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Comment: Re:As a K12 teacher, I have to say . . . (Score 1) 330

by ranton (#49560981) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

Wonderful no true Scotsman argument you have there. Nice to see that everyone who doesn't agree with you has no idea what a K12 teaching job actually entails.

I only have anecdotal experience from knowing around a dozen teachers as acquaintances, a half dozen as close friends, and one as a family member, although I have never taught beyond college tutoring myself. I have found there are two groups of teachers that in my experience always have very different viewpoints on teaching. They are those who had challenging non-teaching careers before starting teaching, and those who didn't.

( ha, my version of no true Scotman is claiming anyone who doesn't agree with me didn't have a challenging career beforehand, I guess no one's perfect )

I only know four people in the first category, a former nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, software developer, and chemist (2 high school and middle school teachers). Only two of these people knew each other, although I realize that doesn't help make up for the small sample size. Without exception they described teaching children as a fairly labor intensive but not very challenging career. Well actually there was one exception: one of them thought it wasn't very labor intensive at all after the first couple years, but he is a bare minimum kind of guy (he admits to it, and says that is why he switched to teaching).

I have only talked with three of them about technology in teaching, but each of them believe the majority of their job is better suited to the type of work you would expect an AI in the near future could do. One of them compared it to scantron tests; they don't eliminate all test grading, but they eliminate a lot of it. He did say all that happened was schools increased the amount of testing so the total amount of grading work didn't diminish, but software was still doing the bulk of the work. He is a math teacher, so scantron is probably more common for him than for other subjects, but multiple choice tests are not exclusive to math either.

When people try to say technology will not replace their jobs, they often fall back on the fact that technology won't be able to do 100% of their job. They don't realize how disruptive technology that even just does 20% of their job could be, especially when funding constraints make it more likely to cut personnel rather than find other work for them to do.

Comment: Re:The exact opposite of what we need (Score 1) 330

by ranton (#49560345) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

More like failures of the last 100 years. Just about everything capable of recording people in some form has been touted and tried as a replacement for teachers, so far with no success.

Its not really fair to say it has had no success. I have learned quite a bit from MOOCs; far more than I learned in my Masters program at a good private school with the exception of my research project. That wouldn't be true for every student (students who don't learn well from just reading books for instance), but that doesn't diminish that MOOCs and other technology enhanced learning methods have shown great success. This is not even close to the level of removing the need for elementary teachers, but it is significant success nevertheless.

The problem is that the AI system doesn't just need to be able to understand the student's question (already very hard) and then look up the answer in a database. It has to figure out what the student is failing to grasp and then craft an answer to fill the gap. When that inevitably doesn't work, it has to then use feedback to guage why it doesn't work, where the gap has shifted to then iterate until the student does understant.

Understanding a student's question is incredibly hard, almost impossibly hard, but then again so is a computer understanding Jeopardy questions.

Teachers view teaching each student as a unique challenge, but that is only because they only teach perhaps around 10,000 students in a career. Even with that small sample size they can still build on experience of what has worked for other students. And that is even with imperfect human memory and biases. Future educational programs will have the benefit of listening to questions from tens of millions of students each year. Questions will stop sounding very unique in these circumstances. Databases with millions of possible examination techniques will be able to use relatively basic pattern matching to see how different students are similar on millions of different metrics.

Every student will still be unique, but each unique problem they are having was likely shared by millions of other students. And the unique way of improving their understanding was probably performed on hundreds of thousands of students. And those students were probably given thousands of slightly different educational experiences while the software tracked how students with similar learning styles reacted to each one.

There will still be gaps in the technology, but no one is contemplating a world with no teachers. When the computer realizes the student's understanding of the topic is not improving, the human teacher is called in. Sometimes that might even be over teleconferencing if specific domain knowledge is required. And every time a human is required, the software gets more data on how to better teach other students in the future.

Comment: Re:The exact opposite of what we need (Score 1) 330

by ranton (#49559063) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

Teaching may not have changed much in the past few hundred years, but locomotion didn't change much until the railroads and automobiles either. All it takes is a tipping point of technological advance to make the future unrecognizable to what we have today.

But though the tech world is so very different from 1975, why hasn't it already dominated the classroom? Most tech-in-classroom things have turned out to be expensive failures.

As I mentioned in my first post, I think a tipping point will be hit once we have technology a generation or two better than Watson in each student's laptop. Or at least cloud based versions of Watson accessible by each student. Just like all attempts at commercializing digital tablets failed in the 90's and early 2000's were forgotten once technology advanced enough to give us the iPad, the failures of the past 20 years to bring technology to the classroom will be long forgotten in the near future.

The system you're proposing seems more based around the existence of strong AI.

Watson can give us a good idea of what is possible without strong AI. And Watson will be considered ancient compared to the non-strong AI implementations we will see 20 years from now. Machine learning and NLP can create amazing results without the computer assistants of the future needing what we would consider "true" creativity and problem solving.

Comment: Re:The exact opposite of what we need (Score 1) 330

by ranton (#49557995) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

What you're talking about requires strong AI. Once we develop strong AI, we won't need to learn anything. Either because it'll kill us all or it'll automate absolutely everything.

Machine learning and NLP techniques have started to show you can get some very intelligent software without strong AI. Watson was able to beat the best human players in essentially a Q&A game, similar to what a digital teacher would need to be capable of. If you look at the evolution of chess AIs, affordable personal computers capable of doing what Watson did will be released before the end of this decade. Cell phones will be able to do it a decade from now. Two decades from now Watson will appear downright stupid compared to the Q&A software we will have access to in our watches. And it won't require strong AI.

Just like all sufficiently advanced technologies, the AI of 20 years from now will appear like magic compared to what we have today. With or without strong AI.

Comment: Re:The exact opposite of what we need (Score 1) 330

by ranton (#49557647) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

At a time when we are realizing that students aren't all the same and we need to adapt our teaching strategies to each of them, this dude brilliantly claims that the future is to sit them all in front of a screen with no support. We need to hire more teachers, not less. Size of classroom is one of the most important variables for the effectiveness of teaching.

He is talking about 20 years from now. Technology has a habit of changing at an accelerated rate, so to envision what technology will provide in 20 years it is probably better to compare today's technology with 1975 tech. So take a look at Siri and Cortana compared to voice recognition and natural speech processing in 1975. Take a look at the amount of information is retrievable in Wikipedia with what existed in an Altair 8800.

Imagine going back to 1975 and describing the world wide web, ordering on Amazon, the iPhone 5, etc. If you aren't thinking of a world as different in 2035 as we are from the 70's, you aren't thinking in the right frame of reference. Teaching may not have changed much in the past few hundred years, but locomotion didn't change much until the railroads and automobiles either. All it takes is a tipping point of technological advance to make the future unrecognizable to what we have today.

In 20 years, a student's computer will likely be able to teach then a subject in 10,000 subtly different ways. Voice recognition will be so good it will seem like magic by today's standards. It will be like having a 1000 to 1 teacher to student ratio. We probably won't even rely on prerecorded video lectures that far into the future. The software could generate the lecture in real time, adjusting to the slightest input from the student (direct questions, facial expressions, heart rate, etc).

Humans will almost certainly still be involved, but the role could shift to supporting the technology instead of the other way around. Just as hybrid human-computer chess teams are still better than chess AI programs alone, hybrid teaching styles will likely still be the best. But technology is likely to open up possibilities in teaching that are unheard of today.

Then again, we still don't have flying cars, so who knows for sure.

Comment: Re: More like a diversion for more H-1B (Score 1, Interesting) 152

by ranton (#49553507) Attached to: Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law

In fact, Phillips runs Phillips Electronics out of Andover Mass, presumably for American talent

Philips runs 59 R&D facilities across 26 countries. It takes advantage of talent in all of these countries, including the US. The fact that two of its many subsidiaries are headquartered in the US is no indication that Philips is a US company at heart (like you insinuate in the last statement of your post).

Sony runs Sony Entertainment out of Los Angeles, again for that 'American cool'

Sony also has various headquarters in many different countries. It is no surprise that its movie and music subsidiaries are headquartered in the US, but that is no indication that Sony is a US company that just happens to be headquartered in Japan.

Comment: Re:More like a diversion for more H-1B (Score 2, Insightful) 152

by ranton (#49553461) Attached to: Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law

You manage to ignore many of the failures of outsourcing, such as language and cultural divides between customers ...

I am not ignoring anything. My post was not a detailed analysis of every pro and con of outsourcing labor and I didn't claim it was. I merely stated that outsourcing exists, and that industries can and do move overseas. Neither of these claims are false.

There are plenty of complications that still allow massive discrepancies in pay between the developed and developing world, but no complications are impossible to overcome. My father in law travels to China a half dozen times per year to fix these kinds of problems in his company's Chinese based manufacturing plants. These problems are very expensive, but overall it is still far cheaper to manufacture overseas. Many of the problems you mention make it very difficult to offshore IT jobs as well, but there is always still a cost point where it is better to deal with those problems and offshore anyway.

And, even if you decide that you are going to take the whole kit and kaboodle offshore, that may work for canned existing services that are fully commoditized, but it completely ignores that American tendency to innovate and create new services and companies

Plenty of companies offshore services that are not completely commoditized, although yes they rarely offshore the core and most innovative aspects of their company. But just as there are plenty of engineering related jobs that shifted overseas when a large amount of the US manufacturing industry moved offshore, there are plenty of other STEM related jobs that are not that innovative as well. I wouldn't doubt that the US could lose half or more of its STEM related jobs without moving much of the innovative sectors of the industry offshore.

Also, it is not a given that the US will continue to be the center of most innovative aspects of the economy. The Large Hadron Collider is one high profile example of the US dropping the ball and letting some of the most innovative physics research in the world leave the US. Many if not most of the greatest large scale engineering achievements in the last couple decades have been accomplished in Asia, not the west. China's total R&D spending has already eclipsed the EU and probably will beat out the US within a decade.

While the US still has a lot going for it, simply assuming it will always be the world's leader in innovation is naive.

As much as you seem to hate Americans, we are still fucking cool and continue to create what the rest of the world wants to buy

I am a native born US citizen (with 3 native born grandparents if it matters) who works in the IT industry. I just don't have any naive ideas about American exceptionalism that make me believe my country is untouchable by the rest of the world. I want our country's economy to stay strong for my children and other future descendants and simply feel that protectionism is not a good path for the US.

Comment: Re:More like a diversion for more H-1B (Score 2, Interesting) 152

by ranton (#49553083) Attached to: Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law

There isn't an US IT shortage, there is a shortage of US IT that will work for less then they are worth. Companies game H-1Bs and treat them more poorly than they could get away with. If one pushes laws to support this corruption don't be surprised when IT unions form to fight it.

People who complain about H-1B visas usually have a misguided view of what the real options are in this debate. They see an option where companies don't use H-1Bs and simply hire more US citizens instead. The reality, however, is that the real options for companies are:

1. Bring in H-1B visas so corporate IT teams stay in the US
2. Build corporate IT teams in other countries

Option #2 is essentially outsourcing, and it is not just some boogeyman intended to scare US workers. It really happens. Entire industries have already moved overseas in the past century, and the software developer and other engineering industries are not immune to it.

If US citizens cannot compete with foreign labor that live in the US, with a similar cost of living as US citizens, we have no hope of competing with foreign labor abroad with a much lower cost of living. There has been a push back against outsourcing software development jobs in the past decade, but if we start practicing protectionism the trend can easily start moving in the other direction again.

Comment: Re:This is not good... (Score 1) 255

by ranton (#49538967) Attached to: Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis

Using your "all or none" approach, then smoking cannot be said to "cause cancer" because some people don't get cancer when they smoke for years.

Cause and Prevent are two different words. One requires an all or nothing, the other does not.

You can say that someone caused a car accident even though they were not in control of every aspect of the accident.
You cannot say you prevented someone from getting beat up if you stop one assailant but his buddy still beats the guy up.

Do Vaccines Prevent Measles? Then why do people with Measles vaccines get Measles (rare, but it happens)? So, using your logic, you cannot say Measles Vaccine prevents measles, because it isn't 100%.

Of course vaccines don't prevent measles. That is one reason why the herd mentality is important since it is not 100% effective (the other is for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical / age reasons). Vaccines are over 99% effective at preventing measles, but you need to put those stipulations in there if you are going to talk about their effectiveness.

If you had originally said but almost certainly eating right can prevent 80% of cancer cases then there would be no problem with your statement, except for possibly the validity of whatever percentage you gave. You could have also said but almost certainly eating right can reduce your chance of getting cancer. But instead you said it could prevent cancer, which is not true.

Small differences between words are important, especially when you are making scientific claims (which all health claims are).

Comment: Re:This is not good... (Score 1) 255

by ranton (#49537443) Attached to: Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis

reduce the chances of getting cancer, but it has no hope of actually preventing it

If you reduce the chance, you do prevent it in at least some cases. So, your statement is in fact not accurate, as there is HOPE. I will repeat it, EATING well does prevent cancer in at least some people. Further, eating well does can reduce the severity of cancer, and that gives you a much better chance of beating it (at least certain forms). But if you insist on eating Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops thinking it doesn't matter to your health by all means keep eating it.

Like I said, there is a small but incredibly significant difference between saying something can be prevented and saying something is a prevention technique.

By saying you can prevent cancer you are saying it is 100% effective. If there is any chance cancer can arise, you are not preventing cancer.
By saying you hinder the growth or occurance of cancer, you are saying something is beneficial as a prevention technique. But you are not saying that it can prevent cancer.

Comment: Re:This is not good... (Score 5, Insightful) 255

by ranton (#49536415) Attached to: Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis

Maybe not cure cancer, but almost certainly eating right can prevent it.

No, eating right almost certainly cannot prevent cancer. It almost certainly can reduce the chances of getting cancer, but it has no hope of actually preventing it. It is a very small but incredibly significant distinction.

Comment: Re:No, This Is Important for People to See (Score 1) 255

by ranton (#49536355) Attached to: Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis

I think pretty much everyone but the nutjob, true believers in psuedo-science knew all along that this woman was lying.

So you're saying the 300,000 downloads are by people that knew they were downloading the app architected by a liar? And they were paying $3.79 to Apple and this liar for a recipe app that contain recipes that someone lied about helping her cure cancer?

No, he was clearly saying any person who downloaded the app based on her cancer story is a nutjob. He is saying that for any non-nutjob finding for sure she was lying is like finding out for sure that water is wet.

I don't agree with the OP, as I think people can be naive without being a nutjob. I think its a good thing when stories like this get out because it may help people realize that unscientific medical claims should always be disregarded by the public. I make that last stipulation because I think its a good thing when researchers investigate psuedo-science claims because in rare cases there may be something to learn from them.

Comment: Re:Rational Fix 101 (Score 1) 621

by ranton (#49532881) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

It would also completely devastate the lower income brackets that are the ones driving that old clunker that was all they could afford.

Any time a solution to a problem will adversely affect the poor, it is trivial to just adjust the tax code to return money to those in the lowest tax brackets. This includes tax credits for those who don't even pay federal income taxes.

Comment: Rational Fix 101 (Score 2) 621

by ranton (#49529177) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

Tax gas and spend the proceeds on "green" R&D.

Seems pretty rational to me. You could even just spend the proceeds on our deficit or even just lower taxes because of the revenue.

The government doesn't even need to subsidize R&D spending if gasoline taxes made the price of gas reflect its true cost to society. $8/gallon gas would make our cars more efficient real quick. Obviously we wouldn't want to go to that level overnight because of its impact on the shipping industry, but over a decade or so our economy could shift to use more locally raised food, no more 2 day shipping of a toothbrush on Amazon Prime, etc.

Comment: Re: Or Just Sell To The Upper Class (Score 1) 288

by ranton (#49527243) Attached to: Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers

On a side note: classes originally meant what you did for a living, so if you were a priest, that was your class, if you were a warrior, that was your class, ir didn't matter if you were poor or Rich.

What you do for a living and what your income level is are pretty close to the same thing. Both are rough estimates, since some construction workers make $20/hr, some are specialists making $100k/yr and some own the company. But usually if you know someone's profession you can make a good guess as to what social class they are in even in modern times.

Now economists simplified it by income amount divides in percentiles... But that's just a gross oversimplifcation.

Economists only use income percentiles because it is the best data we have to study the classes. Upper middle class is not really defined by income, it is defined by how they live their life. Examples are that they can take nice vacations each year, don't worry about how to send their kids to college, shop at Brooks Brothers instead of Kohl's, have the ability to easy save enough to quit their job and become an entrepreneur (even when they already have a family), etc.

Economists don't have the time/money to survey a million people to ask about how they live their life, so they are forced to use income as a close approximation.

Don't panic.