Colleges begin to take virtual reality seriously — from by Abi Mandelbaum


Looking to the future, as adoption of VR increases among universities, the technology will be used in more innovative ways.

Currently, universities offer options for distance learners to take online classes; soon, colleges will use VR technology to fully immerse students in the college experience, allowing them to feel present in a classroom discussion or lecture, regardless of distance. Universities can either record these experiences for later use, or use live-streaming virtual reality—a technology that has only recently begun to catch on with major brands and institutions.

The combination of all this technology could result in something like a virtual Rhodes Scholar program, where students can take part in live classes with top professors at universities all over the world, without having to leave their regular school.

The technology will also offer an invaluable means of learning for those in the social sciences and medical fields, which often require “hands-on” experiences. Eventually, VR technology will allow students to be placed in the shoes of patients to give them insight into how they experience the world. Organizations like the Virtual Human Interaction Lab are already studying the psychological effects of VR as related to empathy. This could allow future public policy students to experience first-hand what it means to be a refugee in a third-world country, or optometry students to experience what life is like for the vision-impaired.

Outside of lectures and hands-on learning, VR also offers schools the chance to immerse students in important cultural events. Educators are already using video to enhance lessons; in the near future, VR will be used in a similar manner.




IBM’s SystemML machine learning system becomes Apache Incubator project — from by Larry Dignan
There’s a race between tech giants to open source machine learning systems and become a dominant platform. Apache SystemML has clear enterprise spin.


IBM on Monday said its machine learning system, dubbed SystemML, has been accepted as an open source project by the Apache Incubator.

What’s notable about IBM’s SystemML milestone is that open sourcing machine learning systems is becoming a trend. To wit:

  • Google recently open sourced its TensorFlow machine learning tool under an Apache 2.0 license.
  • Facebook has also contributed its machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to the Torch open source project.


Also see:




Addendum on 11/25/15:

  • New IBM Cloud Service Enables Developers to Rapidly Translate Apps into Nine Languages — from
    IBM Globalization Pipeline, Available on IBM’s Cloud Platform, Quickly Opens Apps Up to Fastest Growing Global Markets
    ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new cloud-based service that enables developers to automatically translate cloud and mobile apps into the world’s most-spoken languages.




The future belongs to the curious: How are we bringing curiosity into school? — from User Generated Education by Jackie Gerstein


A recent research study found a connection between curiosity and deep learning:

The study revealed three major findings. First, as expected, when people were highly curious to find out the answer to a question, they were better at learning that information. More surprising, however, was that once their curiosity was aroused, they showed better learning of entirely unrelated information that they encountered but were not necessarily curious about. Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it. Second, the investigators found that when curiosity is stimulated, there is increased activity in the brain circuit related to reward.  Third, when curiosity motivated learning, there was increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for forming new memories, as well as increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit. (How curiosity changes the brain to enhance learning)




From DSC:
Jackie’s posting reminded me of what Daniel Willingham asserts:  “Memory is the residue of thought.”  | “We remember what we think about.”

So to me, if you can’t get through the gate — get someone’s attention — you have zero chance of getting into their short-term memory, and thus zero chance to get into that person’s long-term memory.



Along these lines, if a student is curious about something, their motivation level increases and they actually THINK about something. (What a concept, right?!)

But the point here is that what a student thinks about now has a chance to make it into that student’s memories…thus, creating a variety of hooks on which to “hang future hats” (i.e., make cognitive connections in the future).





Addendum on 11/24/15:

[Re: Emily Pilloton, founder and executive director of Project H Design] Her talk focused on three aspects of learning:

  • Seeking > Knowing. Pushing beyond your comfort zone is the way to challenge yourself. As mentioned above, Pilloton believes in experiential learning, in challenging students with big projects where they will learn new skills as needed to complete the project.
  • We > I. Teams and building trust in your teammates is critical. All of Pilloton’s projects are so big that no one person can complete them alone. By being forced to make decisions and learn to work as teams, group members realize that as a collective, they can achieve much more than they could individually.
  • Curiosity > Passion. Encouraging curiosity is more important than helping people find their passion. Pilloton argued that it is hard for many young people to know their passion. If we encourage curiosity and give students the opportunity to push the boundaries of what they think is possible, we provide them the opportunity to both build confidence and find their passion.

Museum collections enter VR with the launch of the Woofbert VR App for Samsung gear — from by Jonathan Shieber
The museum and gallery world is getting is getting one of its first doorways into virtual reality with the launch of the new WoofbertVR app, (launched on 11/17/15) on Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus.


The company has an amazing app which will soon be able to take users on a tour of several marquee museums with some of the best collections of art and artifacts in the world.

For its first offering, the company is offering users who download the app a free view into one of the most famous rooms in the Courtauld Gallery, a gallery housing one of London’s most famous art collections.

The gallery, on a bend North of the Thames near the Waterloo Bridge, holds a treasure trove of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces including works by Gauguin, Renoir, Manet, and Monet.

Through the first offering on the app, users get a voice guided tour of the room’s paintings narrated by the author Neil Gaiman (a Woofbert investor).









Classroom of the future takes shape at WSU— and it’s round — from by Parke Rhoads
(Seattle, WA, USA) The Digital Classroom Building will showcase the latest in technology, including a round learning hall where instructors stand below a 360-degree ring of display screens.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The striking new 80,000 square foot facility will serve as a gateway, showcase venue and catalyst for WSU’s campus-wide initiative to address the tremendous advances that have been made in understanding the way students learn in the 21st century.

With this project we are offering a “true path” to innovation: classroom technology that is designed around the institution’s vision for pedagogy in the future (and not the other way around.)

The active learning hall is a rounded open-floor space where lecturers can feel close and connected to participants, roaming freely and able to collaborate within an innovative technology-rich environment.

This space addresses evolving struggles with the traditional large-seat auditorium in a modern teaching environment. By placing the instructor in the middle, surrounded by students in fewer rows, the sense of communal learning is strengthened.

A 360-degree ring of display screens helps to further the experience of shared storytelling and discovery, and additional technology for wireless sharing of screens allows for some teaming and student-contribution activities that have never been possible before.






Also see:

According to a new study, schools need to create layered, blended and personalized places that support a variety of interactions and digital platforms, rather than creating specialized spaces, such as computer labs. Furthermore, the study found that mobility has transformed the way students learn, and therefore requires careful attention to physical spaces now more than ever.

  • Campus Spotlight: A hearty investment — from
    A year after opening its doors, Sheffield Hallam’s £27m Heart of the Campus development celebrates its student experience success


Also, here’s an interesting item:




Psalm 100:4-5 New International Version (NIV) — from

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.



A virtual reality revolution, coming to a headset near you — from by Lorne Manly


Virtual reality — once the stuff of science fiction — is still in its infancy. But there’s already a gold rush around the technology, which plunges viewers into a simulated 3-D environment and lets them explore their surroundings as if they were really there.

Technology and entertainment giants are betting billions that virtual reality is much more than a passing fad, one that will revolutionize the way we experience movies, news, sporting events, video games and more.

Meanwhile, filmmakers and other creators are grappling with an entirely new storytelling language and dealing with some formidable challenges — claustrophobic headsets that can make people cybersick.

Here, some of the other pioneers in film, journalism, sports and gaming talk about the potential and struggles of building a new art form from the ground up.

“You really engage on scene in a way that gives you this incredible connection to where you are,” Ms. de la Peña said. “And that’s why, early on, I was calling it an empathy generator, an empathy machine.”





From DSC:
This posting is meant to surface the need for debates/discussions, new policy decisions, and for taking the time to seriously reflect upon what type of future that we want.  Given the pace of technological change, we need to be constantly asking ourselves what kind of future we want and then to be actively creating that future — instead of just letting things happen because they can happen. (i.e., just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.)

Gerd Leonhard’s work is relevant here.  In the resource immediately below, Gerd asserts:

I believe we urgently need to start debating and crafting a global Digital Ethics Treaty. This would delineate what is and is not acceptable under different circumstances and conditions, and specify who would be in charge of monitoring digressions and aberrations.

I am also including some other relevant items here that bear witness to the increasingly rapid speed at which we’re moving now.


Redefining the relationship of man and machine: here is my narrated chapter from the ‘The Future of Business’ book (video, audio and pdf) — from by Gerd Leonhard





Robot revolution: rise of ‘thinking’ machines could exacerbate inequality — from by Heather Stewart
Global economy will be transformed over next 20 years at risk of growing inequality, say analysts

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A “robot revolution” will transform the global economy over the next 20 years, cutting the costs of doing business but exacerbating social inequality, as machines take over everything from caring for the elderly to flipping burgers, according to a new study.

As well as robots performing manual jobs, such as hoovering the living room or assembling machine parts, the development of artificial intelligence means computers are increasingly able to “think”, performing analytical tasks once seen as requiring human judgment.

In a 300-page report, revealed exclusively to the Guardian, analysts from investment bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch draw on the latest research to outline the impact of what they regard as a fourth industrial revolution, after steam, mass production and electronics.

“We are facing a paradigm shift which will change the way we live and work,” the authors say. “The pace of disruptive technological innovation has gone from linear to parabolic in recent years. Penetration of robots and artificial intelligence has hit every industry sector, and has become an integral part of our daily lives.”






First genetically modified humans could exist within two years — from by Sarah Knapton
Biotech company Editas Medicine is planning to start human trials to genetically edit genes and reverse blindness


Humans who have had their DNA genetically modified could exist within two years after a private biotech company announced plans to start the first trials into a ground-breaking new technique.

Editas Medicine, which is based in the US, said it plans to become the first lab in the world to ‘genetically edit’ the DNA of patients suffering from a genetic condition – in this case the blinding disorder ‘leber congenital amaurosis’.




Gartner predicts our digital future — from by Heather Levy
Gartner’s Top 10 Predictions herald what it means to be human in a digital world.


Here’s a scene from our digital future: You sit down to dinner at a restaurant where your server was selected by a “robo-boss” based on an optimized match of personality and interaction profile, and the angle at which he presents your plate, or how quickly he smiles can be evaluated for further review.  Or, perhaps you walk into a store to try on clothes and ask the digital customer assistant embedded in the mirror to recommend an outfit in your size, in stock and on sale. Afterwards, you simply tell it to bill you from your mobile and skip the checkout line.

These scenarios describe two predictions in what will be an algorithmic and smart machine driven world where people and machines must define harmonious relationships. In his session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 in Orlando, Daryl Plummer, vice president, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow, discussed how Gartner’s Top Predictions begin to separate us from the mere notion of technology adoption and draw us more deeply into issues surrounding what it means to be human in a digital world.






Univ. of Washington faculty study legal, social complexities of augmented reality — from


But augmented reality will also bring challenges for law, public policy and privacy, especially pertaining to how information is collected and displayed. Issues regarding surveillance and privacy, free speech, safety, intellectual property and distraction—as well as potential discrimination—are bound to follow.

The Tech Policy Lab brings together faculty and students from the School of Law, Information School and Computer Science & Engineering Department and other campus units to think through issues of technology policy. “Augmented Reality: A Technology and Policy Primer” is the lab’s first official white paper aimed at a policy audience. The paper is based in part on research presented at the 2015 International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, or UbiComp conference.

Along these same lines, also see:

  • Augmented Reality: Figuring Out Where the Law Fits — from by Greg Watry
    With AR comes potential issues the authors divide into two categories. “The first is collection, referring to the capacity of AR to record, or at least register, the people and places around the user. Collection raises obvious issues of privacy but also less obvious issues of free speech and accountability,” the researchers write. The second issue is display, which “raises a variety of complex issues ranging from possible tort liability should the introduction or withdrawal of information lead to injury, to issues surrounding employment discrimination or racial profiling.”Current privacy law in the U.S. allows video and audio recording in areas that “do not attract an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy,” says Newell. Further, many uses of AR would be covered under the First Amendment right to record audio and video, especially in public spaces. However, as AR increasingly becomes more mobile, “it has the potential to record inconspicuously in a variety of private or more intimate settings, and I think these possibilities are already straining current privacy law in the U.S.,” says Newell.


Stuart Russell on Why Moral Philosophy Will Be Big Business in Tech — from by

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Our first Big Think comes from Stuart Russell. He’s a computer science professor at UC Berkeley and a world-renowned expert in artificial intelligence. His Big Think?

“In the future, moral philosophy will be a key industry sector,” says Russell.

Translation? In the future, the nature of human values and the process by which we make moral decisions will be big business in tech.


Life, enhanced: UW professors study legal, social complexities of an augmented reality future — from by Peter Kelley


But augmented reality will also bring challenges for law, public policy and privacy, especially pertaining to how information is collected and displayed. Issues regarding surveillance and privacy, free speech, safety, intellectual property and distraction — as well as potential discrimination — are bound to follow.


An excerpt from:


AR systems  change   human  experience   and,  consequently,   stand  to   challenge   certain assumptions  of  law  and  policy.  The  issues  AR  systems  raise  may  be  divided  into  roughly two  categories.  The  first  is  collection,  referring  to  the  capacity  of  AR  devices  to  record,  or  at  least register,  the people and  places around  the user.  Collection  raises obvious  issues of  privacy  but  also  less  obvious  issues  of  free  speech  and  accountability.  The  second  rough  category  is  display,  referring  to  the  capacity  of  AR  to  overlay  information over  people  and places  in  something  like  real-time.  Display  raises  a  variety  of  complex  issues  ranging  from
possible  tort  liability  should  the  introduction  or  withdrawal  of  information  lead  to  injury,  to issues   surrounding   employment   discrimination   or   racial   profiling.   Policymakers   and stakeholders interested in AR should consider what these issues mean for them.  Issues related to the collection of information include…


HR tech is getting weird, and here’s why — from by guest poster Julia Scavicchio

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Technology has progressed to the point where it’s possible for HR to learn almost everything there is to know about employees — from what they’re doing moment-to-moment at work to what they’re doing on their off hours. Guest poster Julia Scavicchio takes a long hard look at the legal and ethical implications of these new investigative tools.  

Why on Earth does HR need all this data? The answer is simple — HR is not on Earth, it’s in the cloud.

The department transcends traditional roles when data enters the picture.

Many ethical questions posed through technology easily come and go because they seem out of this world.



18 AI researchers reveal the most impressive thing they’ve ever seen — from by Guia Marie Del Prado,


Where will these technologies take us next? Well to know that we should determine what’s the best of the best now. Tech Insider talked to 18 AI researchers, roboticists, and computer scientists to see what real-life AI impresses them the most.

“The DeepMind system starts completely from scratch, so it is essentially just waking up, seeing the screen of a video game and then it works out how to play the video game to a superhuman level, and it does that for about 30 different video games.  That’s both impressive and scary in the sense that if a human baby was born and by the evening of its first day was already beating human beings at video games, you’d be terrified.”




Algorithmic Economy: Powering the Machine-to-Machine Age Economic Revolution — from by Dick Weisinger


As technology advances, we are becoming increasingly dependent on algorithms for everything in our lives.  Algorithms that can solve our daily problems and tasks will do things like drive vehicles, control drone flight, and order supplies when they run low.  Algorithms are defining the future of business and even our everyday lives.

Sondergaard said that “in 2020, consumers won’t be using apps on their devices; in fact, they will have forgotten about apps. They will rely on virtual assistants in the cloud, things they trust. The post-app era is coming.  The algorithmic economy will power the next economic revolution in the machine-to-machine age. Organizations will be valued, not just on their big data, but on the algorithms that turn that data into actions that ultimately impact customers.”



Related items:






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