Penn State Alums Giving Back Through Artificial Intelligence Instruction
Penn State alumnus Haroon Choudery and his younger brother, Hamza, have seen the first-hand impacts artificial intelligence has had on today’s world.
AI has significantly benefited both Haroon and Hamza, who currently have jobs in information technology. Meanwhile, they have seen family members replaced by artificial intelligence in their jobs. Haroon and Hamza then became determined to teach more people about AI and its presence in our world through their startup, A.I. For Anyone.
A.I. For Anyone is a nonprofit focused on teaching AI literacy. The company instructs students and professionals from underserved communities about the fundamentals of artificial intelligence.
“The goal of our organization is to help people be more aware of the impact that artificial intelligence is going to have, and be more prepared for the future,” Haroon, a former economics major, said. “We take a very tactical approach during our workshops to provide our audience with resources and tips on how they can best position themselves in the evolving landscape of things.”
On its website, curious learners can access a slew of informational videos and virtual workshops that will introduce them to the basics of coding and artificial intelligence. According to its website, A.I. For Anyone takes pride in creating “AI education resources you don’t need a PhD to understand.”
Haroon, Hamza, and Penn State IST major Mac McMahon first had the idea of A.I. For Anyone in their New York City apartment in 2017. The trio often found themselves talking about their perspectives on artificial intelligence.
“The topic of our conversation quickly shifted to how many people were unprepared for what the future holds for them when it comes to artificial intelligence,” Haroon recalled. “We started asking what we can do about this that would yield tangible results. We figured out that education is the starting point in correcting these issues.”
Haroon became involved with AI while studying at Penn State. The economics major became involved with Innoblue, an entrepreneurial organization at the university, and later started his own organization called “Code Blue,” where he began teaching students how to code using Python.
Along the way, Haroon met McMahon during his freshman year at Penn State. The pair often talked about artificial intelligence and technology, which only furthered their interests.
“We would talk a lot about artificial intelligence and pop culture,” McMahon said. “Paired with my growing interest in the technical side of things, and the interest that we were developing was what planted the seed for what eventually became A.I. For Anyone.”
The two also discussed how Penn State contributed to the organization’s success.
“At the end of the day, Penn State is a massive school, but there is a lot of people who have a lot of interest that fall in line with each other,” McMahon said. “I think there’s a lot of stories just like ours that formed in a dorm room that suddenly became something more than an idea. That gave us the ability to learn how to network properly and get our names out there.”
Even though the trio has received a lot of publicity in the past few months, the organization means much more to them than people might think.
“Hamza and I were immigrants and grew up in an underserved household,” Haroon said. “Mac grew up in Allentown, Pa., which is one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the United States. These people are incredibly vulnerable to being replaced by artificial intelligence, and it is an issue that is very close to all of our hearts.”
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