We Solve For ‘x’ In This Class

12 October 2010

I had an Intermediate Algebra class on 11 October 02010 that started at noon. Prior to class I had read a press release from Geron Corporation announcing the “enrollment of the first patient in the company’s clinical trial of human embryonic stem cell.” I made mention of this historic moment near the start of the class and I had to immediately change the subject. We solve for ‘x’ in this class.

Prior to this embryonic stem cell moment, I had presented the QOTW (Quote Of The Week).

The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate. I have tolerated a lot — Doug Engelbart (01925-)

I briefly mention how the way we use computers today can be attributed to Doug Engelbart’s work back in the 1960s. I also mentioned that Engelbart is alive and still working on his lifelong dream of augmenting human intelligence.

Student: What do you mean by augmenting human intelligence?
Me: Make all people equal when it comes to IQ.
Student: What?!?!? How do we do this?
Me: Well, one example, the Googlers want a Google object implanted in our brains.
Student: What?!?!? Won’t we be like robots?
Me: We solve for ‘x’ in this class. Search Google for site:wired.com bill joy future and read Why the future doesn’t need us.

Prior to this embryonic stem cell moment, I mentioned that is was nice having two binary dates in a row. Yesterday was 10/10/10 and today was 10/11/10. Next month will be fun because we have 11/11/11 and 11/11/11 will be the last binary date until 1 January 02100. I wasn’t able to move of this topic until I pointed out the blasphemy of using a 2-digit year.

Me: I should be shot for using a 2-digit year. If anything, we should be using a 5-digit year.
Student: 5-digit year?!?!?!?
Me: Yes. 2010 is really 02010. But you don’t want to start using a 5-digit year because that will put you completely out-of-sync with the rest of society.
Student: Nobody uses a 5-digit year.
Me: We solve for ‘x’ in this class. Visit http://longnow.org

At the very start of class (i.e. prior to this embryonic stem cell moment), I mentioned that The Simpsons last night was a mathy episode (Lisa coached baseball using statistics/probability) and I tweeted about it.

At this point the energy level of the class started its fall to zero because it was time for us to solve for ‘x’.


Does the future need us?

28 December 2009

Singularity Hub’s A Review Of The Best Robots of 2009 reaffirms my belief that all high school students should be required to read, ponder and discuss Bill Joy’s essay Why the future doesn’t need us.

It might be a serious error to ignore Bill Joy’s opinion.

Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.

As 02009 nears an end, I continue to claim that we have not yet entered the Age of Robotics, but Singuarlity Hub’s robot review provides evidence that the Robotics Age is rapidly approaching.

Augmenting human intelligence

20 November 2009

This was my Facebook posting on 02009.11.20.

It’s all about augmenting human intelligence. What happens if somebody cracks (“hacks into”) a person’s brain implant?

Direct Link Between the Brain and Computers Coming in 2020 [02009.11.20]

“It’s possible now, more than ever, to augment human intellect.” — Bill Joy (from an article about Doug Engelbart titled “The Dream of a Lifetime”)

I tweeted the following two days ago [02009.11.18]

Covered peta-scale computing in class yesterday. Student asked: Why supercomputers? Tomorrow they’ll see http://ow.ly/DkwZ

Nutshell: “IBM has simulated a brain with 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses–about the equivalent of a cat’s cortex, or 4.5% of a human brain.”

The computing roadmap at the end of 02009: 20 petaflops by 02012 and 1,000 petaflops (one exaflops) by 02018-02020.

[extra] While writing this blog entry, the following tweet from @hrheingold was received.

Engelbart’s 1962 “Augmenting Human Intellect” is well worth rereading every year or two.

I retweeted Howard Rheingold’s tweet and added the following bookmark to my Delicious.com account.