Reading Suggestion-1

Article Name:To automate is human
Author Name: Antone Martinho-Truswell
Source: Aeon
Category: Human Evolution/Technology

Summary for this article:

This article deals with whether we humans are supreme unique species on earth and analysis various factors that make us unique or not.The author starts giving an example of Soviet scientist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov used artificial insemination to breed a ‘humanze’ but failed . This poses a question of whether humans are a creature apart, above all other life, or whether we’re just one more animal in a mad scientist’s menagerie. To answer this He feels that We have lost our exclusive position in the animal kingdom because we underestimated our cousins. Scientists concoct a new, intelligent task for the chimps, and they do it before passing down these tasks to other primates, who usually also manage to complete them. We become a bit less unique and a bit more animal with each finding.

The author gives various examples of culture or empathy in animals but the evidence threatening to refute human exceptionalism was always waved off as an insufficiently ‘pure’ example of the phenomenon in question. He emphasises through his examples that although It took longer, but animals eventually caught up . Another uniqueness of the human race against other species is the language but the author refutes to this as it is narrowly defined about grammatical language. It does not cover all communication, nor even the ability to convey abstract information as animals too communicate all the time . Even some intelligent animals can be coaxed to manipulate auditory signals that are similar to us. 

The author states that the only field where no other animal has entered is the field of Artificial intelligence . He further describes how human tools evolved and gave us a superior edge over other species and also how we have made machines to dump our load of work on them.

The author concludes that as we stand on the precipice of a revolution in AI, many are bracing for a huge upheaval in our economic and political systems as this new form of automation redefines what it means to work.

Words to learn from this article:


Quandaries: a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation
Disquieting: inducing feelings of anxiety or worry
Burgeoning: begin to grow or increase rapidly; flourish
Transcedence: existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level
Hubristic: excessively proud or self-confident
Shibboleth: a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important
Baulk: hesitate or be unwilling to accept an idea or undertaking
Anvil: a heavy iron block with a flat top and concave sides, on which metal can be hammered and shaped
Ineptly: without skill or aptitude for a particular task or assignment; maladroit
Coax: persuade (someone) gradually or gently to do something
Bot: a robot
Trajectory: the path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces
Trebuchet: a machine used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles
Penchant: a strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something
Slur: speak (words) indistinctly so that the sounds run into one another

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Reading Suggestion-2

Article Name:
Author Name: 
Source:
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Summary for this article:

The article deals with the topic of New York elementary schools that struggles with literacy and numeracy whole adding to that teaching Chinese language ( mandarin ) seems odd . The author starts with how she might be wrong but she feels that her children will never be proficient in Mandarin, in spite of the New York public school system’s vague belief to the contrary. She mentions vague because it is on the syllabus for many three and four year olds starting school but it is not mandatory across the system.

The reason for teaching mandarin is that the school, which has historically served a low-income demographic and was recently rezoned in an effort to better integrate the neighbourhood, is trying to attract middle-class families . Even the posh private schools are anxious about marketing to have started shoving Mandarin classes on to their kindergarten schedules. 

The author feels that it is very ambitious and internationalist to introduce a second language from the get-go, and one with its roots so far from English. She feels that even an hour on these classes would help to broaden the children’s horizon but given the school landscape in New York, it still strikes me as faintly absurd as they have a low proficiency levels in maths and English, have inadequate resources, almost zero fundraising capabilities, and a large minority of children who have Spanish as a first language.

She concludes that the reason she is suffering from a snobbish resistance to a subject is because it is promoted on the basis not of culture but trade. She feels that it is important to improve the current state of the schooling system than coming up with inculcation of something new as mandarin.

Words to learn from this article:

Vague: of uncertain, indefinite, or unclear character or meaning
Snobbish: relating to, characteristic of, or like a snob
Earnestly: with sincere and intense conviction; seriously

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Reading Suggestion-3

Article Name:The tech bias: why Silicon Valley needs social theory
Author Name:Jess Bier
Source:Aeon
Category:Technology

Summary for this article:

This article deals with the topic of under-representation of women in the technological sector ; gives us an insight about social theory and why it is required. The author starts with the memo of James Damore former engineer at Google which claimed that the under-representation of women in tech was partly caused by inherent biological differences between men and women. This memo drew on longstanding sexist stereotypes that have been disproven time and again, and it included only the vaguest mention of decades of research in relevant domains such as gender studies. These omissions didn’t stem from a lack of access to knowledge but pointed to an unwillingness to accept that social theory is actually valid knowledge in the first place.

Social theorists in fields have shown how race, gender and class biases inform technical design.In many cases, what’s eroding the value of social knowledge is unintentional bias as on display when prominent advocates for equality in science and tech undervalue research in the social sciences. But by contrast , social theorists have shown a keen interest in illuminating how unjust social relations inform the development of science and technology and here the author gives an example of xerox company to elucidate this .

She feels that social theory also plays a critical role in understanding rare, catastrophic events, which can’t be assessed solely in terms of technical failure. The author gives various examples to show that the social theory is not about detaching oneself from the world but is to observe it at a distance.The goal is to improve knowledge of the social world, an effort that goes hand in hand with active efforts to change society for the better, while also thinking critically, and continuously, about what ‘better’ means, and for whom while it’s detractors dislike it not because it’s not effective, but because it is. 

The author concludes that if tech companies are serious about building a better society then they must attend more closely to social theory. She believes that if social insights were easy, and it’s practice is followed readily from understanding, then racism, poverty and other debilitating systems of power and inequality would be a thing of the past.

Words to learn from this article:

Memo: a memorandum
Stereotype: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing
Skewed: make biased or distorted in a way that is regarded as inaccurate, unfair, or misleading

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