Miscellaneous

Neuroenhancement and the Extended Mind Hypothesis

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 20:00
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John Danaher, Humanity+, Feb 06, 2015

One question that's always asked is what is the connection between social networks and neural networks? In a  recent talk I referred to the 'Downes answer' and the 'Siemens answer' to this question. This article provides some of the theoretical underpinning to the Siemens answer: "The extended mind hypothesis (EMH) was first introduced to the philosophical world by David Chalmers and Andy Clark in 1998. Their claim was simple enough... mental phenomena were multiply realisable." This claim is (a variant of a claim called) functionalism, and it allows that the same mental state could exist in different types of physical states, such as neurons and computers. And if mental states are distributed, then the very same mental state could exist across both systems at once, being partially in a neural network and partially in a computer network (did George really have this solution in mind before I called it the Siemens answer? You'll have to ask him!).

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ADL Community Survey

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00


Craig Wiggins, Advanced Distributed Learning, Feb 06, 2015

Received by email: "the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative has launched a new  effort to create a SCORM profile of the Experience API (xAPI). ADL  requests your participation in this survey to help inform our  direction for this effort, and to gauge your current usage of  distributed learning products, services, SCORM and xAPI. The target  audience for this survey is anyone in the education and training  community familiar with distributed learning." This link will take you to the survey.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Copyright Manifesto: How the European Union should Support Innovation and Creativity through Copyright Reform

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00
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Various authors, Copyright for Creativity, Feb 06, 2015

16 page PDF. Here's the problem: "Europeans discover regularly (and with increasing frustration) that they cannot access the same content across the EU." So this manifesto proposes that European copyright should be simplified and harmonized. The copyright period should be shortened, and the current state of dysfunction in enforcing the rules should be addressed. "It is an absurdity that technological progress has led to a situation where actions that were possible before these technological developments – such as buying and selling second-hand cultural goods – are now being prohibited, to the detriment of citizens." Totally agreed. See more at the C4C website.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Google Brain’s Co-inventor Tells Why He’s Building Chinese Neural Networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:00
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Caleb Garling, Medium, Feb 06, 2015

Basically this is a look at Coursera founder Andrew Ng's next venture. He's now working with Baidu and still focused on massive - “ only interested in tech that can influence 100 million users” - and in particular on using neural networks for analytics. He hasn't lost his hubris - "We have the English language. Now we’ re figuring out Chinese" - but that's OK if he does interesting work. I can't see working in Chinese being anything other than that. For those who think we think and learn in a language of logic, Chinese poses a challenge - it's completely different from English. You need to find low-level subsymbolic processes before ever getting to the language. "At the first level [the machine] might learn to detect edges in an image, and then it might learn to detect corners. This is knowledge that is common to the two languages."

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Announcement: Create Your Own Newsletter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 06:00

Create your own newsletter! The links in today's OLDaily connect to documents used in my workshop today. You can click on the links and help edit the documents as well. Whatever you create will be the content of today's newsletter.


Categories: Miscellaneous

Does Mechanism Matter? Student Recall of Electronic versus Handwritten Feedback

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Megan E. Osterbur, Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Elliott Hammer, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, Feb 05, 2015

You probably won't see this one in the Chronicle: "Our research found that whereas students who preferred or received handwritten feedback recall more feedback (quantity), those who actually received electronic feedback recall comments more accurately (quality)."

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Fibbing for Rankings

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 05, 2015

Wondering why students cheat? They learn it at school. "The University of Missouri at Kansas City gave the Princeton Review false information designed to inflate the rankings of its business school, which was under pressure from its major donor to keep the ratings up, according to an outside audit released Friday."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Is it Time to Change Tracks with Your LMS?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Jeffrey Roth, Social Learning Blog, Feb 04, 2015

Sometimes I forget that organizations still have learning management systems (LMSs). But of course that's silly: beyond a certain size, they all have learning management systems. Sometimes they have several (in one case I studied, dozens!). But generally, they're not very happy with them. "Learning and development research firm Brandon Hall reports that, of 135 organizations, 58 percent want to replace their current LMS." But the question now in my mind is whether we just replace the current LMS with a better LMS, as this story suggests, or do we rethink how online should be provided? People who know me know I'm pretty firmly in the second camp. That's why LMS companies aren't calling me any more. But they should.

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The Beauty of the Block

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Audrey Watters, Personal Blog, Feb 04, 2015

I blocked and unfriended someone yesterday for warmongering. He was only the latest of dozens - maybe hundreds - of people I've blocked in the last few months. I was like Audrey Watters: "I didn’ t used to block. I’ d unfollow. I’ d ignore." But now I block because I don't want this in my life. And I don't block because it's simply unpleasant. I block to keep the images out of my mind. They are damaging and can sometimes hurt. Repeat something over and over enough, loudly enough, persistently enough, and people come to believe it (even if they know it's not true). That's how propaganda works. Wonder why we're raising a generation of misogynists? Look at the news, sports and other media they watch every day. And don't worry about having created a "filter bubble." As Watters says, "My blocking trolls doesn’ t damage civic discourse; indeed, it helps me be able to be a part of it." Loudspeakers blaring lies at you over and over again isn't part of civil discourse. We can afford to block them, whether they are actual loudspeakers or social media trolls.

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From free to fee: How U.S. dailies decide to use paywalls

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 15:00
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Natalie Jomini Stroud, American Press Institute, Feb 02, 2015

Interesting report that observes that few newspapers use research of any sort (beyond asking each other whether it's a good idea) before implementing paywalls (it's a summary of a recent paper that is not available online (I searched)). The research also looks at the value of paywalls and reports that, even in the success stories, "paywalls most likely will not offset steep losses in advertising revenue." But  another report suggests that the real value in paywalls might not be the subscription fees, but rather the user data. Erica Sweeney writes, "demographic data can help publishers tailor and recommend specific content, which could increase subscriptions and the value of content." Of course, this means that as you read your newspaper, your newspaper is reading you.

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Cyber surveillance worries most Canadians: privacy czar's poll

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:00
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Staff, CBC News, Feb 02, 2015

This is one of the major reasons we have focused on creating a personal application in LPSS. According to this report, "Canadians deeply value privacy, but fear they are losing the control they have over their personal information. It’ s imperative we find ways to enhance that sense of control so that people feel their privacy rights are being respected." It doesn't help that we also discovered this week that Canada's security agency CSEC has been monitoring millions of users' file downloads in an (ostensive) effort to identify terrorists. "Every single thing that you do – in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites – that act is being archived, collected and analyzed."

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Investigating the Yik Yak attack

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 00:00
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Alex Reid, Digital Digs, Feb 01, 2015

From the moment an application came into existence that allowed people in the same general area to make anonymous comments to each other it became inevitable that students would use it to criticize a professor (hence, the 'Yik Yak attack'). It is also inevitable that within a few minutes to the incident the Chronicle would publish an article lamenting the behaviour. Steve Kraus  describes the coverage (here (the original Chronicle article is paywalled). I won't pretend the behaviour was not offensive and abusive (from the snippets I saw). But I also don't blame the technology for the behaviour - I blame the environment, I blame the entitled students who think there are no limits to their behaviour, I blame a media environment which promotes this sort of behaviour on a daily basis. And how does this help: "The only student so far punished in connection with the Yik Yak incident is one who stepped forward and confessed?" Alex Reid says, " Ultimately some mechanisms of social interaction arise to regulate behavior." Not unless you can remove or kick off the offenders. The trolls and the haters don't bend to social pressure; that's kind of what defines them.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Cloudy Logic

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 00:00
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Robin James, The New Inquiry, Feb 01, 2015

A few talks ago I cause a twitter in the audience by comparing big data analytics to astrology. It was no more than a half-formed thought, but as it turns out I'm not the only one who has had this thought and this author - via the mediation of Thomas Adorno - has given it substance. Robin James writes, "Scaled up in size and in processing power, big data could be the realization of what Adorno called 'the potential danger represented by astrology as a mass phenomenon.'" Their apparent objectivity allow them to be represented as value-neutral - but "astrology rearticulates unfashionable superstitions in the occult, in mysticism, and so on, by presenting them in empirical rather than supernatural terms— star charts and tables, for example. Upgrading the medium in which they are expressed, obsolete social myths gain new life as apparent fact." Just as does big data analytics. "Down-to-earthness is precisely the problem with forecasting: It only ever reproduces society and its most conventional norms, values, and practices. All that data up in the cloud opens no new vistas; it just repackages tired social, political, and economic institutions (white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy) in new, hip abodes on more seemingly solid ground." Yeow!

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