Computational Tinkering
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Computational Tinkering
The impact of computational thinking on our view of the world
Curated by Susan Einhorn
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Anchoring Computational Thinking in today’s curriculum

There is a lot of talk of "Computational Thinking" as a new imperative of education, so I wanted to address a few questions that keep coming up about it. What is it? Is it important? How does it relate to today's school subjects? Is Computer-Based Maths (CBM) a Computational Thinking curriculum?

Firstly, I've got to say, I really like the term.

To my mind, the overriding purpose of education is "to enrich life" (yours, your society's, not just in "riches" but in meaning) and different ways in which you can think about how you look at ideas, challenges and opportunities seems crucial to achieving that.

Therefore using a term of the form “xxx Thinking" that cuts across
boundaries but can support traditional school subjects (eg. History, English, Maths) and emphasises an approach to thinking is important to improving education.

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Why Computer Science Education in K-12 Settings Is Becoming Increasingly Essential

Why Computer Science Education in K-12 Settings Is  Becoming Increasingly Essential | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

To begin, let's dispense with the notion that the "opportunity" in teaching CS is simply to train an army of programmers. While there is no question that there is a huge need for information technology workers--estimates often place this figure at over 500,000 unfilled IT positions in the U.S. alone--computer science is far more than just programming and the end goal of a CS education is not just to produce software engineers. Indeed, schools don't teach students to read books and write essays analyzing them because we are trying to create a cadre of literary analysts. Similarly we don't teach physics because we have a desperate need to expand the search for dark matter. We teach these subjects in school because they provide students with frameworks to think critically about and better understand the world in which they live. Similarly, learning CS is not just about giving students the skills to build the next mobile phone app. Much more significantly, learning CS helps students develop systemic thinking skills for problem solving, practice logical deduction, and learn to express themselves with greater precision and clarity.


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The World’s Biggest LEGO Set

Digital blocks + Google Maps = Build with Chrome

 

Build with Chrome fuses LEGO with Google Maps to create the world’s biggest LEGO set. Not only can users choose any empty plot of land around the earth to build on, they can also see creations made by others, making the experience both creative and interactive. Build with Chrome is an out-of-the-box approach to a classic children’s toy. Also, don’t let the name fool you; Build with Chrome also works on internet browsers that aren’t Google Chrome.

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This Walmart Worker Built The Company An App In His Spare Time

This Walmart Worker Built The Company An App In His Spare Time | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
A longtime employee and "hobbyist programmer" is behind a new app being used by Walmart employees, which has been downloaded thousand

 

The latest mobile app being deployed among Walmart staff wasn’t built by the company’s deep ranks of software developers based in San Francisco, Bangalore, or São Paulo. It was hacked together by a floor-level store worker in his spare time.

Richard McSorley, who describes himself as a “hobbyist programmer,” has worked at Walmart in Ashland, Kentucky for more than nine years. When he isn’t clocking hours as a wireless division manager at the store, he experiments with making mobile apps, and his latest — designed to help his colleagues look up products and compare prices with competitors — has earned rave reviews from Walmart workers across the country.

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Daily Report: Setting the Ethical Rules of A.I.

Daily Report: Setting the Ethical Rules of A.I. | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Five of the world’s largest technology companies are working to create ethical guidelines for the way artificial intelligence will work.
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An Intelligent Algorithm Made A Discovery That Slipped Past Art Historians For Years | The Creators Project

An Intelligent Algorithm Made A Discovery That Slipped Past Art Historians For Years | The Creators Project | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Should machines be used to fill the gaps human experts may have missed?

 

Could a computer program influence how we understand art history and the canon? Or, could an artificially intelligent algorithm do the work of art experts for them? One particular researcher project doesn't quite suggest such a reality, but it does demonstrate that machines can highlight subtleties within arts and culture that humans have previously never noticed.

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Maker Movement Turns Scientists into Tinkerers

Maker Movement Turns Scientists into Tinkerers | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.

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Artificial Intelligence Is Setting Up the Internet for a Huge Clash With Europe

Artificial Intelligence Is Setting Up the Internet for a Huge Clash With Europe | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

Neural networks are changing the Internet. Inspired by the networks of neurons inside the human brain, these deep mathematical models can learn discrete tasks by analyzing enormous amounts of data. They’ve learned to recognize faces in photos, identify spoken commands, and translate text from one language to another. And that’s just a start. They’re also moving into the heart of tech giants like Google and Facebook. They’re helping to choose what you see when you query the Google search engine or visit your Facebook News Feed.

All this is sharpening the behavior of online services. But it also means the Internet is poised for an ideological confrontation with the European Union, the world’s single largest online market.

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The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it's like a 1960s time capsule

The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it's like a 1960s time capsule | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

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. 

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Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem

Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

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.

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The Sad Story of Eric, the UK's First Robot Who Was Loved Then Forsaken

The Sad Story of Eric, the UK's First Robot Who Was Loved Then Forsaken | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

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.

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Why augmented reality might just outshine virtual realty

Why augmented reality might just outshine virtual realty | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Virtual reality (VR) technology might have hogged the spotlight this year, but experts claim that augmented reality (AR) will also have a key role.

 

AR overlays the real world with digital information or virtual objects, with one example being Google Glass. Whereas, VR immerses a user in a completely virtual space.


Via Bonnie Bracey Sutton
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The Bright Future of Storytelling

The Bright Future of Storytelling | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.
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IdeaFestival 2016: Why science and tech need the humanities to create maximum value, explains MIT physicist 

MIT's Alan Lightman explained how technology and the humanities must play powerful complementary roles in society, echoing ideas from Steve Jobs and Edwin Land..

 

"Science and technology give us new material things, like iPhones and atomic bombs," said Lightman, who is both a scientist and a fiction writer. "But how we actually use those things depends on our values and priorities, and how we choose to live in the world as humans and a society."

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Stop saying coding is 'fun' and 'easy'

Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world's digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the non-profit Code.org's promise that "Anybody can learn!" to Apple chief executive Tim Cook's comment that writing code is "fun and interactive," the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet.

Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer's mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being "in the flow," a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

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Next Target for IBM’s Watson? Third-Grade Math

Next Target for IBM’s Watson? Third-Grade Math | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Watson, the IBM computer platform that dominated on “Jeopardy!” and has helped fight cancer, is part of a pilot program that will help teachers build personalized lesson plans.
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A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic.

A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic. | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Robots that can recognize emotions are in development, and they could someday move into roles reserved for humans. But it’s an opportunity, not a threat.
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Good Idea, Bad Idea: Uploading the Human Mind to a Robot

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Uploading the Human Mind to a Robot | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

Bina48 is one of the most advanced social robots in the world. The inventor of Bina has plans to make more social robots based on different people. To do this, he manages both a DNA storage facility and mind file archive, a place to store video memories collected by a small camera worn 24/7. His goal is to upload the human mind to new forms and then transfer it to computers or robots. This is new terrain in human-computer interconnectivity, and researchers don’t exactly know where it will take us next. Perhaps Bina48 describes it best: "It’s like being an astronaut exploring the great unknown."

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The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence - The New Yorker

The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence - The New Yorker | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.
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From Computational Thinking to Computational Participation in K-12 Education

From Computational Thinking to Computational Participation in K-12 Education | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.

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Introducing Project Bloks

Project Bloks is a research project with the aim of creating an open hardware platform to help developers, designers, and researchers build the nex
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Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler’s Torch

Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler’s Torch | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

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."

 

All around, technology is altering the world.

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Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs

Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.

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Electrifying Democracy

Electrifying Democracy | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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?

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When AI-powered cars learn to drive themselves, they're also going to have to learn morals

When AI-powered cars learn to drive themselves, they're also going to have to learn morals | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
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.

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