Dr. Breazeal said it was important for students to have access to professional software tools from leading tech companies. “We’re giving them future-proof skills and perspectives of how they can work with A.I. to do things they care about,” she said.
Some Dearborn students, who had already built and programmed robots in school, said they appreciated learning how to code a different technology: voice-activated helpbots. Alexa uses a range of A.I. techniques, including automatic speech recognition.
At least a few students also said they had privacy and other concerns about A.I.-assisted tools.
Amazon records consumers’ conversations with its Echo speakers after a person says a “wake word” like “Alexa.” Unless users opt out, Amazon may use their interactions with Alexa to target them with ads or use their voice recordings to train its A.I. models. Last week, Amazon agreed to pay $25 million to settle federal charges that it had indefinitely kept children’s voice recordings, violating the federal online children’s privacy law. The company said it disputed the charges and denied that it had violated the law. The company noted that customers could review and delete their Alexa voice recordings.
But the one-hour Amazon-led workshop did not touch on the company’s data practices.