by Stephen Downes
Mar 20, 2017
I know we would all love to do this, but I don't think you can simply 'teach children to spot fake news'. That's a bit like trying to 'teach children to spot mathematical errors'. Yes, it's a great skill, but you need to acquire a mathematical education to do it; you can't specialize on spotting the errors. In the case of fake news, mastery of critical literacy is required (not just '21st century literacy', but a deeper understanding of how knowledge is created and verified in general). The Guardian article doesn't talk about any of this, but does outline "the OECD’s plans to test young people’s attitudes to global issues and different cultures, their analytical and critical skills, and abilities to interact with others." There's no link in the article, but here is an outline (44 page PDF) of the OECD's plan. See more.
Salluit is an an Inuit community of abut 1450 people in northern Quebec accessible only by boat (in summer) or by air. Maggie MacDonnell has been teaching in the community for six years, facing and witnessing first hand the everyday struggles faced by the community, including 6 suicides in 2015. "I didn't know until I came to Salluit that that was a Canadian reality," she said. But it is, and it's easy to ignore in the affluent south. But it's a little bit harder to ignore now after the award of the $1 million US 2017 Global Teaching Prize by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. And that's a good thing. See also BBC, which lists the other finalists.
The YaCy search engine actually exists and actually works, and I can even find myself on it. But "unlike centralized search engines like google, bing, and duckduckgo, YaCy is decentralized, and run entirely by a network of users, giving you lots more options, and a greater chance of privacy." I like things like this, which is why I'm linking to it. But I'm under no illusion. YaCy started in 2012 and it's not the sort of thing that becomes widely popular. Even now, only "more than 600 peer operators contribute each month [and] about 130,000 search queries are performed with this network each day." Here it is. Read about it here.
Are you or your students trying to get work done but get stuck at a paywall? I know it happens to me often enough. That's why some developers have created Unpaywall - it points you to open access versions of the paper the publisher is trying to charge you money for. Now I can't vouch for how well it works - the Firefox extension is still in the review process. But I like the idea a lot. As Heather Piwowar writes, "We want everyone in the world to have a 'read it free button next to the “pay us money” button on research articles, powered by open access in repositories worldwide."
The 271 slides in this presentation might make you balk, but there are blank slides, and the rest of them move along at a brisk pace. It's a great introduction to the use of AI in law, and you will learn quite a bit AI itself in the process. It describes the impact of rules-based systems in law (50 slides or so) and then shifts to data-driven AI, which is the predominate method used today. This approach does not resonate with lawyers; "there is a borderline pathological numerophobia among lawyers, says slide 87. Despite that "quantitative legal prediction" is coming to law. Where is it doing? Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS). Enterprise open source. The future is in how to assemble these systems for specific applications. Great presentation. Don't miss this.
For more than a decade Somalia was a lesson in how a country functions without a government. In a word: poorly. I take it as the definitive refutation of libertarianism. Now that it is emerging from years of violence and chaos control of the Somali National University is being handed over to the nascent government and facing challenges in everything from finding staff to enrolling qualified students. SNU has free tuition, but a sign of the recent lawlessness is the proliferation of private 'universities' who "cash in on the thirst for education.... Unless regulations are in place it will be hard to deal with this problem. If not checked, we will have too many graduates with no relevant skills."
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