It's Good To Know
When we sign up to go to university, we're expected to do our work, show up to lectures, and generally be an example student in our host city. That's the deal right? When paying thousands of pounds per year for the tutoring alone, regardless of housing, utilities, and fuelling our bodies with nutritious food, we can expect a certain degree of quality. No pun intended, this is no laughing matter because if burdened with a life-time of debt comparable to a mortgage not so long ago, it is imperative that we pass.
This assurance of quality has usually sat on the shoulders of the institution that is teaching, the name of the university or college being the guarantee of high quality. We would also notice that particular universities had minimum grade requirements for students wishing to apply. This entire process of trust and cherry picking allowed the culture of graduate study to remain fairly balanced. That is until the costs sky-rocketed as government funding for further education was peeled back to the bare bones then sold off as scrap. Now we need more than just a letter-head, to appease our wallets.
The new idea is to include a contract with each sign up that guarantees a high quality of tutoring. If the tutor fails to deliver what is agreed upon, then the student has a right to sue for the breach of contract. This makes fair sense, however I wonder if tutors are under enough pressure already? Is it the right thing to do to have the threat of financial reprimand in case of less than satisfactory grades? Having a snooping culture as a way of determining whether a student is paying significant attention to their work may be an unfortunate backlash from this decision.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson believes though that this move will simply encourage more students to foot the bill and pay for a degree. If there is a guarantee in place, then it really does boil down to the amount of effort they personally put in.
Google is truly everywhere these days, with it being the main choice of search engine for most web users and with the multitude of apps and services for all kinds of people. We all know the name and we all have a use for it somewhere. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Google is the Google Earth project and its subsidiaries. When the world found out about the blacked out portions in far away lands, we all speculated as to what could be there.
The interactive map and nosy neighbour application has become almost omniscient, with an open eye everywhere their satellites and mapping cars can go. We now have street view which lets us ride along and witness the world from our own computer as if we were driving past in an open top vehicle. It's fun as well as useful which is the key to most successful things out there.
The street view app began life in 2001 as a research project at Stanford University, and they mapped out the geography of the local area under the name Stanford CityBlock Project. From there on they crafted the technology until 2006 where it was rolled out across Google as the Street View program. We all loved it.
Staying fresh and inventive keeps something in the forefront, and now StreetView has evolved once more to bring us the inside of the International Space Station. Not only can we explore the insides of this marvel of technology and engineering as if we were inside it, but we can interact with it too. At the click of a button the augmented reality function comes to life and we can learn about the various parts and things that we can see. Finding out what it is like to be an astronaut aboard the ISS is something we can now all do. Take a look!
Google Street View of ISS
A computer science graduate at Edinburgh University is experimenting with poetics and robotics. Luxi Liu is responsible for this small white 3D printed box of tricks named “Poet on The Shore”. Its job is to wander up and down the sand, writing poetry. I know it sounds pretty basic, and perhaps a tad useless, but the research has got something very important to discover.
So far the machine is writing pre-programmed lines from a database of lines, but the final goal post is to have it making its own poetry. The robot is destined to be a creative computer. On some level, every computer is programmed, but with artificial intelligence, we can program them a little bit and then have them program themselves.
It's been shown that artificially intelligent machines can and have already developed their own languages that we as their creators didn't create. The robot in question was created at OpenAI labs, non-profit AI research facility owned by Tesla's Elon Musk. This seems like a step in the create direction, although what a computer calls language is simply a manner of information exchange and is purely logical. From telling its neighbour about the obstacles in their path to writing metaphorical and insightful verses is a big step.
With all creative arts, including poetry, the feeling and emotional clarity of the work adds to the overall proficiency of the artist. A machine cannot feel its art. What it can do is learn what works best and what other people like the best. It can technically learn through trial and error, provided that it gets true feedback. If someone told it that its lousy poem was superb, for example, it would add this false information into the ingredients of its next poem. A poet, on the other hand, may detect the rouse.
As the Poet on the Shore progresses, teaching it what makes a good poem is going to be difficult. Using data driven teaching is probably going to be the way forward. Teaching a blind person to paint would be a similar task. Through many trial and error repetitions, the blind person may eventually become a good painter but they'd never have the privilege of seeing their work. As this poetic robot learns to write decent and original verse, it too will never be able to stand back to admire the art. It will just continue on, writing more and more.
The machine is however equipped with various sensors to detect the surroundings, it is hoped that the various inputs given by the gadgets will prompt the lines in the poetry written. The input output theory seems fine, but there's no sensor for the mind's eye, which is where all the best art comes from.
It must be said that one of the most rewarding parts of being an artist, after getting paid of course, is the feeling of enjoying its production and then standing back to enjoy the creation. Knowing we were responsible for it is an odd feeling. The thrill is a mixture of bliss and anxiety, every new piece of art changes the world just a little bit and we are the ones who did it. Is it right to give that power to a robot? After-all they're building houses and writing wills without caring about their clients, perhaps the age of silicon poetry will have something to teach us about what it is to be human?
ETON plummets to 109th in the national STEM rankings, according to recent results. Outshined by several state funded schools, the majority of which are grammars, there is an interesting addition of several free schools to the list which also scored higher than the private and exclusive college for boys.
The free schools in question seem to have something in common. They are linked to the local universities in the city where they are established. King's College London Mathematics School for example has been highlighted for its proficiency in STEM core subjects. Science, Technology, English, and Maths may be the subjects favoured by children at this institution.
What might be happening is that in comparison to other subjects, these core lessons are being favoured by pupils from particular backgrounds. Perhaps the boys at Eton are more interested in economics, politics, and sociology rather than STEM topics, so if a run of Bs in Technology line up to As and Bs from a technical school, it would look better for the public funded students. This ranking system only looks at STEM, which is considered the vital life-support for any school leaver to make it in the working world.
We all know that different jobs require different thoughts in order to do them, it's pretty obvious that various tasks require different training and education in order to learn. But does it go further than just what we think? Is the way we think also in question? A team of scientists have sought to find an answer to this question by learning about brain processes in a group of architects, a group of sculptors, and in a group of artists, three distinctively differing occupations.
The team from the psychology and language departments at Australia National University, Bangor University, and the University College London, set to work on designing and completing the analysis. It was noted that sculptors, architects, and artists all communicate their thoughts about spacial orientation in specific ways, inferring that they think about the concept in different ways also. They released their findings here and in Cognitive Science journal.
A group of 32 individuals were chosen, each with at least eight years within their field. This would ensure that their brain function and thought process would have had time to truly adjust to the professional environment.. It was found that architects tend to speak about space in terms of its borders and boundaries, where as painters spoke about it in terms of its shape and dimensions. Sculptors were more able to utilise both language sets. All three professions were shown to use a much more diverse array of language skills to describe spatial features than non-spatially orientated professions.
The way we describe things in language greatly affects how we perceive what we have and what it can be used for and with. The tool of descriptive analysis gives ways to ration and logic by means of association and likeness, which can be metaphorical or natural. The self-talk and memory of information both require language and description, and these will be based on the way we have learned about the subject and the people in which we communicate with about it. Our linguistic landscape is shaped by the reading and listening we do each day. As phraseology and rhetoric make their way into our minds, it is echoed back in the way we think and ultimately make decisions.
As shown in the experiment, the way the artists, sculptors, and architects were thinking followed a trend with their profession. It wasn't simply the vocabulary that differed, but the way in which the images and objects were perceived and described was significantly different in all three groups. This suggests that the thinking processes and neuron information exchange is significantly varied across job roles. Would this suggest that certain people are more inclined towards certain fields or does it simply mean that what goes in comes back out again? Perhaps it is a bit of both.
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