Monthly Archives: August 2014

Increasing College diversity

In most four-year college strategic plans, there is a good-faith statement calling for increasing diversity as an institutional goal. There are good – even noble – reasons for doing so. The principal one is that American colleges and universities must look more like the rest of America if they are to remain relevant in the […] … learn more→

Computer says B-plus

The mouth-filling abuse of Kathleen Anderson’s post on automatic grading (“Betray Our Students for Publisher’s Profit?“) is such a delight to read that I’m almost sorry to confess that I disagree with her. Anderson was approached by an educational publisher’s representative about a plan to (i) gather a corpus of several thousand student essays, (ii) […] … learn more→

The College affordability crisis: Real solutions or lip service

The staggering level of college loan debt in our country finally seems to be getting some long-overdue national attention. Among the proposals for how to deal with this issue is one called “Pay It Forward,” a program that would substitute after-graduation payments based on earnings for up-front tuition. The proposal has been attractive to students […] … learn more→

Could the Government end the mess in College sports?

Last week the NCAA, the cartel controlling college sports, received two massive shocks. One was self-administered: That was the ruling in the Big Five decision, when the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors approved a plan to give the five wealthiest athletic leagues—the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern, and Pacific-12 Conferences—the ability to […] … learn more→

Tuition free Higher Education: It’s here

I’m pretty sure, “once or twice”, I’ve mentioned the corruption of higher education, and how it’s completely insane to teach 6th grade math to adults, charge a fortune for it, and call it “higher education.” The main reason higher education is so “successful” in the US today is the massive student loan and grant scheme, […] … learn more→

Thousand-robot swarm assembles itself into shapes

There is something magical about seeing 1,000 robots move, when humans are not operating any of them. In a new study published in Science, researchers have achieved just that. This swarm of 1,000 robots can assemble themselves into complex shapes without the need for a central brain or a human controller. Self-assembly of this kind […] … learn more→

Betray our students for publisher’s profit?

I recently received an email from a “consultant” inviting me to help a publisher create an automatic essay-grading technology product for humanities professors to use in introductory-level courses. The consultant claimed that once completed, the program would “accurately auto-grade brief writing assignments – 500 to 900 words.” The program, the email said, “uses specific writing […] … learn more→

Be afraid, be very afraid

So much of our buying behaviour is about insuring ourselves against a scary world and a frightening future. The technique is so common, you’ve probably heard it all before. But for the uninitiated, when it comes to fear, the marketers’ approach goes something like this: Step 1. The Problem Invent a problem Promote the problem […] … learn more→

The internet of words

Ten years ago, an odd request landed in my email inbox. It was a message from my sister, Anne, sent to me through a company called Friendster, prompting me to join her friend network. I puzzled over the missive for several minutes, trying to determine what she was asking me to do. Was this some […] … learn more→

Your essential guide to the rise of the intelligent machines

The risks posed to human beings by artificial intelligence in no way resemble the popular image of the Terminator. That fictional mechanical monster is distinguished by many features – strength, armour, implacability, indestructability – but Arnie’s character lacks the one characteristic that we in the real world actually need to worry about – extreme intelligence. […] … learn more→