by Stephen Downes
May 05, 2016
It's easy to get excited about thee potential for big data and deep learning in artificial intelligence, but as Gary Marcus argues in this item, we are still a long way from the goal. Even a one-year old child is further ahead than a robot with it comes to doing things like climbing couches. Machine reading and comprehension is a long way from what humans can do. Siri is not really much of an advance over ELIZA. We should look again at psychology, argues Marcus. "I felt like the field had lost its way," he says. "The field started with these questions. Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Allen Newell, Herb Simon, those guys were interested in psychology. The work that's being done now doesn't connect with psychology that much." True, but we have to be careful to assess what it is we think psychology tells us. Do we really recognize a cat by the way it walks? Are we really able to create an infinite number of sentences? Do we mean the same thing when we use words? Do we really have beliefs?
The key question is "Are math and reading test results strong enough indicators of school quality that regulators can rely on them?" The evidence on this isn't clear. "There is surprisingly little rigorous research linking them to the long-term outcomes we actually care about." There is some evidence, such as this, but frankly it reads like pseudoscience. Why? "Achievement tests are only designed to capture a portion of what our education system hopes to accomplish," for example (says the author) character or life skills. And other skills (such as art or music) may be necessary for students' later-life success. "We should be considerably more humble about claiming to know which teachers, schools, and programs are good or bad based on an examination of their test scores." Agreed.
Marcie Bianco makes the point proposed in the headline fairly convincingly by offering a series of ways in which it is true, listing everything from the larger students loans they must take out to the higher proportion of women in low-paying adjunct positions to the observation that as women join a field, average pay in the field drops. But there's more, an undercurrent and an observation, which is encapsulated in the discussion of the relation between the attack on the humanities, the increasing number of women in the humanities, and the accusation that there is a predominance of 'liberal values' in such fields.
This could have been much more appropriately titled, but the content of the piece is spot on. Specifically:
Open means rights
Open means access
Open means use
Open means transparent
Open means participatory
Open means enabling openness
Open means philosophically aligned with open principles
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