As a society, we desperately need to invest more into the arts. Our culture has come to exalt the ability to calculate and analyze at the expense of developing an understanding of ourselves and our own emotions. We pride scientific achievements instead of developing artistic expression, partly due to the faults of American capitalism.

But, at the core of humanity lies complex emotions as opposed to pure, cold logic. By extension, we should value artistic pursuit, not scientific performance.

Engineers are the builders of materials and structures, while scientists are the explorers of atoms, forces and geometry. But artists, writers, filmmakers? They design the maps.

The Myth Of “Logic Over Emotion”

A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (a professor at USC who researches the mysteries of the conscious mind) examined individuals who had undergone damage to the emotional centers of their brains without hindering their rationalizing abilities.

What he found was that their capacity to make decisions was significantly impaired. Subjects could map out every potential pathway, weigh every pro and con and describe what they needed to do logically, but they simply could not intuitively figure out what they wanted. They could not act. They could not move forward.

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#TxEduChat LOGOSunday, April 24th at 8PM Central (6PM Pacific)

Thanks to @Tom_Kilgore and the popular @TxEduChat for asking me to host another Twitter Chat!

I’m excited to have some fun and explore the topic:

AI & Robots: How can we “future proof” students?

Artificial Intelligence and Robots are developing are a RAPID pace!

With two new grandchildren, I’m investigating more seriously the advancing new technologies in an effort to understand the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve happiness and success in a technological future.

I’m certain that the ubiquitous nature of technology will have a considerable impact on a new generation and believe that adults–educators, parents, and more, will be critical in mentoring young people as they navigate and work through all the changes, along with new moral and ethical decisions mankind has never had to deal with.

Sunday’s TXeduchat is intended to be a fun-filled hour to consider the possibilities and get us all thinking about how to future proof our students in a world where deep learning, automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics are accelerating.

It will be hard to accomplish too much in the hour we have online but, there are a lot of amazing and brilliant people that frequent the #TxEduChat, so I’m confident it’s going to be a frenetic paced evening!

For those of you who are here for the first time. I’ll post a reference link below after the chat.

 

From where I sit, it feels like the study of the liberal arts and the culmination of that education—the liberal arts and sciences degrees—are being challenged like never before. State governors, top business executives, and parents are questioning the end products that come from liberal arts institutions. In a recent Washington Post article, a managing director of a major financial management company complained that a liberal arts education mainly created “incredibly interesting, well-rounded cocktail party guests” but not graduates who are likely to find jobs.

Unfortunately, I think that a too-narrow focus on first jobs for graduates has these folks missing the bigger point—liberal arts institutions educate for employment, but they also educate for success. That’s the “plus” in our system, our game changer, and I will come back to that later.

I must say that the frustration of critics is completely understandable: unemployment rates remain high, and college education, already shockingly expensive, is growing ever more so. Students are graduating with unprecedented debt. People are concerned about the value—the return on investment of a college degree. It’s no surprise to me when high school students and their parents approach our admissions counselors asking, “So, what kind of job will Susie be able to get with her bachelor of arts degree?” or more pointedly, “Do you offer STEM education?”

Without question, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is the new buzzword for those anxious about post-graduation employment. These are all disciplines in which America must excel if it is to retain its industrial and economic strength. In his February 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama urged that we double-down on science and technology education starting in our secondary schools. To give the argument even more traction, some would widen the list of STEM professions to include educators, technicians, managers, social scientists, and health care professionals. Indeed, the talk these days in my state of Virginia is about STEM-H (for healthcare).

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the STEM job sector is growing at twice the rate of non-STEM occupations, but we should note some caveats. First, let’s remember that STEM workers, as identified by the Commerce Department, comprise only 5.5% of the workforce. Second, while STEM workers overall may earn 26% more than their counterparts, the greatest differential is seen in the lowest-level jobs; the higher the terminal degree, the less the earnings difference.

Moreover, it is not a given that the only path to STEM job success is to obtain a STEM degree.

  • About one-third of college-educated workers in STEM professions do not hold degrees in STEM.
  • Two-thirds of people holding STEM undergraduate degrees work in non-STEM jobs.
  • One-fifth of math majors, for instance, end up working in education. (That is a good thing, I would argue.)
  • Nearly 40% of STEM managers hold non-STEM degrees.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Until recently, Robyn Ewing was a writer in Hollywood, developing TV scripts and pitching pilots to film studios.

Now she’s applying her creative talents toward building the personality of a different type of character — a virtual assistant, animated by artifical intelligence, that interacts with sick patients.

Ewing works with engineers on the software program, called Sophie, which can be downloaded to a smartphone. The virtual nurse gently reminds users to check their medication, asks them how they are feeling or if they are in pain, and then sends the data to a real doctor.

As tech behemoths and a wave of start-ups double down on virtual assistants that can chat with human beings, writing for AI is becoming a hot job in Silicon Valley. Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.

“Maybe this will help pay back all the student loans,” joked Ewing, who has master’s degrees from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and film school.

Unlike the fictional characters that Ewing developed in Hollywood, who are put through adventures, personal trials and plot twists, most virtual assistants today are designed to perform largely prosaic tasks, such as reading through email, sending meetings reminders or turning off the lights as you shout across the room.

But a new crop of virtual assistant start-ups, whose products will soon flood the market, have in mind more ambitious bots that can interact seamlessly with human beings.

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