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NC Teens To Learn About Artificial Intelligence

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham is part of the University of North Carolina System.

For students at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, the future is now. An alum has given $2 million to start an artificial intelligence and machine learning program at the public boarding school in Durham.

The school’s chancellor, Todd Roberts, says students will be taught about the field through various lenses, from engineering to social science to agriculture.

“Along with the technology, and opportunities to create new technology and knowledge,” Roberts says, “[there is] the importance of making sure they understand from the beginning the implications and potential implications of our artificial intelligence and machine learning -- from a societal impact standpoint, ethical, and all of those.”

Researchers have predicted development in artificial intelligence technology could automate millions of jobs in the next few years. But industry professionals say it could create just as many positions too.

Roberts says the $2 million gift will fund 3 to 4 additional faculty at the North Carolina School of Science and Math [NCSSM] for the artificial intelligence and machine learning program, which will start up on a small scale next summer. He says a core goal is to make the new curriculum and any resulting student projects open source.

“We want to broaden the opportunity for students to experience learning in this area beyond just the students who are in the NCSSM programs,” says Roberts, “[to] students and educators across North Carolina and beyond.”

The donor behind the gift, Carl Ryden, graduated from NCSSM in 1989 and went on to co-found PrecisionLender, a rapidly-growing company that created an online platform for commercial banking.

Lisa Philip is an occasional contributor to WUNC. Previously, she covered education for the station and covered schools in Howard County, Maryland for the Baltimore Sun newspapers.
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