Week 10 Summary: An Alternate Reality or An Impossible Dream?

This week we have looked at Learning Analytics, for which I have posted my analysis here http://bit.ly/2nD5DI3.  In this analysis, I, in a nutshell, went somewhat off on a tangent and looked at the exercise as a statement of why we do analytics and not necessarily how analytics reflect what we do.  I summarized the positions of Verbeek (2011, 2013) and Foucault (1997) who assert that we need to be affirmative actors not only in the use of technology but its creation and declaration of purpose.

As usual, and characteristic of Blocks 1 and 2, the class engaged in discussion regarding the ethical and moral ramifications of technology.  This discussion was perhaps more prominently in Blocks 1 and 2.  What I did see more so in Block 3 was a diverse range of analytics and the types of data sought to be measured and ultimate use.  Perhaps I missed some things, but I failed to see much reference to the initial programming of the applications themselves, e.g. how was the the Google Search algorithm programmed and how could it be changed or modified and by whom?  The Twitter algorithm, in my view, was not so much about quality but of quantity, unless of course you purposely measure quality by quantity itself.

My readings took me through Knox, Verbeek, and Foucault primarily, and some others such as Braidotti.  The issues I found myself circling back to are displayed in the following video clips.  In short, we have technology and we know what it can do.  The real questions we should now focus on are why do we need these technologies and how can we be involved in establishing their purpose to begin with?

Are we seeking an alternate reality or an impossible dream?  Or neither?  Either by choice, chance, or force, the algorithms we use to move into the next realm of our evolution can be influenced by our own sense of purpose.  And what if, and when, technology evolves its own sense of purpose or the ability to change its fundamental programming?  These are questions for future, ongoing discussions.

http://bit.ly/2nDh6XS  The prisoner resists the insertion of technology into his life in order to alleviate loneliness and give him a new sense of purpose.

http://bit.ly/2nDaqJg  The Man of La Mancha creates a purpose for himself yet sees the impossibility of fulfillment; yet he strives on in spite of it all.

WEEK 2 Summary: Will AI Change Who and What We Are?

The one overarching theme I that really took hold of my attention and my imagination this week is the use of machines as tools to reach academic and personal objectives.  As I have read others’ blogs the issue that seems to have grabbed is the confluence of human and machine in terms of using machines or applications as educational tools. I am not sure why this issue has hit me so hard; perhaps I see in the world today real progress (or some would say digression) toward the expansion of the human experience, especially in terms of education.

A powerful sub-theme has been the physical and intellectual integration of machines and humans.  In The Manifesto for Cyborgs, Haraway (2007) states, “we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machines and organisms” (p. 35). Haraway uses the cyborg as the metaphor for blurring of boundaries between man and machine.  Many of my posts have addressed this very issue.  For the most part, the cyborgs and androids we have seen from Hollywood have been a mix of malevolent and the benevolent.  In most, not always, there is a common absence of human emotion that would determine the actions of good or evil, depending of course, on the desire of the creator or programmer.

In The Transhumanist FAQ, Bostrom (2003) states, “No threat to human existence is posed by today’s AI systems or their near-term successors.  But if and when superintelligence is created, it will be of paramount importance that it be endowed with human friendly values” (p. 24).  This, I believe, is a very telling statement.  If we continue to develop AI for our use, might we be in danger of creating ultimately, sentient beings that have the capability of self-thought and self-realization?  And what does this mean for us as educators and how we approach learning? In fact, what will learning even be like say, 100 years from now?

I know I have gone over my 250-word limit but believe me, I can go on and on.  I will post later a clip from the movie Forbidden Planet.  I think this movie could be the ultimate in what we could face in AI development.

Bostrom, Nick (2003). The Transhumanist FAQ. World Transhumanism Association, pages 1-56.

Haraway, D. (2007). A cyborg manifesto. In D. Bell & B. M. Kennedy (Eds.), The cybercultures reader (2nd ed, pp. 34–65). London ; New York: Routledge.