Tools to create and democratize conversational artificial intelligence
Author(s)Van Brummelen, Jessica(Jessica Raquelle)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
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The world is becoming increasingly saturated with voice-first technology, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices. As this technology becomes more complex, the skill set needed to develop conversational AI applications increases as well. This work bridges the gap, democratizes AI technology, and empowers technology consumers to become technology developers. In this thesis, I develop block-based Alexa Skill programming tools, enabling anyone -- even elementary school students --to create complex conversational AI applications. During high school workshops, students created Alexa Skills to help others remember forgotten words, learn math concepts, ease recycling, and display Alexa's speech on screen for those hard of hearing. Additionally, I developed a conversational AI curriculum and partnered with MIT's High School Studies Program to provide workshops to the Boston community. We taught students about the capabilities, limitations, and implications of conversational AI, and explored research questions, such as "What do students believe, understand, and think about conversational agents?"; "Can students develop their own conversational AI applications?"; and "What do students envision for the future of conversational AI?" The results from a pre-workshop assessment suggested that despite not understanding how conversational agents worked, students could think of ways for conversational agents to solve problems.The post-workshop assessment suggested that through the workshops, students learned conversational AI and machine learning concepts; could identify capabilities and limitations of conversational agents; felt proud of their project development; were interested in developing their projects further; and were generally hopeful and excited about the future of conversational AI. Through this research, students learned about the power and limitations of AI, were empowered to solve real-world problems using AI, and developed socially useful conversational AI agent applications.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 189-195).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.