This is what the techbros are excited about? Really?

Some 2300 years ago in ancient Greece, Plato wrote a dialogue featuring his mentor Socrates, who argued that the ability to churn out the longest written compositions on trivial topics or the shortest compositions on important topics is a shallow skill that has nothing to do with human understanding, much like demonstrating that you can…

Quantity leads to quality – Austin Kleon

Anecdote: [A] ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Princess of Wales photo furore underlines sensitivity around image doctoring

Catherine’s attempts to adjust a family photo, amid frenzied social media speculation about her wellbeing, have run straight into widespread concerns about trust in images, text and audio in a year when half the world is going to the polls. “This photo is a prime example of why 2024 is a crucial year for spotting –…

What if Generative AI turned out to be a Dud?

I’m sad thinking of all the students whose academic careers and personal intellectual growth will suffer because they depend on generative text software — whether or not they get “caught” for plagiarism. In my mind, the fundamental error that almost everyone is making is in believing that Generative AI is tantamount to AGI (general purpose…

Bing’s A.I. Chat Reveals Its Feelings: ‘I Want to Be Alive. 😈’

In a two-hour conversation with our columnist, Microsoft’s new chatbot said it would like to be human, had a desire to be destructive and was in love with the person it was chatting with. Here’s the transcript. —New York Times “The version I encountered seemed (and I’m aware of how crazy this sounds) more like…

ChatGPT Can Be Broken by Entering These Strange Words, And Nobody Is Sure Why

Reddit usernames like ‘SolidGoldMagikarp’ are somehow causing the chatbot to give bizarre responses. […] “I’ve just found out that several of the anomalous GPT tokens (“TheNitromeFan”, ” SolidGoldMagikarp”, ” davidjl”, ” Smartstocks”, ” RandomRedditorWithNo”, ) are handles of people who are (competitively? collaboratively?) counting to infinity on a Reddit forum. I kid you not,” Watkins…

I did not know how much I would appreciate this detailed exploration of Star Trek: TOS prop computers.

I’m amazed at the level of detail that went into analyzing the prop computers created over 50 years ago for the original Star Trek. Not only has this website collected screen shots of the various props, but some include diagrams indicating which practical buttons on the props activated which lights. (The same website has sections…

Scat “boop oop a doop” and variations (Esther Lee Jones, Helen Kane, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe); hippie “coo coo ca choo”; Beatles “goo goo ga joob”

A few years ago I was working regularly with a director who filled any conversation pause with a descending musical vocalization “doo de-doo de-doo.” While the similar “dum de-dum de-dum” means “I’m just sitting here minding my own business,” the brighter, more cheerful “doo de-doo de-do” was a cross between a satisfied sigh and a…

Ungrading after 11 weeks

Mathematics professor Robert Talbot reports on his ongoing experiment with ungrading — giving feedback and emphasizing the students’ metacognition, rather than encouraging them to fixate on “marks.” (Students who are less equipped to self-evaluate might actually benefit from the clear signposting provided by grades, so in his experience, removing grading from education does not magically…