Hello all, welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #356.
I worked on some stuff behind the scenes, but I did pop up in a quick video chat with the OAC (Obnoxious Academics Consortium) as we all talked about ChatGPT, AI Chatbots and Human versus Machine-Assisted Writing.
Two bank robbers have their heist interrupted by BeReal. This was shared by students in my class this week as we discussed our cultural fascination of social media.
Before we all get sucked into that black hole, let’s remember the idea of human language. Language connects us. Language connects one human being to another. Through space and time. Language transports meaning between minds, sense between bodies, it can make us understand each other and ourselves. It can make us feel what others feel. Language is a bridge.
If we disconnect one side of the bridge, the bridge falls. If one listener or speaker, writer, or reader stops feeling what is said, the bridge crumbles. Language without a body is senseless, meaningless, void.
Why this matters. As they state in the post, for the most part, school and work is a simulation of what we think work should be. Many people are now freaking out as a machine learning program (GPT-3 in this instance) is out-simulating people at their own game. We now have a choice to make as we address these realities.
Zoha Qamar with a great piece unpacking the concerns about ChatGPT in our classrooms. Qamar indicates that there is a lot of hysteria and a lack of understanding about what these technologies can, and cannot do. The type and caliber of written tasks that ChatGPT can offer does not replace critical thinking and human creativity. In addition, ChatGPT is prone to “hallucinations” — or providing false sources and quotations.
Why this matters. The response to ChatGPT is often a focus on bans, or moving to pen and paper approaches. In some instances, there are classes or programs that seek to integrate these new tools and platforms into their curriculum. One of the key components in this discussion is that we seem to ignore, or forget that we do not pay educators what they are worth, or value their role as professionals. Perhaps that is one of the first areas we should address as we consider possible futures.
In the video I shared at the top of this issue of DL, I make the point near the end that we’ve had machine learning (algorithms) dictating what we read, write, and think for some time. GPT-3 and ChatGPT are a benefit in some instances as they making this interaction a bit more pronounced as we can see in real time these effects. This post describes the impact as the author tests Heyday, an AI-powered app that resurfaces content you probably forgot as you browse the web.
Why this matters. As you read online, there are a ton of obstacles that prevent our brains from comprehending and remembering the information we consume. The flood of pre-roll video, links, minimal authorship details, social commentary, and algorithmic connections is void of the memory triggers we need to positively impact comprehension, concentration, and recall. In truth, we’re lousy online readers, and we need some tools to help us in the process separate the value from the trash.
Or…you could just read this newsletter. ¯\_ȌᴥȌ_/¯
Yale University professor Laurie Santos created a popular course on happiness, which she has now retooled for teens. The free, six-week course, the Science of Well-Being for Teens, launched Jan. 16 on the online platform Coursera as short TikTok-length videos on the misconceptions about happiness; the behaviors, feelings and thoughts that lead to mental well-being; and how to obtain it. By Monday, more than 13,000 people had enrolled.
Why this matters. Teenagers are in the midst of a mental health crisis — one that began years before the pandemic but has been exacerbated by it. If we can teach children and teens and adults to try to make changes to things they can control, they feel more empowered and more in control of their life.
In a freak series of seemingly random events, a Switch owner’s pet fish accessed his eShop account and added funds to it using his credit card. The crime was caught on video during an unsupervised live stream. Hundreds of viewers watched as the little fish stole their owner’s identity while he was gone.
The entire heist started as an experiment to see if fish could complete Pokémon Scarlet and Violet unassisted. To do it, Japanese YouTuber “Mutekimaru Channel” set up a webcam focused on his fish bowl. Motion-tracking software monitored the fish as they swam across an overlaid grid populated with controller inputs. If a fish paused or changed direction, the correlating controller input registered in the game.
Initially, the game was going well, until Mutekimaru stepped away from the YouTube live stream. At the 1,144-hour mark, the game crashed, but without Mutekimaru present to fix the situation, the system continued registering inputs from the fish. The fish were able to get the Nintendo eShop to come up (twice) and, entirely by chance, registered the correct sequence of inputs to add 500 yen to Mutekimaru’s account from his credit card that was saved on the Switch. They also exposed his credit card information to everyone watching. The fish free-for-all went on for seven hours in total before the future bait finally managed to power down the Switch.
Why this matters. Have a talk with your pets before they share things online. (☆▽☆)
I was in a meeting this week and a colleague asked about some apps to help with improving your writing. We generally stick to the same tips, tricks, and errors as we compose text. Apps can often provide assistance as we extend, clarify, and streamline our content. An example of this is Grammarly.
Quillbot is a writing outsourcing platform that uses artificial intelligence to generate content for you. Most people use it to paraphrase content they’ve already written. Outside of their paraphrasing tool, they also offer a grammar checker, a summarizer, a citation generator, a new plagiarism checker, and an all encompassing co-writer. Quillbot also comes as a Chrome extension and Microsoft Word add-on.
What is it that makes us human? It’s not something you can program. You can’t put it into a chip. It’s the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and machines.
Marcus Wright – A character in Terminator Salvation
I came across this Reddit community for InspiroBot, an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence. As you can imagine, it’s full of some of the worst advice you could ever receive.