The essay-scoring competition that just concluded offered a mere $60,000 as a first prize, but it drew 159 teams. At the same time, the Hewlett Foundation sponsored a study of automated essay-scoring engines now offered by commercial vendors. The researchers found that these produced scores effectively identical to those of human graders.
Barbara Chow, education program director at the Hewlett Foundation, says: “We had heard the claim that the machine algorithms are as good as human graders, but we wanted to create a neutral and fair platform to assess the various claims of the vendors. It turns out the claims are not hype.”
If the thought of an algorithm replacing a human causes queasiness, consider this: In states’ standardized tests, each essay is typically scored by two human graders; machine scoring replaces only one of the two. And humans are not necessarily ideal graders: they provide an average of only three minutes of attention per essay, Ms. Chow says.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Behind the scenes, there’s a big change happening on internet. It’s something that’s mostly hidden from web surfers, but it’s becoming critical to big internet companies such as Google and Netflix. They’re moving servers — usually free of charge — next to the service providers’ networking gear so that people trying to watch a popular YouTube video don’t have to send traffic across the network to servers back to the website’s data center. It can save companies like Google and Comcast lots of money, and it speeds things up for consumers. According to Craig Labovitz, founder of network analysis company Deepfield Networks, it’s also changing the way that internet companies work. “The business they’re in isn’t delivering bits anymore. It’s delivering content,” he says. And while not everyone agrees, Labovitz says there’s a bit of a land rush going on as more companies move to get their content closer to consumers. The prime real estate here is in nondescript box-like structures all over the world, which serve as a link between internet service providers, websites, and consumers connecting to the web. In the late 1990s, companies like Akami and Level 3 invented a business for themselves by setting up servers with ISPs and then caching popular webpages locally. ISPs liked it because they had to carry less traffic on their networks. Websites liked it because it made their pages load faster. But the internet is now in its very own age of video, and there’s simply so much traffic moving on the network that websites are striking deals with the ISPs themselves and installing their own gear in nondescript buildings all over the world. (via Google and Netflix Make Land Grab On Edge Of Internet | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com)
Swedish researchers are building a computer interface for your body. With a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have described a means of inserting “ion gates” into neurons. The goal, Dr. Magnus Berggren tells Wired, is to create an interface that lets machines control and regulate “physiology pathways in biological systems” — and that includes you. Neurons communicate through specialized molecules that trigger what are called neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine, for instance, controls muscle movement. The device described by the researchers would sit inside your body and act as a kind of repository for neurotransmitters. When the brain — or an outside computer — signals that these neurotransmitters are needed in a muscle or organ, the device would release these neurotransmitters so that the proper instructions could be carried out. “Our technology could be used to distribute all the chemicals along your muscle. That’s where we are aiming,” Berggren says. “Preferably, this is something that is coating your organ.” (via Swedes Explore Computer Interface for Your Biceps | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com)
A great excuse to post this Apple Newton “getting started” video.
A pair of new studies by computer scientists, biologists, and cognitive psychologists at Harvard, Northwestern, Wellesley, and Tufts suggest that collaborative touch-screen games have value beyond just play. Two games, developed with the goal of teaching important evolutionary concepts, were tested on families in a busy museum environment and on pairs of college students. In both cases, the educational games succeeded at making the process of learning difficult material engaging and collaborative. The findings were presented at the prestigious Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) conference in May. (via Teaching tree-thinking through touch)
The Solar Annual Report, Powered By The Sun
A solar power data report document which only reveals it’s contents in sunlight. Video below:
Solar energy is the main business of our client Austria Solar. That´s why we thought about how we could put this energy to paper. The result: the first annual report powered by the sun. Its content remains invisible until sunlight falls on its pages.
Swap your mouse for a coin.
Since the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster that shook Japan early in 2011, there have been a number of thoughtful innovations hoping to provide protection in the event of an emergency – from escape pods to shopping bags that double as safety helmets. Adding to this list, Japanese telecoms firm SoftBank has developed the Pantone 5 107SH smartphone, which features an in-built radiation detector. READ MORE…