Review of Ethically Aligned Design
Stephen Downes, Mar 13, 2018, HCT Reading Club, Ottawa, via Jabber
In this presentation I review Ethically Aligned Design by The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, focusing on the section on classical ethics in autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS).
Propgress to Date on gRSShopper
Stephen Downes, Mar 12, 2018, OEWeek 24-Hour Web-a-thon, Online, viz Zoom
Filling in a gap in the 24 hour OER marathon I presented viewers with a quick update of where development on the gRSShopper PLE has progressed to date. No slides, just a live unplanned demo (complete with some debugging popups).
Jackie Gerstein describes a board game and set of cards she uses as a prompt to promote reflections on experiences. The game and cards pose different questions participants respond to, for example, "What new skills have you learned?" and "What surprised you the most?" I've had these tried on me in the past and struggled to explain in a public forum that the answers were "nothing" and "nothing". Not every educational experience can be reduced to a flash card. As I read this, though, it occurred to me that a much better experience would be to have the students create the questions for themselves. Now of course you can't do this every time (they'll eventually develop a set of canned questions, just like these). But it should happen at some point.
Both dana boyd's original post and Benjamin Doxtdator's response are really strong posts and I recommend you take the time to read both carefully. I cited a previous post from boyd recently making some of the same points. Essentially, boyd is saying that we need to 'innoculate' people from deception in media, while Doxdator is saying that this fails to address the power dynamic in society. The disagreement is most evident in the different ways we treat experts and authority. As Rene Hobbs says, "Media literacy educators, with their focus on evidence and reasoned argument, value expertise even as we point out that expertise is itself a social construction."
To 'skunk' a term is to recommend that it no longer be used because some people misconstrue it. As Bryan Garner writes, "When a word undergoes a marked change from one use to another.... it’s likely to be the subject of dispute.... A word is most hotly disputed in the middle part of this process: any use of it is likely to distract some readers.... The word has become 'skunked.'" But I agree with the response offered by Neal Goldfarb here. I don't heed the skunkers' advice. "In advising against the use of expressions that he thinks are skunked, he's not acting solely in the interests of those who think the expression is just fine, thank you. He also wants you to avoid the expression because he thinks it's wrong."
David Wiley responds to my criticisms of his arguments against the CARE Framework. He offers a reductio: if my assertion that 'open' is defined by access, rather than licensing, he argues, " any copy of an OER placed outside your reach ceases to be OER," and indeed, "the overwhelming majority of copies... in the world are not OER." But I don't see this as an absurd conclusion. The resources on my computer, no matter how they are licensed, are not open, precisely because I won't let you access my computer. In order for them to remain open, someone (and preferably a number of people) must make them accessible. The whole idea of stewardship is ensuring that this continues to be the case; the whole idea of conversion (and much commercialization) is to ensure that it doesn't.
I felt sad when I read this. "Life is a constant battle. We must fight to become better." It can be a battle, I suppose, if you're determined to see it that way. But I don't think in terms of it "winning" and overcoming an "enemy". Life is an exploration, it is an experience, it is the ultimate (and only) source of happiness and contentment, it is balance, it is harmony, it is peace. Let the gift, not the glove, be your metaphor for life.
I've said in the past that knowledge is recognition, and if I were pressed to describe what I think truth is, I would say that it is a strong feeling of recognition. This I think is consistent with what the early empiricists (like David Hume) would say. Formally, truth is an attitude toward a proposition: we say that a propositoon is 'true' or 'not true' and then try to explain that through an interpretation (such as Tarski's theory of truth, or model theory, or some such thing). That makes truth easier to work with, but only because it abstracts the messier reality. Having said all this, I think this puts me in accord with Iain McGilchrist, cited by Jenny Mackness in this article, when he says things like ‘No single truth does not mean no truth.’
David Wiley responds to the CARE Framework (previously in OLDaily). He makes two major points. First, not everyone has the luxury to contribute to the "hard, frequently painful, and seldom recognized work associated with stewardship." And second, "the document also contributes to the (much more active) conversation about who deserves to be allowed to participate in the OER movement." I think he's wrong on both counts. By analogy, it's like CARE is saying 'we are all stewards of the environment' and Wiley is saying 'We can't all get jobs as forest rangers', which while true, is irrelevant. Being a steward means respecting it, protecting it, and not destroying it. Wiley's second point is like saying 'we can't destroy it, no matter how we use it, because it's non rivalrous'. But openness can be destroyed; I have discussed the phenomenon of 'conversion' in the past, and it is this (and not some unthinking prejudice) that causes me to distrust commercial publishers and other bad actors.
I think that the headline overstates the case a bit but the author nonetheless makes a good point about portfolios. "A digital portfolio seems far more robust and useful to prospective employees and employers than a traditional resume. From the outside though, one reason digital portfolios and the like have not taken off is simple. The keyword-based applicant tracking systems that employers use to filter resumes can’t read them." Portfolios are a lot easier to create than to read. In order to innovate in this sector, therefore, you need to do more than develop a system that creates e-portfolios. You need to develop robust technology that also reads them (and produces actionable outcomes)
This is a fine example of informal learning. Haseeb Qureshi steps the reader through a series of references and resources that will take you to a decent understanding of blockchain (if you master all of this, you could probably get a job in the field). The pedagogy is far from perfect (at one point he says " I recommend watching more than one video explanation to get the idea seared into your head", which isn't exactly how learning works) but there's plenty of hands-on work (for example: "I recommend working through all of the CryptoZombies tutorial... (a) Codecademy-esque tutorial" and "The 'hello world' of Ethereum is building an ERC-20 compliant token. I recommend this guide as a first tutorial to walk you through the process." This isn't light work; it could take months, maybe years, to complete all this. But that's part of the point: informal learning isn't just reading some things and watching some videos. It's hard.
What would we lose if we lost open and distance universities? This question was posed at a panel hosted by EDEN last week and available as a video here. Sir John Daniel suggests we would lose the inclusiveness agenda, the idea that higher education should be offered wiodely across society. There's also the research in new modes of learning conducted by these universities, says António Teixeira. The instititions are facing challenges from traditional universities offering their own online programs and changing demographics featuring both younger students looking for their first job and older students needing lifelong learning. Panelists also faced questions about the indistrial model that characterizes large open universities ("perhaps we should change from cabs to Uber"). This may require unbundling courses or involving the entire community in a learning network.
Good article summarizing a paper that examines the depths of search engine autocomplete manipulation. This happens when a malicious actor sends a large number of fake queries for a specific search term in order to cause the search engine to suggest a full query benefiting their client. The result is that victims are directed to disreputable and sometimes fraudulent websites. "I really had no idea about the extent of manipulation (blackhat SEO) of autocomplete suggestions for search until I read this paper," writes Adrian Colyer.
The four tools are: 'missional sifting', consisting of "core ideals, practices, values, or philosophies"; 'transitional technologies' that "aid in progress toward what is usually a completely new mental and cultural construct", 'predicting the future', "a feel for key factors allows seeing educational technologies and innovations develop from a distance" (this is probably the strongest part of the article); and 'options for approaching the future', a combination of ignoring, preparing, predicting or creating the future. As a framework this article is fine but it would benefit the reader a lot more were the magazine to take the time to explore these in depth.
This post chronicles - and laments - the rise of the student experience industry on campus. " This industry brings together a conglomeration of staff, services, resources, programs, initiatives and facilities designed to enhance the student experience and guarantee students’ satisfaction." Jonathan Finn argues that this new emphasis detracts from the educational experience. "In the current university environment, a student’s experience is being prioritized over their education," he writes. "Once students arrive on campus, they are encouraged to join a host of clubs, teams, groups and activities to contribute to their overall university experience." As a result, he says, students report a high rate of anxiety and depression. "It’s an experience feedback loop." What Finn misses, I think, is that the clubs, teams, groups and activities are a key part of the student's education. That's why they are valued. And he needs to learn to live with that, and work with that.
The main message in this article seems to be complains that it's really hard to comply with new laws protecting student data. "You have a lot of school systems spending time, money and certainly lots of legal fees trying to get the various busing companies, catering companies, and app developers together and convince them to sign off on a very strict law that goes beyond what the vast majority of states require." This, of course, is one of the hidden costs of the privatization: ensuring compliance. Because we know that unless there are contractual penalties, busing companies, catering companies, and app developers would be selling student data even if it's against the law. And on the bright side, "best practices around student information are being solidified, breach notification procedures are being put into place and both parents and teachers are more aware of the data being collected."
The least interesting thing about this post is that there's some startup doing something. Far more interesting is the question the project poses: if your brain is perfectly preserved, that is, all neurons and connections remain intact, then if it's restarted again, have you survived? Our first instinct is to say 'no', but there are cases where ringworms are completely frozen, later thawed, and demonstrated the same memories it had before freezing. So in theory it's possible. Oe another approach: " A connectome map could be the basis for re-creating a particular person’s consciousness, believes Ken Hayworth." This involves preserving all the connections in a brain, without necessarily preserving the physical material. Anyhow, " Nectome has been honing its pitch for Y Combinator’s demo days..." - I imagine the first part of the process works fine, but I want to see the second part, which has historically proven to be the hardest. If they can accomplish that, they won't need VC funding.
It makes sense to plan for accessibility by defailt, but the examples offered here show how complex in implementation this actually is. "When writing presentation slides, extra attention to punctuation can make an enormous difference for those who need to listen to the text," writes Alastair Creelman. True. But let's look at the suggestions critically. "Write numbers manually in bullet lists since the automatic numbering is not picked up by the text-to-speech apps." Well I can certainly see the problem but wouldn't it make a lot more sense just to fix the text-to-speech applications? Similarly, "Put stops in acronyms, otherwise the app may say it as a word (U.S.A. or e.g. would be best)." Yes, having the app say "usa" is a problem. But perhaps the app could recognize that the word is in all-caps, a universal symbol that the word is an acronym. In general: design for accessibility by default, yes. But don't make a million people make a change when a small fix to an application could accomplish the same outcome.
What are outcomes? The real need isn't learning and development per se. " Our remit – and the real need – is Performance & Capability, isn’t it? Or to completely de-jargon: Helping people do their best work today whilst making sure the organisation has people who are ready to do the work required tomorrow." So says David James in this article, and while this might not be the exact outcome in all cases, it is true that people learn in order to be able to do something, to accomplish something, or even to be something. 'Outcomes' isn't grades on a test.
I found the interviewer a bit sycophantic (not not nearly as bad as I've seen on some business channels) but the conversation as a whole with Owl Ventures’ Tory Patterson is interesting and, to a degree, eye-opening. The $185 million refers to the amount of investment capital Owl raised in its second fund offering (the first was around $100 million, in 2014). The focus, says Patterson, is on outcomes. "When we’re making these substantial bets, we want to be laser focused and absolutely certain that the companies and products and services that we’re betting on, are the ones that are delivering superior student achievement outcomes." But what are outcomes? Test scores? College admissions? Jobs? Life?
It has a clickbait title and stock horror ("my son gave up a birthday party for an iphone! No!") as a lead-in but the observation inside this article is more interesting: "A better model for learning apps... may be less slot machine and more sandbox: a digital toy, not a digital game. Something more open-ended that gives kids a chance to be creative, while the concepts emerge organically from their explorations." Ah, but the story is mostly about getting kids hooked on apps when they're young and complaining about content regulations. "Those rules cripple marketers from user engagement, marketing and ad-targeting perspectives." So now they "are looking to a particular set of influencers—schools—to help them spread the word."
We've all heard about blockchains, but what are they? It can be a complicated concept. The best way to learn, of course, is to roll up your sleeves and build a blockchain engine. That's what I did. (See also: Enterprise blockchain projects on GitHub).
"The scarcity of affordable, high-quality resources in specific subjects and for select populations has too often been presented as a fait accompli," write the authors. "Yet, this is a future that OER stewards reject." They recommend a four-stage 'CARE' framework promoting the idea of OER stewardship (quoted):
There's more context in this IHE article.
Tim Berners-Lee has released a statement for the 29th anniversary of the World Wide Web. "I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space — for everyone," he writes, "That vision is only possible if we get everyone online, and make sure the web works for people." He outlines some key areas where work needs to be done, for example: " we must support policies and business models that expand access to the world’s poorest." But the web is less diverse than it used to be and a few platformes have monopolized much of web traffic. We need to challenge "the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate." More: BBC News.
This article and the dozens and dozens of comments that follow (I read them all) kept me interested, which is a sign to me that it's worth including in the newsletter. Ultimately we will read that there is no case for the humanities because there doesn't need to be one; " It is not the humanities that we have lost faith in, but the economic, political, and social order that they have been made to serve." But before we get to that point we get a thorough restatement of the argument against the humanities - that they're too obscure, that there's too much production, that teaching is ignored, and worst, that they serve a private elitist community. It's clever because it uses the language of the critics and not just the ideas, and it is this, I think, that resulted in such a productive discussion in the comments.
This early draft version of a new Treasury Board standard (the Treasury Board is part of the Government of Canada) has been posted on Google Docs and is now receiving comments from the community. There's also a gcCollab group people can join to discuss the proposals. Interestingly, "The intention of this instrument is to allow the Government of Canada to harness machines to provide insights and recommendations on administrative decisions while ensuring that the data and systems that perform these functions are designed and operate responsibly and in compliance with national and international ethical principles." Image: TBS Information Management Strategic Plan 2016-2019.
The four technologies under discussion are virtual reality, learning communities (including MOOCs), AI tutors and big data. The four are obviously interrelated. “Today, the MOOC ecosystem has come a long way. We have active discussion groups, community meetups by the course, local hackathons, and hackathon tours by the course staff.”
Back in 2010 EA released a hockey game for the Nintendo Wii that featured an actual hockey stick as a controller. It was the greatest thing ever, and I spent hours - days! - standing in the dining room developing my career from Peewee to Pro. They didn't support it the following year and I lost interest. But it was a glimpse into the future, which may soon arrive with these Microsoft controllers. Because it's the U.S. they're really focused on guns, but the haptic musical instruments and the cane begin to show the true potential of modern interfaces, especially when combined with virtual reality. Maybe one day I'll be able to play haptic hockey again.
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.