The Metaverse Will Reshape Our Lives. Let’s Make Sure It’s for the Better. — from time.com by Matthew Ball

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The metaverse, a 30-year-old term but nearly century-old idea, is forming around us. Every few decades, a platform shift occurs—such as that from mainframes to PCs and the internet, or the subsequent evolution to mobile and cloud computing. Once a new era has taken shape, it’s incredibly difficult to alter who leads it and how. But between eras, those very things usually do change. If we hope to build a better future, then we must be as aggressive about shaping it as are those who are investing to build it.

The next evolution to this trend seems likely to be a persistent and “living” virtual world that is not a window into our life (such as Instagram) nor a place where we communicate it (such as Gmail) but one in which we also exist—and in 3D (hence the focus on immersive VR headsets and avatars).

 

Inside a radical new project to democratize AI — from technologyreview.com by Melissa Heikkilä
A group of over 1,000 AI researchers has created a multilingual large language model bigger than GPT-3—and they’re giving it out for free.

Excerpt:

PARIS — This is as close as you can get to a rock concert in AI research. Inside the supercomputing center of the French National Center for Scientific Research, on the outskirts of Paris, rows and rows of what look like black fridges hum at a deafening 100 decibels.

They form part of a supercomputer that has spent 117 days gestating a new large language model (LLM) called BLOOM that its creators hope represents a radical departure from the way AI is usually developed.

Unlike other, more famous large language models such as OpenAI’s GPT-3 and Google’s LaMDA, BLOOM (which stands for BigScience Large Open-science Open-access Multilingual Language Model) is designed to be as transparent as possible, with researchers sharing details about the data it was trained on, the challenges in its development, and the way they evaluated its performance. OpenAI and Google have not shared their code or made their models available to the public, and external researchers have very little understanding of how these models are trained.

Another item re: AI:

Not my job: AI researchers building surveillance tech and deepfakes resist ethical concerns — from protocol.com by Kate Kaye
The computer vision research community is behind on AI ethics, but it’s not just a research problem. Practitioners say the ethics disconnect persists as young computer vision scientists make their way into the ranks of corporate AI.

For the first time, the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference — a global event that attracted companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Tesla to recruit new AI talent this year — “strongly encouraged”researchers whose papers were accepted to the conference to include a discussion about potential negative societal impacts of their research in their submission forms.

 

Radar Trends to Watch: July 2022 — from oreilly.com
Developments in AI, Metaverse, Programming, and More

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The most important issue facing technology might now be the protection of privacy. While that’s not a new concern, it’s a concern that most computer users have been willing to ignore, and that most technology companies have been willing to let them ignore. New state laws that criminalize having abortions out of state and the stockpiling of location information by antiabortion groups have made privacy an issue that can’t be ignored.

Also relevant/see:

 

Radar Trends to Watch: June 2022 — from oreilly.com

Excerpt:

The explosion of large models continues. Several developments are especially noteworthy. DeepMind’s Gato model is unique in that it’s a single model that’s trained for over 600 different tasks; whether or not it’s a step towards general intelligence (the ensuing debate may be more important than the model itself), it’s an impressive achievement. Google Brain’s Imagen creates photorealistic images that are impressive, even after you’ve seen what DALL-E 2 can do. And Allen AI’s Macaw (surely an allusion to Emily Bender and Timnit Gebru’s Stochastic Parrots paper) is open source, one tenth the size of GPT-3, and claims to be more accurate. Facebook/Meta is also releasing an open source large language model, including the model’s training log, which records in detail the work required to train it.

 

 
 

Amazon Boosts Upskilling Opportunities for Hourly Employees by Partnering with More Than 140 Universities and Colleges to Fully Fund Tuition — from press.aboutamazon.com

Excerpt:

  • Amazon employees in the U.S. will benefit from new Career Choice partnerships with Southern New Hampshire University, Colorado State University–Global, Western Governors University, National University, and numerous local universities
  • Amazon also partners with GEDWorks and Smart Horizons to provide employees with free high school completion and GED preparation, Voxy EnGen and goFLUENT to provide English language proficiency training, and Outlier to provide college preparation courses
  • New benefits are part of Amazon’s Career Choice program and move the company closer to meeting its Upskilling 2025 pledge—a $1.2 billion commitment to upskill more than 300,000 Amazon employees by 2025

Also see:

Amazon’s announcement is an eye-catching development in the yearslong effort across higher education to enroll more adult learners and increase the share of the U.S. population that has some education beyond high school. While the jury’s still out on whether tuition-benefit programs deliver on all their promises, as most are relatively new, they have become an increasingly popular offering for major corporations. Last fall, Amazon announced a $1.2 billion investment to expand its efforts.

Amazon employees will have choices. They can enroll at a local participating college and take a few courses en route to a certificate or credential, or they can enroll in a full associate- or bachelor’s-degree program

 

What’s ahead for AI, VR, NFTs, and more? — from oreilly.com by Mike Loukides
Here are some predictions for tech in 2022.

Excerpt:

Just as we saw new professions and job classifications when the web appeared in the ’90s, we’ll see new professions and services appear as a result of AI—specifically, as a result of natural language processing. We don’t yet know what these new professions will look like or what new skills they’ll require. But they’ll almost certainly involve collaboration between humans and intelligent machines.

Also see:

  • How A.I. is set to evolve in 2022 — from cnbc.com by Sam Shead
    Key Points: 
    * AI can excel at specific narrow tasks such as playing chess but it struggles to do more than one thing well.
    * While AI still has a long way to go before anything like human-level intelligence is achieved, it hasn’t stopped the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon investing billions of dollars.
 

Amazon Gift Signals Confidence in Community Colleges — from insidehighered.com by Suzanne Smalley
The company is giving $3 million to kick-start a computer science bachelor’s degree program at community and technical colleges throughout Washington State.

Excerpt:

Amazon is funding a pilot that will support the launch of new computer science bachelor’s degree programs at community and technical colleges in Seattle and across Washington State, an investment meant to address a workforce shortage plaguing the e-commerce giant and other employers who can’t find qualified candidates for unfilled computer science positions.

 

The biggest tech trends of 2022, according to over 40 experts — from fastcompany.com by Mark Sullivan
Startup founders, Big Tech execs, VCs, and tech scholars offer their predictions on how Web3, the metaverse, and other emerging ideas will shape the next year.

We asked startup founders, Big Tech execs, VCs, scholars, and other experts to speculate on the coming year within their field of interest. Altogether, we collected more than 40 predictions about 2022. Together, they offer a smart composite look at the things we’re likely to be talking about by this time next year.

 

From DSC:
As the article below clearly relays, MOOCs did NOT fail! In the last decade, they have reached 220 million learners worldwide!

I don’t know the total number of graduates from the Ivy League — throughout all of the relevant institutions’ histories — but I would bet you that MOOCs have reached far more learners. And MOOCs did so in less than a decade. 

And you’re going to tell me MOOCs have been a failure?!!!! Are you being serious!?!?!  You can talk about completion rates all that you want to (and that misses the point, as some people sign up for MOOCs without ever intending to finish the entire course). As with other things, people get out of something what they put into that thing.


A Decade of MOOCs: A Review of Stats and Trends for Large-Scale Online Courses in 2021 — from edsurge.com by Dhawal Shah

Excerpts:

Now, a decade later, MOOCs have reached 220 million learners, excluding China where we don’t have as reliable data, . In 2021, providers launched over 3,100 courses and 500 microcredentials.

Originally, MOOC providers relied on universities to create courses. But that dependence is declining as more and more of the courses are created by companies every year. These corporate partners in course creation include tech giants Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.

…the majority of the new courses launched on Coursera in 2021 are not from universities anymore.

These mass online courses were born without a business model. Yet within a decade, MOOCs went from no revenue to bringing in well over a half a billion dollars annually.

 

AWS Expands Access to Free Cloud Skills Training on its Mission to Educate 29 Million People by 2025 — from businesswire.com; with thanks to Ryan Craig for the resource
New AWS digital learning experience, technical courses on Amazon.com, expanded access to AWS re/Start, and Amazon’s first dedicated in-person cloud learning center will put cloud skills training into the hands of millions of people

New AWS Global Digital Skills Study finds the need for digital skills training is greater than ever, with 85% of workers feeling they need more technical knowledge than they did pre-pandemic

Excerpt:

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–[On 11/28/21], Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com, Inc. company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced four initiatives to empower learners and make it even easier for anyone with a desire to learn to access free cloud computing skills training and unlock new career possibilities in the cloud. The initiatives announced today include the launch of AWS Skill Builder—a new digital learning experience, the addition of AWS courses to the Amazon.com website, the expansion of the AWS re/Start global reskilling program, and the opening of the AWS Skills Center—Amazon’s first dedicated, in-person cloud learning space.

 

Why AWS’s move into private 5G networking is game-changing — from zdnet.com by Zeus Kerravala
As the cost of SIM-connected devices decreases and eSIMs become more common, the industry could see a big move from Wi-Fi to 5G.

Excerpt:

One of the notable announcements at Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent 2021 conference [on 11/30/21] was the unveiling of AWS Private 5G, a fully-managed service enabling businesses to deploy their own high-capacity mobile networks. The service is designed to be used inside buildings as an augmentation of — and eventual replacement for — Wi-Fi.

 

From DSC:
From my perspective, both of the items below are highly-related to each other:

Let’s Teach Computer Science Majors to Be Good Citizens. The Whole World Depends on It. — from edsurge.com by Anne-Marie Núñez, Matthew J. Mayhew, Musbah Shaheen and Laura S. Dahl

Excerpt:

Change may need to start earlier in the workforce development pipeline. Undergraduate education offers a key opportunity for recruiting students from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic, gender, and disability groups into computing. Yet even broadened participation in college computer science courses may not shift the tech workforce and block bias from seeping into tech tools if students aren’t taught that diversity and ethics are essential to their field of study and future careers.

Computer Science Majors Lack Citizenship Preparation
Unfortunately, those lessons seem to be missing from many computer science programs.

…and an excerpt from Why AI can’t really filter out “hate news” — with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource (emphasis DSC):

The incomprehensibility and unexplainability of huge algorithms
Michael Egnor: What terrifies me about artificial intelligence — and I don’t think one can overstate this danger — is that artificial intelligence has two properties that make it particularly deadly in human civilization. One is concealment. Even though every single purpose in artificial intelligence is human, it’s concealed. We don’t really understand it. We don’t understand Google’s algorithms.

There may even be a situation where Google doesn’t understand Google’s algorithms. But all of it comes from the people who run Google. So the concealment is very dangerous. We don’t know what these programs are doing to our culture. And it may be that no one knows, but they are doing things.

Note:Roman Yampolskiy has written about the incomprehensibility and unexplainability of AI: “Human beings are finite in our abilities. For example, our short term memory is about 7 units on average. In contrast, an AI can remember billions of items and AI capacity to do so is growing exponentially. While never infinite in a true mathematical sense, machine capabilities can be considered such in comparison with ours. This is true for memory, compute speed, and communication abilities.” So we have built-in bias and incomprehensibility at the same time.

From DSC:
That part about concealment reminds me that our society depends upon the state of the hearts of the tech leaders. We don’t like to admit that, but it’s true. The legal realm is too far behind to stop the Wild West of technological change. The legal realm is trying to catch up, but they’re coming onto the race track with no cars…just as pedestrians walking or running as fast as they can….all the while, the technological cars are whizzing by. 

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

 

The net effect of all of this is that we are more dependent upon the ethics, morals, and care for their fellow humankind (or not) of the C-Suites out there (especially Facebook/Meta Platforms, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple) than we care to admit. Are they producing products and services that aim to help our societies move forward, or are they just trying to make some more bucks? Who — or what — is being served?

The software engineers and software architects are involved here big time as well. “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.” But that perspective is sometimes in short supply.

 

Discovery Education Collaborates with AWS to Enhance Recommendation Engine — from discoveryeducation.com

Excerpt:

SILVER SPRING, MD [On Monday,?September 27, 2021] — Discovery Education—a worldwide edtech leader supporting learning wherever it takes place — announced that it has enhanced its K-12 learning platform with Amazon Web Services (AWS) machine learning capabilities. The pioneering use of machine learning within the Discovery Education platform helps educators spend less time searching for digital resources and more time teaching.

Several months of planning and deep collaboration with AWS enabled Discovery Education to innovatively integrate Amazon Personalize technology into the “Just For You” area of its K-12 platform. The “Just For You” row connects educators to a unique, personalized set of resources based on the grade level taught, preferences, and assets used in the past.

“For some time, educators have desired more resources to help personalize teaching and learning. ML technology is already being used to curate our entertainment experiences, help with workforce productivity, and more, and it’s exciting to see this innovation is being integrated into classrooms,” said Alec Chalmers, Director, EdTech and GovTech Markets at AWS.

From DSC:
It looks like Amazon continues to make inroads into the education space. Team up this type of recommendation engine with an AI that’s pulling the latest skills that are needed for — and embedded within — job descriptions and you have a learning powerhouse. 

Disruption ahead…?

 

Learning from the living class room
Also see:

  • How Machine Learning Is Having an Impact on Education — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
    Discovery Education has partnered with Amazon Web Services to enhance its platform with machine learning. It’s one of many ways machine learning is being used in K-12 today.
 

Amazon offers to pay college tuition for most US workers — from cnn.com by Nathaniel Meyersohn

Excerpt:

New York (CNN Business)Amazon is offering to cover four-year college tuition for most of its approximately 750,000 hourly workers in the United States, the latest major employer to offer the perk to attract and retain hourly employees in a tight job market.

Starting in January, Amazon for the first time will pay for tuition, fees and books for warehouse, transportation and other hourly employees who want to pursue bachelor’s degrees. It will also begin covering high school diploma programs, GED’s and English as a Second Language (ESL) certifications for employees.

Amazon (AMZN) has not finalized a list of colleges workers will be eligible to attend using the benefit.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian