Friday Five: AI is Everywhere

1. Quote of the week. On a visit to a big Seattle employer, the head of talent development said, “AI is everywhere.” From identifying, screening, interviewing, onboarding, to ongoing development, artificial intelligence (AI) is augmenting human judgment.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, almost a year ago, investor Michael Moe told us he had seen 400 deals in the HR and talent space that incorporated AI.

Like educators, corporate talent developers are thinking hard about personalized learning and competency-based progressions. Stay tuned, we’ll want to keep comparing notes with folks thinking about rapidly upskilling an army.

2. Transparency, please. If all that AI makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Code that learns can pick up our biases and develop its own. Two PwC partners said, “Opening the black box in which some complex AI models have previously functioned will require companies to ensure that for any AI system, the machine-learning model performs to the standards the business requires, and that company leaders can justify the outcomes.”

It’s great that so many schools have started teaching digital literacy, but now we’ve got to add algorithmic literacy. Every screen we look at has been curated by an algo. Decisions about your next loan, next job or jail term may be determined, in part, by an algorithm. It’s time to ask for transparency.

3. Teaching systems. There is a tick problem on Martha’s Vineyard. There’s a prevalence of Lyme disease on the lovely Massachusetts island. Scientists have suggested that gene-edited mice could be part of the solution. A great Future of Everything podcast explores the science, ethics, and politics of environmental intervention. High school students on the island have been an integral part of the investigation and community conversation–it’s been a great lesson in systems biology and exploring unintended consequences. This podcast could be a great resource for a PBL unit on when and how to intervene in the environment.

4. Eight billion connected minds. By 2024, with ubiquitous 5G connectivity, nearly all of the earth’s inhabitants will have a good shot at high-speed connectivity. It will be the first time we have the opportunity to offer a good affordable education to everyone on the planet. It’s time to think big.

5. The City Fund. Speaking of thinking big, Neerav Kingsland announced the formation of The City Fund, anchored by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Hastings Fund. The new fund envelops Education Cities, the nonprofit developed to support local “harbormasters” or, as some prefer, “quaraterback” orgs. For more on these local orgs that try to coordinate and support new school development, listen to our podcast with Maura Marino, Education Forward DC.

5 Discoveries

Announcement: In another staggering announcement, DreamBox announced a $130 million investment from The Rise Fund. About the investment, DreamBox CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson said, “DreamBox will be able to fuel more learning innovations, evolve our product and services offerings, and expand our reach on the global stage. DreamBox will also use the investment to explore strategic partnerships that will propel the company forward in its mission to reveal the brilliance we know every child possesses.” Wowzer.

Book: Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. University of Maryland prof Lilliana Mason (@LilyMasonPhD) illustrates how our identity groups have more to do with our decision making than our mental models or the introduction of new facts. Want someone to change their mind? It may not be as simple as a persuasive argument, you may need to help change their identity.

Org: USeed is a cool digital fundraising and marketing resource for education.

App: Khan Academy has a new app for early learning.

Pic: We were in KC this week working with our friends at SchoolSmartKC and tried to beat the heat with a pre-dawn Plaza run (see featured image). Love that place!

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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