Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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group-of-students-using-laptops-and-other-devices-in-classroom-stockpack-adobe-stock
Group of students using laptops and other devices in classroom.

The Kids Aren’t Taking Notes

Colleges have become too dependent on digital methods of learning and communication.

Visit a typical classroom in the United States and you’re bound to see just about every student “taking notes” behind a computer screen as the professor lectures at the helm. This was certainly the case when I was in college, and although I always preferred to take handwritten notes, it was distracting (and sadly illuminating) when virtually every other student had their screens atop the desks. You might think most were opting for the computer for a faster method of note-taking, but alas, I saw everything from The Office to last night’s sports scores blinking all over the room, affirming that laptops in the classroom are radical distractors. Enter COVID-19 and the domination of online courses, and students started spending Read More ›

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Group of college students studying in the school library, a girl and a boy are using a laptop and connecting to internet

Teachers Gear Up for a New Year – and ChatGPT

Due to ChatGPT's popularity, many schools are seeking ways to integrate the technology into their learning environments.

GPT-3, released by OpenAI in November, swiftly undermined the integrity of many a student’s academic work. Professors across disciplines have had to contend with how to discern machine vs. human-generated work. Now, with a new school year underway, that challenge remains. Due to ChatGPT’s popularity, many schools are seeking ways to integrate the technology into their learning environments. But the question of how to do this remains murky. Bloomberg reports, But professors and administrators seeking to integrate generative AI into their curriculums are left with a big question: How? They need to find the right middle ground, said Steve Weber, vice provost of undergraduate curriculum and education at Drexel University. Educators can’t completely prohibit use of the tool and neglect to teach it, but Read More ›

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A holographic head representing modern technology / ai floats in a classroom setting. Created with generative ai

Text Generators, Education, and Critical Thinking: an Update

The fundamental problem remains that, not knowing what words mean, AI has no critical thinking abilities

This past October, I wrote that educational testing was being shaken by the astonishing ability of GPT-3 and other large language models (LLMs) to answer test questions and write articulate essays. I argued that, while LLMs might mimic human conversation, they do not know what words mean. They consequently excel at rote memorization and BS conversation but struggle mightily with assignments that are intended to help students develop their critical thinking abilities, such as Lacking any understanding of semantics, LLMs can do none of this. To illustrate, I asked GPT-3 two questions from a midterm examination I had recently given in an introductory statistics class. Both questions tested students critical thinking skills and GPT-3 bombed both questions. I was hopeful Read More ›

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industry 4.0 concept: Man is holding product and teaching robot arm the points with control panel ( teach pendant ) on smart factory production line background. Selective Focus.

Preparing Students to Work in an Artificial Intelligence World

Technology innovations are rapidly changing the nature of work. Advancements in artificial intelligence are especially transforming the workforce landscape at an accelerating rate. Jobs of tomorrow will not resemble those of decades past, nor even those of today. Read More ›
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model biological micro organism paramecium caudatum 3d illustration

Scientists Try To Understand How One-Celled Life Forms Learn

Artificial intelligence may offer a model for learning without a brain

According to a recent article in The Scientist, in the mid-twentieth century, several labs produced results that suggested that one-celled organisms could learn, in the sense that they could alter future behavior based on past experience. At the time, such findings were dismissed as flukes or mistakes because it was unclear how a unicellular life form like paramecium, with no brain or nervous system, could store memories. Today, a team from Harvard, Rutgers, and MIT is taking a second look at the findings of learning in paramecium: We exhume the experiments of Beatrice Gelber on Pavlovian conditioning in the ciliate Paramecium aurelia, and suggest that criticisms of her findings can now be reinterpreted. Gelber was a remarkable scientist whose absence Read More ›

Classmates using their smartphones heavily during classes

The Prof Banned Phones in Class. What Happened?

Not a walkout. No riots. No revolution. Some insights though, that match up with other research
Essentially, the user keeps the phone but must leave the venue to unlock it. Barring a reasonable excuse, that might be like excusing oneself to go outside to smoke. Read More ›