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Category Archives: Disruptive

Could MIT reinvent itself with an ‘ethical’ approach to AI?

Just in time, as the field of AI ramps up. (Also by some coincidence, a week after the cover story in LMD.)

MIT has just announced it will add a new college, the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, dedicated to world-changing breakthroughs in AI, and their ethical application. The college will “reorient MIT” to add 50 new faculty positions, and give  students in every discipline an opportunity to develop and apply AI and computing technologies.

The term ‘ethical’ keeps popping up these days in relation to Artificial Intelligence. MIT expands on this, saying it will “examine the anticipated outcomes of advances in AI and machine learning, and to shape policies around the ethics of AI.” As I have mentioned elsewhere, most experts (from Elon Musk, to Bill Gates to Berners-Lee aside) agree that we are just at the tadpole stage of the life-cycle of AI.

However, some, such as sci-fi writer, Isaac Asimov and even Stephen Hawking have had concerns. Hawking, for instance remarked that “we all have a role to play in ensuring that we and the next generation have the determination to engage with science … and create a better world for the whole human race.” MIT seems to be the first large institution to take up this mantle, and in the process, redefine and re-invent its role in education.

 
 

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Google’s 20th anniversary today. How did you survive before?

What were you doing on September 4th, 1998?

I know I was just getting the hang of email, with Hotmail – the ‘revolutionary’ web-based email service that a fellow called Sabeer Bhatia created. It was soon folded into Microsoft’s Hotmail, and became very clunky. MP3 players were just coming into circulation. Apple was more in the news with the iMac; John Glenn went back into space.

But Sergei Brin and Larry Page started something that would turn information into data, and data into advertising that would make them some of the richest young guys. They also dreamed big with moonshot ideas, some of which withered on the vine, but others took off. Literally.

Despite the problems and controversies Google faces, its ‘Moonshot factory’ is still changing how we communicate, learn, and advertise. Google says it intends to have a “10x impact on the world’s most intractable problems.” It means crazy ideas (that’s what ‘moonshot’ implies, after all) such as ‘kite-electricity,’ and fighting disease.

I’m still quite annoyed at the sight of, and concept of autonomous cars, so thank you very much, Google. I’m no Luddite but I’m happy to own and operate an invention that worked fine in 1998, and still does. But twenty years from now imagine how we would look back at today.

 
 

‘Design thinking’ mindset re-imagines education!

The term ‘design thinking’ is used in the STEM approach to education. Here’s what that looks like. The founder of Riverside school in Ahmedabad, India gave up her design business to create a school in which the students ‘design’ much of what they do at school. Including designing the uniform and some of the architecture.

Let founder, Kiran Sethi explain.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2018 in Disruptive, Education

 

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Could robots cross the line?

There are four ‘Laws of robotics’ that are seldom discussed whenever the topic comes up. There were written by the late sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov. More like guide rails, these are practical laws.

With the rapid rise in automation, AI, and robotics from battlefield robots (developed by South Korea, the US, and who knows who else) and surgical bots, these issues are worth discussing. Why leave the issues of automation and robotics to academic and/or politicians?

In this month’s column in LMD, I discuss the pros and cons of robotics. You can read it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Immersive classes, where students learn by doing

The phrase ‘hands-on learning’ often becomes a placeholder for many things. If it does not involve experiencing the subject matter, then it’s still theoretical.

There’s a school in San Diego that doing something really amazing with teaching through experience – or ‘learning by doing’ as some call it. (It is featured in ‘Creative Schools by Ken Robinson.) At High Tech High, subjects are intensely focused on real world challenges. One project, for instance on Urban Ecology is described this way.

Students will discover how humans interact with nature in urban ecosystems. They will understand the terms sustainable and efficient in order to apply them to designing improved modern cities. 

Students end up publishing an  ‘magazine’ on the Urban Ecology, talking on publishing roles.They hold staff meeting with their Editors-in-chief, who are none other than their teachers!

Is this EdTech? Is it a computer class? Can this be used to demonstrate ‘rigor’? Yes to all three! But looking at their class structure, and philosophy, it seems that this kind of pedagogy is very different. In the end it’s not about exams, but about preparing for the real world.

 

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Blockchain fuels the sharing economy – Aaron’s article

For anyone considering dipping a toe into crypto-currency, there’s one person I’d like to point to – my son, Aaron. He’s worked with currency models from social currencies to crypto. The former is a way communities print and use their own money to sustain local industries. (One currency uses the line ‘In Farms We Trust’ as a way of thumbing its nose to the Federal alternative.)

His recent in Shareable, is titled “Blockchain as a force for good: How this technology could transform the sharing economy.” 

Blockchain is being adopted by restaurants, the energy sector, and the city of Austin, among others as he explains in the long piece. It’s definitely worth a read., even though I say so myself!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2018 in Disruptive, Technology

 

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Egg-on-Facebook. Is this a confession or face-saving ploy?

Confession, or mea culpa?

Mark Zuckerberg’s published statement to Congress, tries to make it a bit of both. But that doesn’t easily get Facebook off the hook.

I find it incredulous that many of the data leaks (not hacks) were something Facebook ‘learned’ about from journalists at The Guardian, and Channel 4 etc. Or so Zuckerberg claims. How is it that a company that specializes in data harvesting and monitoring of millions of people and entities, didn’t have an algorithm or human sniffers to alert it to what was being done through its servers?

I find it odd that a company that was founded by a guy who literally ‘scraped’ data off Harvard’s computers (and thus stumbled on the business model) didn’t look out for the same thing happening to his domain.

 

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