14.0290 new on WWW: articles in Technology Source; robotics

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 10/03/00

  • Next message: by way of Willard McCarty: "14.0291 editorial confusions, explanations & apologies"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 290.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
       [1]   From:    Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-       (122)
             Subject: How a Virtual Knowledge Network could propel your
                     institution, etc....
       [2]   From:    Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-        (91)
             Subject: As robots become smarter and self-aware, scientists,
                     theologians consider their humanity
             Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000 08:01:18 +0100
             From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-dortmund.de>
             Subject: How a Virtual Knowledge Network could propel your 
    institution, etc....
    Dear Humanists scholars,
    Once again, Prof. Jim Morrison and his educational technology team have
    accomplished stellar job in making Technology Source, a unique source on
    the Web for educationists, technologists and teachers.
    a.)Enhancing Professional Education through Virtual Knowledge Networks
    with the some quotations from Peter Drucker at
    Charles Morrissey argues that higher education administrators should take
    a close look at the corporate world, where virtual workteams of employees
    are now collaborating and problem-solving online. "The field of
    professional education," he writes, "would do well to develop an
    educational equivalent to the virtual workplace." Specifically, Morrissey
    suggests that colleges and universities establish what he calls a Virtual
    Knowledge Network: a continuous, online learning spectrum where faculty,
    students, alumni, and community members can interactto the benefit of
    all. Read on to learn how a Virtual Knowledge Network could propel your
    institution into the twenty-first century.
    The Impact of the Internet on Management Education: what the Research
    Shows also by Dr. Charles A. Morrissey at
    b.)Via Technology to Social Change by Alan Cummings
    Ready for a ride into the future? Alan Cummings takes his imagination to
    2020 in this issue's Vision article and predicts that, by that year, the
    worlds of business and education will have merged. Students older than 10
    will study at home with teleconferencing tools provided by corporate
    sponsors and learning packages designed by education brokers. Parents will
    update their job skills with online training software and consult
    employment brokers for professional planning. In the business-oriented
    culture of the twenty-first century, qualifications will matter greatly;
    social status, age, and gender will count for little; and actual
    performance will be everything. Could it really happen? Cummings says yes
    and offers readers a fascinating scenario of the future
    c.)Virtual-U:Results and Challenges of Unique Field Trials
    In the Virtual University section, Milton Campos and Linda Harasim
    describe Virtual-U, a Web-based learning environment that is customized
    for online education delivery. When software developers at the Canadian
    TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence use the term "customized,"
    they mean it: since 1996, researchers and developers have been working
    collaboratively with professors and students to tailor Virtual-U to real
    needs. The result is an environment with such features as a personal
    workspace in which users can manage their learning tasks and activities, a
    course editor for designing and editing curriculum, a grade book,
    instructional tools, and examples of how to teach and learn online. Find
    out more about the continuing development of Virtual-U and its innovative
    approaches to online education by reading further.
    Below is a description of the July/August issue of The Technology Source,
    a free refereed Web periodical at http://horizon.unc.edu/TS. Please
    forward this announcement to colleagues who are interested in using
    information technology tools more effectively in educational
    As always, we seek illuminating articles that will assist educators as
    they face the challenge of integrating information technology tools in
    teaching and in managing educational organizations. Please review our call
    for manuscripts at http://horizon.unc.edu/TS/call.asp
    James L. Morrison                          morrison@unc.edu
    Professor of Educational Leadership        CB 3500 Peabody Hall
    Editor, On the Horizon                     UNC-Chapel Hill
    http://horizon.unc.edu/horizon             Chapel Hill,NC  27599-3500
    Editor, The Technology Source              Phone: 919 962-2517
    http://horizon.unc.edu/TS                  Fax: 919 962-1693
    d.)Distance Learning in East Carolina University's Educational Leadership
    The Masters of School Administration (MSA) program at East Carolina
    University (ECU) is the focus of this issue's first Case Study. In 1997,
    professors in the MSA program decided to offer two educational leadership
    courses via distance education. They believe that, in order to ensure that
    school leaders will be effective in tomorrow's technology-infused world,
    graduate courses must prepare these leaders to adapt to changes in the
    field of technology and to recognize how technology can support the goals
    of their schools. Distance education provides the ideal format for such
    preparation; after all, it allows students to master content and gain
    experience with technology tools at the same time. Lynn Bradshaw and
    Laurie Weston document the results of the MSA distance education pilot
    effort and describe what steps ECU professors will take in the near future
    to improve their distance offerings.
    e.)Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Through Digitized Video
    Physical education: for most people, the term conjures up images of gyms
    filled with lively, sweaty kids. For Peter DiLorenzo, it also conjures up
    images of contemplative students sitting in front of computer screens. As
    he explains in this issue's second Case Study, DiLorenzo uses digitized
    video to teach his physical education students at Floyd College (Georgia)
    the fundamentals of basketball, softball, volleyball, and other team
    sports. His experience indicates that technology can be used to improve
    instruction in physical education courses as well as in academic classes.
    f.)Piloting the Psychosocial Model of Faculty Development
    by Prof. Patricia Cravener
    At most colleges and universities that adopt new technologies for distance
    education, staff in instructional design, educational technology, and/or
    information technology services devote a substantial proportion of their
    time trying to help faculty learn to use the most effective media for
    communicating with distant learners. Unfortunately, as Patricia Cravener
    reports in the Faculty and Staff Development section, faculty usually
    either do not attend training programs or do not implement the new
    technology after the programs end. Cravener uses her Paradoxical
    Disjunction Model to explain why, and she delineates concrete and
    cost-effective ways that faculty can be motivated to seek out, as well as
    effectively apply, technology training.
    g.)Internet Teaching and Learning Resources from Indiana University and
    the University of New Brunswick by Dr. Terry Calhoun
    The Spotlight Sites for July/August are WebdevShare and WWWDEV.
    WebdevShare, sponsored by Indiana University, focuses on the
    Web-enablement of higher education administration. Check out the seven
    e-mail lists featured on the site, or read proceedings from annual
    WebdevShare conferences. Then access WWWDEV, a listserv on courseware
    sponsored by the University of New Brunswick (Nova Scotia, Canada). The
    homepage features links to materials from annual WWWDEV conferences, to
    members' courses, and to an extensive list of Web-based courseware
    authoring/management tool vendors. Terry Calhoun, who describes the best
    aspects of these two sites, promises that they are invaluable resources
    for anyone interested in online teaching and learning tools.
    Arun Kumar Tripathi
    National Advisory Board Member for AmericaTakingAction, National Network
             Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000 08:02:17 +0100
             From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-dortmund.de>
             Subject: As robots become smarter and self-aware, scientists, 
    theologians consider their humanity
    Dear humanists,
    Hi --on the eve of last year's Don Knuth's bold lectures on "God and
    Computers" (a challenging job) at MIT, several issues and concerns have
    been raised by AI and Robotics researchers in relation with the field of
    Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Robotics and faith in the
    scientific discoveries and inventions..a report is written by MARGIE
    WYLIE, Newhouse News Service --from which several excerpts are given
    below-- --comments are welcome??
    FOR THOUSANDS of years we have  used mythical robots to explore the
    question of what makes humans human.
    In the Middle Ages, Jewish cabalists spun myths about golems, clay
    creatures animated by the secret name of God. The ancient Greeks sought
    to create homunculus, a tiny proto-person servant. More recently, Mary
    Shelley's ``Frankenstein'' creature and the android ``Star Trek'' crew
    member Commander Data have raised the question: ``Can man-made creatures
    have souls?''
    Anne Foerst's calling is to ask that question, but not about mythical
    creatures. As resident theologian at the Artificial Intelligence
    Laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Foerst has spent the
    past four years pondering how increasingly smart machines may affect our
    sense of humanity.
    ``I think that computer science, and especially artificial intelligence,
    is the field for religious inquiry,'' says Foerst, a German research
    scientist who has served as an ordained minister and holds a doctorate in
    theology as well as degrees in computer science and philosophy.
    In biology or astronomy, the questions theologians ask deal with God as a
    distant and powerful being. But in the field of artificial intelligence,
    the theological issues are more ``personal,'' addressing God's
    relationship to an individual being.
    A human being asks, ``Who am I? What am I doing here? What's the meaning
    of my life?'' Foerst says. ``Humans have a very strong sense of
    specialness, and these machines challenge that specialness in extremely
    profound ways.''
    Lab director Rodney Brooks invited Foerst to work as theological adviser
    for a new generation of smart robots that learn by doing, just like
    One of these is Brooks' brainchild, Cog, a robot built in roughly human
    form except that he carries his ``brain'' on his back in a laptop
    computer. Cog is designed to discover and adapt to the world much the
    same way a human baby does.
    Traditionally, artificial intelligences -- such as the chess-playing IBM
    computer Big Blue -- are software applications primed with vast amounts
    of data and then given complex rules for how to make decisions and for
    how to learn to make other decisions. But such a disembodied
    intelligence, Brooks argues, cannot possibly experience the world as
    humans do. Only through experience as a physical being can smart robots
    develop emotions, which he argues are prerequisite for a truly
    intelligent being. So the aim is for Cog to become conscious of his body,
    his surroundings and,  someday, his ``self.''
    When that happens, asks Foerst, then what?
    Minsky, like others at the school, thinks studying theology is
    incompatible with computer science. ``The act of appearing to take such a
    subject seriously makes it look as though our community regards it as a
    respectable contender among serious theories,'' Minsky comments by
    e-mail. ``Like creationism and other faith-based doctrines, I suspect it
    is bad for young students.''
    But Brooks, who describes himself as a scientific rationalist and
    ``strong atheist,'' says he can understand how faith can coexist with
    science. ``From a scientific point of view, my kids are bags of skin full
    of molecules interacting, but that's not how I treat them. I love them. I
    operate on two completely different levels, and I manage to live with
    these two different levels.
    Exploration of faith
    As computer science bumps against the limits of rationality, more of its
    practitioners are feeling freer to explore their faith. Leading computer
    scientist Donald Knuth recently wrote a book called ``3:16'' in which he
    examined the third chapter and 16th verse of every book of the Christian
    ``I thought at first I would be ridiculed; I had this feeling like I was
    coming out of the closet or something,'' says Knuth, professor emeritus
    for the art of computer programming at Stanford University. ``I
    hesitantly admitted to a few people that I was working on this book on
    weekends but got an unexpectedly warm reaction.''
    Knuth says he found that ``a lot of computer scientists have a God-shaped
    hole in their hearts.''
    As part of her work, Foerst tries to educate ministers and theologians
    about the science of artificial intelligence.
    Brooks says his ``ultimate megalomaniacal goal'' is to build a robot
    ``that is indistinguishable from a human -- which I won't do before I
    die. I admit that.''
    But some milestones are already past.
    Today, deaf people can hear  with electronic cochlear implants that tap
    directly into a nerve in the ear. Silicon corneas are in the works. And
    these two examples are just the beginning.
    ``As we start to connect silicon to biological material, in living
    humans, where is the boundary between personhood and machinehood?''
    Brooks says.
    Address of original story is available at:
    I hope, you will enjoy the excerpts, thank you!
    Sincerely yours
    Arun Tripathi

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : 10/03/00 EDT