Empowering Tomorrow’s Innovators – An Interview with Amber Ivey

Explore how Amber Ivey merges data expertise with children’s AI education, inspiring young readers through engaging stories and innovative platforms. 

Amber Ivey, a prominent figure in data-driven decision-making and public policy, has expanded her influence into children’s literature with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) education. As Vice President at a leading non-profit, Amber drives impactful initiatives while pioneering AI literacy through AiDigiTales, her innovative edutainment platform. Her books, such as AI… Meets… AI and My First AI Robot, skilfully introduce young readers to the complexities of AI through engaging narratives starring characters like Jaz the AI robot and the curious human companions Addy and Nolan. In this exclusive interview with Reader’s House Magazine, Amber discusses her career trajectory, the inspiration behind her AI-themed children’s books, and her commitment to equipping children with essential skills for navigating a tech-driven future.

Amber’s journey into writing children’s books about AI was inspired by her professional experiences and a personal mission to empower the next generation. Observing rapid technological advancements, she recognized the critical need to equip children, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, with knowledge and skills to thrive in a tech-centric world. Through her storytelling, Amber aims to make complex AI concepts accessible and engaging, ensuring young readers are not only prepared but excited about the possibilities of technology.

In addition to her literary endeavours, Amber has launched the AI for Kids podcast, expanding her mission to reach a broader audience with educational content on AI. By blending stories, expert interviews, and interactive segments, the podcast offers a dynamic platform for children and parents alike to explore the fascinating world of artificial intelligence. Amber continues to advocate for digital literacy, emphasizing the importance of critical thinking, problem-solving, and ethical reasoning in preparing children for the future.

You’ve had an impressive career utilizing data to enhance decision-making in both the public sector and private enterprises. What inspired you to transition from these roles to writing children’s books about artificial intelligence?

I didn’t transition from my roles in data and public policy; I expanded my passion to include writing children’s books about AI. My inspiration came from a combination of my professional experiences and a deeply personal mission to empower the next generation. Observing the rapid advancements in technology and the growing importance of AI, I realized that children, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate this new landscape. Writing books like AI… Meets… AI allows me to make complex concepts accessible and engaging for young readers, ensuring they are not left behind in the tech-driven future.

Your children’s book AI… Meets… AI introduces young readers to the concepts of artificial intelligence through the adventures of Jaz and Addy. How do you approach explaining complex technological concepts to kids in a way that’s both engaging and easy to understand?

To make complex technological concepts engaging and understandable for kids, I rely on storytelling and relatable characters. Jaz, the AI robot, and Addy, the curious human, embark on adventures that naturally introduce AI concepts through their interactions and problem-solving activities. I use simple language and everyday analogies to explain complex topics. 

My First AI Robot takes readers deeper into the relationship between Jaz, the AI robot, and the human characters, Addy and Nolan. What motivated you to continue this story, and what key messages do you hope to convey to your young audience through these characters?

Continuing the story with My First AI Robot was motivated by the positive feedback from readers and the desire to explore the evolving relationship between humans and AI. This book is for younger readers, ages 3-5. Through the characters of Addy, Nolan, and Jaz, I aim to convey the message that technology, when used responsibly, can enhance our lives. It’s important for children to understand that while AI can be a powerful tool, human qualities like creativity, empathy, and critical thinking are irreplaceable. The book encourages children to see themselves as both users and creators of technology, fostering a balanced view of AI’s role in our lives.

Now you launched a podcast called AI for Kids. Why?

Launching the AI for Kids podcast was a natural extension of my mission to make AI education accessible to children. The podcast format allows us to reach a wider audience and provide content that is both educational and entertaining. By featuring stories, expert interviews, and interactive segments, we can engage kids in a way that complements our books and workshops. The podcast also provides an opportunity for parents to learn alongside their children, fostering a shared understanding and interest in AI.

As someone deeply involved in the advancement of technology and data literacy, what do you believe are the most important skills or knowledge areas for the next generation to develop in order to thrive in a tech-driven future?

The next generation needs a strong foundation in critical thinking, problem-solving, and digital literacy. Understanding the basics of coding and AI is becoming increasingly important, as these skills will be relevant in almost every field. Equally important are soft skills like creativity, collaboration, and ethical reasoning. These skills will enable children to not only use technology effectively but also to innovate and make ethical decisions in a tech-driven world.

Your career demonstrates a strong commitment to fostering a culture of data literacy. What advice would you give to parents and educators on how to nurture an early interest in data, technology, and AI among children?

Parents and educators can nurture an early interest in data, technology, and AI by making learning fun and relevant. Introduce children to technology through interactive games, coding apps, and hands-on projects. Encourage curiosity by exploring how everyday objects and systems work. Use storytelling to explain complex concepts and show real-world applications of technology. Most importantly, create an environment where children feel safe to experiment, ask questions, and make mistakes. By fostering a growth mindset, we can help children develop the confidence and skills they need to thrive in a tech-driven future.

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