Why I dread the thought of benign algorithms

Science fiction writers would have us believe that intelligent machines will either enslave us or get rid of human beings altogether. But what if they were extremely benign and protective towards us? What could possibly go wrong? This article may be used as the basis for a discussion with your pupils.

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A too-robust approach to spam

Spam wallI was reading recently that something like 47% of emails are spam. I can believe it. I get the whole range: offers of Russian brides, Viagra, genie bras, news that a previously unknown relative has left me tons of money and messages exhorting me to open the attached document or confirm my security details. All this would be quite funny on one level, but it makes downloading and then sifting through email that much more difficult.

So I decided to do something about it.

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Big ideas for ed tech leaders: What’s your self-talk?

HiatusWhen I was in my teens I wanted desperately to get involved in television production, especially the filming and editing side. So I was delighted when one day there was a the start of a new behind-the-scenes series about how television studios operate. Well, the presenter started off by saying, “This looks boring, all these cables and wires everywhere, but…”. Then, a few minutes later, “This is a boring part, but…”. After 15 minutes I switched channels. I’m not even sure that the series was completed. Who wants to be told that the thing they have given up their time to watch is ‘'”boring”?
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Our ebooks may be discontinued

Paperless officeNew EU rules on VAT (value-added tax) come into force on 1st January 2015. At present, the tax applied is the rate prevailing in the country of supply. Thus my ebooks are taxed at the rate of 20%. From the beginning of next year, this will change, and the rate of tax applied will be according to the place of purchase.

There are technical difficulties associated with the administration of this approach.

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Whiteboards: not dead yet

Getting Ready for OLED Technology - A Small Collage of Interactive Wall Applications on Our Smart Boards at the Interactive Interactive Show and Open Houses - Sheridan Interactive Multimedia One Year Post Grad College in OakvilleI heard an interesting snippet from Mike Cladingbowl, National Director at Ofsted, recently. He said that when interactive whiteboards were first introduced, Ofsted inspectors saw an increase in “chalk and talk”. Hardly surprising, because interactive whiteboards made chalk and talk, ie teaching from the front, easier.
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Should we welcome the nanocams?

I’m reading a short story by Ian Creasey called “The Edge of the Map”. In the world depicted by Creasey, automated cameras called “nanocams” take photos and newspapers (and other media, presumably) source their illustrations from the pool created by them. In other words, there is no need for specialist photographers.

This raises a number of interesting questions.

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Driverless cars: technology trumps experience - again

If you want an excellent example of the triumph of hope over experience, look no further than the generally rapturous welcome given to the news that Google has produced a driverless car with no brakes and no steering wheel.
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Safer Internet Day: Time to turn to pawnography?

Today I sent out my newsletter, Digital Education, and because today is Safer Internet Day the word “pornography” appeared. And guess what? The newsletter was blocked by a Local Authority’s filtering system. I’m not sure whether or not this is worse than the time I was told my website was blocked – because it featured an article about social networking.
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Business emails to inspire confidence (not)

Double CheckThere must be a whole generation of people who know the mechanics of using technology, but have no idea of how to take charge of it. I am thinking in particular of the ridiculous marketing messages I receive, that advertise targeted marketing services. I mention this because, despite all the lambasting of “Office skills”, it is demonstrably clear that people need them. I could even make a case for this being related to digital safety. How? Reputation is important, and marketing messages that have “schoolboy errors” do nothing to enhance one’s credibility. Consider the following examples:
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