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How Do You Explain Machine Learning to a Kid?

According to IBM, machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate how humans learn, gradually improving the accuracy of the computer’s decision-making process.

Obviously, there is a lot more to it than that, but just how do you go about explaining machine learning to a kid, let’s say a child of 5 year’s old?

One way you can explain machine learning to a kid is by using a method we use at FunTech. Here’s an example of what we might say.

Explaining machine learning to a kid the easy way

You can explain machine learning to a 5-year-old kid by telling them it happens when computers have access to information. Over time, this lets them learn how to make decisions without a human telling it what to do.

For example, if a robot was using machine learning whilst walking around a room but bumped into a wall 5 times, it would then learn that walls could not be walked through. That means the sixth time it approached a wall, the robot would turn away to find an alternative route.

You can explain machine learning to older kids by saying how it simulates human learning patterns to learn, grow, update, and develop itself by continually assessing data and identifying patterns based on past outcomes.

Examples of everyday technology that use machine learning would be virtual assistants (Alexa, Google, and Siri). Using Alexa as an example, Bernard Marr wrote this:

“Every time Alexa makes a mistake in interpreting your request, that data is used to make the system smarter the next time around. Machine learning is the reason for the rapid improvement in the capabilities of voice-activated user interface. For example, Google speech was able to improve its error rate tremendously in a year; now it recognises 19 out of 20 words it hears.”

That might be a little complex for younger kids to understand, so if we go back to basics again on explaining machine learning to a child, you could also try the following:

How machine learning works in simple terms

Machine learning gives computers and machines access to data (information), so they can then learn for themselves without a human having to program, type in or speak a command.

Machine learning can happen in 3 ways:

  1. Computers watch and observe what others do, then copy that action.
  2. Computers watch and observe and then use logic to make their own decision based on previous experiences with “data”.
  3. Computers learn from their previous mistakes.

How kids can learn about AI and machine learning

FunTech offers an artificial intelligence course for kids where children can learn to develop a Chatbot. The Chatbot will simulate human-like conversations, using conditional logic, neural networks, natural language and so much more – branching into one of the most exciting and cutting-edge areas of technology.

The AI Machine Learning course is available as a summer camp in various locations in and around London and the south of England. It can also be taken as a virtual course online where location doesn’t matter.

For more information, view the options for the AI course.

It’s aimed at children aged 12 to 16 years of age. If you have a younger child, we recommend viewing our alternative tech courses all of which have age brackets applied to them, starting from 7 year and up.


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