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Wayne McGregor: A choreographer’s creative process in real time

The title of this TED Talk really caught my eye.

It’s different, it’s new, I have no idea what to expect.  More interesting, is that it is involving a series of actions and concepts that is not only rarely used in TED but rarely used by the average person.

Anyone can talk about logic, anyone can talk about advancements in science and anyone can quote another person’s work.  Dance, choreography, is a different process.  It’s that process we had used, when were kids that played but for most people this is something that fades away over time.

The Ted Talk can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talk/wayne_mcgregor_a_choreographer_s_creative_process_in_real_time.html

Date Filmed: September 2012

Length: 15 minutes, 18 seconds

Total Views so far: 105,968

One Sentence Summary: “Three creative processes of choreography applied to TED.”

I think this entire TED Talk had caught me off guard.

The very first aspect was that McGregor takes something very real, very literal, the T from TED and places it into a dance.

It’s a bit of a game of telephone, except McGregor doesn’t begin by citing a phrase or a series of words.  It’s about the perception and attention level of his performers that really come into play.

A few years ago there was a documentary on Circe du Soleil, the world famous circus.  It showed the needed dedication, the pain and the great amount of practice required to put on a world class show.

A phrase from it that stands out to me now is that the performers all have a very deep connection and awareness of their bodies.

The two dancers, Paolo and Catarina are astounding in this regard.  It is readily apparent that both have worked with McGregor before as they take quite naturally to the methods that he is using.

Due to the fact that physical thinking is new to me, I’ll try to summarize each method.

Creativity -> Interpreted -> Memorized -> Reflected

Lines of movement, body shapes and their expression.

Personal creativity via a mental picture

It’s rather interesting that McGregor mentions that it’s a distributive cognitive theory, that discovering a creative process via the ‘mind hive’ is an interesting description.  Usually, the idea of collaborative process is one that reduces the creative elements and instead focuses on the precision moments that make it more able to reproduced by the whole.

In other words, working in a group is usually used for tweaking a system, to perfect a device, not to create something.  This is usually due to the inability to contain the many different directions that so many minds can create.  In other words, the creativity becomes so great that it falls off the rails and goes in a direction that collaboration was never meant to go.

Not so with dance!  Or as I realize just now, interpretive dance  It certainly leads credence to the idea that dancing is a full time pursuit.  It is significantly more easier to express one’s emotions through physical movement if a person is well acquainted with ‘moving’.  Doing so only once a week would bring about a different result.

I was almost shocked when McGregor first ‘moved’ on stage, even though he introduced himself as a choreographer, I wasn’t expecting him to be so quick on stage.

This entire process is very visually pleasing.  I wonder why the creative process of dancing is so often characterized as something entirely different in film.

Of course, methods and mindsets evolve constantly. This could be a very modern methodology to choreography.

Is it just me, or does McGregor also mimic a reasonably acceptable metronome/beatbox/ska performance?  It works for the presentation at hand that is enough, and no doubt, in the dance hall.

Although this TED Talk doesn’t really mobilize me to want to dance, it does make me appreciate it a bit more.  I’ll have to remember to check out another dance performance sometime.

On the other hand, it does inspire me to do something that McGregor says repeatedly.

Misbehave.  Beautifully.

ED

-Updated every Friday

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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Jeff Hawkins: How brain science will change computing

I like to drive at night.  I drive like a rat in a maze where I twist in circles and follow a complex pattern that I have memorized so well I could probably do it blindfolded.  (That is, if rats could drive a crappy rust bucket that is leaking oil)

In any case, while I mindlessly drive the maze of streets that I’ve memorized my eyes have a tendency to catch whatever small changes that have occurred on the various routes.  It’s sort of like flipping through a photo album except that you spot the difference instead of reminisce.

My mind also wanders and I find myself in crazy man debate.  The kind of debate where crazy man goes into the hermit hill and bounces ideas back and forth.  And this nonsense eventually led to computers and artificial intelligence.

Now I do not program artificial intelligence so I haven’t the faintest idea of how it is done.  In any case, it was that mental tennis game that made me search for the following Ted Talk below.

LINK: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jeff_hawkins_on_how_brain_science_will_change_computing.html

Date Filmed: May 2007

Length: 20 minutes, 16 seconds

Total Views so far: 602,588

One Sentence Summary: “Human brain theory is revolves around prediction and notice how this doesn’t involve computers.”

PS> “Computers which can envision the future from memory and sensors are the future.”

Note: Hawkins speaks so much about brain theory that computers don’t really come into play until the very very end.

Now if computers ever came to the point that they would be able to comfortably program themselves via sensory data, I wondered if what would the best way to achieve this to be?

Using the human brain as the sample, what if it was two computers that were designed to program the other, and that they were specific to what details they could program?

For instance, left and right brain control logic and creativity.  So what if, one side of this AI was looking out for ‘creative’ inputs (what’s new, creating identifications) and the other side was strictly looking out for ‘logical’ inputs (mathematical identifications, examining trial and error).

And the piece where I became stuck, was that the logical side of the brain is set up to be programming the creative side while the creative side is programming the logical side.

Like I said, I’m not out to program AI.  The closest I have ever come to viewing the process was watching a student attempt to program a chess game.

In any case, Hawkins brings a very fascinating and amusing talk on how the brain functions and the perceptions of how it works.

‘We’re brains talking to other brains’, is a good quote, because it combines well with another good quote he makes which is (paraphrasing) ‘if you see a nose where you’re predicting an eye you go Holy Shit!’.

So what happens when a brain attempts to talk to a nose?  It’s a Holy Shit moment that fires off in the brain and suddenly you’re on tilt of the situation.

Doesn’t this describe every argument, misunderstanding or conflict?  You’re a brain trying to talk to another brain and you end up bumping into a nose.  That’s like, what the fuck is your nose doing where your brain should be?  What are you some kind of nose brain monster?

This kind of talk is more easily understood by replacing ‘nose’ with something more survival instinct like ‘stomach’ or ‘penis’, but you get the idea.

What’s really interesting is the fact that this talk is from 2007.  And since it’s five years later, there has been a hell of a lot of advancements in computers (and treos) since that time.  For one, a month after this Tedtalk, the iPhone was released to the unsuspecting public and that probably changed a whole mess of things.  (When it comes to handheld devices)

What caught me off guard

Wow, if I was blindfolded I would have thought this was a younger Clifford Stoll speaking.  Seriously.

This guy is all over the place, and he’s making jokes in the forms of statements that I’m not sure if he seems them as jokes.  It’s really amusing nonetheless.

And Hawkins brings up some very interesting things about the nature of brain science.  Instead of breaking the brain up into particular parts (say, in the way Jill Taylor did) it’s more about the entire experience.  (Also reminded me of Future Physicist work in a way, but I digress)

Human memory works by first processing the data.  If you’re in the dark and something walks by, you won’t remember it because it was dark.  Same applies if it’s a piece of logic you’re unfamiliar with or something is truly ‘new’ while you’re new to it all.  All that’s wiped out and ignored like a mathematical proof defining the initial assumptions and variables.

I think Hawkins said a few things that were just outright incorrect, but it doesn’t matter if they are or are not incorrect because that result doesn’t apply to his talk.  It’s a very high level mode of thought that few people take the road on because it invites contradiction.

However, my biggest surprise is the fact that this Talk included the term ‘computing’.  Hawkins really doesn’t drill deep enough into computers to explain how a computer will sense or what it means to truly ‘remember’ or have a memory of something.  On the other hand, learning how the brain works is really quite rewarding.

It does make me wonder about the singularity idea.  The idea that eventually computers will become so ‘intelligent’ that they are able to upgrade themselves faster than humans are capable and at a speed that is faster and faster until eventually computers simply handle everything.

That’s my description, I can probably find a better one.

The Singularity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

There’s bound to be a few people who might want to argue that the Singularity is the future.  That it will be mankind’s future or the computer’s eventual future or maybe it’s for computers that drive through mazes like rats.  I don’t really know.

What I do know is that every once in a while, I go ‘Holy Shit, that’s a nose!’.

ED

– Updated every Friday

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in TED Talks

 

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Ivan Krastev: Can democracy exist without trust?

This week in Toronto, there was an interesting controversy that had occurred involving its mayor.  More specifically, he was in court regarding a conflict of interest matter and there is a very real possibility that he may be forced to resign.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/09/06/toronto-ford-conflict.html

Now something like this occurring to those in political office, is not exactly a ‘new’.  However, with the way media portrays politics, it seems to be something is becoming all too common.

Which brings us to this TED Talk, delivered poignantly by the surprisingly charismatic Ivan Krastev.

Link:  http://www.ted.com/talks/ivan_krastev_can_democracy_exist_without_trust.html

Date Filmed: June 2012

Length: 14 minutes, 5 seconds

Total Views so far: 180,504

One Sentence Summary: “Democracy has become successful and what made it work, also makes it broken.”

 Krastev starts off with a pretty good joke regarding Bulgarians, I don’t know if its true but its memorable.  I do not know if it is true in regards to being pessimistic but I think I’ve found a new association on gloomy Mondays.

(btw, Mondays are not depressing.  Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiUW8WUBr8M  Ignore the musical introduction, its a real video, not a monday-roll)

Krastev segues quickly to what could be the protest for the common person.  To appear to vote and to purposely vote for no one in protest of a lack of candidates, is absolutely a brilliant action as it ‘in theory’ shows a majority of protest.  (Although I would imagine that these would be considered to be invalid votes and ignored, but this is a complete guess.  The book Krastev mentions this belongs to is ‘Seeing’ by Jose Saramago sounds like something worth checking out.)

What I find rather fascinating about this talk most, is that Krastev states right at the beginning that he is not giving answers or solutions to the quandaries that he brings up.  So what is this?  Modern political philosophy?

Modern day music, more than ever nowadays, has a lot of spoken words but what they “speak” is actually very little.  This was not always the case, there was a time when music created a generation, when music represented a protest and opinion to the world around it.  Ironically, this is also during the time of when Krastev mentions the power of protest at that time.

One of the most beautiful things about this talk is that it, in parallel with certain music,  says many funny and sometimes observant things and at the same time, Krastev is saying nothing at all.

Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times that we live in.  The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest is plagued with having too many different groups each demanding multiple objectives that aren’t related to each other.  However, they do state one clear objective, and that there is indeed a great deal of mistrust that exists.

What about democracy? 

With voting turn out occurring at around 56% for America and 60% for Canada, these numbers definitely are not the 99% of the country.  So I can quickly agree with why Krastev says there are many who simply choose to ‘not play the game’.  (The other possible hyperbole/truth that Krastev says regarding the fall of communism creating the imbalance of power hierarchy runs down a line of thought that is incredibly deep.  It’s just a few statements, but it would require so much additional research that I both accept and disregard it at that the same time.) 

Maybe I simply have mistrust.

Could this be the era of mistrust?  Time magazine said that this might be time of Protest but mistrust might be a better description.

People do not believe playing the stock market is the way to become rich because of a severe lack of faith that it will not crash.  People do not trust banks’ intentions after hearing about bailouts versus executive bonuses.  There is a lack of trust of mainstream media about which stories are given light versus those that are omitted.  People mistrust whether gasoline prices should be jumping up and down every day.  There seems to be a great deal of mistrust happening all over the place.

Mistrust is actually quite healthy.  The cost of freedom is self vigilance and that begins by not relying on mechanisms that are invisible.  Automation today should be about the ability to enact our decision making, not creating blind processes so that we ignore them.

(This is quickly turning into one of my favorite TED Talks btw)

At the three quarter point, the talk turns toward a natural solution of mistrust and that is open transparency. 

Have you ever seen cockroaches when you turn on the light?  They do two things.  First, they freeze and then they scatter.  In an eerily similar description, Krastev mentions that the transparency of government meetings causes a pseudo paralysis of officials as it becomes readily apparent when one strays from the flock in opinion.

And they will remain paralyzed until some invisible tipping point occurs and then there will be scattering and possibly a large boot. 

Another interesting point is that the need for transparency is an issue that is talked frequently in regards to the internet.  There are many TED Talks devoted to this topic, so I will save that for another evening.

Just a couple things I also noticed..

5:32, the cold war involved two old guys kissing?

6 minutes in, that brain science diagram looks like witchcraft.

So now what?

Unfortunately, these questions are part of the system it belongs to.  In order for the democracy to exist, there needs to be this sort of questioning to follow along.

Note1: It is amazing that hear the reminder that democracy is about the right to decide.  And that deciding, is something that changes due to discussion and additional information.  It is thus equally startling that people are identified based upon who they last voted for.

Last I checked, I didn’t vote for that.  I don’t trust it.

ED

-Updated every Friday

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Wolfgang Kessling: How to air-condition outdoor spaces

It’s quite interesting how TED Talks subject matter overlap.  Sometimes it is a purposeful, useful interaction, and sometimes its pure chance.  In this particular case, it’s pure chance.

But the idea of air conditioning the outdoors isn’t anything new.  Any one who has gone to Vegas must have walked from hotel to hotel, where there is blazing sun and hot temperatures and its offset by the open air conditioned doors of the casinos. 

How to air condition the outdoor spaces!  Link below.

http://www.ted.com/talks/wolfgang_kessling_how_to_air_condition_outdoor_spaces.html

Date Filmed: April 2012

 Length: 11 minutes, 36 seconds

Total Views so far: 178,018  (One would think this number would be higher, given how damn hot its been this summer)

One Sentence Summary: “It’s the humans that give off heat, so let them perceive its cool.  Oh yeah, it’s not really outside.”

Let’s go on a thought experiment.  Let’s pretend that global warming is not just real but its also unavoidable.  What’s better?  To walk around with private suncoats and specialized private air conditioners or for there to be some new design structure towards city centers themselves? 

Well, obviously letting people fend for themselves is a heck of a lot cheaper, but it’s just not as ‘modern’.  Let’s make a bunch of fancy walkways / open area concepts instead!

If it ever comes down to being outside = ahhh my burning face, then it would make a great deal of sense to start rebuilding various areas to become more hospitable for people to wander about on.   The hypothetical ‘cool environment’ Kessling presents might actually be a possible snapshot of our future outdoor design. 

Kessling gives an interesting list of locations beforehand.  All of them are stadiums, and with each example he gives a rating of whether or not the people in attendance were comfortable versus the ambient weather at the time.  Sometimes it required the weather to be nice before the audience felt comfortable and sometimes it didn’t matter, and people were uncomfortable no matter what.  The big ‘wtf’ point that he makes, is that people will be sitting at the same temperature in a whole series of situations and feel different levels of comfort.

It shows he did his homework, and has an understanding of what makes people comfortable.  In previous years, when friends complained of how hot the weather is, I would instruct them to go out and buy a fan.  They’d retort that the fan would only push ‘hot air around’ and that there would be little change in comfort.  (I later proved this opinion wrong, but it took multiple fans and creation of an artificial wind tunnel which is havoc with paper and, apparently, pizza toppings)

Now the definition of outdoor space needs to be taken into account here, if a person is covered from all angles, is that person still outside? 

Definition of Out Doors: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/outdoors

1) The open air

2) An area away from human settlements.

Interestingly enough, the concept of building a football stadium in the middle of a desert fits both of these criteria.  *shakes fist, they got lucky*  However, I’m going to be a jerk and say that I’m not sold that this is not actually air conditioning the outdoors. 

Although it is unlikely, we need a solution for ANY location without spending a bajillion dollars on over powered air conditioning (see Vegas) or building an actual stadium.

Keeping the ground level cool is a very difficult concept and Kessling discusses the use of water pipes to control that temperature.  I wonder if there is a better way.  Then again, I wonder if Dean Kamen will fully complete the Stirling engine.

The Stirling engine (aka Water based engine): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine

I bring it up, because this talk of cold water to hot ground = hot water, and if we bring that water deep to cold ground, then there is something like a natural Stirling engine happening.  Of course, the temperatures are not in the right zones and etc, but hot on top / cold below is what’s triggering this memory more.

What caught me off guard

Is that a plane at 7:10?  Wait, is Kessling selling this?  Yes, yes he is.  www.transsolar.com

Upon looking at the company website (which starts off in German, but has an English translation), I can see that Kessling is immediately putting his money where his mouth is.  This firm, Transsolar, is a climate engineering firm. 

That sounds like really something, a climate engineering firm, it sounds like the beginning towards some kind of global weather control system.  However, this isn’t the case, they aren’t out to control weather rather it’s more taking advantage of one’s environment to help create an artificial climate within those confines.

There’s some really pretty architecture pictures as well.  (The Outdoor Comfort Calculator is there, but to be honest it is a pointless tool for ‘me’, as I don’t pay that much attention weather)

What’s next?

There was a severe lack of ice cream in this talk.  If it’s a hot day, eat ice cream.  If it’s evening and you don’t need to drive anywhere, then it’s time for a couple beers too. 

If I was giving this TED Talk, I’d say “How to air condition outdoor spaces?” and then crack open a few cold ones.  The audience wouldn’t have time to applause because there would be additional cold ones being passed around to everyone. 

Afterwards, beach party and doing the monkey.

But seriously, I hope this technology / paradigm of outdoor climate control continues.  Support this!

ED

– updated every Friday

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change

As North America breaks heat record after heat record this year, it brings up the question about ‘Global Warming’.  I have no idea how, but the very phrase of it feels like I’m bringing up a touchy subject.  It is, isn’t it?

There are quite a few TED talks on this subject, so I will link to the latest and greatest.  (note: Not necessarily the greatest, that’s just a fancy saying that rhymes)

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

Date Filmed: February 2012

Length:17 minutes, 51 seconds

Total Views so Far: 471,285 views

One Sentence So Far: “Look, I even let myself get arrested on this, can we start charging companies for this?”

(It’s a detailed talk that shares Hansen’s personal experiences over the years and how it touches him, his family and his life.)

This talk is one of the least ‘impacting’ to me in contrast to other TED Talks.  Why?  It’s probably have to do with the fact that scientists have been talking about global warming for the past 50 years.  That’s half a century, which is a VERY long time. 

Let’s not shy away from the fact that it’s been talked about again and again.  Yes, I can make huge arguments that fifty years is ‘young’ on a multitude of scales.  It’s nothing compared to the history of our world, it’s just over enough to discover the Higgs Boson, and it’s certainly much too young for someone to die.

On the other hand, this is quickly becoming the only ‘global WARNING’ that has lasted this long with such a low impact.  Low impact, in the sense, of openly clear initiatives that have exceptional funding and awareness dedicated towards the reduction of global warming.

Isn’t this a touchy subject?  Isn’t there an opposing opinion by a similar expert made for every video that warns of global warming?

Yes, this is definitely true.  I’ve seen debates and interviews on this topic and as per the standard route of statistics, the same data can lead to different claims.  (Well, I partially say that to be cute about the topic, but seriously there are charts that say weather fluctuations are natural and whatnot too)

What about the local level?  What about my own social circles and the public opinion that I’m aware of?

I’d stake to say, that four out of five people I personally know, believe global warming is a real phenomenon.  The remaining fifth person isn’t against the notion, rather they simply say ‘they don’t know’. 

I have yet to speak with an individual, that adamantly believes that global warming does NOT exist.  Now keep in mind that global warming isn’t exactly the most common of topics, but this is throughout my entire life.  I have not met an individual who shouts “IT’S A LIE!” and then runs out and starts a bunch of car engines.

However, I have met individuals who say, “WHO CARES!” and they run inside and turn on all the lights, crank up their air conditioning units and start smoking cigars.

There’s a difference between not believing in something versus believing in it but not taking action to do anything about it.

Not doing anything, is NOT a crime, it’s not even a poor choice.  A poor choice is smoking when you know it hurts you, drinking in excess when you know it hurts you, or drinking bucket after bucket of milk knowing you’re lactose intolerant.  But people DO IT ANYWAYS.

Wait, ignoring the impact of our emissions / energy use IS a poor choice right?

I’m going to have to argue, that in today’s society, a person is effectively ‘trained’ to believe that the reduction of our energy use is the equivalent of HURTING yourself. 

Last week I had a great deal of excitement and fascination with the idea of the robot car.  However, despite its innovations with keeping our roads safer, I’d be putting myself into monstrous debt if I ever were to try to attain one.  And by monstrous debt, I’m talking a 30 ft tall two headed giant named Tom and Jerry who is going to beat the living crap out of me because I can’t make my payments.

Despite the fact that pretty much everyone I know believes in global warming, we can’t afford to spend the extra to buy hybrid cars.  We can’t afford to lose the time by giving up cars or gas engines.  How in the world are we supposed to give up our air conditioners when we’re having one of the biggest heat waves in history?  (Ironically powered by our air conditioners)

In essence, for the common person to stop global warming, they would have to put themselves at such a distinct disadvantage that they could, arguably, lose their place in society.  I NEED to drive to work, not just because I’m a lazy bastard, but because it is physically impossible for me to get to work and back in time. 

How about the big abusers?  Companies that have huge chimney stacks of Carbon pumping out the CO2 like no tomorrow?

For most of us, these are also the ‘money providers’ in some form of fashion.  They sign paychecks, and hand out raises, if not directly then certainly indirectly.  Again, speaking strictly in terms of common everyday people (ok, I can’t really speak for everyone but for the purpose of this exercise I’m pretending I can), unless the locals are willing to risk their livelihoods, they’re not going to start protesting in front of buildings. 

Consider it another form of the Golden Handcuffs (money is too good to leave so a worker is essentially ‘voluntarily chained’ to their job), except they’re made of Energy.  

(Except for the protestors.  Although based upon what I’ve seen in the media, they’re protesting everything you can name anyways.  I wonder if there’s a TED talk about this?)

Now looking at this as an ‘individual’ matter, when we go up the chain, decision makers are also bound by the Energy Handcuffs.  Why should a single company risk taking the time for energy innovation while losing to its competition or allotting capital that could be spent on maintaining it’s market share?  Why should a politician push for a hard stance on this topic where other policies take precedence, or worse, that their initial supporters might be these very companies.

It comes to the point that discussion about global warming is in some ways, pointless.  It’s only a symptom of another issue, that our society is naturally designed to support a trend that does not support fighting global warming.

This doesn’t mean that we need to uproot society and start over.  In fact, society has gone through multiple social evolutions that have brought equal rights, labor laws and even reality television.  However, each of these were identifiable groups that were willing to take a stand.

Maybe someday there will be a distinctly recognizable ‘global warming victim’ identifier.

I really hope it doesn’t have to come to that.

ED

– Updated every Friday.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Education is personal, a statement I paraphrased from Ken Robinson in his entertaining and educating TED Talk:

Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Date Filmed: February 2006

Length: 19 Minutes, 29 Seconds

Total Views so far: 11,091,925 Views

One Sentence Summary:  “Education has become improperly specialized while not supporting the diversity with which the mind actually functions.”

This TED Talk is incredibly profound, and as it was originally released in 2006 it brings me great pain in wondering why some principles from it haven’t been placed into affect as of yet.

What do I mean by profound?  Robinson doesn’t finish his talk with a puzzling or deep message, rather it is clear from the very beginning.  “Creativity is as important as literacy, and it should be treated with the same status” is the direct quote, and the inference from this (or literal take I guess) is that the priorities of the education system are wrong.  This wasn’t directly a design flaw, rather it was both an evolution of how the ‘successful at education’ became educators and the general structure of how wealth is attained.

This post tonight is in high danger becoming incredibly long, as there are so many aspects surrounding the above that I’m uncertain where to begin.

Let’s start with the simple truths that he speaks of.  During development, aka being a kid, one quickly hears stories of who does what and how much they earn.  “There’s no poor doctors”, “Teachers aren’t paid enough”, “Do you want to be a janitor for the rest of your life?” all these kinds of phrases bounce around an immediate labeling occurs.  That there is a scale that accompanies each occupation, and that one’s occupation is determined entirely on what grades the student is receiving.

Now I admit that grades might be an indicator.  There are several indicators of an individuals possible development but that piece of paper is the one that is used today as a proof.

And in this regard, this is perfectly reasonable.  However, the beast that comes out of it is that the education and experience itself becomes a secondary goal.  What ends up the primary goal?

To get that damn piece of paper.

A person does not need to be well rounded, empathetic or creative to ‘test well’.  And to properly administer a test isn’t tailored to the individual, rather it is tailored so one can test multiple individuals at the same time.  I can dance if there’s music with a recognizable beat, but take that away and I’m looking like someone who is in the process of falling down.  If there is a tiny percentage of individuals (let’s say, .01%) that actually think BETTER with music on, then the current method of testing a group in close to silence puts them at a distinct disadvantage.  This disadvantage might mean a couple kids in each school, each year, are unknowingly penalized by the system and over decades this could mean hundreds or thousands of individuals who have grown up with the belief they can only achieve so much.

Now in the example Robinson brings up, Gillian Lynne, it wasn’t about a kid who needed to dance so they could add two plus two.  It was about a kid who was innately interested at something, and that if properly directed could do something with it.

More about Gillian Lynne can be found on her wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillian_Lynne

I know I’m simply reiterating the same points he makes (hopefully from a slightly more detailed angle) but its just that I couldn’t agree more as I know that the system of education impacted my own development.

(And not to get into too much detail, in my early years I had a speech impediment (‘th’ was a sound I couldn’t make), I had trouble learning how to write and I needed my own unique class of ‘one’.  It would be years later that I was labelled ‘gifted’, which was also in my opinion, misleading of character)

What caught me off guard:

The first few steps Robinson makes while walking in seem forced.  I do not know if he was injured, making a joke of it or if it was simply an illusion of the camera.  Nonetheless, it caught my eye.  Based upon his consistent humor and style of humor, I’d imagine that this limp is real.  I’d also make a guess that it was something he had for an extended period of time only as humor makes a great distraction from other things.  (If it wasn’t the limp, then it would have been something else, maybe the stutter).  Speaking of which, he stutters a few sentences early on.  I bring it up because it distracted me, just like the cellphone ringing.

You’d think they’d have a PIxar based introduction that reminds people to turn their cellphones off.  I love those things.

Outside of all these very minor distractions, the very best surprises is the fact Robinson is so very funny and he tells jokes I haven’t heard before.

There is something that Robinson brings up which aren’t necessarily true, or I don’t immediately agree with.  For instance, saying degrees aren’t worth anything.  This isn’t entirely true.  For one, there are a ‘shopping cart’ of degrees a student can now select from, and many of these degrees are not exactly ‘real’.  It’s widely accepted that some degrees were designed in mind with ‘getting students’ and not actually pushing a philosophy of raising educational standards.  And although many people are indeed educated, it’s also said that 80% of jobs aren’t advertised, so finding immediate work in their initial specialty of study does not happen.

(I graduated to be an actuary but find today that I’d very much would rather do things that I pushed aside when younger simply because there wouldn’t work for it.  Y’know, like a ninja or dessert taster.  Ok, maybe not those two but you get the idea)

So what now?

This is the biggest question, for as nice it is to say the education system is wrong there isn’t a clear solution to how to make it right.  There’s a system of jobs, a hierarchy of multiple systems and lifetimes of expectations that need to be resorted out and reinvented before anything can really happen.

It is really quite possible that the children we are educating today might have to educate the next generation to make the necessary changes.

Except in their case, they’ll have the TED Talks to remind them.

ED

– Updated every Friday

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sebastian Thrun: Google’s driverless car

There are two inventions that I’m really looking forward to.  These aren’t massive inventions that will solve all of the planet’s problems, but they would make a difference.

The first, the invention of the office robot dog.  I did a summer retreat once while on student council (a long time ago) and the cottage we were staying at had a bunch of dogs that lived on the premises.  These dogs would run around and just randomly show up to say ‘hi’ and it was always a welcome surprise.

Mind you, real dogs are a pain to maintain.  They require food, water, exercise and this strange emotion called ‘love’; that’s a long list of things just to keep up a novelty while working.  (Home pets are different, so let’s just accept this difference for the theory)  Ergo, to save a great deal of effort and possibly any allergies / fears, the invention of the robot office dog.

The second invention, is the robot car.  The appropriate nomenclature today is ‘driverless car’, which is a term that simply feels more acceptable as something to insert into the living traffic of today.  (Robots, they get no respect)  The link is below:

Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_thrun_google_s_driverless_car.html

Length: 4 Minutes, 14 seconds

Date Filmed: March 2011

One Sentence Summary: “Humans really are crappy drivers, and there’s a lot of hope ahead.”

How it Related to me

Now this is an idea I would support!  I have driven countless hours coming to and fro from the workplace, to meet friends downtown, to go off on gallivanting trips across country.  If I could have used that time doing something else, anything else, it would have been great.  Even if it meant more time playing stupid games on my phone, handheld or reading a book, it would be worth it.

Let’s talk about another car innovation for a moment, the electrical or hybrid vehicle.  This is a great idea for those that are looking to save the environment and at the same time, slowly ween away our reliance on gasoline.  It actually makes sense on many levels but just reducing our general carbon footprint alone is a worthy enough cause.

As an individual who wants to be an early adapter, I thought this would these cars would be the shiznit, the cat’s meow, the freakin’ A!  That even if I didn’t adopt the cars early, there would be many others who would and I could simply buy a used version sometime in the future.

This, quite obviously, hasn’t happened.

And why not?  If I was so grand on the idea of buying a hybrid electric, why haven’t I?

It comes down to pricing point.  The simple fact I’m writing in a blog must be evidence enough that I can’t afford high end items.  (I’m just joking, I’m certain there are many bloggers out there who are wealthy.. somewhere)  And when the hybrid vehicle came out costing anywhere from 10K to 15k more than the same vehicle without the ‘bells and whistles’ of an electric / magical engine that made many potential buyers pause.  Ten thousand dollars more?  Just to be eco-friendly?  How much gas would I need to save in order to make up that value up?

Now admittedly this was a time before when gas prices were only considered ‘ridiculous’ and it had not yet reached the ‘what the fuck this is bullshit’ pricing of the modern day.  In any case, I remember doing the math and realizing that I needed to be driving that one car for over ten years before I was ‘saving money’ from using less gas.  This hurt.

But for a ROBOT car.  Er, but for a DRIVERLESS CAR.  I’d gladly pay the extra ten thousand for that.  Heck, I’d even allow a whole mess of other features that would be deemed inappropriate.

– Car has a maximum speed of 50 km/h -> Sure, I didn’t need to get there that fast anyways.  You know what?  I’ll write my next novel on the road instead.

– Car insults you every time you turn it on -> I can take it, I’ve got rhino skin.  Just get me to my destination without having to look at the road, or be conscious for that matter.

– Car uses TWICE as much gas as a normal car ->  I actually believe this WILL be a mandatory part of the driverless car.  Why?  I don’t know, to appease the oil barons and car manufacturers or something.  Maybe it’ll need to have a constant burning ‘Olympic style torch’ to signify it’s a driverless car.  I don’t care, just put these damn cars to market already!

Because that I am THAT TIRED OF DRIVING.  Actually, that’s not entirely true, I really enjoy driving.  I enjoy driving much more than the average person I’d surmise and it isn’t too uncommon that I’ll go out for a drive on an evening just to get out and feel the city.

“Won’t you miss driving then?” -> Quite possibly, although I’d imagine that initial models will have some kind of ‘manual option’ where one could turn the driverless driver off so you could drive the driven drive off the driveway.  Driving on, even without a manual option, I’d still be content with it.

Wait, given the limitations set above, where each day’s drive costs twice as much, takes double the time and you get to be made insecure through verbal conversation, doesn’t this exist already?

The answer is yes.  They’re called Taxis.

And as much as I dislike taking cabs, the driverless vehicle I’ve described so far is pretty much a glorified taxi cab that has one distinct difference.   The necessity of your own awareness to the outside road, the driver and the fare itself, is strictly voluntary.  That added privacy and comfort time, is well worth it.

That and drivers today are suicidal / ignorant / suffer from compulsive disorders.  People want to use their cellphones, they want to be texting and chatting and surfing.  A decade ago, there was a ‘distracted driver’ ticket where drivers who were distracting themselves were targeted for fine.  One woman, was applying make up, painting her toenails, talking on her phone and driving.  Some guy, was pulled over while he was making a sandwich.  Come on, isn’t obvious that the people want one thing?  Robot dogs!

I mean, driverless cars!

What Caught me Off Guard

This talk is filmed / posted on March of 2011.   2011!!!  If this was an Apple product, we’d be on version 3.0 by now.  Shouldn’t there be a dent of market share of driverless products by now?

Questions

Where is the driverless car today?  Is it still an idea coming to reality?  How much will it cost?

Without needing to look it up, I know the driverless car is currently being tested in the United States.  I’d gladly be a test flunkie for it here in Canada.

And although the car is yet to be in production for sale, there is a state that is preparing for the eventuality.  This would be Nevada during March 2012.  Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/9252657/Driverless-cars-approved-by-Nevada.html

The Google driverless car has appeared in other media as well.  Including television shows like Nova, Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World and others.  (Not to mention hypothetical versions of driverless cars like in Minority Report, Total Recall and Knight Rider)

The wikipedia link for autonomous car is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_car

Despite my best efforts, I cannot find a solid link on how much the driverless car would cost.  However, the costs of the equipment used have been made public, and the costs are mind shattering / overwhelming.  Approximately $150,000 of equipment are thrown into one of these babies and that’s putting the initial line of driverless cars to be in the hands of the super rich only.  (Article can be found here: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/06/google-discloses-costs-of-its-driverless-car-tests/1#.T-QNpbUxO9s)

So now that its been discussed, what can I do?

Unfortunately, it’s the same story that was told for the electric vehicle.  I need to wait and hope that it will become popular and heavily integrated into society.  Maybe then I’ll be able to buy a used one.

ED

– Updated every Friday

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in TED Talks

 

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