STEM Education review

An excellent article by John Cassidy in the New Yorker, College Calculus, reviews Peter Cappelli’s new book: Will College Pay Off? The article, and Cappelli’s excellent book, both talk about STEM, discussing just what STEM means to whom, and how technological underemployment and STEM leave questions unanswered as to whether STEM skilling for our children will indeed help them with a future career, or not. I recommend the article, and will read and review the book.

Technology that Empowers

The Heinz Endowment summer internship program borrowed Speck air quality sensors from us to empower the students to explore the city of Pittsburgh, quantitatively understanding the fluctuations and variegations in air quality in our city. This is a wonderful example of how an educational programme can empower students with technology, furthering their sense of reach and civic enablement: What are we breathing? – great example of community empowerment via technology.

Visual “Optimization”

Here is a EurekAlert! press release well worth a close read, about Neon, a Carnegie Mellon spinout that is being honored by the World Economic Forum for being a company aware of challenges in the world and doing its part. But what does Neon do? It uses outstanding technologies rooted in machine learning, psychology and brain imaging to enable real-time selection of images on-line that significantly increase human engagement and human click-through’s! The article says:

Neon’s proprietary technology, developed in research labs at CMU and Brown University, uses cognitive science, neuroscience and machine learning tools to understand how humans see and react to images, and selects images that emotionally resonate with viewers. Neon’s products provide real-time optimization tools for images and video, proven to increase engagement through clicks by 16 to 34 percent.

So, not only can scientists merge together disciplines to significantly affect our personal behavior unawares; they can also attract massive venture funding and global lauding for the ability to improve profit for on-line visual content markets.  The computers will only become ever better at dishing us information that remote-controls our responses. This is a one-way street we are traveling, people.