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Comment A fatal flaw (Score 0) 95

A fascinating read. Thanks for sharing.

I do believe that having more information will allow for a more accurate analysis of why people behave the way they do, that is, their motivations.

However, I am not sure that all of the observable facts in the universe about an individual will be sufficient to completely predict motivation and behavior. People are complicated - the older I get, the more introspective I get, the more I pick at and analyze and assess my own actions, the more frequently I find that I do not have clear reasons for what I do - and I learn things about myself. If I have trouble figuring out why I do what I do, how could an outsider - one who does not possess the same set of biases that I have developed myself, via my own life, choices, experiments and education - ever hope to understand me so well as to correctly declare my motivations and predict my future behavior?

But then, to restate my first claim, more information will yield better accuracy. But can everything the NSA, or google, collect about me ever be enough?

Surveillance as a topic overall is interesting because it is so resistant to black-and-white rule setting - context is everything. Now I have something to think about on my afternoon walk. :)

Comment Do it... transparently (Score 1) 109

I think this is a fine idea, as long as the algorithm that scores the papers is publicly known. While this might initially seem like a bad idea, I think it is identical to what we have today - I remember intentionally adjusting my writing style to match teacher expectations in high school/college: some teachers liked me to parrot back facts and figures, others wanted their own theories returned to them, while still others (okay, just once in my school life) rewarded for original analytical thinking.

Since we already train students according to teacher bias of what makes a 'good' human-graded paper, it seems only fair to publish the bias that will be used to define a 'good' electronically-graded paper.

I see two ways electronic grading can fail.
(1) Students who submit poor papers which still score highly. If the AI algorithm is complicated enough that real cleverness is required, perhaps that's not a bad thing... And if the AI algorithm is easy to game, everyone will score highly and it will be obvious that the technology wasn't ready and this was a bad idea.
(2) Students who submit good papers which score poorly. Resolving this probably requires a public appeal-to-a-human-teacher process. If a large number of papers are appealed and found to be of quality, it will be obvious that the technology wasn't ready and this was a bad idea.

If after the trial, the number of overturn-by-appeals is low and the distribution of scores looks good, then mankind will have found a way to automate another (I believe) tedious task and free up more human capital and resources for more challenging and valuable pursuits, which sounds like a big win. Seems like we ought to try it and learn something.

Comment Re:Instilling values more important (Score 2, Insightful) 698

I could not disagree more strongly. :) I think you (parent post) have a confused idea of what religion is.

"A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence." ( As a geek, I have no doubt that you (OP) have had life experiences which have led you to a set of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that help you personally relate to the rest of humanity and the universe, possibly including a sense of the Divine. And as a geek, I have no doubt that you have experimented, analyzed, observed, tested your surroundings, and developed a set of values, beliefs, and ways of relating to others and your universe which have brought you some degree of happiness and peace.

It sounds criminal not to share such lessons with your own child. Of course your child will choose for herself. But to deprive her of those things in your life which have worked for you, especially in this area, seems foolish. Share with her the best path you have found and challenge her to find a better if she can. :)

(I suppose that I, as a geek, don't really buy in to the idea of an automatically-accepted formal dogma ('brainwashing'). And that said, I am an active participant in such a formally organized religion, but that's because my own set of experiments have led me to believe that this is the best path for me. And I ever seek a path which brings me greater peace and happiness, as any geek should.)

Comment Engineering a workforce (Score 1) 703

At my workplace, college tuition can be paid for via a program of either forgiveness (for tuition paid by the company up front) or reimbursement (for tuition paid by the student up front and then reimbursed by the company). Forgiveness and reimbursement are only available based on getting reasonably good grades (B or better for both undergrad and grad work, IIRC).

I think both notions would make a ton of sense for this kind of government program. Other posters have wisely already observed that not all education is equal. Others again recommended that rather than finance the first years of college, it might be more beneficial to finance the last (to encourage those near the end to just complete their degrees and get out into the workplace).

It seems to me like with a judicious use of forgiveness/reimbursement based on successful completion of coursework (e.g., credits awarded), and a reimbursement scale based on the perceived usefulness of the class/degree being pursued (via bureau of labor statistics recommendations) would allow the government to take an active role in engineering a long term competitive workforce. Want more STEM graduates? Raise the % of reimbursement for passing STEM classes. Maybe raise the % reimbursement as well for more advanced classes (50% first year, 60% second year, 70% third year, 80% fourth year). Lower the % of reimbursement for those professions which the BLS indicates we don't need as many of as a country.

Under such a system, you can always get any degree you want, but if you do something that aligns with the government view of what will be beneficial to the country, the government will pay you something for it. It certainly makes sense to have higher subsidies for higher paying professions (in many cases, those most in demand) because they increase the future tax base the most.

As far as I can tell, we all want a more educated populous and recognize benefits for that as a whole... Maybe there are smarter ways to do it than a blank check for a couple of years of higher education.

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982