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JTC Event – Opening Plenary

November 27, 2014

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Good morning readers! Today’s series of posts will be my notes from Alberta Education’s JTC Event in Edmonton on November 27, 2014.

Well, okay so made a bit of an entrance today. Started at 7:30 AM with a breakfast meeting with some friends from another school jurisdiction, but lost track of time. Thought the sessions started at 8:45 AM, sadly they started at 8:30. Whoops! I was about 8 minutes late! Sorry folks.

Walked in and Derek McCurdy was showing some videos that have been made about the Learning Technology Policy Framework – LTPF

Current Projects:

Baseline Technology Assessment
Currently working with IBM to go through the mountain of data. Hoping to have data and report released early in the New Year.

Working on Shared Services Research Report

Disaster Recovery Planning Guide and Workshop

Privacy in the Cloud Toolkit

Design Challenge

Each table was given a bag of random supplies and a couple of random words, and our goal was to create a product and sell/market that product to other tables. Our table had Fluff As A Service. This activity took us about 20 minutes and was a blast as we presented our ideas to our neighbouring tables. Other tables had great ideas like Titanic Data Storage and Frisbee Wifi, etc. This was a very fun activity that got us doing a lot of moving and conversation.

Keynote Speaker – Robin Winsor @robinwinsor
President and CEO of Cybera

We cannot ignore some changes. Some of them are adapt or die. If you don’t adapt, you won’t survive. Robin talked about how schools, guilds, etc. started. Some history about public lectures, teaching random subjects, practical skills.

Gutenberg invented the printing press, and the world changed. Cabinet next to the press stored capital letters in the top shelf, and small letters in the lower shelf, hence the terms uppercase and lowercase.

1500 – approximately 8 million books in existence.

By 1600 – more than 200 million books in existence – had to learn how to catalog and store books in order to find what you were looking for.

In 1804 the programmable loom was invented – used punch cards (sort of). First programmer was a woman! Jacquard was the inventor.

1858 – First transatlantic cable -> Morse Code conversation between the U.S. President, and the Queen of England. First message was simple, but riots ensued and city hall was burned down in New York.

Change can be:




How do we handle Exponential Change?

If a lily pad doubled every day….

Technology is exponential – but we all have linear bias

Historically we haven’t predicted impact very well. Darwin suggested his theories wouldn’t cause any issue with religious society. Marconi said the invention of wireless would prevent wars from ever happening. US Surgeon General in 1969 said that infectious diseases were done. 1989 Star Trek episode had the character Data in “Measure of a Man” capable of processing 60 Teraflops. (in 2014 a Chinese super computer did 32)

There is so much data now, it’s fundamentally impossible for us to manage.

Alan Turing invented Artificial Intelligence, and now we suggest that AI will be needed to manage this data.

Just this weekend a new movie called The Imitation Game is arriving, about the life of Alan Turing.

Remember a few years ago when the IBM computer competed on Jeopardy, and won?

If we can build a better interface so we can think a question and receive the answer? When do we stop being the person we are?

Nature suggests that the brain is used only by organisms that move. So if a lifeform doesn’t move, does it have a brain? Does it need a brain?

What about robots? Fixed – like in a factory. Autonomous. Remote Control. Is a car a remote control robot? Hmm. Sort of. Many manufacturers are building cars, promising to ship in 2017 that will drive themselves.

Remember the Roomba? It vacuums on it’s own, seems to be horribly inefficient, but it does it on it’s own.

From 2008 – Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog

From 2013 – Boston Dynamic’s Wild Cat

Do we need to adapt the robot to our environment, or adapt the environment to the robot?

Boston Dynamic’s Petman

How long will it be before something like this is available to go to Starbucks to get a coffee? What happens when you put an AI system that seems practically human, and put it in a robot body? How long before you have to give it human rights? What is property? What is a right? It seems so futuristic, will it ever happen? Feels like sooner rather than later.

Nano technology – lots of room for physics in small scales.

Molecular motor currently on the theoretical drawing board.

3D Printers are becoming more and more popular. Can now use stem cells to print meat… Can print parts, organs. Now have a 3D printer that can make 3D printers….Synthetic bio. Are we close to DIY Bio? Labs are using AutoCAD to build synthetic life forms.

Desktop DNA sequencer – not far fetched. Contest at MIT to build synthetic bio projects.

Glowing Plants Kickstarter -> Can we plant Glow in the Dark plants and put them on boulevards around the city?

What about in Education?

Kepler-62 System – People looking are Exobiologists, a discipline that didn’t exist 5 years ago. When a student asks what they should spend four years in University studying, it’s a harder question to answer, as some of the jobs haven’t been invented yet, and they are starting to study.

So therefore, how are we helping kids learn to adapt and adjust to change, so they can be successful.

What do we need to do? Really critical is the network. How do we connect people?

Google’s Loon Project – Internet for everyone, from a balloon.

Using drones to examine feasibility of potato planting…

SceneTap – app that uses cameras to watch people, and can tell how many people are in a bar, what the gender gap and average age is, so you can decide where to go…. Hmmm. How does this affect privacy?

Car repo companies have the largest database of license plates on the planet, so when they need to repossess a vehicle, they already know where it is.

Ultimately Knowledge Dispels Fear

If we want to teach our kids best, then teach them to have enough knowledge to NOT be fearful…

I really, really enjoyed Robin’s presentation! He did an excellent job talking about change in history and how it impacts us and how we deal with it. Thank you Robin for a great conversation!


From → GHSD

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