Much like “the cloud,” “big data,” and “machine learning” before it, the term “artificial intelligence” has been hijacked by marketers and advertising copywriters. A lot of what people are calling “artificial intelligence” is really data analytics—in other words, business as usual. If the hype leaves you asking “What is A.I., really?,” don’t worry, you’re not alone. I asked various experts to define the term and got different answers. The only thing they all seem to agree on is that artificial intelligence is a set of technologies that try to imitate or augment human intelligence. To me, the emphasis is on augmentation, in which intelligent software helps us interact and deal with the increasingly digital world we live in.
Seeking to reframe computational thinking as computational participation.
Computational thinking has become a battle cry for coding in K–12 education. It is echoed in statewide efforts to develop standards, in changes to teacher certification and graduation requirements, and in new curriculum designs.1 The annual Hour of Code has introduced millions of kids to coding inspired by Apple cofounder Steve Jobs who said, "everyone should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think." Computational thinking has garnered much attention but people seldom recognize that the goal is to bring programming back into the classroom.
The author of “Future Shock” warned about the dangers of rapid change, and many have come to pass, but advance planning has fallen out of favor.
More than 40 years ago, Alvin Toffler, a writer who had fashioned himself into one of the first futurists, warned that the accelerating pace of technological change soon would make us all sick. He called the sickness "future shock."
Welcome to the new world of artificial intelligence. Soon, we won't program computers. We'll train them. Like dolphins. Or dogs. Or humans.
In this world, the ability to write code has become not just a desirable skill but a language that grants insider status to those who speak it. They have access to what in a more mechanical age would have been called the levers of power. “If you control the code, you control the world,” wrote futurist Marc Goodman. (InBloomberg Businessweek, Paul Ford was slightly more circumspect: “If coders don’t run the world, they run the things that run the world.” Tomato, tomahto.)
But whether you like this state of affairs or hate it—whether you’re a member of the coding elite or someone who barely feels competent to futz with the settings on your phone—don’t get used to it. Our machines are starting to speak a different language now, one that even the best coders can’t fully understand.
The Norwegian Museum of Technology encourages patrons to think about technology’s role in democracy through deeply immersive experiences. The museum provokes its audience with an overarching question: Is it possible to control technology in a democracy?
Hot button issues are addressed through technologies with mixed effects. A 3D printer makes production available for the masses, but what about printing a gun?
Some day, a self-driving car will face a dilemma: avoid hitting one person, hit someone else. And its only ethical guide will be its own AI.
IF YOU FOLLOW the ongoing creation of self-driving cars, then you probably know about the classic thought experiment called the Trolley Problem. A trolley is barreling toward five people tied to the tracks ahead. You can switch the trolly to another track—where only one person is tied down. What do you do? Or, more to the point, what does a self-driving car do?
Even the people building the cars aren’t sure. In fact, this conundrum is far more complex than even the pundits realize.
Over the past year, we have been working on a set of tools to issue, display, and verify digital credentials using the Bitcoin blockchain and the Mozilla Open Badges specification. Today we are releasing version 1 of our codeunder the MIT open-source license to make it easier for others to start experimenting with similar ideas. In addition to opening up the code, we also want to share some of our thinking behind the design, as well as some of the interesting questions about managing digital reputations that we plan to continue working on.
Working on this project, we have not only learned a lot about the blockchain, but also about the way that technology can shape socioeconomic practices around the concept of credentials.
Whoever codes the system, embeds her views. A call for inclusive code.
I am writing a series of articles to explore the embedded bias in code that unintentionally limits the audience who can use products or participate in research. By sharing the ongoing need for inclusive coding i.e. “InCoding” and providing practical steps to make products more inclusive, I want to move closer to a world where technology reflects the diversity of its users and creators.
With BlocksCAD, you create, combine and manipulate 3D shapes by stacking “block” commands rather than by typing in precise coding syntax. For example, you can drag a block command for a sphere from the shapes menu into the workspace, where you can adjust its radius. Snap on a “translate” block to move the sphere along the X, Y and Z axis, or add on a “rotate” block to spin it. Use a color block to change its hue. Hit the “Render” button, and the sphere appears within a maneuverable XYZ grid. Finished designs can be sent to a 3D printer that will fabricate them layer by layer.
Bill Gates doesn’t think most people can finish this book. I gave it a shot.
Bill Gates once said, “If you think you’re a really good programmer… read Art of Computer Programming… You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing.”
In the first paragraph of the preface, Knuth calls programming “an aesthetic experience much like composing poetry or painting.” I think this aesthetic beauty still captivates every aspiring programmer. After traveling a great distance along an exponential curve since the 1950s, it’s comforting to know that beauty remains intact. Though we no longer hammer out software and feed it into a hot, loud calculator, the beauty of programming still infuses every layer of abstraction.
We found that users who had never used a concept were more likely to do so if they had been exposed to the concept through remixing. Although some concepts were more widely used than others, we found a positive relationship between concept use and exposure through remixing for each of the six concepts. We found that this relationship was true even if we ignored obvious examples of cutting and pasting of blocks of code. In all of these models, we found what we believe is evidence of learning through remixing.
Researchers in growing numbers are starting to enlist do-it-yourself 3-D printers, cheap electronics, sensors and more to advance their work
The maker ethos extends beyond just the tools to build. Makers are adamant about sharing data—and this openness makes research more effective, according to Oak Ridge’s Love. “People can learn quickly instead of repeating what others have done,” he explains. Love and the DOE wind turbine researchers take this to heart and make their data public on an ongoing basis before they have a final result or product. “Makers believe in making things so fast that by the time others catch up you are onto the next big thing,” he adds.
When programmers at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory set out to develop the flight software for the Apollo 11 space program in the mid-1960s, the necessary technology did not exist. They had to invent it. They came up with a new way to store computer programs, called "rope memory," and created a special version of the assembly programming language.
Our world is increasingly shaped by biased algorithms that have been built with little oversight.
Sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many "intelligent" systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.
When hulking metal humanoid Eric was built in 1928, it became known as the UK’s first robot. The New York Press described it as the “perfect man,“ and as Eric toured both the UK and the world with his creators, it dazzled audiences with its stout tinny exterior and flashing teeth.
But one day, Eric disappeared without a trace.
Nobody knows if the robot was thrown out, or lost, but it’s apparent that Eric—once lauded for its technical prowess—became an early victim of technological obsolescence. As the world moved on, Eric was forgotten.
Phil Chen, the Chief Content Officer at HTC, believes its virtual reality headset, HTC Vive, has incredible potential for education and learning. Engineers and mechanics can use it to work on engines; neuroscientists can practice procedures on 3D brains; and any user can develop greater empathy by seeing the world through new eyes. The multiple perspectives granted by the HTC Vive provide a first-person experience to an unlimited number of engaging stories. Interacting with different surroundings from multiple points-of-view prompts users to feel within the computer-generated environment, potentially making them more open-minded and empathetic.
The most ardent Star Trek fans go so far as to make their own versions of the classic movies—but not without legal risks.
Last year Paramount Pictures and CBS hit the makers of a Kickstarter-funded film with a lawsuit. They claimed that Prelude to Axanar, a 2014 short, and its planned full-length sequel Axanar infringe on copyrighted Star Trek characters and themes.
So far, so mundane. But one of the copyrights allegedly infringed is that of Klingon, the language spoken by fictional humanoids of the same name. And this has elevated the suit from a routine intellectual-property dispute to a case with potentially big consequences for the future of programming and creativity.
Could a ruling against Klingon’s use in a film like Axanar be interpreted as also limiting software developers’ ability to copy APIs?
Is blockchain poised to be “the next big thing” in education? This has become a question I hear with increasing frequency about a technology that, up until quite recently, was primarily associated with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The subtext to the question, I suppose: do educators need to pay attention to the blockchain? What, if anything, should they know about it?
"Admittedly, I haven’t bothered to learn much about blockchain or Bitcoin either, despite the last few years of zealous headlines in various tech publications. I haven’t included either in any of the “Top Ed-Tech Trends” series I’ve written. And frankly, I’m still not convinced there’s a “there” there. But with the news this year that Sony plans to launch a testing platform powered by blockchain, with some current and former Mozilla employees exploring the blockchain and badges, and with a big promotional splash at SXSWedu about blockchain’s potential to help us rethinking learning (as “earning” no less), I realized it was time to do some research (for myself) in the hopes of writing a clear explanation (for others too) of what blockchain is – one that isn’t too technical but that doesn’t simply wave away important questions by resorting to buzzwords and jargon – that blockchain is “the most important IT invention of our age,” for example.
"This is the early result of that research. It’s meant to serve as an introductory guide for those in education who are interested in learning a bit more about the blockchain and its potential applications in ed-tech."
Having students create and work with robots offers them a range of skills, she said, noting that the district once participated in a regional tournament through NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena but that the program ended a few years ago.
“I think it really teaches them to think critically,” she said. “It gives them programming and computer science skills, as well as engineering skills, because they have to think of the task involved and design the robot to complete that task. A huge element of it is collaboration and how well they can work together.”
High-profile physicists and philosophers gathered to debate whether we are real or virtual—and what it means either way.
If you, me and every person and thing in the cosmos were actually characters in some giant computer game, we would not necessarily know it. The idea that the universe is a simulation sounds more like the plot of “The Matrix,” but it is also a legitimate scientific hypothesis. Researchers pondered the controversial notion Tuesday at the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate here at the American Museum of Natural History.
Moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum’s Hayden Planetarium, put the odds at 50-50 that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive. “I think the likelihood may be very high,” he said. He noted the gap between human and chimpanzee intelligence, despite the fact that we share more than 98 percent of our DNA. Somewhere out there could be a being whose intelligence is that much greater than our own. “We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence,” he said. “If that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment.”
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