The Big Think

December 18, 2013

Edumawhatnow?

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:27 pm

Sand in the Gears:

“Every month, money flies from my checking account to the education savings accounts of my children, because I don’t want them to become hobos. This is one way I allay my fear the world will eat them up. It’s a mark of a good parent to worry over where—and whether—his child will go to college, isn’t it? I need to confess a profoundly un-American heresy: I question what my children will get for the money. I don’t question the value of education (though we make it a panacea for deeper ills of the soul); I doubt the capacity of most educational institutions to impart much beyond what one could obtain with, as the protagonist in Good Will Hunting notes, ‘a dollar-fifty in late charges at the public library.’ I know there are teachers who can help a student get far more out of Dracula, say, than he might acquire on his own. They can cultivate in him a healthy awareness of the various psycho-sexual literary analytical clubs with which the text has been bludgeoned for decades, for example, or even help him challenge dominant beliefs about what Dracula, and monster literature more broadly, means to us culturally. There are teachers like that; I’ve seen them in action, and they are a heartening, humbling species to behold. The practical reality, however, is that most educational institutions have no interest in rewarding excellent teachers, or even understanding which of their teachers are truly excellent. They are in the business of slinging feed to cattle.”

Say Hello Rosie

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 1:59 pm

It’s Actually Kind Of Heartbreaking To Hear Robot Telemarketer Insist She’s A Real Person – Consumerist: “We’ve arrived at a whole new level of robocalling, and this time the robots don’t want us to know they’re robots. Did you just get a shiver down your spine, too? Shiver jinx! This particular telemarketer for a company hawking health insurance has her own name and a tinkle of laughter to go along with her denial of actually being a robot.”

Wow, the recording at the link is spookily life like, though that leads me to wonder if it’s not just a series of triggered samples of a real person reading a script. That way it’s not a robot, technically. But effectively you’re not talking to a live person, either.

This seems like the next step in the continuing arms race between telemarketers and people who just want to be left alone. If the telemarketers have to hire real people to read their tier 1 scripts, those people need to be paid. This makes the margins very, very thin for the businesses. If, on the other hand, the telemarketers can pass this chore on to robots/triggered scripts/computers/whatever, then once the one-time fee for the equipment is amortized it won’t matter how long you keep the robot on the phone or how much you ignore them. They’re not costing the businesses anything.

Chalk this up as a mixed bag. On the one hand you have an escalation of icky telemarketer tech. On the other you have an improvement in the human/machine interface. In a few years we’ll have much more natural feedback between us and our computers, which will in turn speed up the development of related (and more useful) technologies.

In the future, if I get a call like this, I guess I’ll just pass it off to my robot butler to keep their systems engaged without bothering me.

Higher Education

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:29 am

“After accounting for the cost of tuition, four years of lost earning potential, and the minimal increase in salary an undergraduate degree provides, 30-year-old local man Patrick Moorhouse has, at this point in his life, earned $11 more than he would have had he not attended college at all, an independent study confirmed today. “All told, Patrick’s B.A. in Political Science translates to about $5,000 more in annual wages, but when you account for his student loan payments, including his 6 percent interest rate, his degree from a respected four-year university amounts to slightly more than 10 extra bucks in his wallet,” said researcher Ken Overton, adding that had Moorhouse been accepted to his more prestigious first-choice college, his earnings would have totaled $54 more than if he had never enrolled in higher education.”

Read the whole thing

(yes, I know… but nowadays it has the ring of plausibility) 🙂

“Remember Who the Real Enemy Is”

Filed under: Current Reading,Politics — jasony @ 11:18 am

“Remember Who the Real Enemy Is” – The American Interest: “There’s a popular feeling in the air that America has become decadent. Contrasting Harry Potter to the Hunger Games shows what a difference a decade can make.”

An interesting look into Harry Potter vs. Hunger Games and how our view of government has radically shifted over the last decade and a half. Worth the read,

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