Tag Archives: Computer Science

Informacy is the New Literacy

As anyone who uses a computer, tablet, smart phone, or VR (virtual reality) device knows, we live in an Information Age unprecedented in human history, in which the sum total of mankind’s knowledge is available with a finger’s touch or click of a mouse – or a question posed to Alexa, Siri, Cortana, et al. This has put tremendous power in the hands of the end user, but as noted by philosophers and statesmen, with great power comes great responsibility. While navigating through this vast and ever-growing trove of data we must be (but all too often aren’t) mindful of the pitfalls and obstacles that litter the virtual pathways and take the steps necessary to avoid them.

At a time when you can search billions of texts in milliseconds, scan over trillions of online images, and map virtually the entire planet’s surface, we need to rethink what it means to be literate and to be a learner. As the very definition of “literacy” is evolving thanks to technology, so too is the skillset required by the literate person. Merely knowing how to read is no longer enough; as our methods of teaching and learning increasingly move from traditional linear modes to the non-linear forms enabled by technology, we must learn anew how to frame questions, interpret results, quickly evaluate and organize masses of information, separate the authentic from the fabricated, and above all understand and nurture our “metacognition.”

Dan Russel, Google’s Űber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness at Google (yes, that’s his official title, but he describes himself as a “cyber-tribal-techno-cognitive-anthropologist”) uses, naturally enough, various Google services and apps as models of tools that may be applied in service of metacognition. Google Search and Google Maps have become ubiquitous, but there are other information weapons in Google’s arsenal. One often overlooked example is the metadata embedded in photographs. Among other parameters metadata can indicate date, time, and location (longitude and latitude) of origin; this data can, in turn, be analyzed to determine the authenticity of a photo, obviously a useful tool at a time when deliberate misinformation constitutes a significant portion of social media posts. Many Google users may also be unaware that Google maintains a Public Data archive, containing a wide array of charts, diagrams, statistics, scientific studies, and other information.

These resources and many (many) others available via Web or app can help the user to develop “informacy,” which Russell considers the updated version of literacy. At its most basic, informacy means a) knowing what the information is, b) knowing where to find it, c) knowing how to verify it, d) knowing how to interact with it, and e) knowing how to apply and/or share it. With expanded and virtual reality technologies developing rapidly, informacy and the skills it requires will become absolutely essential.

Watch Learning in the Age of Google – The Library Channel

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Talking with Machines – Artificial Intelligence

With the vast amount of data available in digital form, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving rapidly.

If you’ve even been caught on a phone tree with a computer that doesn’t understand what you are saying, you’ll appreciate that scientists are trying to figure out how to teach machines to understand, to communicate and even be empathetic.

William Wang, Director of the Natural Language Processing Group at UCSB, summarizes the stunning achievements of Artificial Intelligence for the past decade and talks about the intersection of AI and language. He’s trying to build an empathetic conversational agent that can understand and generate human sentences with rich emotions.

Wang also looks at the challenges facing AI in the future and the work ahead of these researchers as they strive to keep improving AI and making it better for everyone.

William Wang is the Director of UCSB’s Natural Language Processing Group, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UCSB. He received his PhD from School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. He has broad interests in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing. He is the recipient of a DARPA Young Faculty Award, an IBM Faculty Award, a Facebook Research Award, and an Adobe Research Award. He is an alumnus of Columbia University, and he also worked at Yahoo! Labs, Microsoft Research Redmond, and University of Southern California. His work and opinions appear at major tech media outlets such as Wired, VICE, Fast Company, The Next Web, and Mental Floss.

Watch Artificial Intelligence: What’s Next?

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Building Bridges Across Nations

Have you ever wondered how Amazon knows what products might pair well with your most recent purchase? Or how Netflix knows what you should watch next? They use recommender systems. Two students from Mexican universities spent their summer learning all about these complex systems at UC San Diego.

The students were part of the new Summer Internships for Mexican Students program at the Computer Science and Engineering department. Department Chair Dean Tullsen says he started the program in part to create a pipeline that brings top students from Mexican universities to UC San Diego. In this installment of the Summer With CSE series, Tullsen explains why he felt it was important to create that connection with schools in San Diego’s backyard.

You will also meet four student researchers as they work on two separate projects. While one pair studied recommender systems, the other took on machine learning. They helped figure out ways to improve research on hyperdimensional computing, which is meant to mimic the way the human brain functions. While their work was varied, all four were inspired by the experience.

Watch Summer With CSE: SIMS -The Summer Internships for Mexican Students Program

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Summer With CSE

Sum-sum, sum-sum sum-sum summetime! It’s baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and…a bananiano?!

Well, its UC San Diego’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, so you shouldn’t expect anything near ordinary! That’s Summer with UC San Diego CSE.

From High School teachers going to summer school classes to learn coding, to hyperdimensional computing to building robots and a bananiano – all while teaming up with our friends across the border check out the new series Summer With CSE on The Computer Science Channel.

Browse more programs in Summer With CSE

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Marvelous Machines

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s popular lecture series, “Science on Saturday,” returns to UCTV with four different lectures, each exploring the theme “Marvelous Machines.” These presentations are targeted to middle and high school students so we can all get our science on.

Checkout these lectures:
Biomolecular Action Movies: Flash Imaging With X-ray Lasers, with Matthias Frank and Megan Shelby

Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry: Improving Human Health One Atom at a Time with scientist Mike Malfatti

Laser Plasma Accelerators: Riding the Wave to the Next Generation X-Ray Light Source, by Felicie Albert

The Evolution of Computing Technologies: From Following Instructions to Learning, by Katherine Lewis

Browse more programs in Field Trip at the Lab: Science on Saturday.

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