Today’s activities in the GiGS project included a visit to the KIOS research center which is a part of the university of Cyprus. The main focus for the presentations was the use of digital technology to improve life in many ways. We got to see systems for monitoring report on water pipes and electrical wires. There were also impressive drones and impressive examples of coding to make them identify problems in fire extinguishing.
The first thing we did was to listen to a presentation on artificial intelligence and the message that came out was that a smart item does not have to be that intelligent. It only has to react to certain stimulus. This reasoning sounded a bit strange to me, but when learning was later on defined very crudely as reacting to a certain impression and then drawing a conclusion from it, I realised that the behaviouristic model was the only one used. OK, it may be practical.
But think about it for a while. What would happen to the idea of AI and “smart” everything if we would take on another idea for learning. Let’s say that knowledge is to interact with tools in an appropriate way and that learning is to do it better and better. Would a cruise control (this was used as an example of a smart item that we didn’t think about) be considered smart? Would an app that sends a message from the fridge to your phone to indicate that you are out of milk be smart?
What if we consider learning to be discerning of critical aspects of an object of learning. Would that perhaps help the people that program autonomous cars to separate a stone from a hedgehog on the road? Perhaps these things are only interesting on a philosophical level, but I cannot help being a bit upset when some things (like theories of learning) are treated so shallow in such an advanced example of research as AI.
There was one thing though that upset me for real. When the presenter talked about fire extinguishing and smart buildings he used the utterly tragic example of the fire in Grenfell Towers. If the building had been smart, the firemen would have known that they could have gone in, even though it may have appeared to be too hot. I do not think that lack of technology was the issue there. Grenfell has still not been rebuilt. People are still not able to return to their homes. Earlier in the presentation a message was that the human brain does not need to be involved in a smart item. Perhaps not, but a human heart does and there are many hearts of politicians that are missing in the case of Grenfell.
Stormzy at the Brit Awards: "Yo, Theresa May, where's the money for Grenfell?"