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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

I’m not really very good at thinking through tax related issues, but when I listened to this recently released interview by Quartz with Bill Gates, his words made perfect sense to me.

If robots are taking over the jobs of workers why shouldn’t they pay the same kind of tax that would be paid by the people they replace?!

And … as Gates questions with that endearing giggle at the end of the video ….. it’s somewhat unlikely that robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax?!

Gates’ thoughts on the subject have already drawn commentary with Forbes describing his ideas as “bafflingly simple”.  Headlines citing reference to this interview such as this one: Robots that steal human jobs should pay taxes  are bound to proliferate across the web over the coming week as more thought is given to Gates’ not so outrageous thoughts!

Interesting – no?

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It’s a while since I last blogged about Google Doodles …..

Google Doodles

I really love Google Doodles!

They never fail to bring a smile to my face and I just love sharing what has become a morning ‘find’ with family, friends and work colleagues when I open Google.com on my laptop in the morning.  I’m in awe of both the creativity and the ingenuity of their creators……

In a nutshell, a Google Doodle, is a temporary graphic variation of the Google logo on its homepage and aims to honour or celebrate holidays, events, achievements and/or people.  Each of these special illustrations embed links with a host of information about the focus topic.  A Google Doodle appears for just one day, but is archived and available for viewing on the Google Doodle website.

Just last week I came across a fabulous entry about a woman by the name of Aletta Jacobs who is, among many other ‘firsts’, noted as a suffragette, a doctor and the inventor of the first effective contraceptive.

Clearly Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929) was a trailblazer for her time.  Just last week on February 9th, she was honoured for what would have been her 163rd birthday with a Google Doodle.

aletta-jacobs-163rd-birthday-5639465472098304-hp2x

Like so many of the links associated with Google Doodles, this one: Aletta Jacobs: 5 fast facts you need to know gives a thumbnail sketch of this amazing woman and her contribution to our world.

Google Doodles really do hold a goldmine of information.  Use them as an inspirational, quick look at information about a host of different topics that have been the feature of one of the many Google Doodles created over the years.  Search the Google Doodle website for previous creations dating back to 1998.  You’ll be surprised at the amount of information that can be gleaned from them in a very short time!

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My fascination with 3D printers never ends – after all its applications really are without end!

A while ago I fleetingly read about a pop up 3D restaurant in the newspaper, but with the restaurant scheduled to open in London, I didn’t really pay all that much attention.

Then I saw this video and ….. well ….. as I just said …… anything is possible!

But the magic of invention took a new turn when I read a post about an invention by a Dutch design studio which has created a compact 3D chocolate printer perfect for use in restaurants and homes.

Just look at it!  Apart from what it can do, this ‘must have’ kitchen accessory is sleek and sexy and I can already imagine it sitting on my kitchen benchtop!

3D chocolate printer

Most definitely, this is the most perfect ‘find’ for me which has popped up just in time for the summer holidays.   You don’t need much imagination to know what I will be spending the summer playing with!

See you back here in February 2017 when our school year ‘Downunder’ restarts.

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Who doesn’t hate wasting time waiting in supermarket checkouts lines?

Well, with Amazon Go, shopping is about to become a breeze!  Just log onto your smartphone app as you walk in the door, pop the phone in your pocket and start shopping.  As items are put into your bag or trolley, they will be added to your virtual card.  Once you leave the store, the total cost will be tallied and added to your virtual card and then charged to your Amazon account.

Simple – no?!

Released on Monday this week, the video promoting the app has already amassed millions of hits!  This certainly seems like another wonderful way that technology is revolutionizing our day-to-day life.

Amazon Go will be released in early 2017.  Hopefully it won’t take too long before it’s available in Australia.

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I’m not really a ‘car’ kind of person, so I don’t usually follow news articles about the car market.

But I couldn’t help stopping in my tracks just a couple of weeks ago when I saw an article which forecast that self driving cars will be on the market in 5 years.  Why?

1.  The thought of cars zipping around the roads was at one time a little overwhelming while at the same time reminiscent of that immortal TV show – The Jetsons.  – Stop for a tic to either wander down memory lane or discover this futuristic family for yourself!

2.  The second reason I stopped in my tracks was because I had the pleasure of going for a drive in one about a year ago – The Tesla Model S.  Even if I was a little nervous sitting in the front passenger seat while watching the driver’s hands be anywhere other than the steering wheel, it really was quite an awesome experience!

While the article I read seemed to be a promo for Ford’s predicted entry into the self drive market,  others including Google, Uber and BMW are starting to compete with Tesla who are so well advanced in the self driver market that they are now working on a more affordable version.

Self driving cars are, it is said, is a development that will place the incredible advances that have been made in artificial intelligence squarely into the lives of the masses.  But with this development, a whole range of ethical issues arise.  And like many of you, I’ve not considered these issues until I read a recent article in NovaNext: Can Autonomous Cars Learn to be Moral? (July 27, 2016)

As artificial intelligence develops increasingly subtle and complex decision making processes, it will become harder to determine who’s accountable for a machine’s actions: the engineer who designed it, the consumer who purchased it, or the machine itself.

The kinds of decisions that need to be incorporated into the ‘thinking’ of self driving cars are really quite scary.  If, for example, the self driving car is heading into a crash with another vehicle or an oncoming train should it veer sideways to avoid the crash knowing that the car and its driver will roll down the bank on the side of the road with the possibility of the driver being either injured or killed?

Referred to as The Trolley Problem, this kind of ethical decision has long been debated by philosophers:

Food for thought – no?

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I saw the trailer for Loving Vincent earlier in the year when it was first uploaded.  Quite simply – it is both awesome and beautiful!

Then I started reading the story behind the making of the movie, which, on its own, is quite breathtaking in the complexity and enormity of its production.  Loving Vincent is to be the world’s first painted film.

For it we will have to paint over 62,450 frames of painting on over 1,000 canvases. We shot the film with actors, and now we are literally painting over it frame by frame. This is a very laborious and time-consuming process. It has taken us 4 years to develop the technique, and it will take us 1 year with a team of over 100 painters working at studios in the Polish cities of Gdansk and Wroclaw, and a studio in Athens to complete the film.

The reason we are doing it is not because we want to be the first, or that we want to set any records, it is because we believe that you cannot truly tell Vincent’s story without his paintings, so we needed to bring his paintings to life.

An amazing undertaking, which reveals itself as even more impressive the more I delved into the movie’s website: Loving Vincent.  Explore how the film is made by viewing anyone of a number of short videos on the website.  This one, for example, explains how the artists paint every shot with oil paints on canvas.

I can’t wait to see the finished movie!

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Last week my husband and I went for a coffee at one of our favourite spots in outer suburban Melbourne.

Getting out of the car, we could hear someone shouting.  It didn’t take long to realize that the young guy, looking slightly disheveled and ‘out of it’ who was standing on the corner was the one shouting a string of abusive rants at another more ‘cleanly’ dressed guy who was hastily retreating from the scene.  Fortunately, nothing ‘ugly’ transpired, but the incident of just a few short seconds left me rattled, pensive and concerned.  It’s a question I found myself asking earlier this year following a similarly unexpected incident when I blogged Are we failing those we teach?

Reinforced by daily news reports of violent, antisocial behaviour involving theft, assault, abuse and even murder by young perpetrators, one can’t help feeling frightened, anxious and nervous about the ramifications of young people who know no limits on their behaviour and it’s impact on society.

Then, last week, I read the horrific account of the sexual abuse endured by a 16 year old boy at the hands of his classmates.  Hoping that the revelation of his story, 30 years after it occurred, may prevent other children from being hurt, this brave 46 year old stated that

Silence is the perpetrator’s greatest weapon”

A shiver coursed through me as I reflected on the damage that may have been perpetrated on students long before ‘mandatory reporting’ by those of us working in schools became compulsory by law.

Such disturbing thoughts were compounded last week when I read the recently published Young Adult (YA) novel Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey.

Over the years, I’ve had lengthy discussions with teaching colleagues – teacher librarians, librarians and general teaching staff in secondary schools – as well as school psychologists and social workers about the inclusion or exclusion of novels in school libraries written for the YA market on a range of tough themes: rape, incest, anorexia, pyromania, drugs, abortion, suicide and more.    The argument of whether to include books of this nature in school library collections vacillates between exposing or hiding from teens influential ideas that may encourage them to ‘experiment’.

Following my read of McCaffrey’s latest book though, my belief is reinforced that well written novels which clearly present a social issue and then guide teens on appropriate ways of responding to deviant behaviour most definitely belong in our school libraries.  While confronting, well written literature offers students a safe place to learn and explore real life issues.

It is also my strong belief that it is incumbent on teaching and ancillary staff working with teenagers to read these kind of novels so as to develop a real awareness and an understanding of the impact of changed social dynamics that dominate the lives of today’s teens.

I hope that this short review of Saving Jazz will inspire many educators to dip into the real world of teenagers so as to learn, explore and understand the real life issues facing today’s secondary school students both in and out of the classroom.

Saving Jazz – Kate McCaffrey

saving-jazzA hard hitting ‘in-your-face’ novel about cyberbullying.  When Allison is found floating in the bath by her mother, the story of what and why is revealed by a series of blog posts written by her friend Jazz.  As the ugly truth about events that occurred is revealed, the reader develops an increased appreciation of the grave ramifications that can result from posting on social media.  A well written novel, which presents a clear, well defined message through the voice of Jazz and at its end is quite uplifting.  Despite the mature age theme, this novel is highly recommended.

Rating:  *****
Theme Fiction:  Social Issues
Suitability:  Year 10-12+

 

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