by Stephen Downes
Sept 23, 2016
"This desire for knowledge, the very belief that acquiring knowledge was a worthwhile pursuit, underpinned much of cultural development through to the 20th century. And although it started out as a privileged pursuit, the basic premise, which we can summarise as 'knowing stuff is good'... " writes Martin Weller. "The Unenlightenment sees a reversal of this basic principle: wilful avoidance of knowledge." It won't be enough, he argues, to simply create great OERs. "Education needs to fight not only for its own relevance, but for the culture within which it is situated. " maybe - but at the same time it needs to fight against the culture in which it is situated. The culture of education is a culture of privilege and special rights and inside favours and manipulating the law (and statistics, and whatever else needs manipulating) to ensure this never changes. And - from where I sit - the problem is that many of the people within education do not want to let go of this culture. It is, after all, how they make their living.
The lesson here is, if you put your data into a big giant data store, it's going to be hacked. And the agency that does it is probably going to be a national government. Pundits are talking about the Russians, the Chinese and even the North Koreans, but I have to consider the American NSA to be equally likely suspects (the only difference is that they're marginally less likely to get caught). On the bright side, "If this is state-sponsored I don't think they actually want the information - it is more about the impact of the data breach."
"The YouTube system is built on top of Google Brain, or as we now know it, TensorFlow. To give an idea of scale, the models learn approximately one billion parameters and are trained on hundreds of billions of examples. The basic problem is posed as 'given this user’s YouTube activity history, which videos are they most likely to watch next?'" The recommendations are (in my experience) not so great - they reflect my YouTube interests, but not my wider interests. The full paper is available from Google (8 page PDF)
What I like about this item is that it speaks against the idea that there is a special area for discrete functions in the brain. “If we can make the visual cortex do math, in principle, we can make any part of the brain do anything.” Here's the original paper (6 page PDF)
Curt Bonk "gave the keynote speech at E-learning Week at Coex," in Seoul Korea. He writes, "I was asked to speak about the Fourth Industrial Age (more info on it; see the Davos Reader). At the start of the talk, I spoke on self-driving cars and planes, robotics, 3-D printing, augmented intelligence, artificial intelligence, and much more. Below is the abstract that I came up with. My slides are posted." Do follow the links, which make this an interesting item.
By "destroy" Wes Fryer means "raise the price of" but the implications are fairly clear; he is concerned Microsoft's new licensing policies will price it out of schools' ability to pay. "Rather than purchase a one-time license with perpetual upgrades, just for computer lab computers, now K-12 schools are being asked by Microsoft to pay $5 per student, per year, for the privilege of playing Minecraft." See also Jeremy Hsu, who writes, "By tailoring Minecraft to formal school settings, Microsoft runs the risk of sacrificing some of the game’s inherent strengths. But it’s still a no-brainer for Microsoft to leverage Minecraft in its broader struggle with Google for control of the education market." (It's like I'm reading two completely different perspectives on the same thing).
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