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Interesting dialogue to be sure.  Thank you Tom- for raising the questions.

Rookie

You can find Tom's article  by clicking Here.

Blogger

Thanks everybody , good day.

CEO

Absolutely, it has been fun. Thank you all so much for joining! I think we'll have to carry on some of these thoughts in the comment section of the article that Tom wrote.

Blogger

And as to public funding because of the public good, public schools are in the same boat. Folks simply dont want to spend the money that is really needed.

Staff

thank you all for joining.  this conversation will get legs in the years to come

Blogger

Tom, why is education so expensive these days? Good question. Don't think the profit motive is the reason, only the result of the same forces.

Staff

The rising cost of education vs. the long payoff is an intruiging topic we'll have to tackle another time. Our chat session is almost up!

Blogger

alex, but with enough ai, perhaps software will be able to one day.

Staff

Rich - i went to a private college and tuition was low enough then that I could make  enough with a summer job to pay a year's tuition.  Why is a college ed so expensive that the grads are virtually indentured servants for the next 20 yrs? it is due to corporatizing higher ed?  making it a profit center and not a public good, the best investment in the long-term success of the community.

Blogger

ales, a good teacher will be able to analyze a student's results and determine where and why they are having trouble with a concept, then address that specific problem. Not sure the software can do that yet. Also, a teacher can infer where a student might benefit from expansion outside the defined curriculum and give guidance. Not sure software can do that, either.

Staff

It basically tilors instrucational content and exercies , according to what kind of exercises you're good at and what you're bad at.

CEO

Rich i'm not sure people will need personal guidance, there aare already software that can offer that. I believe it's knewton.com .

CEO

Janine, do you really think that the bulk of funds for colleges come from their R&D monies? Not at all sure I agree. For some schools, perhaps. But athletics are a big budget contributor for many others, as Tom alludes to.

Staff

Tom. and your point is? Should college be non profit and dedicated to teaching rather than keeping itself funded? I can agree with that. Will it happen in reality? A different question. And if it is publically funded, won't it have to conform to public opinion? THat may not always be a good thing.

Staff

Janine - we come full circle, but we're not spinning wheels.  this is an important discussion that will be with us for some time to come.

Blogger

Susan, I agree that online education is probably the way to go in the future. It allows a single lecture to serve millions rather than dozens. But people still will need interactive guidance to develop their skills. Teaching becomes more of a mentoring task than a lecture task.

Staff

Rich, many of the gents who started Si Val were educated at state funded, land grant colleges; not for-profit institutions. 

Blogger

@RichQ, I think we can be sure that most universities are solvent due to their R&D money in their graduate schools -- primariy STEM. And, we come back full circle.

Blogger

Tom, an excellent question. But then, if the college doesnt make money, it cannot continue operating. The first priority of any beauocracy is to maintain the beauocracy so that it can carry our its mission, which is always the lower priority. Colleges are no exception, unless their maintenance is assured through other means.

Staff

RichQ, Maybe the answer is continuing education or the Internet. Internet has a lot of free education on it now. I do think engineers are curious about the world and are usually passionate about finding out how things work, so they may be inclined to learn broadly on their own. Some are just heads down and not interested.

Blogger

Rich, But is the purpose of colleges to be profitable?  if so, shut down the academics and only admit football players.

Blogger

Tom, that sounds like a purely economic decision. They make more money training lawyers than they do training actors.

Staff

@imabigfan, lots of high profit companies DO do things. We don't always hear about it though

 

Blogger

The problem with Tom's question is that it assumes a zero sum game. There are four years in a degree program. How do we allocate the time to humanities versus STEM? I suggest that we make engineering a five or six year program so that there is room for all.

Staff

Rich.P - My experience is that engineers, especially hardware engineers, tend to have a broader understaning of the world than most people.

Blogger

>> no doubt to address America's critical shortage of lawyers.

LOL.

Blogger

Rich, what prompted me to raise this question in the first place is that many colleges and Univs are cutting back or cutting out humanities programs,  my own alma mater recently shut down the theatre dept and demolished the theatre to build a new law school - no doubt to address America's critical shortage of lawyers.

Blogger

@Tom, adding humanities questioning to the engineering curriculum is not a bad idea, I agree. But, having taught at the college level, I can tell you that a good tech writring class seems to serve our future tech/science folks better than one on the english romantic poets. I think RichQ is right on with engineering ethics though. Make it RELEVENT.

 

Blogger

My undergraduate university (WPI) was way ahead of the curve when it came to humanities. We had to take five related humanities course and write a paper on a related subject as a degree requirement. That started in the early 1970s and continues today.

>> engineers are the makers of our digital world.  dont they need a broader view of the world to best exercise that responsibiilty...?

What evidence would you point to that suggests that most engineers do not currently have a sufficiently broad view of the world?

Blogger

Tom, the humanities part of the degree requrements IS where engineers ask the questions, isn't it? If not, that should change. I do think I have seen some engineering ethics courses arise, though.

Staff

@Duane. Exactly. Who defines what is moral? And without a definition, how can we inform our technology decisions with moral concerns. Ultimately, it must either be an individual decision or a societal one (enacted through laws)

Staff

@ Rich, Susan, Janine -

agreed, these are timeless questions - usually asked in the liberal arts or lit or philosophy.  my question is, why dont we ask them in engineering curricula?  English poet Shelley said, Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. And they were in 1820. Today, tho, engineers are the makers of our digital world.  dont they need a broader view of the world to best exercise that responsibiilty than just enjoying the next IPO?

Blogger

Good humanities reference, RichQ!

Blogger

Morality is also a relative term. One engineer may find it moral and to the benefit of society to design a location monitoring device to keep track of children at all times. Another may consider it moral to extend that technology to monitor every person. Other engineers may find the idea a reprehnsible invasion of privacy. Who decides where the line between moral and immoral lies?

Blogger

@susan, agreed. this debate is not new. The desire to control technology is why Prometheus is chained to a rock with a vulture eating his liver, though. Was he a hero to mankind or a villian who deserved the punishment?

Staff

So, studying humanities in school will prevent our society from becoming less-Borg-like, so we can have these debates about war, spying, and what not.

Blogger

>> Why not discuss the merits of war and spying regardless of how it is accomplished?

Yes, otherwise it seems a bit like getting outraged over killing people with gas attacks, but as long as you use bombs and bullets it's ok...

Blogger

bartj, thinking broader is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it is probably the best thing. And everyone should be involved in the discussions, but alas not everyone has a broad enough viewpoint and narrow minds can pervert the conversation.

Staff

JanineLove, agreed. All of these are questions for the ages....in other words, this debate is not new, just because the IC and software are now in the mix.

Blogger

Susan, why limit the discussion to technology's user in war and spying? Why not discuss the merits of war and spying regardless of how it is accomplished?

Staff

Who is to control the user? is a question for the ages. When bows and arrows were invented, who controlled the user?

Blogger

I think that the discussions of potential abuses of a technology need to occur at all levels of a society. Not just a ruling elite. This would be the point of having humanities as part of technical education. Thinking broader is not a bad thing.

Rookie

Tom, Who is to control the user? Good question. Who watches the watcher? All we can do is collectively decide what is right and proper and see to it that abuse is prevented or punished. Or make sure it is not profitable, anyway. And even then, is our collective will correct?  

Staff

Most college course loads are already full with few electives. @Susan, if you wanted to add in this moral discussion, I think it would fall into a philosophy class.

 

Blogger

@Susan, the golden rule works best when all follow it. If someone else is being totally self-indulgent, they can easily overwhelm those following the golden rule. There is also the silver rule (do unto others as they have done unto you) and the iron rule (do unto others before they do unto you). and all three are operant in the world. So how do we respond? If I follow the golden rule and I run into opposition from someone following the iron rule, I will be destroyed.

Staff

The debate about using technology for war or spying should be part of the college or better yet, high school curriculum. What class it would be in? well...some humanities class.  I am willing to wager it's part of the curriculum at West Point.

Blogger

>> who is to control the user?

Who is to control the creative impulse of mankind?

Blogger

Rich, who is to control the user?

Blogger

bartj, we certainly should look at the potential abuses of a technology, but should that prevent us from developing it if there are also potential benefits? Develop the technology, and control the user.

Staff

@susan, but does that need to be part of a college curriculum? And define "proper." For those who feel that a narrowly-targeted attack (as opposed to carpet bombing a neighborhood) is a proper use of the technology, given the assumption that an attack of some kind is necessary. It's not the drone that needs discussion, its the use of deadly force.

Staff

And yet a compay of high profits could do a lot of good for human welfare, even though they might be getting tax credit for their efforts (as an example.)   

Rookie

in 1959, English scientist-novelist CP Snow wrote about 'the two cultures' of humanities and sci/tech that never talked to each other.  he said the former was dominant and they needed to be in balance. today the sci/tech model is dominant, but they still need to be in balance.

Blogger

Richq, I agree that drones are not totally evil. They are very "cool" from an engineering perspective. But without one getting to explore the social / moral implications of such technology (good and bad) then we shortchange ourselves and our society.

Rookie

About drones....it's a do-unto others as you would have done unto you: --- the golden rule.  I don't want someone in another country dropping bombs from drones on me, so maybe my country should stop dropping bombs via drones on other countries.  It's just a matter of time before the tech can be turned against you. There's a link there between a moral/religious tenet and the technology if i ever saw one.

Blogger

@rich, that is altruism. Humanitarian doesn't have to be that way. I was just being goofy though.

Blogger

humanitarian = promoting human welfare

Blogger

Maybe that's what Bartj is saying: universities' humanities departments might be a place to examine what is a proper use of drones/surveillence tech.

Blogger

make humanitarian profitable? That seems like an oxymoron. Most definitions of humanitarian involve giving without expectation of return.

Staff

Susan - The trade offs between cost and schedule vs. performance and safety cause a lot of restless nights.

Blogger

I attended a panel session on Tuesday with several ECE professors. In many ways, technical education has been turned upside down. Today, students do proejcts first, then learn the they behind it. I even see that in the HS cirriculum where my daugheter is taking physics before algebra. They teach physics to HS freshmen now.

bartj, drones are also good for aerial surveys and finding lost hikers and plane crashes in the wilderness. Just because someone abuses a technology doesnt mean the technology is bad. And how can an engineer decide the ethics of something whose ultimate use he cannot know?

Staff

>> Maybe we just need to find a way to make humanitarian actions profitable

Any examples come to mind?  One could make the argument that many companies are providing "humanitarian" products and services already...



Blogger

@Measurement, but whose engineers? Globalization may mean local engineers are priced too high these days.

Staff

What other big ethical issues are there that engineers might lose sleep over?

Blogger

@measurementblues... I think we need to be careful about how view those CEO calls for more engineers. They have ALWAYS been not about more engineers (we increase engineering productivity every year). It's been about cheaper (i.e. younger) engineers. 

Blogger

Bartj, I agree about the drones being one of the most important ethical questions engineers have to face about their work.

Blogger

Had a chance to hear Dean Kamen (FIRST founder) live on Tuesday. He certainly advacates for more engineers.

@ rich

dont ahve a link, but try GT's website

Blogger

Clikc on the Word STEM here or in my post just below

@Tom, no didnt see that. Doesnt surprise me tho. Got a link?

Staff

With drone and surveillance technology reaching new heights (pun?) the engineering and education communities needs to take a good look at the impacts (another pun?) of these technologies.

Rookie

Hey all, I have a piece about STEM that I just posted. It's about the regular calls for more engineers from CEOs.

Maybe we just need to find a way to make humanitarian actions profitable

 

Blogger

@Rich

yea, did you see the tremendous sign up rate for the new Georgia Tech grad degree - first major Univ in US to go to MOOP

 

Blogger

Tom, perhaps the online education is the answer. Lower cost for the colleges, wider impact.

Staff

In terms of morality, I think that sometimes curiosity and the thrill of discovery overrules the potential moral implications. Again, having a broader understanding of the world can help to guide curiosity along lines of better ultimate morality.

Blogger

Funny, though. Best humanities educcation I got was in high school. Took an interdisciplinary course that blended literature, art, history, critical thinking, and composition. THe first three were presented chronologically, so we could see how they evolved together, rather than focussing on specific genres or eras. Made history a living thing, not dry dates and facts.

Staff

its deeper than STEM, Rich.  college is becoming so expensive that it has to offer a good job immediately, and with even college professors being turned into freelance workers without tenure how will the quality of the educators stay up.

Blogger

Universities are also catering to Big Pharma...because of the big money.

Blogger

I agree, Duane.  Humanities help you write better in your own language -- My impression of the engineer/programmer authors I've worked with is they are often very well read and have wide-ranging interests.

Blogger

I'm not sure how the morality thing works out long term, but we're moving toward a different  way to create curricula. Specialization is giving way ever so slowly to holistic ways to solve problems.

It's not just a melding of technical disciplines (mechanical and electrical or biological)... I think curricula will evolve to teach students an even broader way to meet the world.

That's the optimist in me.

 

Blogger

Agreed, Duane. Ultimately engineering is about meeting a need, and understanding the people with the need is an essential part of developing a satisfactory solution.

Staff

Tom, the focus is increasing on STEM for economic reasons. No one wants to have a 5- or 6-year degree program for engineering, but there is too much that needs to be learned. So they cut the stuff that does not directly relate to the field of study.

Staff

Personally, I think being well rounded, as in humanities and language skills in addition to strong technical skills, leads to better designs than does just technical skills alone. It helps by putting design into a social / application context.

Blogger

There's not even a universal set of morals we can turn to.

Staff

@ rich

i agree so then why are universities closing down their lib arts programs and focusing only on STEM programs?

Blogger

sorry, mixed tenses. humanities are ...

Staff

We have religion and that doesn't always help us act morally though it may help enourage some people to act morally. Others use it to the opposite effect. So programming morality into some  device....I don't know

Blogger

I think humanities is an essential part of higher education, regardless of your degree program. They help us understand and thus interact with other humans and society in productive and beneficial ways. Everybody can benefit from that, engineer or other.

Staff

good morning.  thank you for joining.   i'd like to explore here why our higher ed asks us to decide between the humanities and studying technology, and instead use each to help in-form the other.

Blogger

Howdy, Brian, Caleb

Blogger

But how do you define "kind?" Kavorkian thought he was being kind. Many others though otherwise. So on what do we base our decision-making? And don't we already?

Staff

to build on Tracy Kidder's notion, develop the soul of a new machine age, and not just rage against the machines.

Blogger

@ Rich

we are heading towards an Internet of Things, why not also aim for an internet of kind actions.

Blogger

And it's that user that we have no controls over nor ability to predict the actions of. So we cant predict what impact a technology will have. So how do we make evaluations?

Staff

Caleb, but that happens naturally, doesnt it? Someone comes up with a device or a scheme, and the rest of the world figures out how to use it to best advantage (or stop using it). If everyone were following an enlightened path, then the use would be for the greater good. But self-seeking individuals use it differently. It's not the technology's developer fault, it's the user's.

Staff

rich,

 I don't think we can predict with any kind of certainty. I think maybe we need an approach that is like a 2nd wave of innovation. The first wave is the creation (driven by corporate profits usually), then the 2nd wave can be the rest of the world figuring hout how to make this new thing a humanitarian tool

 

Blogger

Just read your blog for this chat. First question that popped up for me was, do we have the tools for accurately predicting the moral or humanistic impact of our technologies? I dont think we do, so trying to temper our technologies on such grounds would be futile and possibly counterproductive.

Staff

@ richQ

it's not tools that are the problem, its what we do or dont do with them that needs more discussion.  are you familiar with the Ring Ceremony in Canada - engineering grads get a ring made of steel from a bridge that collapsed killing scores.  its to remind them thru their worklives that logical calculations wrongly made have social consequences.

Blogger

good morning Brian and Rich, Tom is on his way!

 

Blogger

Good morning, gang! Hiya Tom! Good luck with this. 

Great idea... 

Blogger

Yeah, my desk clock is still on Savings Time.

Staff

but I suspect the real reason is that emotional words like this dont mesh with logic and calculations. Emotions are too nebulous.

Staff

Hard to say that a charge pump creates current with kindness.

Staff

Why are words like kindness, compassion, service, and common good never used in technical literature?

Blogger


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