#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.

Continue Reading…

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.

Continue Reading…

The Future of Employment Research Report from Oxford University

In this report, Oxford University addresses the question: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?

Doing so, they build on the existing literature in two ways. First, drawing upon recent advances in Machine Learning (ML) and Mobile Robotics (MR), they develop a novel methodology to categorize occupations according to their susceptibility to computerization.

702 Occupations Examined

Second, they implement this methodology to estimate the probability of computerization for 702 detailed occupations, and examine expected impacts of future computerization on US labor market outcomes.

Continue Reading…

The rapid pace of artificial intelligence (AI) has raised fears about whether robots could act unethically or soon choose to harm humans. Some are calling for bans on robotics research; others are calling for more research to understand how AI might be constrained. But how can robots learn ethical behavior if there is no “user manual” for being human?

Continue Reading…

by JOSHUA OGAWA, Nikkei staff writer

The game of GO is considered more complex than either chess or shogi.

Google has developed a computer program capable of beating professional go players, opening the door to new applications — and new ethical concerns — as artificial intelligence draws closer to matching human thinking.

The U.S. tech giant presented its results in the Jan. 27 issue of Nature. Though a computer managed to topple the world chess champion in 1997 and defeat the top women’s shogi (Japanese chess) player in 2010, Google’s AlphaGo program (official blog site) is the first to triumph over professional go players under official rules.

TOUGHER THAN CHESS The go board is larger than that used in chess or shogi, with total possible gameplay scenarios numbering 10 to the 360th power. Anticipating and solving all possible board combinations is impossible even for today’s most advanced computers, and many researchers had predicted that a program capable of besting pro players was at least 10 years away.

Google’s go AI bypassed that problem with deep learning, a technology that mimics human neural pathways and learning processes. Rather than working through the possible scenarios by brute force, the program considers the board as a whole and draws on accumulated experience to choose its next move. The company has used such technology before. Last year, it presented its deep Q-network algorithm, which let computers master electronic games by analyzing pixel and score data over repeated plays.

For its go project, Google collaborated with pro players to teach the computer 30 million plays, eventually enabling it to predict humans’ moves with 57% accuracy. The AI then was put through several million matches against itself, forcing it to work out winning strategies by experience. Its ability to select the best move by analyzing the state of the board is now nearly equal to a human’s ability to do the same based on skill and intuition.

The program can beat existing go software 99.8% of the time, and it won all five games against reigning European champion Fan Hui in October. The AI will face another five-game challenge in March, when it goes up against Lee Se-dol, one of the world’s top players.

WAY FORWARD The question now is where Google will direct its AI efforts next. Games are an excellent arena in which to develop and test AI, but the goal is to turn such technology toward solving real-world problems, said Demis Hassabis, Google’s AI chief. The priority, he indicated, is on developing robust multipurpose AI tech.

Deep learning is particularly promising, given its ability to process visual and audio information in a manner resembling human perception byGoogle Deep Mind LOGO finding patterns in large data sets. Recent research has sought to apply the technology in diverse fields, such as using it to control robots’ movements or to analyze medical image data to help diagnose patients. Simple forms are already at work in today’s tech, such as voice recognition software on smartphones. The dawn of AI capable of replicating the intuition of human professionals would drastically expand the current slate of applications.

Yet researchers also are growing more cautious as AI advances. Though Google is pleased to have overcome a major challenge for AI, Hassabis said, the company is aware of the ethical issues surrounding the technology. Academics and other public figures have warned that unchecked development could lead to AI programs that are hostile to society as a whole.

As with “any powerful new technology,” developers of AI must “take seriously our responsibilities” and “have ethical concerns at the top of our minds,” Hassabis told the BBC last year. Google has established an AI ethics board to address those concerns. Now that technology has won out against humanity in one of the ultimate game-based challenges, the focus of research should turn to cooperation between man and machine.