Can Virtual Reality “teach” empathy? — from by Chris Berdik
Immersive VR in the classroom is spreading fast, as teachers take students into other worlds


In November 2015, middle-school students from Westchester County, New York, found themselves on a windswept field in South Sudan mingling with a crowd of refugees fleeing civil war. Suddenly, they heard the deafening roar of low-flying military cargo planes overhead, followed by large bags of grain thudding to the ground all around them.

“The kids were jumping back from those bags dropping at their feet,” recalled Cayne Letizia, the teacher who used immersive virtual reality (VR) to transport his class into this emergency food drop featured in the New York Times 360-degree video series about refugees. Count Letizia among VR’s burgeoning fan base in education, where the spread of high-quality content and more-affordable hardware (especially Google’s $15 Cardboard Viewer) gives students myriad ways to briefly inhabit what they’re learning—from wandering the streets of ancient Rome to touring the International Space Station.


From DSC:
I read the other day where someone asserted that you can’t make someone be more empathetic. That may be so, but VR can sure put you in someone else’s shoes — big time!  And that seems like in many cases, that can be a good thing in terms of understanding what someone else might be going through.







Robots will take jobs, but not as fast as some fear, new report says — from by Steve Lohr



The robots are coming, but the march of automation will displace jobs more gradually than some alarming forecasts suggest.

A measured pace is likely because what is technically possible is only one factor in determining how quickly new technology is adopted, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Other crucial ingredients include economics, labor markets, regulations and social attitudes.

The report, which was released Thursday, breaks jobs down by work tasks — more than 2,000 activities across 800 occupations, from stock clerk to company boss. The institute, the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, concludes that many tasks can be automated and that most jobs have activities ripe for automation. But the near-term impact, the report says, will be to transform work more than to eliminate jobs.


So while further automation is inevitable, McKinsey’s research suggests that it will be a relentless advance rather than an economic tidal wave.



Harnessing automation for a future that works — from by James Manyika, Michael Chui, Mehdi Miremadi, Jacques Bughin, Katy George, Paul Willmott, and Martin Dewhurst
Automation is happening, and it will bring substantial benefits to businesses and economies worldwide, but it won’t arrive overnight. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds realizing automation’s full potential requires people and technology to work hand in hand.


Recent developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have put us on the cusp of a new automation age. Robots and computers can not only perform a range of routine physical work activities better and more cheaply than humans, but they are also increasingly capable of accomplishing activities that include cognitive capabilities once considered too difficult to automate successfully, such as making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, or even driving. Automation will change the daily work activities of everyone, from miners and landscapers to commercial bankers, fashion designers, welders, and CEOs. But how quickly will these automation technologies become a reality in the workplace? And what will their impact be on employment and productivity in the global economy?

The McKinsey Global Institute has been conducting an ongoing research program on automation technologies and their potential effects. A new MGI report, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity, highlights several key findings.



Also related/see:

This Japanese Company Is Replacing Its Staff With Artificial Intelligence — from by Kevin Lui


The year of AI has well and truly begun, it seems. An insurance company in Japan announced that it will lay off more than 30 employees and replace them with an artificial intelligence system.  The technology will be based on IBM’s Watson Explorer, which is described as having “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” reports the Guardian. Japan’s Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance said the new system will take over from its human counterparts by calculating policy payouts. The company said it hopes the AI will be 30% more productive and aims to see investment costs recouped within two years. Fukoku Mutual Life said it expects the $1.73 million smart system—which costs around $129,000 each year to maintain—to save the company about $1.21 million each year. The 34 staff members will officially be replaced in March.


Also from “The Internet of Everything” report in 2016 by BI Intelligence:




A Darker Theme in Obama’s Farewell: Automation Can Divide Us — from by Claire Cain Miller


Underneath the nostalgia and hope in President Obama’s farewell address Tuesday night was a darker theme: the struggle to help the people on the losing end of technological change.

“The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas,” Mr. Obama said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”

Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy — from by Kristin Lee

[On 12/20/16], the White House released a new report on the ways that artificial intelligence will transform our economy over the coming years and decades.

 Although it is difficult to predict these economic effects precisely, the report suggests that policymakers should prepare for five primary economic effects:

    Positive contributions to aggregate productivity growth;
Changes in the skills demanded by the job market, including greater demand for higher-level technical skills;
Uneven distribution of impact, across sectors, wage levels, education levels, job types, and locations;
Churning of the job market as some jobs disappear while others are created; and
The loss of jobs for some workers in the short-run, and possibly longer depending on policy responses.


Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change — from by
It is easy to say that people need to keep learning throughout their careers. The practicalities are daunting.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

Unfortunately, as our special report in this issue sets out, the lifelong learning that exists today mainly benefits high achievers—and is therefore more likely to exacerbate inequality than diminish it. If 21st-century economies are not to create a massive underclass, policymakers urgently need to work out how to help all their citizens learn while they earn. So far, their ambition has fallen pitifully short.

At the same time on-the-job training is shrinking. In America and Britain it has fallen by roughly half in the past two decades. Self-employment is spreading, leaving more people to take responsibility for their own skills. Taking time out later in life to pursue a formal qualification is an option, but it costs money and most colleges are geared towards youngsters.


The classic model of education—a burst at the start and top-ups through company training—is breaking down. One reason is the need for new, and constantly updated, skills.




Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative — from
Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment, says Andrew Palmer. The faint outlines of such a system are now emerging


A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades. “Germany is often lauded for its apprenticeships, but the economy has failed to adapt to the knowledge economy,” says Andreas Schleicher, head of the education directorate of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. “Vocational training has a role, but training someone early to do one thing all their lives is not the answer to lifelong learning.”

To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives. This special report will chart some of the efforts being made to connect education and employment in new ways, both by smoothing entry into the labour force and by enabling people to learn new skills throughout their careers. Many of these initiatives are still embryonic, but they offer a glimpse into the future and a guide to the problems raised by lifelong reskilling.



Individuals, too, increasingly seem to accept the need for continuous rebooting.






The speakers — and the topics that they’ll be discussing — for the 2017 January Series have been announced.  As you can see, very knowledgeable, talented speakers are planning on covering a variety of meaningful topics such as:

  • 500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters
  • Poverty and Profit in the American City
  • Race, Trauma, and the Doctrine of Discovery
  • Closing the Gender Gap in Technology
  • Tinkering in Today’s Healthcare Factories: Pursuing the Renewal of Medicine
  • Until All Are Free: A Look at Slavery Today and the Church’s Invitation to End It
  • I’ll Push You: A Story of Radical Friendship, Overcoming Challenges and the Power of Community
  • The EU and Global Governance
  • The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
  • How Did We Get Here? A Historical Perspective on Our Wild 2016 Election
  • How to Find and Live Your Calling: Lessons from the Psychology of Vocation
  • The World is a Scary Place, Love Anyway
  • The Royal Revolution: Fresh Perspectives on the Cross
  • American Violinist in Concert
  • Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World?

You don’t have to physically attend these presentations in order to benefit from them, as the majority of these presentations will be streamed live over the Internet (audio only).  So plan now to attend (physically or virtually) one or more of these excellent talks.




If you doubt that we are on an exponential pace of change, you need to check these articles out! [Christian]



From DSC:
The articles listed in
this PDF document demonstrate the exponential pace of technological change that many nations across the globe are currently experiencing and will likely be experiencing for the foreseeable future. As we are no longer on a linear trajectory, we need to consider what this new trajectory means for how we:

  • Educate and prepare our youth in K-12
  • Educate and prepare our young men and women studying within higher education
  • Restructure/re-envision our corporate training/L&D departments
  • Equip our freelancers and others to find work
  • Help people in the workforce remain relevant/marketable/properly skilled
  • Encourage and better enable lifelong learning
  • Attempt to keep up w/ this pace of change — legally, ethically, morally, and psychologically


PDF file here


One thought that comes to mind…when we’re moving this fast, we need to be looking upwards and outwards into the horizons — constantly pulse-checking the landscapes. We can’t be looking down or be so buried in our current positions/tasks that we aren’t noticing the changes that are happening around us.




We can do nothing to change the past, but we have enormous power to shape the future. Once we grasp that essential insight, we recognize our responsibility and capability for building our dreams of tomorrow and avoiding our nightmares.

–Edward Cornish


From DSC:
This is the fifth posting in a series that highlights the need for us to consider the ethical implications of the technologies that are currently being developed.  What kind of future do we want to have?  How can we create dreams, not nightmares?

In regards to robotics, algorithms, and business, I’m hopeful that the C-suites out there will keep the state of their fellow mankind in mind when making decisions. Because if all’s we care about is profits, the C-suites out there will gladly pursue lowering costs, firing people, and throwing their fellow mankind right out the window…with massive repercussions to follow.  After all, we are the shareholders…let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. Let’s aim for something higher than profits.  Businesses should have a higher calling/purpose. The futures of millions of families are at stake here. Let’s consider how we want to use robotics, algorithms, AI, etc. — for our benefit, not our downfall.

Other postings:
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV




From page 212 of
Mary Meeker’s annual report re: Internet Trends 2016



The White House is prepping for an AI-powered future — from by April Glaser

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Researchers disagree on when artificial intelligence that displays something like human understanding might arrive. But the Obama administration isn’t waiting to find out. The White House says the government needs to start thinking about how to regulate and use the powerful technology while it is still dependent on humans.

“The public should have an accurate mental model of what we mean when we say artificial intelligence,” says Ryan Calo, who teaches law at University of Washington. Calo spoke last week at the first of four workshops the White House hosts this summer to examine how to address an increasingly AI-powered world.

“One thing we know for sure is that AI is making policy challenges already, such as how to make sure the technology remains safe, controllable, and predictable, even as it gets much more complex and smarter,” said Ed Felten, the deputy US chief of science and technology policy leading the White House’s summer of AI research. “Some of these issues will become more challenging over time as the technology progresses, so we’ll need to keep upping our game.”



Meet ‘Ross,’ the newly hired legal robot — from by Karen Turner


One of the country’s biggest law firms has become the first to publicly announce that it has “hired” a robot lawyer to assist with bankruptcy cases. The robot, called ROSS, has been marketed as “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney.”

ROSS has joined the ranks of law firm BakerHostetler, which employs about 50 human lawyers just in its bankruptcy practice. The AI machine, powered by IBM’s Watson technology, will serve as a legal researcher for the firm. It will be responsible for sifting through thousands of legal documents to bolster the firm’s cases. These legal researcher jobs are typically filled by fresh-out-of-school lawyers early on in their careers.



Confidential health care data divulged to Google’s DeepMind for new app — from by Sarah Marquart

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Google DeepMind’s new app Streams hopes to use patient data to monitor kidney disease patients. In the process, they gained confidential data on more than 1.6 million patients, and people aren’t happy.

This sounds great, but the concern lies in exactly what kind of data Google has access to. There are no separate statistics available for people with kidney conditions, so the company was given access to all data including HIV test results, details about abortions, and drug overdoses.

In response to concerns about privacy, The Royal Free Trust said the data will remain encrypted so Google staff should not be able to identify anyone.



Two questions for managers of learning machines — from by Theodore Kinni


The first, which Dhar takes up in a new article on TechCrunch, is how to “design intelligent learning machines that minimize undesirable behavior.” Pointing to two high-profile juvenile delinquents, Microsoft’s Tay and Google’s Lexus, he reminds us that it’s very hard to control AI machines in complex settings.

The second question, which Dhar explores in an article for, is when and when not to allow AI machines to make decisions.



All stakeholders must engage in learning analytics debate — from by David Raths


An Ethics Guide for Analytics?
During the Future Trends Forum session [with Bryan Alexander and George Siemens], Susan Adams, an instructional designer and faculty development specialist at Oregon Health and Science University, asked Siemens if he knew of any good ethics guides to how universities use analytics.

Siemens responded that the best guide he has seen so far was developed by the Open University in the United Kingdom. “They have a guide about how it will be used in the learning process, driven from the lens of learning rather than data availability,” he said.

“Starting with ethics is important,” he continued. “We should recognize that if openness around algorithms and learning analytics practices is important to us, we should be starting to make that a conversation with vendors. I know of some LMS vendors where you actually buy back your data. Your students generate it, and when you want to analyze it, you have to buy it back. So we should really be asking if it is open. If so, we can correct inefficiencies. If an algorithm is closed, we don’t know how the dials are being spun behind the scenes. If we have openness around pedagogical practices and algorithms used to sort and influence our students, we at least can change them.”



From DSC:
Though I’m generally a fan of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), we need to be careful how we implement it or things will turn out as depicted in this piece from The Verge. We’ll need filters or some other means of opting in and out of what we want to see.





What does ethics have to do with robots? Listen to RoboPsych Podcast discussion with roboticist/lawyer Kate Darling
— RoboPsych (@RoboPsychCom) April 25, 2016




Retail inventory robots could replace the need for store employees — from by Trevor English


There are currently many industries that will likely be replaced with robots in the coming future, and with retail being one of the biggest industries across the world, it is no wonder that robots will slowly begin taking human’s jobs. A robot named Tory will perform inventory tasks throughout stores, as well as have the capability of directing customers to where what they are looking for is. Essentially, a customer will type in a product into the robot’s interactive touch screen, and it will start driving to the exact location. It will also conduct inventory using RFID scanners, and overall, it will make the retail process much more efficient. Check out the video below from the German Robotics company Metre Labs who are behind the retail robot.




From DSC:
Do we really want to do this?  Some say the future will be great when the robots, algorithms, AI, etc. are doing everything for us…while we can just relax. But I believe work serves a purpose…gives us a purpose.  What are the ramifications of a society where people are no longer working?  Or is that a stupid, far-fetched question and a completely unrealistic thought?

I’m just pondering what the ramifications might be of replacing the majority of human employees with robots.  I can understand about using robotics to assist humans, but when we talk about replacing humans, we had better look at the big picture. If not, we may be taking the angst behind the Occupy Wall Street movement from years ago and multiplying it by the thousands…perhaps millions.





Automakers, consumers both must approach connected cars cautiously — from by Kyle Campbell
Several automakers plan to have autonomous cars ready for the public by 2030, a development that could pose significant safety and security concerns.


We’re living in the connected age. Phones can connect wirelessly to computers, watches, televisions and anything else with access to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and money can change hands with a few taps of a screen. Digitalization allows data to flow quicker and more freely than ever before, but it also puts the personal information we entrust it with (financial information, geographic locations and other private details) at a far greater risk of ending up in the wrong hands.

Balancing the seamless convenience customers desire with the security they need is a high-wire act of the highest order, and it’s one that automakers have to master as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Because of this, connected cars will potentially (and probably) become targets for hackers, thieves and possibly even terrorists looking to take advantage of the fledgling technology. With a wave of connected cars (220 million by 2020, according to some estimates) ready to flood U.S. roadways, it’s on both manufacturers and consumers to be vigilant in preventing the worst-case scenarios from playing out.




Also, check out the 7 techs being discussed at this year’s Gigaom Change Conference:





Scientists are just as confused about the ethics of big-data research as you — by Sarah Zhang


And that shows just how untested the ethics of this new field of research is. Unlike medical research, which has been shaped by decades of clinical trials, the risks—and rewards—of analyzing big, semi-public databases are just beginning to become clear.

And the patchwork of review boards responsible for overseeing those risks are only slowly inching into the 21st century. Under the Common Rule in the US, federally funded research has to go through ethical review. Rather than one unified system though, every single university has its own institutional review board, or IRB. Most IRB members are researchers at the university, most often in the biomedical sciences. Few are professional ethicists.





Addendums on 6/3 and 6/4/16:

  • Apple supplier Foxconn replaces 60,000 humans with robots in China — from
    The first wave of robots taking over human jobs is upon us. Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.02%  supplier Foxconn Technology Co. 2354, +0.95% has replaced 60,000 human workers with robots in a single factory, according to a report in the South China Morning Post, initially published over the weekend. This is part of a massive reduction in headcount across the entire Kunshan region in China’s Jiangsu province, in which many Taiwanese manufacturers base their Chinese operations.
  • There are now 260,000 robots working in U.S. factories — from by Jennifer Booton (back from Feb 2016)
    There are now more than 260,000 robots working in U.S. factories. Orders and shipments for robots in North America set new records in 2015, according to industry trade group Robotic Industries Association. A total of 31,464 robots, valued at a combined $1.8 billion, were ordered from North American companies last year, marking a 14% increase in units and an 11% increase in value year-over-year.
  • Judgment Day: Google is making a ‘kill-switch’ for AI — from
    Taking Safety Measures
    DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence company, catapulted itself into fame when its AlphaGo AI beat the world champion of Go, Lee Sedol. However, DeepMind is working to do a lot more than beat humans at chess and Go and various other games. Indeed, its AI algorithms were developed for something far greater: To “solve intelligence” by creating general purpose AI that can be used for a host of applications and, in essence, learn on their own.This, of course, raises some concerns. Namely, what do we do if the AI breaks…if it gets a virus…if it goes rogue?In a paper written by researchers from DeepMind, in cooperation with Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, scientists note that AI systems are “unlikely to behave optimally all the time,” and that a human operator may find it necessary to “press a big red button” to prevent such a system from causing harm. In other words, we need a “kill-switch.”
  • Is the world ready for synthetic life? Scientists plan to create whole genomes — from by Shelly Fan
    “You can’t possibly begin to do something like this if you don’t have a value system in place that allows you to map concepts of ethics, beauty, and aesthetics onto our own existence,” says Endy. “Given that human genome synthesis is a technology that can completely redefine the core of what now joins all of humanity together as a species, we argue that discussions of making such capacities real…should not take place without open and advance consideration of whether it is morally right to proceed,” he said.
  • This is the robot that will shepherd and keep livestock healthy — from
    The Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFRis no stranger to developing innovative ways of modernizing agriculture. It has previously presented technologies for robots that can measure crop yields and collect data about the quality and variability of orchards, but its latest project is far more ambitious: it’s building a machine that can autonomously run livestock farms. While the ACFR has been working on this technology since 2014, the robot – previously known as ‘Shrimp’ – is set to start a two-year trial next month. Testing will take place at several farms nearby New South Wales province in Australia.







From Wikipedia’s page on “Prison Education” (emphasis DSC):

Reductions in recidivism
Recent research on prison education programs presents discouraging statistics on the current recidivism rate. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) reported in 2011 that nearly 7 in 10 people who had been incarcerated will commit a new crime, and half will end up back in prison within three years. Given that about 95 out of every 100 incarcerated people eventually rejoin society, it is crucial that there are educational programs in the prison system.[16] Not only is it important to develop programs in prison that are educational but if recidivism is a goal then there also needs to be support programs in the community to support the reentry population where they can either continue their education or get assistance in finding a sustainable job.[17]

Skeptics claim that, in many cases, prison education produces nothing more than “better educated criminals”.[18] However, many studies have shown significant decreases in recidivism. “The more educational programs successfully completed for each six months confined the lower the recidivism rate” according to Harer (1994), in his Federal Bureau of Prisons Office of Research & Evaluation report.[19][20]

Personal development
To those afforded the opportunity to further their education, it “may be the first glimmer of hope that [they] can escape the cycles of poverty and violence that have dominated their lives”.[21] Pursuing an education can also undo some of the damage accrued during their stay in prison; it can awaken senses numbed and release creativity that is both therapeutic and rehabilitative.[22]

With good skills and an education, released prisoners have a better chance at moving on with their lives despite their criminal record. 75% of college-educated ex-prisoners are able to find stable employment.[23] Employment helps ex-prisoners stay out of prison, despite the formidable obstacles, including the social stigma of being an ex-con and state laws that bar them from professions requiring licensure. They will be dealing with these obstacles for the rest of their lives.


A College Education for Prisoners — from/by the Editorial Board of the New York Times


States are finally backing away from the draconian sentencing policies that swept the country at the end of the last century, driving up prison costs and sending too many people to jail for too long, often for nonviolent offenses. Many are now trying to turn around the prison juggernaut by steering drug addicts into treatment instead of jail and retooling parole systems that once sent people back to prison for technical violations.

But the most effective way to keep people out of prison once they leave is to give them jobs skills that make them marketable employees. That, in turn, means restarting prison education programs that were shuttered beginning in the 1990s, when federal and state legislators cut funding to show how tough they were on crime.



a16z Podcast: Your worst deeds don’t define you — life and redemption in prison — this podcast is produced by Andreessen Horowitz (aka “a16z”), a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm


Men and women who have spent decades in prison are being released into an iPhone-enabled world that they hardly recognize. Shaka Senghor is one of those people, imprisoned at age 19 for second-degree murder and released almost two decades later in 2010. “It was like Fred Flintstone walking into an episode of the Jetsons,” he tells Ben Horowitz in a conversation about his book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison.

Today, Senghor is an activist, advocate, and mentor for young men and women who find themselves on the same troubled path he took. This episode of the a16z Podcast covers Ben and Shaka’s conversation about healing, humanity, and redemption — especially if you believe that it’s how you finish, not just how you start, that matters.





Prison ministry degree program reflects restorative justice — from by Jon Gorter; from 2/26/15


At Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, MI, select inmates will  have the opportunity to earn an AA or BA degree in Ministry Leadership through Calvin College this fall.

The Ministry Leadership program, initiated by the Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) in partnership with Calvin College, has gained the interest of the college; and though it is still waiting for final accreditation, was approved by faculty senate at the beginning of this month.

Each year, around 18 to 20 selected inmates will be transferred from various Michigan prisons to the Handlon Correctional Facility to take courses in required core disciplines and in Ministry Leadership.

After completing at least 124 semester hours over a period of 5 years, students will receive a BA degree, which will enable them to lead worship, disciple fellow inmates, and mentor short-term prisoners.


Calvin programs designed to educate inmates — from by Anneke Kapteyn



Also relevant/see:

  • Traveling the World in Search of a New Vision of Justice — from by Rebecca McCray
    Baz Dreisinger traverses the continents in her new book, visiting prisons worldwide and bringing their lessons back to the U.S.
    As a longtime teacher in U.S. prisons, journalist, and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Baz Dreisinger has spent many hours considering incarceration in the United States. In her new book, Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World, she takes her expertise and looks out to the rest of the world. Traveling from South Africa, to Uganda, to Brazil, to Thailand, and Australia, Dreisinger takes her teaching skills into far-flung modern prison complexes and gives her readers a glimpse into the lives of the men and women incarcerated there.TakePart talked to Dreisinger about what she learned while working on the book and how it changed the way she thinks about justice in the U.S. (The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
  • The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI)
    The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) creates the opportunity for incarcerated men and women to earn a Bard College degree while serving their sentences. The academic standards and workload are rigorous, based on an unusual mix of attention to developmental skills and ambitious college study. The rate of post-release employment among the program’s participants is high and recidivism is stunningly low. By challenging incarcerated men and women with a liberal education, BPI works to redefine the relationship between educational opportunity and criminal justice.
  • Divine Hope Seminary
    Excerpts from website:
    Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary is a dedicated prison seminary  that operates within the Danville Correctional Center (Illinois) and the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, the Westville (Indiana) Correctional Center and the Rockville (Indiana) Correctional Center.

    The school is called Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary because it provides an opportunity for hope-giving and life-changing studies that prepare our students for useful service within and outside of prison.



Addendums on 4/4/16:

Hebrews 13:3 New International Version (NIV)

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.


Why Tribeca Film Institute is doing screenings in prison — from by David Zax
The Community Screening Series helps prisoners connect to each other, the world outside, and new educational opportunities.


The evening’s screening—Tribeca does two every month—would also serve as an on-ramp to other educational initiatives in the prison; several men in the audience had come to early screenings where they learned about a higher education program in the prison offered through John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

But Bravo had a longstanding interest in mass incarceration and prison education. Growing up in Far Rockaway, Queens, people in his community kept getting locked up, so often on simple drug possession. “I realized there was a direct relationship between the prison industrial complex and poor communities of color,” he recalls today. In the ’90s, he became a hip-hop journalist, editing a column for a magazine about prisons, and he began to visit them. Meanwhile, the U.S. prison population soared (it now stands at 2.4 million, giving the U.S. one of the highest incarceration rates in the world).

Bravo kept wanting to work to connect prisoners to the outside world. When he started making documentaries for PBS, he made sure to screen them in prison. When he worked for the famed documentarian Albert Maysles, he did the same. “I thought of prison audiences as a vital stakeholder group in the community,” he recalls.

At Otisville, the screening winds to its conclusion. Ransom, White, and Rodriguez break the men into three groups, leading them in discussion. In Rodriguez’s group, conversation about the film turns heady immediately, as the men pick apart Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, which so wildly lower the bar for self-defense claims. “Citizens are killing people because they thought he had a gun? That has to be addressed,” says one. “My mother told me you have to teach young black males how to deal with police authority,” says another. “These are not things young white men have to learn…”

As the evening unfolds, the conversation winds more generally to the topic of justice.

“What does it take to have justice?” White asks the men, as Bravo looks on.

One of the incarcerated men responds immediately: “Education.”



From DSC:
I’m not sure where the item below ultimately came from, but it was in one of those emails that came to me via a family member.  It reminds me of how people come in and out of our lives — and that goes not only for parents, siblings, spouses, and other family members, but also for teachers, professors, coaches, mentors, pastors, managers, supervisors, etc.  They all help us learn and grow…and then we no longer have them in our lives.  It reminds me of a learning ecosystem — constantly changing and morphing.

So it’s very relevant not only to our personal lives, but a reminder to be thankful for those who have ridden a train with you, with me — if even for a brief period of time.


The Train of Life

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.

However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.

As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant (i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life).

Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.

Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize they vacated their seats.

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.

So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life.

Reap success and give lots of love.

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.


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:







Addendum on 12/14/15:

  • Algorithms rule our lives, so who should rule them? — from by Dries Buytaert
    As technology advances and more everyday objects are driven almost entirely by software, it’s become clear that we need a better way to catch cheating software and keep people safe.

That ‘useless’ liberal arts degree has become tech’s hottest ticket — from by George Anders; with a shout out to Krista Spahr for bringing this item to my attention


What kind of boss hires a thwarted actress for a business-to-business software startup? Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science.

“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.”

And he’s far from alone. Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex., software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger.  Engineers may still command the biggest salaries, but at disruptive juggernauts such as Facebook and Uber, the war for talent has moved to nontechnical jobs, particularly sales and marketing. The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.







Addendum on 8/7/15:

  • STEM Study Starts With Liberal Arts — from by Chris Teare
    Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
    Much has been made, especially by the Return on Investment crowd, of the value of undergraduate study in the so-called STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Lost in the conversation is the way the true liberal arts underpin such study, often because the liberal arts are inaccurately equated solely with the humanities. From the start, the liberal arts included math and science, something I learned firsthand at St. John’s College.

    This topic is especially on my mind since reading the excellent article George Anders has written for Forbes: “That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket” In this context, understanding the actual origin and purposes of the liberal arts is all the more valuable.

© 2016 Learning Ecosystems