which of the examples in the next activity are AI. Discuss the following questions as you complete the activity:

  • Does the example perceive/understand its environment?
  • Does the example continue to learn?
  • Does the example make plans or decisions on its own?
  • Does the example interact with its environment?
  • Who is doing the thinking? Where is the intelligence - with the humans who programmed it or with the device/program?

Discussion: Alexa as AI

So far in this lesson, you have defined artificial intelligence and explored examples of AI. Sometimes, an AI technology will incorporate other AI systems or technologies to function. In this video, you will explore how speech recognition functions in conjunction with other AI technologies. As you watch the video, write down reasons that Amazon Alexa devices are considered to be AI.

New Words: Wake Words, Intents, and Utterances

Alexa uses AI to build on preprogrammed skills, speech recognition, and speech synthesis to interact with humans to improve productivity. In the next lesson, you will begin exploring how you will be able to build your own Alexa skill. This video introduces some words that will be necessary to begin building your skill. As you watch the video, listen for the terms: wake word, intent, and utterance.

1.1.3. Reflection

Now that you understand the vast capability of AI to help with productivity here on Earth, you can appreciate how this technology has the potential to be used in space. In the next lesson, you will explore how AI is currently being used in space and some of the ways it could be used in the future. For now, reflect on what you have learned in this lesson.

Q-10: A friend tells you that they do not believe that they have ever used AI. First, in your own words, explain to them what it is, and then tell them how they might have used AI and not even have known it.

Q-11: How do you use AI in your daily life?

Q-12: In what ways to you think AI will be used in space?

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