Will A.I take over the world?


Kalani grad Tzana Saldania talks A.I. with Kalani Leo reporter Jett Neeley in the school library after giving a presentation about the future of artificial intelligence. Photo by A. Torige 2019.

Jett Neeley, Features

On Jan. 28 former student Tzana Saldania returned to Kalani to give a lesson on A.I. which she has been doing at other schools around the island this winter. She works for a group called Computational Thinkers whose goal is to show kids how to incorporate technology into whatever field they want to go into.

They give children who want to become programmers the tools to do so, she said. However, their goal is not to make programmers.

“At the same time, if they don’t wanna do that for their career to at least know how technology works and if they are passionate about gardening or engineering or anything in between, taking that and seeing how they can use a computer to at least help them,” Saldania said.

Saldania originally began as a student in art school but found her way to cognitive psychology in college.

“When I was in Kalani I wanted to be a video game designer,” Saldania said. “I was failing classes, I was a 2.0 student, I wasn’t doing well. I just wanted to be a computer animator and I was doing the whole art school thing.”

She went to art school but had to come back home due to family issues and transferred to the University of Hawai’i.

“I thought, ‘Psychology is easy!’ And I met a really good professor, several that were doing cognitive psych and researching video games,” Tzana said. “Let me just go this way.”

Her professors were researching the effect video games have on attention, she said, that grabbed her attention.

“I was like, ‘Oh! There is a connection between artificial things. And our own physical abilities are actually very interconnected,’” she said.

Saldania had advice for Kalani students who were struggling to find something they were passionate about. If you don’t know what you’re doing right now, it’s OK, she said. You’ll figure it out in college.

“With all people in college, you just sort of fall into it,” Saldania said. “I used to hate when people said that when I was young. What do you mean you fell into it? [My job] came from my previous passions.”