Google and Microsoft warn that AI may do dumb things — from wired.com by Tom Simonite

Excerpt:

Alphabet likes to position itself as a leader in AI research, but it was six months behind rival Microsoft in warning investors about the technology’s ethical risks. The AI disclosure in Google’s latest filing reads like a trimmed down version of much fuller language Microsoft put in its most recent annual SEC report, filed last August:

“AI algorithms may be flawed. Datasets may be insufficient or contain biased information. Inappropriate or controversial data practices by Microsoft or others could impair the acceptance of AI solutions. These deficiencies could undermine the decisions, predictions, or analysis AI applications produce, subjecting us to competitive harm, legal liability, and brand or reputational harm.”

 

Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online — from by Catalin Cimpanu
Researcher finds one of the databases used to track Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

Excerpt:

One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch security researcher told ZDNet.

The database belongs to a Chinese company named SenseNets, which according to its website provides video-based crowd analysis and facial recognition technology.

The user data wasn’t just benign usernames, but highly detailed and highly sensitive information that someone would usually find on an ID card, Gevers said. The researcher saw user profiles with information such as names, ID card numbers, ID card issue date, ID card expiration date, sex, nationality, home addresses, dates of birth, photos, and employer.

Some of the descriptive names associated with the “trackers” contained terms such as “mosque,” “hotel,” “police station,” “internet cafe,” “restaurant,” and other places where public cameras would normally be found.

 

From DSC:
Readers of this blog will know that I’m generally pro-technology. But especially focusing in on that last article, to me, privacy is key here. For which group of people from which nation is next? Will Country A next be tracking Christians? Will Country B be tracking people of a given sexual orientation? Will Country C be tracking people with some other characteristic?

Where does it end? Who gets to decide? What will be the costs of being tracked or being a person with whatever certain characteristic one’s government is tracking? What forums are there for combating technologies or features of technologies that we don’t like or want?

We need forums/channels for raising awareness and voting on these emerging technologies. We need informed legislators, senators, lawyers, citizens…we need new laws here…asap.

 

 

 

For the first time in its history, the Gerber spokesbaby is a child with Down syndrome — from cnn.com by Andrea Diaz

Excerpt:

(CNN) This cutie with a contagious smile is 18-month-old Lucas Warren and on (2/7/18) he made history: He’s the first child with Down syndrome to become Gerber’s “Spokesbaby of the year” in its 91-year history.

 

Meet the first Gerber Baby with Down syndrome

 

From DSC:
I just saw this item from last February… and I love it! 

 

 

 

C-Level View | Feature:
Technology Change: Closing the Knowledge Gap — A Q&A with Mary Grush & Daniel Christian

Excerpts:

Technology changes quickly. People change slowly. The rate of technology change often outpaces our ability to understand it.

It has caused a gap between what’s possible and what’s legal. For example, facial recognition seems to be starting to show up all around us — that’s what’s possible. But what’s legal?

The overarching questions are: What do we really want from these technologies? What kind of future do we want to live in?

Those law schools that expand their understanding of emerging technologies and lead the field in the exploration of related legal issues will achieve greater national prominence.

Daniel Christian

 

 

 

For a next gen learning platform: A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related “apps” [Christian]

From DSC:
In a next generation learning system, it would be sharp/beneficial to have a Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities that you could turn on and off (at will) — as one component of your learning ecosystem that could feature a setup located in your living room or office.

For example, put a Netflix-like interface to the apps out at eduappcenter.com (i.e., using a rolling interface at first, then going to a static page/listing of apps…again…similar to Netflix).

 

A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related apps

 

 

 

From DSC:
For anyone out there who thinks that teaching and learning is easy and who agrees with the uninformed saying that goes “Those who can’t do…teach”…might I recommend a few potential to-do’s for you to try out…?

  1. Try teaching 30-35 students yourself for at least 4-6 weeks about a topic that you just found out that you’ll be teaching and one that you don’t know much about. (And see if you enjoy the process that some teachers sometimes have to go through…putting down the tracks right in front of the trains that are rapidly moving down the tracks right behind them.) Also, you must have at least one student in your class who requires an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well as 4-5 students who constantly cause trouble and who don’t want to be in school at all.
    .
  2. Identify each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences — and their Zone of Proximal Development — then customize the learning that each of your 30-35 learners receives (with the goal of keeping each student moving forward at their most appropriate pace, while staying encouraged and yet appropriately challenged).
    .
  3. Attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and work with other IEP team members to significantly contribute to the appropriate student’s (or students’) teaching and learning environment(s). For a real challenge, at least one of those students will be someone who is struggling, but is very much hanging in there — someone who is “right in the middle of the pack,” so to speak. (My guess is that if you did this, you would never think of teaching, nor teachers, nor other specialists in quite the same way again. My guess is that you would develop a whole new appreciation for how complex teaching and learning really is.)

Regarding that last item about at least one of your students requiring an IEP, here are some questions that might come up:

  • What specialized services are needed this year?
  • What do the teachers need to know about this student’s cognitive processing/executive functioning?
  • How has the student been doing with the specialized services and teaching and learning strategies that have been attempted since the last IEP meeting? 
  • If their scores are going down, how are you going to address that issue (especially given limited resources)?
  • How is the student’s motivation level doing? Is attending school still a positive experience? Or are things starting to become negative and/or downright painful for the student? Are they starting to get bummed out about having to come to school?
  • How are they relating with and collaborating with other students? If poorly, how are you going to address that issue? How are you going to handle group-related projects (especially after reading all of those articles that assert which skills the workplace values these days)?
  • What do you do with grades and assessments? Do you treat the student differently and give them higher grades to keep them encouraged? But if you do that, will your school system back you up on that or will someone come down hard on you for doing that? Or, perhaps you will find yourself struggling internally — trying to figure out what grades are really for and wondering if they are helpful in the first place. In fact, you might find yourself wondering if grades aren’t really just a mechanism for ranking and comparing individuals, schools, and even entire school systems (which, as we know, impacts property values)? 
  • What do grades really produce — game players or (lifelong) learners? It won’t surprise you to know that I would argue that the former is what gets “produced.”  Grades don’t really produce as many learners as they do game-players (i.e., students who know the minimum amount of work that they need to do and still get that all important A).

So, as you can hopefully see here, learning is messy. It’s rarely black and white…there’s a lot of gray out there and a lot of things to consider. It’s not a one-size fits all. And teaching others well is certainly NOT easy to do! 

RELEVANT IDEAS:

While I’m thinking about related ideas here…wouldn’t it be great if EVERY. SINGLE. STUDENT. could have their own IEP and their own TEAM of specialists — people who care about their learning?

What if each student could have their own cloud-based learner profile — a portion of which would be a series of VoiceThreads per student, per period of time (or per mastering a particular topic or area)?  Such VoiceThreads could include multimedia-based comments, insights, and recommendations for how the student is doing and how they best learn. Through the years, those teams of people — people who care about that student’s learning — could help that student identify their:

  • strengths
  • weaknesses
  • passions/interests
  • their optimal learning strategies and preferences
  • potential careers

The students could periodically review such feedback.

 

 

For every single student, we could build a history of feedback, helpful suggestions, 
and recommendations via audio, video, text, graphics, etc.

 

 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?


 

UIX: When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready? — from rapidgrowthmedia.com by Matthew Russell

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

“Here in the United States, if we were to personify things a bit, it’s almost like society is anxiously calling out to an older sibling (i.e., emerging technologies), ‘Heh! Wait up!!!'” Christian says. “This trend has numerous ramifications.”

Out of those ramifications, Christian names three main points that society will have to address to fully understand, make use of, and make practical, future technologies.

  1. The need for the legal/legislative side of the world to close the gap between what’s possible and what’s legal
  2. The need for lifelong learning and to reinvent oneself
  3. The need to make pulse-checking/futurism an essential tool in the toolbox of every member of the workforce today and in the future

 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?

Photos by Adam Bird

 

From DSC:
The key thing that I was trying to relay in my contribution towards Matthew’s helpful article was that we are now on an exponential trajectory of technological change. This trend has ramifications for numerous societies around the globe, and it involves the legal realm as well. Hopefully, all of us in the workforce are coming to realize our need to be constantly pulse-checking the relevant landscapes around us. To help make that happen, each of us needs to be tapping into the appropriate “streams of content” that are relevant to our careers so that our knowledgebases are as up-to-date as possible. We’re all into lifelong learning now, right?

Along these lines, increasingly there is a need for futurism to hit the mainstream. That is, when the world is moving at 120+mph, the skills and methods that futurists follow must be better taught and understood, or many people will be broadsided by the changes brought about by emerging technologies. We need to better pulse-check the relevant landscapes, anticipate the oncoming changes, develop potential scenarios, and then design the strategies to respond to those potential scenarios.

 

 

Amazon has 10,000 employees dedicated to Alexa — here are some of the areas they’re working on — from businessinsider.com by Avery Hartmans

Summary (emphasis DSC):

  • Amazon’s vice president of Alexa, Steve Rabuchin, has confirmed that yes, there really are 10,000 Amazon employees working on Alexa and the Echo.
  • Those employees are focused on things like machine learning and making Alexa more knowledgeable.
  • Some employees are working on giving Alexa a personality, too.

 

 

From DSC:
How might this trend impact learning spaces? For example, I am interested in using voice to intuitively “drive” smart classroom control systems:

  • “Alexa, turn on the projector”
  • “Alexa, dim the lights by 50%”
  • “Alexa, open Canvas and launch my Constitutional Law I class”

 

 

 

AI surveillance goes to school — from axios.com by Kaveh Waddell

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A new breed of intelligent video surveillance is being installed in schools around the country — tech that follows people around campus and detects unusual behaviors.

Why it matters: This new phase in campus surveillance responds to high-profile school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, last February. School administrators are now reaching for security tech that keeps a constant, increasingly sophisticated eye on halls and classrooms. One drawback: a major blow to student privacy.

Background: Schools are experimenting wildly with technology in order to secure students, deploying facial recognition, license plate readers, microphones for gunshot detection and even patrol robots.

 

From DSC:
Based upon my experiences of attending a variety of public schools, I can’t help but think that this is truly a sad day indeed for the United States of America. This bumbs me out big time. Progress? No…I don’t think so. In fact, this situation is sad (and expensive) on multiple levels, and even dangerous on other levels (i.e., in regards to stalkers/hackers).

 

 

From DSC:
In this posting, I discussed an idea for a new TV show — a program that would be both entertaining and educational. So I suppose that this posting is a Part II along those same lines. 

The program that came to my mind at that time was a program that would focus on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format.

I had envisioned that you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc. These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

OR

…as I revist that idea today…perhaps the show could feature humans versus an artificial intelligence such as IBM’s Project Debater:

 

 

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. Project Debater digests massive texts, constructs a well-structured speech on a given topic, delivers it with clarity and purpose, and rebuts its opponent. Eventually, Project Debater will help people reason by providing compelling, evidence-based arguments and limiting the influence of emotion, bias, or ambiguity.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Below is a graphic from an article by Jane Hart that’s entitled, “A seamless working and learning environment“- to me, it’s another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem. This one happens to belong to an organization, but each of us has our own learning ecosystem as well.

 

Another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem

 

 

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