I had no idea that Wil Wheaton graced my home state with his presence back in March at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. I can’t tell you how bummed I am that I missed seeing him speak.
Neverminding my failure to stay on top of cool things, Mr. Wheaton was nice enough to post a copy of his remarks on his site. I’m just a few years younger than Wil and not only empathize with his childhood experiences but can say I had my own version of them.
I also totally agree that “the library is a safe place” for everyone.
In order to survive, I disassociated for much of my childhood, but I clearly remember the books. That’s where I found comfort, companionship, inspiration and validation. It’s where the imagination that powers everything I do creatively in my life today was born. And it all started in that library, with that librarian. She was one of the first people I can remember asking me, “What do you like? What’s important to you? What do you want to know more about? How can I help you find it?”
That moment was so special and meaningful, not just then, but for years after. When I got older, I began to learn that so much of what had been presented to me as truth in school wasn’t just false, it was propaganda. I remember the first time I saw a banned books display at a bookstore in the mall when we were on location for Stand By Me. I wanted to read all of them, because I’d figured out that if They didn’t want me to, there must be something pretty great inside.
I read To Kill A Mockingbird, and began thinking about racism and injustice.
I read 1984 and Brave New World, and began thinking about autocrats, and what it meant to be truly free to choose our own destinies.
I read Johnny Got His Gun, and All Quiet on the Western Front, and saw firsthand the horrors of war.
One quality that AI may put to extremely positive use would be objectivity – a lack of personal biases or prejudices. Properly programmed, my financial advisor AI should not be advising me to invest in areas where the advisor would get the biggest fee, but where I would stand to make the biggest return at the lowest risk. Would my AI dentist or doctor only recommend those procedures and medications that have proven rate of effectiveness not the most kickback from pharmaceutical companies? Would an AI intelligence agent be more likely to uncover double-agents in the office?
Of course, the burning question in education is “Would AIs make better teachers than humans?”
I won’t spend my time here griping about the overuse of technology for standardized testing and other “necessary” tests. That fight is for another day.
Today, let’s talk about how frustrating it is to use many testing services. I’ve spent most of the past two weeks getting two grade levels into two different online testing systems.
One system required an SFTP upload of a CSV file. I kept getting errors even using the company’s template and data tool. After trying a few dozen times, I gave up and sent the file to the company. The next day, the data was uploaded and corrected. I still have no clue what was wrong.
The second company uses Clever to sync students and teachers. But not to log students in for the test. No, no, they require a lockdown browser for their exam. Conveniently, they autogenerate usernames and passwords for the students.
Did I mention these elements are 11 characters or so each? And the students using them are in kindergarten?
Yep. Smiles all around.
Mind you, I have a decent amount of experience with all the tools I used to make these data uploads happen. I would venture to say that the person at most schools responsible for this process is NOT as experienced. Just a hunch.
The full-length trailer for Christopher Nolan’s next film “Oppenheimer” is now available for viewing. It’s pretty fantastic.
The film focuses on Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist often called the “father of the atomic bomb.” The film draws from the book “American Prometheus” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.
In the early 1940s, World War II was raging, and the US government had just launched the top-secret Manhattan Project. Its goal? To create the first atomic bomb. Enter Robert Oppenheimer, a genius with deep knowledge of theoretical physics. He was tasked with leading the scientific team at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to develop this deadly weapon.
Oppenheimer was known for his charisma and ability to bring together some of the brightest minds, like Enrico Fermi and Richard Feynman, to collaborate on this massive undertaking. The pressure was immense, as the project was a race against time and other countries to harness the power of nuclear fission.
Despite the challenges, Oppenheimer’s team succeeded, and on July 16, 1945, they witnessed the first atomic explosion in history – the Trinity Test. This changed everything; it was a game-changer in warfare, but it also weighed heavily on Oppenheimer’s conscience. He famously quoted from the Bhagavad Gita, saying, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Not long after, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading to Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II. But the ethical implications of these bombings were profound, and Oppenheimer struggled with the guilt of having played a key role in their development.
“American Prometheus” dives deep into the life and inner turmoil of Robert Oppenheimer, showing his brilliance, patriotism, and the painful consequences of his work. It’s a compelling story that makes us question the responsibility of scientists and governments in the pursuit of knowledge and power.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while because I find the story fascinating. The actions portrayed here still affect us today. Some lines I caught in the trailer speak to the haunting memory of these events…
“Our work here will ensure a peace mankind has never seen.”
“Until someone builds a bigger bomb.”
“You are the man who gave them the power to destroy themselves, and the world is not prepared.”