Harvard Prof: We Must Get Better at Teaching Higher-Level Knowledge Processing Skills

January 15 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Education   Year: General   Rating: 2

Harvard education professor Daniel Koretz says we're not doing a good job teaching our children how to solve complex problems, thus failing to raise a generation possessing the new mandatory level of cognitive ability.

Koretz argues that we're teaching too much memorization and not enough "complex application of knowledge" and that "we need to back off the lower level skills to make room for the higher ones".

From cognitive hostorian James Flynn's perspective, such a shift would equate with ascending the stairs of abstraction, or boosting our mental software while outsourcing non-essential abilities such as memory to "prosthetics" like Google (as Stephen Gordon at The Speculist likes to put it).

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The Future of Intellectual Attribution: Quantifying the Massive Idea Sea Requires Convergence

October 22 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Education   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

Intellectual attribution is far from perfect, but as we systematically quantify the nature of the vast Idea Sea in which we swim, we will also create a more effective and equitable market for new innovations.

Last week a pair of Nobel Prize winning scientists conceded that much of their research had been based on an earlier study by a geneticist who now drives a shuttle for $8/hour just to keep food on the table, but of course didn’t go so far as to offer him a share of the $1.5 million prize they’d been awarded. This example clearly brings into focus the limits of our current idea attribution economy, a system that clearly isn’t encouraging a Nobel-caliber scientist to continue innovating for broader social benefit.

But rather than jump on the IP- and patent-bashing bandwagon as many bloggers tend to do, I’d like to explore how our idea attribution system might evolve over the coming decade.

First, let me be clear about my definition of the term “idea”. Ideas can more specifically be broken down into memes – “ideas or behaviors that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation”, memeplexes – “groups of religious, cultural, political, and idealogical doctrines and systems”, and temes – “information copied by books, phones, computers and the Internet”. These structures co-evolve with humans to ultimately form a massive sea of what we commonly refer to as ideas. Though individuals often combine memes into valuable new memeplexes, no one person can ever truly claim total ownership of a concept that is essentially an outgrowth of the idea sea.

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Wolfram Demos Alpha (VIDEO)

May 02 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: 2009   Rating: 1

Wondering what all of the Alpha hype is about?  Here's a dense 10-minute video snippet of the official Wolfram Alpha "computational knowledge engine" unveiling, presented by the mathematician himself, at Harvard's Berkman Center.

I found notable:

  1. the label "computational knowledge engine" - reinfirces that we're moving from the information age to the knowledge age (and fairly quickly) 
  2. Alpha's ability to factor in the location of the user submitting the request into computation results
  3. results that begin with a list of assumptions that essentially present your query back to you in more technical terms (an advanced "did you mean this?" feature) which seems to make a great deal of sense when relating to machine data/knowledge, it's like having a conversation about science and establishing basic consensus before venturing complex and potentially unrelated ideas
  4. the program's seemingly robust ability to mix data from different sources to return logically related results

Conclusions: Upon launch, Wolfram Alpha will be a science researcher's dream if it can perform as effectively - for a wide range of queries - as it did in this demo.  It'll also serve as a nice accelerative kick in the ass for Google.  I can't wait to try this new quantification assistant.