Listening to George and Stephen: Machines, Humans and Learning

Just hanging out with George Siemens and Stephen Downes with a cup of coffee. I started yesterday morning and am continuing to view it this morning. It’s fun to listen in to these two. This video discussion is part of E-Learning 3.0. These two have a long history of nurturing open, connected platforms for learning.

Some Scattered Collected Words and Observations:

  • “What’s the future like?” — Stephen
  • George: We are at a funny point in the field, with technology explosion, innovation and moocs. There was a wave of ideas that emerged and then …  “The last five years, we’ve been in the wilderness ..” — George, and the potential “structural different” possibilities of learning is still in flux. He refers to AI and other ideas.
  • “The human end is critical” (George) as the wave of AI and data comes into play. “What should our school systems do to prepare people for” that future? Me: this is always the question, always on the minds of educators.
  • Stephen’s pointed question: What is the thing that is uniquely human?
  • George: Connecting the idea of machine learning to human learning. Is there such a connection? “What’s left (for human) is the definition of purpose …” — Stephen.
  • “Maybe we’re (humans) destined to be that voice in the computer’s head … that’s an important role …” — George
  • “Why are we teaching in a way that is counter-intuitive and not personally satisfying to students?” — George
  • Trustworthiness of the system is important — George, but he notes that the problem (fake news, platform manipulation, politicizing technology, etc.) has long been there, but the US presidential election brought it to the public surface
  • Fragmenting a narrative via digital to cloud the meaning of an event is a new corporate/political approach to control news cycles — George, talking about Occupy Wall Street, President Trump, Turkey, etc.

Listening to these two grapple with the impact of AI and Machine Learning in a human world, and in schools that are still driven by older models of learning, is interesting.

Like them, many of us are struggling to retain what it means to retain a humanizing approach in a data digital world, which feels more and more as if it is overwhelming us. This same topic of “being human in a digital world” also came up during a day-long meeting yesterday I was part of about technology and education, and I loved how theat important topic spilled over from me, watching this video, and us, in the room.

As a teacher, thinking about the role that education will play for my students in navigating such a world is a constant overarching theme. My students won’t be in that world for another ten years or so. Can you even imagine that world? How do you educate someone now for what you can’t yet envision?

Peace (learning),

PS — it occurs to me now that I should have popped this into Vialogues for collaborative viewing and commenting. Next time, perhaps …

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