Privacy Is Relative

Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #363. I posted the following this week.

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How Will Schools Respond to the A.I. Revolution?

John Spencer explores the big ideas around how schools will respond to AI in the future.

Spencer suggests that schools typically default to one of two extremes: embrace tech uncritically (techno-futurism) or block it entirely. But he suggests there’s a third way.

Computer scientists designing the future can’t agree on what privacy means

A dispute among researchers at one of the world’s most elite computer science programs highlights the subjective and nuanced nature of privacy and consent in the age of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and data collection.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University set out to create advanced smart sensors called Mites that collected motion, temperature, and scrambled audio data, among others. But the project took a turn when some students and faculty members accused the researchers of violating their privacy by failing to seek their consent first.

Why this matters. One truth is clear in this dispute among some of the folks that are building these new technologies. Privacy is subjective. The story also raised the question of whether we should try to make our new technologically enabled world safer and more secure or reject it altogether.

When you also consider the layoffs in the tech sector, the future seems turbulent.

NASA’s Webb Telescope Reveals Supernova in Unprecedented Detail

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a gorgeous and unprecedented glimpse of a supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A (Cas A), which is the youngest known remnant in the Milky Way. Cas A is a massive bubble of gas and dust that was created when a massive star blew up about 11,000 light years from Earth. The new infrared observations from the telescope reveal the colorful and complex structure of Cas A, which includes a green loop called the Green Monster and mini-bubbles that are pockmarked with holes.

Why this matters. It seems like 2023 will be a busy year for space exploration, with multiple missions to the moon, private space travel, and new rockets launching.

How AI is helping historians better understand our past

Historians are using machine learning to analyze historical documents and images, such as astronomical texts, inscriptions, and archives. Machine learning can help reveal patterns, connections, and insights that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to find by human experts.

Why this matters. This poses challenges and risks for historical study, such as bias, falsification, and lack of understanding or transparency. Machine learning bias can have negative impacts on historical study, such as misrepresenting or obscuring historical facts, patterns, and connections; undermining the credibility and validity of historical analysis; and eroding public trust and confidence in historical knowledge.

Doomsday to Utopia: Meet AI’s Rival Factions

AI safety is a new field of research that aims to prevent AI systems from harming humans or the environment. This post gives us a look inside Silicon Valley’s AI sector and shows that there are fierce divisions over how to achieve this goal.

Some argue that AI development should be paused for six months or longer, citing profound risks to society and humanity. Others say that AI development is unstoppable and beneficial, and that the pause is a way to catch up. All of these factions have different ideologies, financial incentives, and research agendas.

Why this matters. We’re at the start of an AI war that will be fought on many fronts. I do not believe we can take any of these companies at face value when we think about the motivations and impact of this work.

The end is nigh for gas-powered cars

The EPA plans to announce new tailpipe emission standards for cars this week, aiming to phase out gas-powered cars and boost the sale of electric vehicles. The standards would limit the number of new cars each automaker can sell in a year, ensuring that two-thirds of vehicles sold in the US by 2032 would be EVs.

This is also big news considering the new battery technology that should make electric vehicles cheaper.

Why this matters. It will be interesting to see the economic impact of the standards. This will all depend on how the auto industry and consumers respond to them, as well as other factors such as infrastructure, legislation and innovation.

Writer, the Internet Typewriter

Looking for a cool, distraction-free writing environment?

Want some vintage typewriter sounds to complement your writing?

Writer might be the tool for you. 🙂

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Whether you’re an AI pessimist, optimist, or somewhere in between, this video helps make sense of what is happening and what is hype.

Cover Photo CC BY using DALL·E.

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