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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thank You Indiana for reminding me why the government has no idea what it is doing in education: Knowledge of AI now a requirement for Indiana 8th graders

I was a a professor of Computer Science for 35 years. But, I didn’t learn enough about the subject apparently. I would not be able to pass the new Indiana State standards in computer science for eighth grade.

Here they are: 

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.19.33 PM

I will now attempt to deal with these questions (which I assume will be in the form of a multiple choice test that signifies nothing other than memorization.)   I will assume, for now, that Indiana really wants answers, so here I go:

6-8 CD1: (demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between hardware and software)

Hardware is the box (phone, iPad, Macbook). Software is the stuff you type and the things you click on. 

Is that the answer Indiana? If it is, then all you are doing is teaching the names of something kids already know about. If it isn’t and you want some more complex answer, you will be out of luck, and are engaging in a pointless exercise.

6.8 CD2: (identify routine hardware and software problems that occur daily)

Sorry but I don’t know what this question is asking. Are they trying to teach that sometimes you need to re-boot your machine? Otherwise I have no answer.

6.8 CD3: (describe major component of computer systems and networks)

Sorry Indiana, I can’t answer that question. Why not? Because I have no idea what it is about. Is “router” one of the answers? How about “printer”? I haven’t a clue. But I am sure, Indiana, that you can make kids memorize a list of terms and then announce great results about Indiana kids and computer science.

6.8 CD4. (how is machine intelligence different than human intelligence)

This is, of course my favorite question. AI was has been my field since the mid 60s. (For all I know. I might be one the 5 oldest people in AI at this point.) And, Indiana, I cannot answer it. Why not?

Describe what distinguishes human from machines: 

A machine is what I am using to type this. I cannot type on people. I used a machine to make toast this morning. No human I know can make toast. I drove from the airport to my home yesterday. I used this machine called a car. Even it was an AI car it would not confuse me. I know it isn’t human.

The difference between how machines and humans communicate:

Humans talk to each other. Sometime they type to each other. Some computers say stuff to you such as “can’t find file”  or "a new update is available." But they don’t fool me. The machine is not saying this actually. It is displaying something a human wrote when the software (or was it the hardware?) was made that I am using. The machine is not talking to me even if it used a human voice to do this. I am not delusional. Apparently Indiana is.

Siri, chatbots, Watson, and every other so called AI is doing the same thing: giving voices to something a human wrote, or, in extreme cases giving voices to something some software found and making believe that it is talking to you and giving you an answer. This is not machine intelligence. It is a game that various companies are playing to make you think these machine are intelligent. Is that the right answer Indiana?

Describe how computers use models of intelligent behavior?

At least this question isn’t asinine. I have been working on it for more than 50 years. It is an important question. I am willing to believe that there is not a single person in the entire state of Indiana who knows the answer. Wait. I remembered that one my students is a professor at Indiana University. He knows what the answer is: "we haven’t really figured it out yet." Guess they didn’t ask his advice.

Good job Indiana. You have made school even stupider than it already is.


Unknown said...

Come on, Professor Schank. This is the state that wanted to officially declare the value of pi as 3.2. What do you expect?

Paul Miller said...

Off topic, but thinking about when CS was new and the math department was the place many schools placed it. I figured they must know something about the type of mind needed to be a success at CS, the math type. Since I tolerated merely math, mostly on a hope and prayer that one calculator or another would show me the road, my computer career stayed grounded. My TI Inspire sits off on a shelf, nonfunctional and never mastered beyond the basics. AI meets hardware and software functions too complicated for users to use.