by Stephen Downes
Oct 24, 2016
As is always the case, technology as planned works very differently from technology when mixed with humans. Witness the Internet of Things (IoT), the nascent linking of phones, printers, cameras, and a host of other dumb smart devices. They have now become the prime vector internet attacks. As Michael Caulfield says, " I worry that it’s not just an internet of things, but a proprietary mess of interdependent services built on the shifting sands of unstable business models. Unless we develop standards and protocols that reduce that proprietary interdependency we’re eventually going to have a lot bigger problem on our hands than Twitter outages." True. But what are the odds that the corporate community will get this right?
In Canada we have a tradition of dressing in costume on or around Halloween (October 31). Traditionally these costumes were of scary things (such as skeletons, ghosts or monsters) but it has since branched out to include most anything (I once went out as the Empire State Building). We are now beginning to see the limits of 'most anything', and in one noted case, Brock University's student union has prohibited "any form of headdress, costumes that mock suicide or rape, those depicting transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner, or outfits featuring a culture’s traditional attire" at its pubs and events." So of course some people are crying "censorship", as though mocking someone's culture or personal life is somehow a form of free speech. I think the student union's message is clear and reasonable: if you're going to be racist or offensive, don't do it here.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger offers a useful overview of contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) from a non-technical perspective referencing Stanford University's One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100, 52 page PDF) including the list of 'hot' areas of current study (quoted, p.9):
The report notes, "Contrary to the more fantastic predictions for AI in the popular press, the Study Panel found no cause for concern that AI is an imminent threat to humankind. No machines with self-sustaining long-term goals and intent have been developed, nor are they likely to be developed in the near future."
You have until December 1 to provide comments to the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) on this draft set of guidelines for quality in competency-based education. The ideas is that "Competency-based education uses an intentional and transparent approach to curricular design that provides a learner with a clear pathway to completion based on an academic model that builds a unified body of knowledge leveraging frameworks, disciplines, standards, workforce needs, and national norms... Each competency is explicitly stated and unambiguously provides descriptions of what a learner must master before program completion... The assessment strategy provides multiple modalities of assessment intentionally aligned to learning outcomes and uses a range of assessment types to measure learning and the transfer of learning into novel contexts."
The eight elements, with expanded principles and related standards, include (quoted from the press release):
I couldn't find the actual quality standards anywhere on the C-BEN website (you have to sign up for the survey to view them), but can access this copy (11 page PDF) at Inside Higher Ed.
This site came up in one of the online discussions I follow. From the website: "H5P makes it easy to create interactive content by providing a range of content types for various needs. Preview and explore these content types below. You can create interactive content by adding the H5P plugin to your WordPress, Moodle or Drupal site, or you can create content directly on H5P.org and embed it on your website."
Interesting article from Audrey Watters, as is so often the case, and I like the focus on the origins of the meaning of the word 'attention' and the oft-cited concern that the digital is creating an attention deficit. "You can see that the noun is accompanied by all sorts of verbs. We pay attention. We give attention. Attract attention. Draw attention. Call attention. Fix attention. At which noun-verb combination are we failing?" Fair enough. And the idea of the 'attention economy', with its values firmly planted in the capitalist ethos, is surely typical of western culture. But I was surprised to see her overlook the sense of 'attend' meaning 'to wait'. That's what the french verb attendre actually means. To wait, and to wait on, to attend. This sense changes the meaning of such phrases as "the tongues of dying men enforce attention like deep harmony." In the words of Arcade Fire: We used to wait. Not any more.
Some good points here following Google's quiet change of policy to allow personally identifiable web tracking. "Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct," says Julia Angwin. "Tracking is no less an invasion of privacy in apps and browsers than it is in homes, cars, purses, pants and wallets," says Doc Searls. "Our apps and browsers are personal and private. So are the devices on which we use them...Tracking people without their clear and conscious permission is wrong... Claiming that advertising funds the “free” Internet is wrong." True. But tracking isn't the only problem with advertising. I tried looking at the new map of the Galaxy today and even with ad-blockers turned on couldn't see it behind the barrage of popups and auto-play videos running on news sites.
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