Obama has Harry Reid to thank for his biggest accomplishments - Vox
When historians look back at Obama's presidency, they'll record a slew of legislative accomplishments. There was the stimulus, and Obamacare, and the TARP extension, and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. There was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Serve America Act for community service, and the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Obama signed new anti-tobacco regulations into law, reformed student loans, ratified the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, and ended "don't ask, don't tell" in the armed forces.

These laws — love them or hate them — are still reverberating through the economy today. They are Obama's legacy. But they all passed between 2009 and 2010, and they only passed because Reid was able to do something that sounded impossible: hold 60 Democrats together on painful vote after painful vote. This legacy is his just as much as it is Obama's.
generalinterest  politics 
9 hours ago
Human or Machine? | April 2015 | Communications of the ACM
We wish to clarify an account of the 2014 Turing Test experiment we conducted at the Royal Society London, U.K., as outlined by Moshe Y. Vardi in his Editor's Letter "would Turing Have Passed the Turing Test?" (Sept. 2014). Vardi was referring to a New Yorker blog by Gary Marcus, rather than to our experiment directly. But Marcus had no first-hand experience with our 2014 experiment nor has he seen any of our Turing Test conversations.

Our experiment involved 30 human judges, 30 hidden humans, and five machines—Cleverbot, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, JFred, and Ultra Hal; for background and details see http://turingtestsin2014.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/eugene-goostman-machine-convinced-3333.html. We used social media to recruit judges and a variety of hidden humans, including males, females, adults, teenagers, experts in computer science and robotics, and non-experts, including journalists, lecturers, students, and interested members of the public.
Prior to the tests, the judges were unaware of the nature of the pairs of hidden entities they would be interrogating; we told them only that they would simultaneously interrogate one human and one machine for five minutes and that the human could be a male or female, child or adult, native English speaker, or non-native English speaker. We asked the hidden humans to be themselves, that is, to be human.

The 30 judges, each given an anonymous experiment identity—labeled J1–J30—interrogated five pairs of hidden entities. Likewise each human and machine was given a unique identity—E1–E35. We ran 150 "simultaneous comparison" Turing Tests in which we instructed the judges that their task was to determine which was human and which was machine in the pair, a decision to be made based solely on the responses the hidden entities posted in reply to what a judge said.

Eugene Goostman was not correctly identified as the machine in the pair in 10 of its 30 tests; that is, 10 judges did not recognize it was a machine. Eugene Goostman's personality is that of a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine, a character we do not consider contrary to Alan M. Turing's vision for building a machine to think. In 1950, Turing said, "Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child's?"

The figure here includes one simultaneous conversation from the experiment, showing one of Judge J19's tests after that judge simultaneously interacted with two hidden entities, in this case E20 and E24. In this test, E20's responses to the judge were relayed to a message box displayed on the left of the judge's screen; E24's answers were relayed on the right. Timings and text are exactly as they were in the test.

So, could you "pass the test" and be able to say which of the two entities—E20 and E24—is the human and which the machine?

Huma Shah, London, U.K., and Kevin Warwick, Reading, U.K.

Back to Top

Author's Response:
The details of this 2014 Turing Test experiment only reinforces my judgment that the Turing Test says little about machine intelligence. The ability to generate a human-like dialogue is at best an extremely narrow slice of intelligence.

Moshe Y. Vardi, Editor-in-Chief
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
9 hours ago
The Arbitrariness of Reviews, and Advice for School Administrators | April 2015 | Communications of the ACM
January 8, 2015

Corinna Cortes (http://bit.ly/18I9RTK) and Neil Lawrence (http://bit.ly/1zy3Hjs) ran the NIPS experiment (http://bit.ly/1HNbXRT), in which one-tenth of papers submitted to the Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation (NIPS, http://nips.cc/) went through the NIPS review process twice, and the accept/reject decision was compared. This was a great experiment, so kudos to NIPS for being willing to do it and to Corinna and Neil for doing it.
The 26% disagreement rate presented at the NIPS conference (http://bit.ly/18Iaj4r) understates the meaning in my opinion, given the 22% acceptance rate. The immediate implication is that one-half to two-thirds of papers accepted at NIPS would have been rejected if reviewed a second time. For analysis details and discussion about that, see http://bit.ly/1uRCqCF.

Let us give P (reject in 2nd review | accept 1st review) a name: arbitrariness. For NIPS 2014, arbitrariness was ~60%. Given such a stark number, the primary question is "what does it mean?"

Does it mean there is no signal in the accept/reject decision? Clearly not—a purely random decision would have arbitrariness of ~78%. It is, however, notable that 60% is closer to 78% than 0%.

Does it mean the NIPS accept/reject decision is unfair? Not necessarily. If a pure random number generator made the accept/reject decision, it would be 'fair' in the same sense that a lottery is fair, and have an arbitrariness of ~78%.

Does it mean the NIPS accept/reject decision could be unfair? The numbers make no judgment here. It is a natural fallacy to imagine random judgments derived from people imply unfairness, so I would encourage people to withhold judgment on this question for now.

Is arbitrariness of 0% the goal? Achieving 0% arbitrariness is easy: choose all papers with an md5sum that ends in 00 (in binary). Clearly, there is more to be desired from a reviewing process.

Perhaps this means we should decrease the acceptance rate? Maybe, but this makes sense only if you believe arbitrariness is good, as it will almost surely increase the arbitrariness. In the extreme case where only one paper is accepted, the odds of it being rejected on re-review are near 100%.

Perhaps this means we should increase the acceptance rate? If all papers submitted were accepted, the arbitrariness would be 0, but as mentioned earlier, arbitrariness of 0 is not the goal.

Perhaps this means NIPS is a broad conference with substantial disagreement by reviewers (and attendees) about what is important? Maybe. This seems plausible to me, given anecdotal personal experience. Perhaps small, highly focused conferences have a smaller arbitrariness?

Perhaps this means researchers submit to an arbitrary process for historical reasons? The arbitrariness is clear, the reason less so. A mostly arbitrary review process may be helpful in that it gives authors a painful-but-useful opportunity to debug easy ways to misinterpret their work. It may also be helpful in that it rejects the bottom 20% of papers that are actively wrong, and hence harmful to the process of developing knowledge. These reasons are not confirmed, of course.

Is it possible to do better? I believe the answer is "yes," but it should be understood as a fundamentally difficult problem. Every program chair who cares tries to tweak the reviewing process to be better, and there have been many smart program chairs that tried hard. Why is it not better? There are strong nonvisible constraints on the reviewers' time and attention.

What does it mean? In the end, I think it means two things of real importance.

The result of the process is mostly arbitrary. As an author, I found rejects of good papers hard to swallow, especially when reviews were nonsensical. Learning to accept the process has a strong element of arbitrariness helped me deal with that. Now there is proof, so new authors need not be so discouraged.
The Conference Management Toolkit (http://bit.ly/16n3WCL) has a tool to measure arbitrariness that can be used by other conferences. Joelle Pineau and I changed ICML 2012 (http://bit.ly/1wZiZaW) in various ways. Many of these appeared beneficial and some stuck, but others did not. In the long run, it is things that stick that matter. Being able to measure the review process in a more powerful way might be beneficial in getting good practices to stick.
You can see related commentary by Lance Fortnow (http://bit.ly/1HNfPm7), Bert Huang (http://bit.ly/1DpGf6L), and Yisong Yue (http://bit.ly/1zNvoqb).

Back to Top

Mark Guzdial "Rising Enrollment Might Capsize Retention and Diversity Efforts"
January 19, 2015

Computing educators have been working hard at figuring out how to make sure students succeed in computer science classes—with measurable success. The best paper award for the 2013 SIGCSE Symposium went to a paper on how a combination of pair programming, peer instruction, and curriculum change led to dramatic improvements in retention (http://bit.ly/1EB9mIe). The chairs award for the 2013 ICER Conference went to a paper describing how Media Computation positively impacted retention in multiple institutions over a 10-year period (http://bit.ly/1AkpH2x). The best paper award at ITICSE 2014 was a meta-analysis of papers exploring approaches to lower failure rates in CS undergraduate classes (http://bit.ly/1zNrvBH).

How things have changed! Few CS departments in the U.S. are worried about retention right now; instead, they are looking for ways to manage rising enrollment threatening to undermine efforts to increase diversity in CS education.

Enrollments in computer science are skyrocketing. Ed Lazowska and Eric Roberts sounded the alarm at the NCWIT summit last May, showing rising enrollments at several institutions (see http://tcrn.ch/1zxUho2 and charts at right). Indiana University's undergraduate computing and informatics enrollment has tripled in the last seven years (http://bit.ly/1EBaX0K). At the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), our previous maximum number of undergraduates in computing was 1,539 set in 2001. As of fall 2014, we have 1,665 undergraduates.

What do we do? One thing we might do is hire more faculty, and some schools are doing that. There were over 250 job ads for CS faculty in a recent month. I do not know if there are enough CS Ph.D.'s looking for jobs to meet this kind of growth in demand for our courses.

Many schools are putting the brakes on enrollment. Georgia Tech is limiting transfers into the CS major and minor. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is implementing caps. The University of California at Berkeley has a minimum GPA requirement to transfer into computer science.

We have been down this road before. In the 1980s when enrollment spiked, a variety of mechanisms were put into place to limit enrollment (http://bit.ly/1KkZ9hB). If there were too few seats available in our classes, we wanted to save those for the "best and brightest." From that perspective, a minimum GPA requirement made sense. From a diversity perspective, it did not.

Even today, white and Asian males are more likely to have access to Advanced Placement Computer Science and other pre-college computing opportunities. Who is going to do better in the intro course: the female student trying out programming for the first time, or the male student who has already programmed in Java? Our efforts to increase the diversity of computing education are likely to be undermined by efforts to manage rising enrollment. Students who get shut out by such limits are most often in demographic groups underrepresented in computer science.

When swamped by overwhelming numbers, retention is not your first priority. When you start allocating seats, students with prior experience look most deserving of the opportunity. Google is trying to help; it started a pilot program to offer grants to schools with innovative ideas to manage booming enrollment without sacrificing diversity (http://bit.ly/16b292F).

One reason to put more computer science into schools is the need for computing workers (http://bit.ly/1DxYbN3). What happens if kids get engaged by activities like the Hour of Code, then cannot get into undergraduate CS classes? The linkage between computing in schools and a well-prepared workforce will be broken. It is ironic our efforts to diversify computing may be getting broken by too many kids being sold on the value of computing!

It is great students see the value of computing. Now, we have to figure out how to meet the demand—without sacrificing our efforts to increase diversity.

Back to Top

John Langford is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New York.

Mark Guzdial is a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

©2015 ACM 0001-0782/15/04

Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and full citation on the first page. Copyright for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or fee. Request permission to publish from permissions@acm.org or fax (212) 869-0481.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2015 ACM, Inc.
computer_science  public_discourse 
9 hours ago
MOOCs on a Plane- Coursera and JetBlue - Degree of Freedom
Such a learning-while-in-motion strategy requires some forethought, however.  That’s because downloaded video lectures are only one part of a MOOC with many other components (including quizzes and discussion groups) still requiring an Internet connection to access.  For the most part, this meant plane flights and train rides were spent watching lectures (and taking notes – a point I’ll get back to in a minute) and catching up with classroom reading, with assignments and discussion left for the hotel room after travel was completed.

I should also note that this download strategy had its limitations, especially as MOOCs started gravitating from longer lectures (1-2 hours of lecture broken into 3-6+ 15-20 minute segments was a standard in early 2013) to shorter YouTube-style 1-3 minute segments – many of them associated with readings and/or assessment questions proceeding or following each video.  While there are legitimate pedagogical reasons behind breaking material up into smaller and smaller units, there came a point where the energy needed to download and keep track of dozens of micro-videos just to watch them in a sequence in which they were not originally intended made this downloading strategy no longer worth the effort.
moocs  coursera  public_discourse 
9 hours ago
Coursera Blog • Learn from Coursera on your next JetBlue flight
Learners can continue to acquire knowledge and build skills from thirty-thousand feet in the air. With the busiest travel season right around the corner, JetBlue announced a new set of content providers for their new onboard in-flight entertainment, Fly-FI Hub. Among the options for travelers to select from is Coursera.

Coursera will host 10 e-learning videos that include courses such as Introduction to Marketing from The Wharton School, also giving learners the ability to browse from a list of respected institutions like University of Edinburgh and Berklee School of Music.
moocs  coursera  public_discourse 
9 hours ago
Dear Kevin: 5 Challenges to “The End of College” | Technology and Learning @insidehighered
In the The End of College you argue that open online education will eventually make higher education more productive. MOOCs will drive down costs as they will eliminate the need for the introductory subjects that everyone teaches to be custom made every time they are taught. This, again, is not what I’m seeing.  
What I’m seeing is MOOCs actually driving up higher ed costs as colleges and universities make the investments to offer a product that is better than MOOCs. I think that this is a great thing.  As an educator and a parent, I’m happy that colleges and universities are incented to make investments in teaching and learning. All the flipped classes, blended learning, and formative assessments however do not come cheap. In teaching and learning you get what you pay for.  
The real challenge will be how do we take costs out of non-mission related activities to find the savings necessary to invest in learning. This is an important organizational change story, one playing out at every campus that I know about, and again this story was missed in The End of College.
moocs  public_discourse 
The NIPS Experiment
The NIPS consistency experiment was an amazing, courageous move by the organizers this year to quantify the randomness in the review process. They split the program committee down the middle, effectively forming two independent program committees. Most submitted papers were assigned to a single side, but 10% of submissions (166) were reviewed by both halves of the committee. This let them observe how consistent the two committees were on which papers to accept. (For fairness, they ultimately accepted any paper that was accepted by either committee.)

The results were revealed this week: of the 166 papers, the two committees disagreed on the fates of 25.9% of them: 43. [Update: the original post said 42 here, but I misremembered.] But this “25%” number is misleading, and most people I’ve talked to have misunderstood it: it actually means that the two committees disagreed more than they agreed on which papers to accept. Let me explain.

The two committees were each tasked with a 22.5% acceptance rate. This would mean choosing about 37 or 38 of the 166 papers to accept1. Since they disagreed on 43 papers total, this means one committee accepted 21 papers that the other committee rejected and the other committee accepted 22 papers the first rejected, for 21 + 22 = 43 total papers with different outcomes. Since they accepted 37 or 38 papers, this means they disagreed on 21/37 or 22/38 ≈ 57% of the list of accepted papers.

In particular, about 57% of the papers accepted by the first committee were rejected by the second one and vice versa. In other words, most papers at NIPS would be rejected if one reran the conference review process (with a 95% confidence interval of 40-75%):

Nips pie chart

Most papers accepted by one committee were rejected by the other, and vice versa.

This result was surprisingly large to most people I’ve talked to; they generally expected something like 30% instead of 57%. Relative to what people expected, 57% is actually closer to a purely random committee, which would only disagree on 77.5% of the accepted papers on average:
computer_science  machinelearning  public_discourse  platformization 
On Shutting the Fuck Up - The Awl
“Stfu & build something” is probably great advice to engineers or prospective startup founders. All it means, in that context, from boss to employee, or peer to peer, or even competitor to competitor, is “ok, cool, now shut the fuck up and do your job.”

But somewhere in the internalization process “stfu & build something” gets turned into a default pose: a mindset, an ethos, and an answer to all criticism; a hybrid of the authoritarian’s “you wouldn’t understand” and the financier’s “you couldn’t do what I do.”

It’s intoxicatingly effective—how can you respond, really, in a few words?—which is just another way of saying it’s fallacious. It’s an appeal to accomplishment, and applying it in other domains can lead in dark directions—has led in dark directions. What do you know about running the CIA? ETCETERA.

Artists, and even self-identified critics, do this all the time too: What do you know, have you written a book? “Stfu & build something” is sort of like a younger, richer cousin of “snarking from the sidelines.”
technology  research  siliconvalley  public_discourse 
A litmus test for technology critics | ROUGH TYPE
Carr on Morozov's review in Baffler of his new book

“Goodbye to all that,” Morozov writes, dismissing all of his own earlier work that does not fit neatly into his new political framework. Apparently, he has recently undergone some kind of political awakening. It’s a shame that it has come at the cost of an open mind.
research  technology  generalinterest 
Finland's important, misunderstood campaign to rethink how students learn - Vox
The largest city in Finland is experimenting with getting rid of school subjects. This would mean doing away with lessons in history, math, and science in favor of teaching broader themes, where teachers work together on lessons in a given topic.

The goal is to help students in Helsinki better understand how their classwork relates to real life, and to give teachers the opportunity to work together to plan lessons. And the change, which for now has really only taken hold in one city, is likely to contribute to the idea of Finland as an education paradise, with plentiful playtime, few standardized tests, no requirement that students learn cursive, and, maybe one day, no formal subjects at all.

Next year, a new framework for Finnish education will direct schools across the country to experiment with this model at least occasionally. Because Finland has a reputation for excellent performance on international tests — although that reputation has slipped somewhat recently — the change will be closely watched. So far, though, Finland isn't throwing out the traditional approach to education entirely. Not yet.
moocs  public_discourse 
fun with musical taste and identity « scatterplot
In my intro theory class yesterday I did an exercise using PollEverywhere to evoke associations between musical taste and identity. I played four musical pieces and asked the students to type free-text responses to “What kind of people like this song?”. Their responses were lots of fun, and I present them below in raw form for your enjoyment, interest, and comment.
teaching_tips  research 
fun with moocs: i “heart” stats « scatterplot
As many of you already know, I am leaving Notre Dame to become the provost at Marquette University in a couple of months.  I am really excited to get started there, but I have a couple of things to finish up here on the home front as well.  One of them is that I will be teaching Notre Dame’s first “MOOC”, which is supposed to be a super fun introduction to statistics.  Below is the trailer for the course, which I’m sure you’ll find entertaining.  It completely embodies my approach to teaching this course…You’ll have to decided, after watching it, if (a) Notre Dame will be glad to see me go, (b) anyone will learn anything from the course, or (c) if I will win an online-learning-Oscar (I’d call it a MOOCie) in the category of best overacting!
moocs  public_discourse 
Why is so much of the discussion of higher ed driven by elite institutions? — Crooked Timber
As any professor at CUNY will tell you, the telltale signs that the author of this piece attributes to prison—rickety tables, tangled blinds, no chalk, loud heating systems—are ubiquitous features on our campuses. I have a very strict no-gifts policy for my students: at the end of the semester, I only accept emails or cards of thanks. But one day a student gave me a gift, and as I protested to her that I couldn’t take it, she gently pressed it into my hand and said, “Just open it.” It was a box of chalk: I gratefully accepted it. That’s how bad things can get at CUNY.
Now college is not prison; a seminar room is not a jail cell. I’m not making that argument. I’m making a different claim. Two actually.
higher_ed  public_discourse  moocs 
A Strong Welfare State Produces More Entrepeneurs — The Atlantic
His belief in a tradeoff between taking care of citizens and promoting innovative new businesses is at odds with the evidence. In fact, one way to get more people to start companies, according to a growing body of research, is to expand the welfare state.
siliconvalley  public_discourse 
Slouching Toward Mecca by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books
Lilla reviews Soumission

Houellebecq’s critics see the novel as anti-Muslim because they assume that individual freedom is the highest human value—and have convinced themselves that the Islamic tradition agrees with them. It does not, and neither does Houellebecq. Islam is not the target of Soumission, whatever Houellebecq thinks of it. It serves as a device to express a very persistent European worry that the single-minded pursuit of freedom—freedom from tradition and authority, freedom to pursue one’s own ends—must inevitably lead to disaster.
generalinterest  islam  europe  politics 
Experimental anthropology in the making: a conversation with Andreas Roepstorff | Somatosphere
AR: There’s something about the way we construe the participant observation role which makes collaboration very difficult to do. I think, at the end of the day, the anthropological position is inherently extremely arrogant. And arrogance is not the best starting point for collaboration. People see through it at some point […] You need to be able to do something useful as well. This is not something people have a lot of training in. But it’s really a challenge and that means a re-configuration, I think George Marcus is the one that sees this better than everyone else[x]. That this kind of mutual engagement where you are kind co-producing and co- investigating and exploring what it mean to have different stakes in something that has to be a joint product. I think as as someone who has re-defined the discipline, I think he is basically second to none. He keeps coming up with metaphors that become licenses to work in novel ways.

For example his work on multi-sited fieldwork, which was not about the multi-sitedness but about following whatever seems relevant. He just gave a completely different perspective on what you can do. And how he thinks about collaboratories in a similar way just redefines what it means to do ethnography… He’s here in Aarhus quite regularly. He’s very curious, and thinks along and thinks with it and does stuff. A lot of people, for instance would like to position me as a cognitive anthropologist. And I’m definitely not a cognitive anthropologist. I can’t identify with it. I think it’s dominated by people who take old- fashioned ideas in cognitive psychology – and they miss out on what anthropology is about, and has been about. Similarly, I don’t see myself as a neuroanthropologist either. I think what I do is just anthropology[xi]. Or, if anything, it might be experimental anthropology.
anthropology  research 
The Taming of Tech Criticism - The Baffler
Morozov on how he is now a "radical" critic rather than a pseudo-radical critic. he also appears to have become a Marxist.

"And since the march of that history is increasingly described with the depoliticized lingo of technology—“precariousness” turns into “sharing economy” and “scarcity” turns into “smartness”—technology criticism comes to replace political and social criticism. The usual analytical categories, from class to exploitation, are dropped in favor of fuzzier and less precise concepts. Carr’s angle on automated trading is concerned with what algorithms do to traders—and not what traders and algorithms do to the rest of us. “A reliance on automation is eroding the skills and knowledge of financial professionals,” he notes dryly. Only a technology critic—with no awareness of the actual role that “financial professionals” play today—would fail to ask a basic follow-up question: How is this not good news?
Technology criticism is just an elaborate but affirmative footnote to the status quo.
Nicholas Carr finds himself at home in the world of psychology and neuroscience, and the only philosophy he treats seriously is phenomenology; he makes only a cursory effort to think in terms of institutions, social movements, and new forms of representation—hardly a surprise given where he starts. Occasionally, Carr does tap into quasi-Marxist explanations, as when he writes, repeatedly, that technology companies are driven by money and thus are unlikely to engage in the kind of humanistic thought exercises that Carr expects of them."
platformization  public_discourse 
2 days ago
Why data scientists and marketing technologists are the hottest jobs of 2015 | VentureBeat | Marketing | by Travis Wright, CCP Global
If you haven’t heard of these job titles, don’t worry — you will soon. After all, there was a time when “social media manager” was a job title people didn’t take seriously, and now these pros can earn up to six figures.

But what exactly does a “Data Scientist” or a “Marketing Technologist” do? You can tell from the titles alone that they mix information with high tech, which is exactly what every single business needs in order to thrive and surpass the competition. Let’s dig a little deeper into these booming jobs and see just why they’re the dark horses picking up speed.
bigdata  data_science  public_discourse  platformization 
2 days ago
Computing Education Must Go Beyond Intuition: The Need for Evidence-Based Practice | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM
Fulmination over how CS Ed is not evidence-based

"Carl Wieman reports that over 70% of physics teachers (University and high school) are familiar with Physics Education Research results and use at least one finding in their teaching. We in CS Ed are not there yet."
computer_science  moocs  public_discourse 
2 days ago
Messy insigth installation process ;-( - Google Groups
Questions over how to install Insights.
we understand that there's a lot of interest in installing insights and are planning to improve the process, but we haven't yet determined when we'll be able to take that on.
edx  openedx  forums 
2 days ago
After the Protests - NYTimes.com
Protests like this one, fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. And whether these take place in Turkey, Egypt or Ukraine, pundits often speculate that the days of a ruling party or government, or at least its unpopular policies, must be numbered. Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.

This muted effect is not because social media isn’t good at what it does, but, in a way, because it’s very good at what it does. Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.
research  twitter  politics 
4 days ago
Occupation Apps | Jacobin
Apps for the security state in Israel-Palestine.
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
8 days ago
edx challenge to build dashboard. look at the submissions and the dataset.
edx  openedx  moocs  visualization  code 
8 days ago
The Higher Ed Disruptors Are Still With Us - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
This is really telling. We are focusing on the excellent 200. But what about the other 2800? What do they do for the next forty years? Take more courses from Coursera? Also, the idea that class bias disappears in hiring with new technologies is laughable. Yeah, if I’m an employer and I see a student with a Harvard degree and one with some badges from Coursera that show they have the same skills, I’m totally taking the badge person! C’mon. All this is going to do is to reinforce those class biases, as employers are going to see job candidates with real education and job candidates without real education and choose between them.

And if the disruptors win and traditional college is destroyed, what jobs are these graduates going to have available to them? What will the hundreds of thousands of people who lose their jobs when traditional universities end going to do? What does this labor market look like where disruption is fetishized for disruption’s sake and the new economy does not prioritize stable, life-long work? Carey doesn’t care about any of this.
moocs  public_discourse 
10 days ago
MOOCs as torture. | More or Less Bunk
The failure of MOOCs to disrupt higher education has everything to do with the quality of the courses themselves.  xMOOCs (the only kind of MOOC that a techno-fetishist like Carey acknowledges) are bad educational experiences by definition. This is a function of their scale. With so many such classes coming from elite universities, the content in the vast majority of them is obviously world class, but if education were only about content then we wouldn’t need college, would we? We could all go to the library and learn everything we need. What I’m talking about here is the overall educational experience.
moocs  college  public_discourse 
10 days ago
p-value.info: Advice to graduate students interviewing for industry positions
So, I often have to push the conversation quickly to these areas. After some probing, I might then find out that they had to process huge amounts of data from optical arrays, or they had to deal with a significant missing data problem and impute values, or they had to develop some sophisticated computer vision algorithms. They do in fact have a more interesting and marketable skill set that they, unfortunately, aren't leading with. In short, I find that graduate students often don't think about what skills they posses that are valuable to an organization to which they are applying. Draw attention to those clearly in your resume and in how you talk about yourself during a phone screen. In essence, explain why we would be a good match.
data_science  bigdata  public_discourse  platformization 
15 days ago
Head of the Class | Online Only | n+1
So, sure, Rorty saw himself as a “leftist American patriot,” but he also saw himself as a “follower of Wittgenstein” and a “reader of Nabokov” and—to the lasting befuddlement of many of his friends and admirers—an “inveterate birder.” When he was young, Rorty once wrote, all he wanted was something that would allow himself the chance to, in Yeats’s phrase, “hold reality and justice in a single vision,” where reality meant the wild orchids of northwest New Jersey and justice meant the Trotskyist campaigns of his parents’ circle. Rorty hoped philosophy might help him manage this trick, but he eventually learned there was no coherent, Platonic way to connect up his private idiosyncrasies with his public hope, and that he might as well stop trying to find one self-description that would make of him a natural and convincing whole. This attempt to find such a unitary self-description on Rorty’s behalf is precisely the cause that Gross has taken up, and, of course, failed to carry out.
generalinterest  rorty  philosophy 
16 days ago
Bot or Not? by James Gleick | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
A group of Indiana University computer scientists led by Emilio Ferrara has created a project (a bot, if we’re honest) called Bot or Not, meant to spot the androids. According to their algorithm, there’s a 31 percent likelihood that I myself am a bot. “The boundary between human-like and bot-like behavior is now fuzzier,” they note in their technical paper “The Rise of Social Bots,” and they add drily: “We believe there is a need for bots and humans to be able to recognize each other, to avoid bizarre, or even dangerous, situations based on false assumptions.”
twitter  artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
16 days ago
War As Culture War | Politics | The American Scene
That is to say: foreign policy, at least on the GOP side, is now basically a branch of the culture war: a way of convincing the white working class to support a party that is not pursuing their economic interests by flattering them with the implication that, in the memorable words of Edward Wilson, they’ve got he United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.

It’s in the last two elections that the trend of foreign policy being treated as part of the culture war – at least by the GOP – has become dominant. Mitt Romney is the exemplar in this regard; his entire foreign policy argument consists of saying that he knows America is exceptional and President Obama does not, and that Obama has been making too many concessions to America’s enemies (without any clear explanation of what those concessions might be). Obama has been a somewhat more belligerent steward of America’s existing posture than I anticipated (I fully expected the escalation in Afghanistan and the tough line on Pakistan, since he ran on both, but the Libyan war came as a modest surprise), but otherwise he’s been pretty much exactly what I expected him to be: a competent and fairly successful steward of America’s position as he inherited it. America has suffered no meaningful foreign policy setbacks during his tenure, and has had some notable successes. The contrast to the economic situation could not be more stark. Why on earth would anyone on the other side spend their time demagoguing on foreign policy? Why would anyone on the other side respond to such demagoguery? That’s not what the Democrats did in 1992, either in the primaries or in the general election.

The reason has everything to do with the culture war. Identity politics on the GOP side of the aisle involves stoking an emotional identification between their core demographic groups, the Republican Party, and the national identity. The white working class is the backbone of the American military. Stoking an identification between the white working class and the military, and between the military and national purpose, provides the emotional fuel for political mobilization. It imbues identity with purpose and connects that purpose to politics.
17 days ago
elearn Magazine: Learning Technologies Then and Now
A new book called "Teaching Machines" - worth reading?
moocs  public_discourse 
17 days ago
Knowledge Isn’t Power - NYTimes.com
And the reason this is an evasion is that whatever serious people may want to believe, soaring inequality isn’t about education; it’s about power.

Just to be clear: I’m in favor of better education. Education is a friend of mine. And it should be available and affordable for all. But what I keep seeing is people insisting that educational failings are at the root of still-weak job creation, stagnating wages and rising inequality. This sounds serious and thoughtful. But it’s actually a view very much at odds with the evidence, not to mention a way to hide from the real, unavoidably partisan debate.

The education-centric story of our problems runs like this: We live in a period of unprecedented technological change, and too many American workers lack the skills to cope with that change. This “skills gap” is holding back growth, because businesses can’t find the workers they need. It also feeds inequality, as wages soar for workers with the right skills but stagnate or decline for the less educated. So what we need is more and better education.

My guess is that this sounds familiar — it’s what you hear from the talking heads on Sunday morning TV, in opinion articles from business leaders like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, in “framing papers” from the Brookings Institution’s centrist Hamilton Project. It’s repeated so widely that many people probably assume it’s unquestionably true. But it isn’t.

For one thing, is the pace of technological change really that fast? “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” the venture capitalist Peter Thiel has snarked. Productivity growth, which surged briefly after 1995, seems to have slowed sharply.
artificial_intelligence  education  inequality  public_discourse 
18 days ago
Professor spearheads new system to streamline grading, save time | Dailycal.org
Pandagrader, a project spearheaded by professor Pieter Abbeel, is a system in which exams are uploaded via scanning to a login-based online system, enabling viewing and grading of exams on a personal computer.

Abbeel — along with EECS students Arjun Singh and Ibrahim Awwal — developed Pandagrader and first used it for CS 188’s spring 2012 final. After spreading through the EECS department via word of mouth, Pandagrader has been utilized by other campus departments, including statistics and economics.

“People generally like pandas,” Abbeel said with a smile when asked how the name came about. “And we wanted the word ‘grader’ in there somewhere — thus, ‘Pandagrader.’”

While it takes about an hour to scan 200 exams, Abbeel said, overall grading time is reduced.

“It’s a labor-saving device for GSIs,” said professor Raymond Hawkins, whose Economics 100B class used Pandagrader in the past summer. “They spend less time managing the logistics of piles of paper.”

EECS graduate student Jiamin Bai, who used Pandagrader as a GSI in a spring 2013 computer graphics course, echoed this sentiment, saying it was much easier to grade when GSIs did not have to be physically present to collaborate.

Pandagrader is especially useful for Friday exams, in particular finals on the Friday before winter break, when GSIs want to get home to be with friends and family over the holidays rather than remain in Berkeley until grading is completed.

In CS 188, for instance, a GSI was able to fly home, get Wi-Fi on the plane and grade in flight, Singh said.

Pandagrader also decreases grading ambiguity by logging how graders score each question, allowing them to standardize themselves, Singh said.

“It can be difficult to remember how you graded something for every single student,” Singh said. “(Pandagrader) forces you to be consistent and input why you took off points.”
edx  openedx  moocs  grading  artificial_intelligence 
18 days ago
The Temptation of Hillary - NYTimes.com
David Brooks defends improving productivity as opposed to redistribution as an antidote to inequality
artificial_intelligence  productivity  machinelearning  public_discourse 
18 days ago
Yes, Education Matters. But It's Not the Answer to Growing Income Inequality. | Mother Jones
I don't quite get who Brooks is arguing against here. Larry Summers is the obvious target, but Summers has been clear that he thinks education is important, both individually and for the economy as a whole. He just doesn't think that improved education is likely to have much impact on growing income inequality, which is driven by other factors.

But Brooks never even pretends to address this. I don't think there are any prominent Democrats arguing that education isn't important. Pretty much all of them are on board with good early-childhood education and better community colleges, among other things. That will help individuals and make the American economy stronger.
artificial_intelligence  productivity  machinelearning  public_discourse 
18 days ago
Ethnographers as Writers: Theory and Data – Part II | Savage Minds
Great article on how to integrate theory and data in ethnographic writing.
20 days ago
The influence of economists on public policy | OUPblog
Dan Hirschman and Popp Berman on the influence of economists on policy. They say it's useful to think of two kinds of influences: direct (which is perhaps not so much) and indirect (which is about a "style" of thinking, which is a lot!).
research  economics 
24 days ago
Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
The theory of reinforcement learning provides a normative account1, deeply rooted in psychological2 and neuroscientific3 perspectives on animal behaviour, of how agents may optimize their control of an environment. To use reinforcement learning successfully in situations approaching real-world complexity, however, agents are confronted with a difficult task: they must derive efficient representations of the environment from high-dimensional sensory inputs, and use these to generalize past experience to new situations. Remarkably, humans and other animals seem to solve this problem through a harmonious combination of reinforcement learning and hierarchical sensory processing systems4, 5, the former evidenced by a wealth of neural data revealing notable parallels between the phasic signals emitted by dopaminergic neurons and temporal difference reinforcement learning algorithms3. While reinforcement learning agents have achieved some successes in a variety of domains6, 7, 8, their applicability has previously been limited to domains in which useful features can be handcrafted, or to domains with fully observed, low-dimensional state spaces. Here we use recent advances in training deep neural networks9, 10, 11 to develop a novel artificial agent, termed a deep Q-network, that can learn successful policies directly from high-dimensional sensory inputs using end-to-end reinforcement learning. We tested this agent on the challenging domain of classic Atari 2600 games12. We demonstrate that the deep Q-network agent, receiving only the pixels and the game score as inputs, was able to surpass the performance of all previous algorithms and achieve a level comparable to that of a professional human games tester across a set of 49 games, using the same algorithm, network architecture and hyperparameters. This work bridges the divide between high-dimensional sensory inputs and actions, resulting in the first artificial agent that is capable of learning to excel at a diverse array of challenging tasks.
machinelearning  google  artificial_intelligence 
4 weeks ago
« earlier      
2u abtesting academy accreditation advertising agile airbnb algorithms amazon america analytics anonymous anthropology apple apps architecture artificial_intelligence automation badging berkeley bigdata bitcoin blackboard blogging bollywood boundary_work business business_model canon capital career cars cities cmoocsvsxmoocs cmu code coding cognition college community_college companies computational_social_science computer_science computing consulting copyright corporation coursebuilder coursera credentialing crowdsourcing cryptocurrency cs_education data data_science dating debates deeplearning demographics design desire2learn development digital_learning economic_growth economics education edx email employment engineers engineervsinstructor entrepreneurship europe expertisevsaggregation facebook fcc finance flipped_classroom forums funding futurism gender generalinterest google grading hackers hardware harvard hci higher_ed history ibm india inequality information information_technology infrastructure innovation internet investments ip islam java jira jobs journalism jurisdiction_contest keypoints khanacademy knewton labor law learning_analytics learning_research licensing linguistics linkedin literature lms lyft machinelearning management marijuana marketing markets marxism medicine michigan microsoft mit mitx moocs motivation movies neoliberalism netflix netneutrality norms novels nsa obama okcupid openedx opensource optimization ora pearson peer_grading performativity personal personalization philosophy piketty platformization policy politics pot prediction privacy productivity psychology public_discourse publishing python reading regulation research revenue robotics rorty scale school science sciencestudies security sharing_economy siliconvalley sjsu socialscience socialtheory sociology software software_engineering softwarevscontent spam spoc spotify stanford statistics stem_education sts taxes teaching_tips technical-help technological_progress technology television tennis texas tinder tips toblog tools trading tripadvisor turing twitter uber udacity video visualization wallstreet watson web web2.0 webanalytics websearch whatsapp women workers xblock xblocks

Copy this bookmark: