Through a new interest in computer science and wanting to learn more about artificial intelligence 13-year-old Kari Lawler from Solihull, UK set herself the challenge of creating her own virtual assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. After purchasing a few books, she very quickly taught herself the necessary programming skills and within a few days it was apparent she was making considerable progress and amazingly within just one week she had a working prototype.
Her family has stated it’s amazing what she has achieved at her age with very little resources. The fact her personal assistant responds in a similar manner to Siri and even has the same witty attitude when asked something out of the ordinary is marvellous. It’s also especially incredible when you consider what the large technology companies have probably spent on producing something not much different to what Kari has managed to achieve in such a short amount of time.
Looking to the future Kari does plan to expand on her prototype and does see great value in this type of technology. She believes if more human like back and forth conversation could be achieved. Then virtual human interaction would be of great benefit in areas such as social care; like providing company to the elderly or assistance for people with dementia. Similarly, she sees it been used a learning assistant for whole class teaching or for helping individual students in a school. Realistically though, she appreciates she has a long way to go before realising this vision. However, in the meantime she would very much like to connect and learn through maybe a mentoring role with any individuals or companies in this field.
Kari now 14 is a very bright and gifted young lady excelling in English, mathematics and science. At the age of 11 she was diagnosed with ASD. Since her diagnosis and through no fault of her own she has had great difficulty in accessing an education in a mainstream setting which has resulted in her being out of school now for just over a year. The resistance Kari is facing is solely down to a complete lack of understanding of Autism. Even though Kari has never had any learning needs, behavioural issues, communication or high anxiety issues at school, schools approached just assume the worse based on stereotypes and dismissively say no without looking at her as an individual. Overall Kari want’s nothing more than to be back in school doing what she loves the most, which is learning.