The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI — from technologyreview.com by Will Knight
No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.

Excerpt:

The mysterious mind of this vehicle points to a looming issue with artificial intelligence. The car’s underlying AI technology, known as deep learning, has proved very powerful at solving problems in recent years, and it has been widely deployed for tasks like image captioning, voice recognition, and language translation. There is now hope that the same techniques will be able to diagnose deadly diseases, make million-dollar trading decisions, and do countless other things to transform whole industries.

But this won’t happen—or shouldn’t happen—unless we find ways of making techniques like deep learning more understandable to their creators and accountable to their users. Otherwise it will be hard to predict when failures might occur—and it’s inevitable they will. That’s one reason Nvidia’s car is still experimental.

 

“Whether it’s an investment decision, a medical decision, or maybe a military decision, you don’t want to just rely on a ‘black box’ method.”

 


This raises mind-boggling questions. As the technology advances, we might soon cross some threshold beyond which using AI requires a leap of faith. Sure, we humans can’t always truly explain our thought processes either—but we find ways to intuitively trust and gauge people. Will that also be possible with machines that think and make decisions differently from the way a human would? We’ve never before built machines that operate in ways their creators don’t understand. How well can we expect to communicate—and get along with—intelligent machines that could be unpredictable and inscrutable? These questions took me on a journey to the bleeding edge of research on AI algorithms, from Google to Apple and many places in between, including a meeting with one of the great philosophers of our time.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
The recent pieces below made me once again reflect on the massive changes that are quickly approaching — and in some cases are already here — for a variety of nations throughout the world.

They caused me to reflect on:

  • What the potential ramifications for higher education might be regarding these changes that are just starting to take place in the workplace due to artificial intelligence (i.e., the increasing use of algorithms, machine learning, and deep learning, etc.), automation, & robotics?
  • The need for people to reinvent themselves quickly throughout their careers (if we can still call them careers)
  • How should we, as a nation, prepare for these massive changes so that there isn’t civil unrest due to soaring inequality and unemployment?

As found in the April 9th, 2017 edition of our local newspaper here:

When even our local newspaper is picking up on this trend, you know it is real and has some significance to it.

 

Then, as I was listening to the radio a day or two after seeing the above article, I heard of another related piece on NPR.  NPR is having a journalist travel across the country, trying to identify “robot-safe” jobs.  Here’s the feature on this from MarketPlace.org

 

 

What changes do institutions of traditional higher education
immediately need to begin planning for? Initiating?

What changes should be planned for and begin to be initiated
in the way(s) that we accredit new programs?

 

 

Keywords/ideas that come to my mind:

  • Change — to society, to people, to higher ed, to the workplace
  • Pace of technological change — no longer linear, but exponential
  • Career development
  • Staying relevant — as institutions, as individuals in the workplace
  • Reinventing ourselves over time — and having to do so quickly
  • Adapting, being nimble, willing to innovate — as institutions, as individuals
  • Game-changing environment
  • Lifelong learning — higher ed needs to put more emphasis on microlearning, heutagogy, and delivering constant/up-to-date streams of content and learning experiences. This could happen via the addition/use of smaller learning hubs, some even makeshift learning hubs that are taking place at locations that these institutions don’t even own…like your local Starbucks.
  • If we don’t get this right, there could be major civil unrest as inequality and unemployment soar
  • Traditional institutions of higher education have not been nearly as responsive to change as they have needed to be; this opens the door to alternatives. There’s a limited (and closing) window of time left to become more nimble and responsive before these alternatives majorly disrupt the current world of higher education.

 

 

 



Addendum from the corporate world (emphasis DSC):



 

From The Impact 2017 Conference:

The Role of HR in the Future of Work – A Town Hall

  • Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Nicola Vogel, Global Senior HR Director, Danfoss
  • Frank Møllerop, Chief Executive Officer, Questback
  • David Mallon, Head of Research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Massive changes spurred by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, sensors and social collaboration have revolutionized the way we live, work and communicate – and the pace is only accelerating. Robots and cognitive technologies are making steady advances, particularly in jobs and tasks that follow set, standardized rules and logic. This reinforces a critical challenge for business and HR leaders—namely, the need to design, source, and manage the future of work.

In this Town Hall, we will discuss the role HR can play in leading the digital transformation that is shaping the future of work in organizations worldwide. We will explore the changes we see taking place in three areas:

  • Digital workforce: How can organizations drive new management practices, a culture of innovation and sharing, and a set of talent practices that facilitate a new network-based organization?
  • Digital workplace: How can organizations design a working environment that enables productivity; uses modern communication tools (such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and many others); and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose?
  • Digital HR: How can organizations change the HR function itself to operate in a digital way, use digital tools and apps to deliver solutions, and continuously experiment and innovate?
 

From DSC:
As our population gets older, providing the types of devices (as listed below) to employees would create WIN-WIN situations for all involved — employees, employers, and the aging parents or loved ones. Doing so could:

  • Reduce time away from work — i.e., less travel, less overnights, etc.
  • Reduce stress and ease the employees’ minds — i.e., have the peace of mind that one’s parent(s) is (are) doing ok
  • Allow some mobility around the apartment, home, or nursing home to see that everything is ok
  • Allow for some limited conversations with employees and their parents if the parents needed something

 

http://www.doublerobotics.com/

 

 


http://anybots.com/

 

http://www.mantarobot.com/

 

http://www.vgocom.com/

 

 

 

https://www.suitabletech.com/beam/

 

 

 

 

Looking to build the campus of tomorrow? 5 trends you should know — from ecampusnews.com by Laura Ascione
Today’s trends will bring about a new vision for the traditional college campus.

Excerpt:

“Innovations in physical space must be made to accommodate demands for accessibility, flexibility and affordability,” according to The State of Higher Education in 2017, a report from professional services firm Grant Thornton.

Changes in infrastructure are being driven by a handful of trends, including:

  • Digital technology is decoupling access to the classroom and information from any specific geographic location.
  • Learning is becoming more “modular,” credentialing specific competencies, such as certificates and badges,, rather than the model of four years to a degree via fixed-class schedules. This requires a less broad range of academic buildings on campus.
  • Students will engage with their coursework at their own time and pace, as they do in every other aspect of their lives.
  • Price pressure on colleges will create incentives for cost efficiencies, discouraging the fixed-cost commitment embodied in physical structures.
  • Deferred maintenance is a problem so large that it can’t be solved by most colleges within their available resources; the result may be reducing the physical plant footprint or just letting it deteriorate further.

These developments will prompt physical space transformation that will lead to a new kind of campus.

 

 


The State of Higher Education in 2017 — from grantthornton.com

 

Browse the report articles:

 

 

Innovative thinking will be vital to successfully moving into the future.

 

 

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Press Briefing on Household Debt, with Focus on Student Debt — with thanks to Mr. Bryan Alexander for his post on this

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpts:

Student Debt Overview
  • Student debt was $1.3 trillion at the end of 2016, an increase of about 170% from 2006.
  • Aggregate student debt is increasing because:
    • More students are taking out loans
    • Loans are for larger amounts
    • Repayment rates have slowed down
  • About 5% of the borrowers have more than $100,000 debt in 2016, but they account for about 30% of the total debt.
  • Recent graduates with student loans leave school with about $34,000, up nearly 70% from 10 years ago.

 


 

  • While the total level of household debt has nearly returned to the 2008 peak, debt types and borrower profiles have changed.
    • Debt growth is now driven by non-housing sectors, and debt is held by older, more creditworthy borrowers.
  • Student debt has expanded significantly because of higher levels of borrowing and slower rates of repayment.
  • Student debt defaults peaked with the 2011 cohort and have improved somewhat since. However, payment progress has declined.
  • College attendance is associated with significantly higher homeownership rates regardless of debt status. Yet, student debt appears to dampen homeownership rates among those with the same level of education.
  • College attendance appears to mitigate the impact of economic background on homeownership rates.

 

 

 


 

Also see:

 


 

 

 

Retailers cut tens of thousands of jobs. Again. — from money.cnn.com by Paul R. La Monica
The dramatic reshaping of the American retail industry has, unfortunately, led to massive job losses in the sector.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The federal government said Friday that retailers shed nearly 30,000 jobs in March. That follows a more than 30,000 decline in the number of retail jobs in the previous month.

So-called general merchandise stores are hurting the most.

That part of the sector, which includes struggling companies like Macy’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney, lost 35,000 jobs last month. Nearly 90,000 jobs have been eliminated since last October.

“There is no question that the Amazon effect is overwhelming,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist of private banking for BBH. “There has been a shift in the way we buy things as opposed to a shift in the amount of money spent.”

To that end, Amazon just announced plans to hire 30,000 part-time workers.

 

From DSC:
One of the reasons that I’m posting this item is for those who say disruption isn’t real…it’s only a buzz word…

A second reason that I’m posting this item is because those of us working within higher education should take note of the changes in the world of retail and learn the lesson now before the “Next Amazon.com of Higher Education*” comes on the scene. Though this organization has yet to materialize, the pieces of its foundation are beginning to come together — such as the ingredients, trends, and developments that I’ve been tracking in my “Learning from the Living [Class] Room” vision.

This new organization will be highly disruptive to institutions of traditional higher education.

If you were in an influential position at Macy’s, Sears, and/or at J.C. Penney today, and you could travel back in time…what would you do?

We in higher education have the luxury of learning from what’s been happening in the retail business. Let’s be sure to learn our lesson.

 



 

* Effective today, what I used to call the “Forthcoming Walmart of Education — which has already been occurring to some degree with things such as MOOCs and collaborations/partnerships such as Georgia Institute of Technology, Udacity, and AT&T — I now call the “Next Amazon.com of Higher Education.”

Cost. Convenience. Selection. Offering a service on-demand (i.e., being quick, responsive, and available 24×7). <– These all are powerful forces.

 



 

P.S. Some will say you can’t possibly compare the worlds of retail and higher education — and that may be true as of 2017. However, if:

  • the costs of higher education keep going up and we continue to turn a deaf ear to the struggling families/students/adult learners/etc. out there
  • alternatives to traditional higher education continue to come on the landscape
  • the Federal Government continues to be more open to financially supporting such alternatives
  • technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning continue to get better and more powerful — to the point that they can effectively deliver a personalized education (one that is likely to be fully online and that utilizes a team of specialists to create and deliver the learning experiences)
  • people lose their jobs to artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation and need to quickly reinvent themselves

…I can assure you that people will find other ways to make ends meet. The Next Amazon.com of Education will be just what they are looking for.

 



 

 

 

Per Charlotte Wilson, Marketing, Open Education Database:

The American Association for University Women recently reported that 53% of women have high student loan debt just one year after graduation, compared to 39% of men. Many women also face the added difficulties of trying to go to college for the first time later in life, returning to school after long gaps of time, and attaining a degree while being a single parent.

To help make college more accessible for them, the college planning experts at OEDB.org developed two holistic financial aid guides specifically for women. The guides break down available grants, scholarships, and fellowships, along with useful tips and tricks. See:

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
The use of virtual reality in industries such as architecture, construction, and real estate is growing. Below are some articles that speak to this trend.

In the future, it’s highly likely we’ll be able to get a nice VR-based tour of a space before building it, or renting it, or moving into it. Schools and universities will benefit from this as well, as they can use VR to refine the vision for a space with the appropriate stakeholders and donors.

 


 

 

Coming Soon: A Virtual Reality Revolution — from builderonline.com by Jennifer Goodman
American consumers will soon expect homes to be viewable before they are built. Are you ready?

Excerpt:

In what ways are builders using VR today?
There are two primary uses of the panoramic style VR that I mentioned above being used: 1) photography based experiences and 2) computer generated (CG) experiences. The former is getting quite a bit of traction right now through technologies like Matterport. They are what I consider a modern version of iPix, using a camera to photograph an existing environment and special software to move through the space. But it is limited to real world environments. The CG experiences don’t require the environments to be built which gives builders a huge advantage to pre-market their properties. And since it is computer generated, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility in what is presented, such as various structural options or cabinet selections. And not only homes! Developers are using the technology to market the amenities of a new master planned community.

 

 

Local builders step further into virtual reality — from richmondbizsense.com by Jonathan Spiers

Excerpt:

While 3D modeling and online virtual tours have become more commonplace in the home design industry, at least one local builder is taking the custom home building and buying process into a new dimension.

At a recent preview event for this year’s Homearama, an annual home design showcase to be held this May at Chesterfield County’s NewMarket Estates, Midlothian-based Lifestyle Home Builders let attendees virtually walk through and look around a completed version of the house it is building – while standing within the same unfinished home under construction.

Participants were invited to wear virtual reality (VR) headsets for a full immersion, 360-degree experience, or they could navigate the finished product via a virtual tour on a computer screen. LifeStyle is using the technology, which it adapted from building information modeling (BIM) and off-the-shelf software, to allow homebuyers a chance to see their custom home before it is built and make any changes prior to construction starting.

 

 

How Virtual Reality Could Revolutionize The Real Estate Industry — from forbes.com by Azad Abbasi

Excerpt:

Consider the top two hurdles of the average real estate agent:

  • Agents have to manage the time it takes to go from one visit to the other, dealing with traffic among other elements out of their control.
  • The most commonly heard phrase in real estate is, “It doesn’t look like the pictures.”

Virtual reality can help immediately resolve both of these issues. It offers the possibility to virtually visit a lot more homes in a lot less time. This will naturally increase sales efficiency, as well as allow the ability to see more potential buyers.

Here are three different options you can explore using virtual reality to heighten real estate experiences:

 

 

The Hidden Costs of Active Learning — from by Thomas Mennella
Flipped and active learning truly are a better way for students to learn, but they also may be a fast track to instructor burnout.

Excerpt:

The time has come for us to have a discussion about the hidden cost of active learning in higher education. Soon, gone will be the days of instructors arriving to a lecture hall, delivering a 75-minute speech and leaving. Gone will be the days of midterms and finals being the sole forms of assessing student learning. For me, these days have already passed, and good riddance. These are largely ineffective teaching and learning strategies. Today’s college classroom is becoming dynamic, active and student-centered. Additionally, the learning never stops because the dialogue between student and instructor persists endlessly over the internet. Trust me when I say that this can be exhausting. With constant ‘touch-points,’ ‘personalized learning opportunities’ and the like, the notion of a college instructor having 12 contact hours per week that even remotely total 12 hours is beyond unreasonable.

We need to reevaluate how we measure, assign and compensate faculty teaching loads within an active learning framework. We need to recognize that instructors teaching in these innovative ways are doing more, and spending more hours, than their more traditional colleagues. And we must accept that a failure to recognize and remedy these ‘new normals’ risks burning out a generation of dedicated and passionate instructors. Flipped learning works and active learning works, but they’re very challenging ways to teach. I still say I will never teach another way again … I’m just not sure for how much longer that can be.

 

From DSC:
The above article prompted me to revisit the question of how we might move towards using more team-based approaches…? Thomas Mennella seems to be doing an incredible job — but grading 344 assignments each week or 3,784 assignments this semester is most definitely a recipe for burnout.

Then, pondering this situation, an article came to my mind that discusses Thomas Frey’s prediction that the largest internet-based company of 2030 will be focused on education.

I wondered…who will be the Amazon.com of the future of education? 

Such an organization will likely utilize a team-based approach to create and deliver excellent learning experiences — and will also likely leverage the power of artificial intelligence/machine learning/deep learning as a piece of their strategy.

 

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems