RSS

Category Archives: STEM

Robots that could run farms? Should bots do that?

Have you seen this concept video? Robots that perform farming. It’s disturbing to say the least, to think that the field of robotics is being applied to areas we never used to anticipate. No longer ‘programmed’ robots, these are machines that learn and apply what we now call machine learning, to the environment they are placed in. For instance could a robot learn about —and work in consort with — other devices on the so-called farm. (It’s actually a greenhouse.).

To put it in context, if robots could shuttle between products on a shelves in an Amazon warehouse, this is just an extension of that – an industrial application. We are at the starting blocks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so these upheavals – technological, economic, environmental, social etc— are just beginning to show up. I’ve been critical of the rush to apply AI into everything, holding out some optimism that these players and industries might still need some humans, while replacing others.

It has been featured in Wired, and CNBC.

Also there’s another video worth watching.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Disruptive, Robotics, STEM, Technology

 

Tags: , , , ,

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.

 
 

Tags: , , ,

Entrepreneurship program begins Sept 24th. It’s Free!

poly-industry-partners

This is a 5-week program for undergrad students – would be entrepreneurs! Conducted by ASU and Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Students learn how to come up with entrepreneurial skills that could solve community issues. They will learn the art of pitching the idea, and using technology to solve these problems.

They will also have access to the Cisco Innovation Challenge ($5,000,
$3,000 and $2,000 awards) that could help them launch or grow their project.

There are no GPA requirements and best of all, the 5-week program is free!

More details could be found here.

Poder

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Education, STEM, Technology, Workshops

 

Tags: , , ,

When humans shut down Robots

I found this demo quite creepy, but intriguing. It was a video created by a team at the Navy Research Lab in 2011 but is relevant today. A test to figure out how AI could be used to improve “sensor-based” activity between humans and robots.

It’s a plot twist with echoes of “2001 Space Odyssey” in which ‘HAL’ turns off the human life support system, and the human later returns the favor by shutting off the mainframe.

The human here shuts down the robots, Octavia and George – just in case the robot rebellion is pending! The robot uses what is called a ‘multi bio-metrics classifier’ for facial recognition. Maybe I’ve been reading too much of Isaac Asimov lately, so this is quite chilling.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2018 in Education, Robotics, STEM, Technology

 

Tags: , , ,

Inside the Classical Education model. Latin, robotics, and…podcasting

In our middle-school years at St. Peter’s College, Latin was a subject. We didn’t know why we had to study a ‘dead language’ or how it fit alongside biology and geometry. But it later transpired when the seeds of a classical language began to sprout. Our love for theater (whether it was Oliver Twist, or Hamlet), our appetite for reading, debating, linguistics, and history could be traced back to learning what seemed like tedious (read: boring) declensions and the likes.

This school year I joined a classical High School, and now see the internal architecture of a classical education. The three-part structure of ‘grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics’ is just the start. Music and the fine arts, science and athletics are key elements. And of course technology.

A few months ago in teaching communication to my college level students, we looked at how rhetoric mattered; the underpinning of public speaking, ‘Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.’ So I was delighted to see how my High School’s monthly themes are structured on classical Roman virtues such as Gravitas, Humanitas, and Comitas.

You’re probably wondering what does this do for learning, and students’ character? I can only say this. After a month of teaching with this model in place (teaching computers and tech, mind you!), students come to class eager and prepped to learn; respectful, inquisitive, thoughtful.  This week, looking at inventors and inventions we did thought experiments (a.k.a. Bell work) on social norms and expectations when Thomas Edison messed around with filaments and early audio. Next week they will see parallels with someone like Douglas Engelbart, the prolific Edison-like chap who gave us the mouse, among other things. They were philosophers in their own time, who embodied, and fit, the classical model.

At the end of the week two students approached me to sponsor clubs. One was a Robotics club, and the other was for Podcasting. I had to catch my breath – podcasting! What would 12-year olds want to do with podcasts? It comes down to the classical model which feeds the need for young people to engage in much, much more than Fortnite, or memes. If we only let them.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Robotics Team to represent Sri Lanka in Mexico

If you’ve been following my robotics coverage here, I am happy to report on this year’s Team Sri Lanka, who will represent the country at the second Robotics Olympics. The event will be in August, in Mexico City.

I met with the team coaches in Colombo in mid June to find out how they have been progressing. They have been building the robot from the kit they received from First Global, under guidance of a engineer and IT teacher, Shankar. His expertise is in CAD design and he seems excited –though unfazed! — about his students who must build a robust competition-worthy robot.

At the time of writing they are working on a lift mechanism –a so-called ‘cantilever lift’ mechanism — that will allow the bot to move objects to the area that earns them maximum points.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what last years Robotics Team looked like.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 10, 2018 in Education, Robotics, STEM

 

Tags: , ,

Thank you, Orbital!

Every time we have a STEM event, or SPACE Day, one group I always count on is Orbital ATK, a Chandler, Arizona-based company. Rockets and launches are in the news every month. Just this week, Orbital ATK launched the 139-foot rocket, Antares; the 200th mission to the International Space Station.

For STEM Night at Salt River Elementary, Orbital created an amazing demo using a ‘transformer rail gun‘ – basically accelerating magnets that transfer potential energy to kinetic energy. Plus canister ‘pop rockets’ that explained what Newton’s Third Law is all about. Thank you Javier Molina-Moughamian, Shannon Burke, Monique Dalton, Kelly Wallace, and Kimberly Barraza for being part of our team.