AI research is a dumpster fire and Google’s holding the matches — from thenextweb.com by Tristan Greene
Scientific endeavor is no match for corporate greed

Excerpts:

The world of AI research is in shambles. From the academics prioritizing easy-to-monetize schemes over breaking novel ground, to the Silicon Valley elite using the threat of job loss to encourage corporate-friendly hypotheses, the system is a broken mess.

And Google deserves a lion’s share of the blame.

Google, more than any other company, bears responsibility for the modern AI paradigm. That means we need to give big G full marks for bringing natural language processing and image recognition to the masses.

It also means we can credit Google with creating the researcher-eat-researcher environment that has some college students and their big-tech-partnered professors treating research papers as little more than bait for venture capitalists and corporate headhunters.

But the system’s set up to encourage the monetization of algorithms first, and to further the field second. In order for this to change, big tech and academia both need to commit to wholesale reform in how research is presented and reviewed.

Also relevant/see:

Every month Essentials publish an Industry Trend Report on AI in general and the following related topics:

  • AI Research
  • AI Applied Use Cases
  • AI Ethics
  • AI Robotics
  • AI Marketing
  • AI Cybersecurity
  • AI Healthcare

It’s never too early to get your AI ethics right — from protocol.com by Veronica Irwin
The Ethical AI Governance Group wants to give startups a framework for avoiding scandals and blunders while deploying new technology.

Excerpt:

To solve this problem, a group of consultants, venture capitalists and executives in AI created the Ethical AI Governance Group last September. In March, it went public, and published a survey-style “continuum” for investors to use in advising the startups in their portfolio.

The continuum conveys clear guidance for startups at various growth stages, recommending that startups have people in charge of AI governance and data privacy strategy, for example. EAIGG leadership argues that using the continuum will protect VC portfolios from value-destroying scandals.

 

Why gamified learning works so well for gifted children — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

The gamification of learning can be critical for gifted children in particular, who often struggle to stay focused, engaged, and challenged in a traditional educational environment. Gamification can be so effective in gifted education because the learner forgets they are “working” and instead feels they are “playing.” It allows the gifted brain to relax into the “flow” of learning, and more effectively use their intellect for problem solving and creativity.

Also see:

Synthesis dot com


Addendum on 4/27/22:

Homeschooling our gifted children: The power of artful questions — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Examples of artful questions for learning:

  • Why do you think that might have happened?
  • What would you have done differently?
  • What did you notice about that?
  • What would you suggest we do instead?
  • That’s a good point. How can you reconcile these two things?
  • Do you have an idea for how we could make this better?

From DSC:
Perhaps we should post those types of questions up on the walls of many board rooms and conference rooms around the nation…or have it be a slide in a presentation…or…

 

Momentum builds behind a way to lower the cost of college: A degree in three years — from hechingerreport.org by Jon Marcus
Skepticism about the cost and duration of a higher education drives a need for speed

Excerpt:

A rare brand-new nonprofit university, NewU has a comparatively low $16,500-a-year price that’s locked in for a student’s entire education and majors with interchangeable requirements so students don’t fall behind if they switch.

But the feature that appears to be really winning over applicants is that NewU will offer bachelor’s degrees in three years instead of the customary four.

“We didn’t think the three-year bachelor’s degree was going to be the biggest draw,” said Stratsi Kulinski, president of the startup college. “But it has been, hands-down. Consumers are definitely ready for something different.”

 

Largest-Ever Collection of Brain Maps Charts How the Brain Changes Over a Lifetime — from singularityhub.com by Shelly Fan

Excerpts:

Our brains are unique snowflakes that change shape throughout our lives. Yet buried underneath individual differences is a common throughline, with the brain growing rapidly during childhood then slowly declining with age.

But that’s just a crude sketch of an average brain’s lifetime. What are we missing?

A team of international scientists just gave us the first answers with a remarkable project called BrainChart. In a tour de force study published last week in Nature, they combined almost 125,000 brain scans covering the entire human lifespan, from before birth to death. The youngest sample was 15 weeks after conception; the oldest, a centenarian.

Even at this massive scale, the charts are just the first edition. The entire work is open sourced (you can check it out here), published with tools that allow other contributors to match up their brain scan data to the charts.

“You could imagine them being used to help evaluate patients screened for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, for example, allowing doctors to spot signs of neurodegeneration by comparing how rapidly a patient’s brain volume has changed compared to their peers,” said Bethlehem.

 

The top 5 benefits of art programs for children — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt:

Schools across the country are removing art programs and classes. Some do so due to a lack of funding; others just don’t believe it’s an essential subject for children. Unfortunately, many schools and learning institutes don’t realize the dangers of removing art. You wouldn’t question Math or English as core subjects, but many question the importance of art.

Art nurture’s a child’s inner creativity. So, what benefits does art bring to a child?

 

I Analyzed 13 TED Talks on Improving Your Memory — Here’s the Quintessence — from learntrepreneurs.com by Eva Keiffenheim
How you can make the most out of your brain.

Excerpt:

In her talk, brain researcher and professor Lara Boyds explains what science currently knows about neuroplasticity. In essence, your brain can change in three ways.

Change 1 — Increase chemical signalling
Your brain works by sending chemicals signals from cell to cell, so-called neurons. This transfer triggers actions and reactions. To support learning your brain can increase the concentration of these signals between your neurons. Chemical signalling is related to your short-term memory.

Change 2 — Alter the physical structure
During learning, the connections between neurons change. In the first change, your brain’s structure stays the same. Here, your brain’s physical structure changes — which takes more time. That’s why altering the physical structure influences your long-term memory.

For example, research shows that London taxi cab drivers who actually have to memorize a map of London to get their taxicab license have larger brain regions devoted to spatial or mapping memories.

Change 3 — Alter brain function
This one is crucial (and will also be mentioned in the following talks). When you use a brain region, it becomes more and more accessible. Whenever you access a specific memory, it becomes easier and easier to use again.

But Boyd’s talk doesn’t stop here. She further explores what limits or facilitates neuroplasticity. She researches how people can recover from brain damages such as a stroke and developed therapies that prime or prepare the brain to learn — including simulation, exercise and robotics.

Her research is also helpful for healthy brains — here are the two most important lessons:

The primary driver of change in your brain is your behaviour.

There is no one size fits all approach to learning.

 


From DSC:
This is so important. It’s the underlying cognitive science/psychology involved in the posting I recently created that was entitled, “What are the ramifications of having cognitive “highways in our minds?” It occurs to me that patience, grace, forgiveness, work, new habits, and more are required here.


 

 

 

A group of workers are shown paving a new highway in this image.

From DSC:
What are the cognitive “highways” within our minds?

I’ve been thinking a lot about highways recently. Not because it’s construction season (quite yet) here in Michigan (USA), but because I’ve been reflecting upon how many of us build cognitive highways within our minds. The highways that I’m referring to are our well-trodden routes of thinking that we quickly default/resort to. Such well-trodden pathways in our minds get built over time…as we build our habits and/or our ways of thinking about things. Sometimes these routes get built without our even recognizing that new construction zones are already in place.

Those involved with cognitive psychology will connect instantly with what I’m saying here. Those who have studied memory, retrieval practice, how people learn, etc. will know what I’m referring to. 

But instead of a teaching and learning related origin, I got to thinking about this topic due to some recent faith-based conversations instead. These conversations revolved around such questions as:

  • What makes our old selves different from our new selves? (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • What does it mean to be transformed by the “renewing of our minds?” (Romans 12:2)
  • When a Christian says, “Keep your eyes on Christ” — what does that really mean and look like (practically speaking)?

For me, at least a part of the answers to those questions has to do with what’s occupying my thought life. I don’t know what it means to keep my eyes on Christ, as I can’t see Him. But I do understand what it means to keep my thoughts on what Christ said and/or did…or on the kinds of things that Philippians 4:8 suggests that we think about. No wonder that we often hear the encouragement to be in the Word…as I think that new cognitive highways get created in our minds as we read the Bible. That is, we begin to look at things differently. We take on different perspectives.

The ramifications of this idea are huge:

  • We can’t replace an old highway by ourselves. It takes others to help us out…to teach us new ways of thinking.
  • We sometimes have to unlearn some things. It took time to learn our original perspective on those things, and it will likely be a process for new learning to occur and replace the former way of thinking about those topics.
  • This idea relates to addictions as well. It takes time for addicts to build up their habits/cravings…and it takes time to replace those habits/cravings with more positive ones. One — or one’s family, partner/significant other, and friends — should not expect instant change. Change takes time, and therefore patience and grace are required. This goes for the teachers/faculty members, coaches, principals, pastors, policemen/women, judges, etc. that a person may interact with as well over time. (Hmmm…come to think of it, it sounds like some other relationships may be involved here at times also. Certainly, God knows that He needs to be patient with us — often, He has no choice. Our spouses know this as well and we know that about them too.)
  • Christians, who also struggle with addictions and go to the hospital er…the church rather, take time to change their thoughts, habits, and perspectives. Just as the rebuilding of a physical highway takes time, so it takes time to build new highways (patterns of thinking and responses) in our minds. So the former/old highways may still be around for a while yet, but the new ones are being built and getting stronger every day.
  • Sometimes we need to re-route certain thoughts. Or I suppose another way to think about this is to use the metaphor of “changing the tapes” being played in our minds. Like old cassette tapes, we need to reject some tapes/messages and insert some new ones.

What are the cognitive highways within your own mind? How can you be patient with others (that you want to see change occur within) inside of your own life?

Anyway, thanks for reading this posting. May you and yours be blessed on this day. Have a great week and weekend!


Addendum on 3/31/22…also relevant, see:

I Analyzed 13 TED Talks on Improving Your Memory— Here’s the Quintessence — from learntrepreneurs.com by Eva Keiffenheim
How you can make the most out of your brain.

Excerpt:

In her talk, brain researcher and professor Lara Boyds explains what science currently knows about neuroplasticity. In essence, your brain can change in three ways.

Change 1 — Increase chemical signalling
Your brain works by sending chemicals signals from cell to cell, so-called neurons. This transfer triggers actions and reactions. To support learning your brain can increase the concentration of these signals between your neurons. Chemical signalling is related to your short-term memory.

Change 2 — Alter the physical structure
During learning, the connections between neurons change. In the first change, your brain’s structure stays the same. Here, your brain’s physical structure changes?—?which takes more time. That’s why altering the physical structure influences your long-term memory.

For example, research shows that London taxi cab drivers who actually have to memorize a map of London to get their taxicab license have larger brain regions devoted to spatial or mapping memories.

Change 3 — Alter brain function
This one is crucial (and will also be mentioned in the following talks). When you use a brain region, it becomes more and more accessible. Whenever you access a specific memory, it becomes easier and easier to use again.

But Boyd’s talk doesn’t stop here. She further explores what limits or facilitates neuroplasticity. She researches how people can recover from brain damages such as a stroke and developed therapies that prime or prepare the brain to learn?—?including simulation, exercise and robotics.

Her research is also helpful for healthy brains?—?here are the two most important lessons:

The primary driver of change in your brain is your behaviour.

There is no one size fits all approach to learning.

 


 

How Art Class Became a Rare Bright Spot for Students and Families During the Pandemic — from edsurge.com by Daniel Lempres

Excerpt:

When schools went remote two years ago, the National Art Education Association (NAEA) was quick to offer guidance on how best to reach students who have experienced trauma. They offered strategies for remote learning, as well as mental and emotional wellbeing.

Now more than ever, art educators must employ the tenets of social emotional learning, the NAEA says. In a recent report, the association recommended trauma-informed teaching strategies to promote mental health through self-expression—for their students’ sake and their own.

But with asynchronous lessons and virtual events, the amount of parental participation skyrocketed, she says.

 

Rebalancing: Children first — from brookings.edu by Natasha Cabrera, David Deming, Veronique de Rugy, Lisa A. Gennetian, Ron Haskins, Dayna Bowen Matthew, Richard V. Reeves, Isabel V. Sawhill, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Kosali Simon, Katharine B. Stevens, Michael R. Strain, Ryan Streeter, James Sullivan, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Lauren Bauer

A report of the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Childhood in the United States

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The future of America rests in part on how the country prepares the next generation to live and to lead. Childhood is a consequential and cost-effective time to make investments that last a lifetime. Yet, many children in the United States do not have the resources or relationships they need to build a strong foundation for their future.

Yet, one area of resounding agreement among this diverse group is the need to rebalance national investments toward children. What follows is a consensus report on our conclusions, laying out actionable policies across a range of policy areas to improve the life of every child in the United States.

Along these lines, also see:

 

How I use Minecraft to help kids with autism — from ted.com by Stuart Duncan; with thanks to Dr. Kate Christian for this resource

Description:

The internet can be an ugly place, but you won’t find bullies or trolls on Stuart Duncan’s Minecraft server, AutCraft. Designed for children with autism and their families, AutCraft creates a safe online environment for play and self-expression for kids who sometimes behave a bit differently than their peers (and who might be singled out elsewhere). Learn more about one of the best places on the internet with this heartwarming talk.

 

Below are two excerpted snapshots from Stuart’s presentation:

Stuart Duncan speaking at TEDX York U

These are the words autistic students used to describe their experience with Stuart's Minecraft server

 

The case for nurturing an infant -- a recording by Dr. Kate Christian

The case for nurturing an infant — from grcc.hosted.panopto.com by Dr. Kate Christian

Yes, Kate is one of my wonderful, talented, intelligent, and compassionate sisters! She is a Professor of Psychology at the Grand Rapids Community College.

Notes:

TITLE/THEME:   The relationship between infant nurturance and the developing brain, and implications for long term physical and mental health

Question: How much time should you spend in direct interaction with your infant? 

  1. CONCERNS: Many people are concerned that paying too much attention to an infant will have negative consequences. (Words like “spoiled”, “dependent”, “mama’s boy”, etc.) 
    1. John Watson (1878-1958) wrote “The Psychological Care of Infant and Child” in 1928, arguing that infants and children should be treated like young adults, and that too much love and affection were damaging—children should not be kissed, hugged, or touched. Ideas such as strict feeding schedules (withholding nourishment if not on schedule) for infants were not uncommon during the first half of the twentieth century. 
    2. Behaviorist views emphasize rewards and punishment in shaping behavior. Today few behaviorists would argue for limiting affection. However, some may argue to let an infant “cry it out”, citing research that indicates infants can learn to self-soothe by about 7 months.
  2. HOWEVER, a wealth of evidence (theoretical, observations, animal studies, and neuroscience research) shows that nurturing an infant provides long term physical and mental health benefits. 
    1. PSYCHOANALYTIC theory:
      1. Sigmund Freud (1836-1959) coined the term “schizophrenogenic mothers”, claiming that especially for male infants, a failure of attachment to the mother could lead to schizophrenia, and that the mother’s lack of sensitive, caring behavior was the cause of attachment failure.
      2. Erik Erikson (1902-1994) established the idea of a psychosocial “crisis” during infancy in which the infant either learns to develop a sense of trust in the world (due to sensitive caregiving) or mistrust (due to unreliable, unpredictable or abusive care). 
      3. John Bowlby (1907-1990) is the founder of Attachment Theory, which maintains that caregiving in the first year of life sets up an unconscious, internal working model of relationships that shapes behavior and thoughts later in life. (Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999) came up with a measurement tool.) Secure attachment develops from sensitive, responsive caregiving, according to Ainsworth and Bowlby.Support for attachment theory varies, and many developmental psychologists today believe that early attachment is moderately predictive of later outcomes. (Things like divorce or death of a parent change the internal working model, or therapy, etc.) But infants with a secure attachment are more likely to explore their environment and be INDEPENDENT!!
    2. OBSERVATIONS: Rene Spitz (1887-1974) compared infants raised in orphanages to infants whose mothers were with them but in prison (in the 1940’s), the primary difference being maternal vs. professional nurse care. When the infants were first placed in the orphanage, Spitz found that for the 1st two months of separation, the infant would weep, scream, and/or be unapproachable. After 3 months, the infant would often become listless, lethargic, and demonstrated bizarre finger movements, and couldn’t sit or talk. 38% of the infants in the orphanage developed marasmus and died within 2 years, whereas all of the infants raised in prison with their moms were alive at follow up (age 5).  You can see video Click Here of infants who appeared dull and listless, or engaged in rocking back and forth or beating their heads on the crib. The infants were well fed and diapers changed, etc, but they had negligible physical touch or affection.Infants in institutions are less likely to play and interact with toys in the environment: Click here for video examples
      .
    3. ANIMAL STUDIES:
    1. Rat pups   The amount of licking given to rat pups by maternal dams has predicted the level of anxiousness (vs. relaxation) in the rat, as well as inhibitory (vs. exploratory) behavior on a maze. Research has shown there are changes in neurobiology (such as hormones and brain receptors in the amygdala) that impact how the rats react to stress. In other words, the more the mother rat licks/grooms the pup, the more she sets up that rat to stay calm and resilient in the face of stress, and to feel confident to explore the environment.  nih.gov
    2. Harlow’s monkeys Monkeys in Harry Harlow’s experiment chose to spend nearly 23 hours a day in close contact with an artificial monkey that was covered in soft cloth and had big eyes (vs. a wire mother than administered food and drink). 
    3. Rhesus monkeys: Neuroscientists have found changes in the basic architecture of the amygdala and areas in the limbic system among rhesus monkeys deprived of touch, eye contact, and adult nurturing during infancy. (p. 129 Marian Diamond, Ph.D.) 
  3. NEUROSCIENCE:
    1. Face-to-face interaction between infant and caregiver help wire the infant brain (use-dependent) and set up the basic architecture of the brain. Infants who experience positive interactions have a neurophysiological response (being smiled at calms the brain!) and neural connections that interact with biological hormones and systems regarding stress regulation get established in a positive way. This leads the infant to grow up better able to handle stress and adversity. 

Research using the ACE scale (adverse childhood experiences) found that children who face a great deal of adversity but are in relationally healthy, nurturing environments will show few long term negative effects (and the reverse is true—a child with even one ACE in an emotionally deprived environment will show significant poor outcomes).   (From Bruce Perry lecture) 

This infant nurturance also shapes the brain’s reward centers. Dr. Bruce Perry argues that infants deprived of nurturance grow up to feel dysregulated, and seek rewards in unhealthy behaviors (overeating/poor diet, substance use, thrill seeking, etc.) 

    1. Example: kangaroo care is the practice of holding an infant skin to skin, and it has been shown to increase weight gain among premature infants. 
    2. What about CELL PHONES?
      • Using a cell phone while caring for an infant has been shown to increase the risk of infant injury by 10%.
      • It also interferes with the face-to-face interaction needed for the neurobiological positive effects to occur!!
    3. Again… how much time to spend in direct interaction with an infant?
      • It doesn’t have to be 24/7, but most infants are not getting enough time. (Hunter gather—spend nearly all day in close proximity to adults, infant child care centers,  4:1 ratio)
      • Hold, sign, rock, touch, play together!
    4. But can’t you overdo it? Are you SURE you won’t spoil the infant or make him/her dependent?
      • There is virtually NO evidence to suggest that “too much” attention in the first year of life is harmful. (Again, you don’t have to spend every minute together… both you and the infant need breaks!) But this cultural perception that it is possible to “over nurture” an infant has got to change!!
    5. What about Co-Sleeping?
      • Worldwide, some form of co-sleeping is the norm.
      • A study found that in the U.S., infants who co-sleep grow up to be MORE independent (secure attachment) than those who don’t.
      • However, there are physical concerns, such as studies finding higher SIDS rates among infants who co-sleep. Also, if a parent is a deep sleeper, is drunk, or sleeps in a chair, if space between wall, etc, these are hazards.

BOTTOM LINE…. HOLD THAT BABY!!!

 

From DSC:
One of my sisters is a Professor of Psychology and she highly recommended that I check out the work of Dr. Bruce D. Perry. Below is an example video that was recorded on October 25, 2014 as part of the 25th Anniversary Chicago Humanities Festival, Journeys. I included some excerpted slides in this posting to give you a flavor of portions of this talk.

Description (emphasis DSC):

Each of us takes the same journey from birth to consciousness—but none of us recalls it. This early stage of life is crucial; Sigmund Freud famously obsessed over it, as do millions of parents every day. What goes on cognitively during that time, and what can parents—and other adults—do to further promote infant well-being? Join renowned psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry, recipient of the 2014 Dolores Kohl Education Prize, for this discussion of early-childhood brain development and its long-term importance.

Social & Emotional Development in Early Childhood [CC]

 

 

Why the Science of Teaching Is Often Ignored — from chronicle.com by Beth McMurtrie
There’s a whole literature on what works. But it’s not making its way into the classroom.

Excerpts:

Yet, teaching reformers argue, the dangers of ignoring the expanding body of knowledge about teaching and learning are ever more apparent. Traditional teaching may have sufficed when college campuses were more ivory tower than lifeboat, educating future generations of scholars and other elites rather than trying to lift up a diverse group of students and prepare them for an increasingly complex world.

Studies have also shown that faculty members are more likely to try evidence-based teaching practices if they feel they have supportive colleagues and departments. Faculty learning communities can be particularly helpful, teaching experts say, because instructors meet regularly over a series of months to tackle complex challenges, often by exploring the research and experimenting with small changes to their teaching.

Reforming teaching evaluations so that they reflect the hard work of reading and reflecting on teaching scholarship is also a critical lever for change.

 

The Importance of Curiosity and Tension to Storytelling — from janefriedman.com by Stefan Emunds
Today’s post is excerpted from The Eight Crafts of Writing by Stefan Emunds (@StefanEmunds).

Excerpt:

To maintain reader curiosity, you can raise and answer multiple questions on multiple levels—for example, a story question, an act question, a chapter question, and a scene question. Try to keep two to three questions open at any given time. Raise two questions in your opening and answer one. Then, raise two new questions and answer one. Then raise two new questions and answer two.

Take the world of TV and movie writing: screenplays have seven or eight sequences, and each sequence begins with a challenge/question and ends with an answer—success or failure. You can do the same thing with chapters and acts.

You can have multiple questions going on at the same time

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian