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One Laptop Per Child Update July 5, 2013

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 5:43 pm
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Pay It Forward Giving WallPay It Forward (PIF) for Business event took place on Monday, July 1 at 3110 Lounge Main Street in Santa Monica. It was organized by Your Office Agent. PIF is about bringing the best companies in Santa Monica to give free advice and help grow small and medium sized businesses. It was the 4th PIF since Dec 2012, and it was Free of Charge. The focus has been from entrepreneurs to tech. Every PIF has a giving wall, where people post their offerings to the community or just tell about their products and services. It was a vibrant networking environment. Thank you to all 450 people for paying it forward!

My group Santa Monica New Tech (SMNT) was invited to this event. We are a community group of 1800+ members who meet to demo cool technology from local startups, give feedback and network.  SMNT had a table where we displayed several examples of technology and its timeline:  laptops from 5 years ago, 3 years ago and 1 year ag0. We invited everyone interested in new technology to our events. Our offer was one free ticket to our demo/feedback event on July 24 for those who stopped by our table at PIF4! We also told about volunteer opportunities in tech, see below.

Update:July 1 PIF SMNT

Four generation OS laptops have been manufactured since 2007 and distributed to children in schools around the world. Check out the map olpcmap.net with all OLPC projects, volunteers and XOs.

There are only 4 XO machines are available for now:

XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-1.75 and the new XO-4 Touch laptop.

XO-3s were built, they are basically a Sugar tablet (no keyboard), but not sold.

The XO-4 (touchscreen and keyboard) seems to be more popular.

XO-4 Touch has a few customers, including unleashkids.org.

“Unleash Kids” being the brand new all-volunteer campaign Mike Lee, Christoph Derndorfer, Bill Stelzer, Adam Holt and many others just began to create video documentary live interviews every 2 weeks, so the story of a new country’s OLPC-like work gets out there far more intimately! Unleash Kids, an all-volunteer non-profit group, will also be selling individual XO-4 Community Kits to people like Peace Corps / Makers later this summer, while directly supporting some very cool Haiti deployments.

Learn more on FB  http://facebOLPCMap Picook.com/unleashkids

Watch bi-weekly interviews of different OLPC countries http://youtube.com/unleashkids

OLPC’s Miami office will also be selling an Android tablet at Walmart under the name “XO Learning Tablet” as some point soon we’re told.  http://olpcnews.com

OLPC grassroots is seeking tech volunteers to work on technology for education! Tech volunteers are needed to help testing the new http://schoolserver.org which is getting a lot of traction, and amazingly so after volunteers took OLPC’s bitrotted XS 0.7 and turned it into a real community product with growing users on every continent (XS Community Edition!)

To learn more about OLPC and Sugar global community, please read http://planet.laptop.org and http://olpcMAP.net.

 

Alone Together (Part Four) June 30, 2012

The computer scientist says, that we will evolve to love our tools, our tools will evolve to be lovable. Tools will allow us to do things that we’ve never done before. John Lester sees a future in which something like an AIBO will develop into a prosthetic device, extending human reach and vision. It will allow people to interact with real physical space in new ways. We will see “through its eyes”, says Lester, and interact “through its body… There could be some parts of it that are part of you, the blending of the tools and the body in  a permanent physical way.” This is how Brooks talks about the merging of flesh and machine. There will be no robotic “them” and human “us”. We will either merge with robotic creatures or will become so close to them that we will integrate their powers into our sense of self. A robot will still be other, but the one that completes you (extension of us, meaning that we are not powerful today and have limits, but not in the future).  We will know love which is reflection of our love.

When the brain in your phone marries the body of your robot, document preparation meets therapeutic massage. Here is a happy fantasy of security, intellectual companionship, and nurturing connection.

Tools will be an extension of us and more – love, power, together we will never be alone. We will begin to embed them in our rooms. They will collaborate with us. They will have a sense of humor. They will sense our needs and offer comfort. Our rooms will be our friends and companions.

Robots will not be incompetent, they are introduced to make up for human flaws like laziness; safe, they will be specialized and personalized.

The Japanese believe in a future, in which robots will babysit and do housework and women will be freed up to having more babies, also restoring sociability to a population increasingly isolated through the networked life.

The Japanese take as given that cell phones, texting, instant messaging, email, and online gaming have created social isolation. They see people turning away from family to focus attention on their screens. People do not meet face to face, they do not join organizations. In Japan, robots are presented as facilitators of the human contact that the network has taken away. Technology has corrupted us, robots will heal our wounds. Robots, the Japanese hope, will pull us back toward the physical real and thus each other.

Robotic companions can become mentors. My real baby was marketed as a robot that could teach your child socialization. Sherry is skeptical as believes that sociable technology will always disappoint because it promises what it cannot deliver. It promises friendship but can only deliver performances. As if we will be manufacturing friends that will never be friends.

Roboticists argue that there is no harm in people engaging in conversations with robots, the conversations may be interesting, fun, educational or comforting.  But Sherry finds no comfort here. She feels in a shadow of an experiment, in which humans are the subjects.

Another example of a sociable robot is a diet coach; the user provides some baseline information and the robot charts out what it will take to lose weight. With daily information about food and exercise, the robot offers encouragement if people slip up and suggestions for how to better stay on track. Things happen that elude measurement. You begin with an idea about curing difficulties with dieting. But then the robot and person go to a place where the robot is imagined as a cure of souls.

When we make job rote, we are more open to having machines to do it. But even when people do it, they and the people they serve feel like machines. People are always performing for other people. Now the robots too will perform. The world will be richer for having a new cast of performers and a new set of possible performances.

Finally Sherry says, if robots are designed to complement humans and not replace them, then I’m all for it!

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer Blog

 

Alone Together (Part Two) May 19, 2012

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 2:00 pm
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One of the important questions in the book is about possible replacement of humans with machines: “Don’t we have humans for those jobs?” In my opinion, it is not one or another, it is better to have a robot than no one. Especially in health care. The point is that there are not enough humans for those jobs…

Unfortunately, people have needs that are not always satisfiable by people around us, due to limitations in geographies, extreme conditions, physical limitations…

“There are not enough people to take care of aging Americans, so robot companions should be enlisted to help. Beyond that some argue that robots will be more patient with the cranky and forgetful elderly than a human being could be. The robots will simply be better.” Yes, if somebody’s caretaker is abusive and over exhausted. Why not alleviate patient’s pain by introducing robots.

“If the elderly are tendered by underpaid workers who seem to do their jobs by rote, it is not difficult to warm to the idea of a robot orderly. Similarly, if children are minded at day-care facilities that seem like little more than a safe warehouses, the idea of a robot babysitter becomes less troubling. We ask technology to perform what used to be “love’s labor”: taking care of each other. But people are capable of the higher standard of care that comes with empathy. The robot is innocent of such capacity.”

Sorry, Sherryl, but humans could do worse than what you can even possibly imagine – they can abuse other humans, they can act with so much cruelty that no well-programmed robot would ever perform. Humans are capable of treating each other as if they are worse than robots or spare parts. If their behavior cannot be regulated, robots will at least provide bare minimum of services and would not go below/underperform (the way they programmed). But there could be a glitch/hacker who can change programming and robots will start abusing humans.

“Loneliness makes people sick. Robots could at least partially offset a vital factor that makes people sick.” Of course, interaction with humans would be better, but if the person is dying from loneliness, and robot can cheer up, how can you deny it?

Sheryl is against robots as social companions. They force us to ask why we don’t as the children said it ”have people for these jobs”?

Our allocation of resources is a social choice. We don’t have capacity, time and resources to take care of all humans, especially elderly. There are preferred jobs and non-preferred jobs. Not to impose some jobs on others, we have to take care of it creatively and use tools to help. In some culture youngest person in a family is assigned against their will to be the caretaker. Well, if we speak of true freedom, some people don’t want to do certain jobs. So robots can do them. What if Miriam’s son doesn’t have money to stay at home with his mother and take care of her, but he can hire caregivers to keep her company, just the Paro.

I agree that there should be people who do these jobs. But if hiring humans or doing it yourself is too expensive, robots are cheaper way to make people happy. Everyone needs support. I agree that a mechanism should be in place that government reallocates resources where they are needed, but we don’t want to make people do things against their will. Since robots don’t have will, they can do hard jobs…  where humans would be stressed and inefficient.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer Blog

 

Alone Together (Part One) May 16, 2012

Recently I was reading again Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together” and would like to share some thoughts about the first part of the book: “The robotic moment: In solitude, new intimacies”.

Sherry describes several robots including those available on the market as social companions. They are, to name a few, Aibo, My Real Baby, Seal Paro, GOV, Kismet, Doll Madison, etc.

I was surprised to learn how critical Sherry is of robots: tech evil that will corrupt humanity.

Let’s look at the simple tech solution called Eliza. It is a program that chats with people, and very often in their conversation with Eliza people open up about their problems and seek advice from an application that can’t really think for them. The author says:

“The idea that simple act of expressing feelings constitutes therapy is widespread both in the popular culture and among therapists (way to blow off steam) and is very helpful”. However, “in psychoanalytic tradition – The motor for cure is the relationship with the therapist. The term transference is used to describe the patient’s way of imagining the therapist, whose relative neutrality makes it possible for patients to bring the baggage of past relationships into this new one. In this relationship, treatment is not about the simple act of telling secrets or receiving advice. It may begin with projection but offers push back, and insistence that therapist and patient together take account of what is going on in their relationship.

When we talk to robots, we share thoughts with machines that can offer no such resistance. Our stories fall literally, on deaf ears. If there is meaning, it is because the person with the robots has heard him or herself talk aloud”.

I shall argue that exactly the talking aloud sometimes is very important.  Once in a while we need to hear ourselves and to listen to the voice of consciousness that we often suppress, but when we let ourselves talk it out, we learn more about ourselves… especially what our beliefs and priorities are. Now, I’m not saying we should stop here… This is not enough. And I agree with vicious circle, the author mentions.

“We may talk ourselves into a bad decision…” I get that, lest correct it.  First, lets create robots or tools that do give push back with knowledge me may lack and act as therapists.

What if Eliza is just a hint of a new generation of smart machines that incorporate knowledge of the universe and give us support in difficult moments… and instruct us to consider all possible options (even the ones we don’t know about yet), and calm us down in the moments of despair… Or make people check-in with human mentors, who can arbitrate and give useful tips.

Everyone can use knowledge from people, enlightened and normal people who struggled through same issues themselves, that is knowledge of the human mind or the Universe… to become more humane and compassionate… If for now robots are just a recording machine, lets record the best we can and constantly make updates… Why isn’t it possible to create what inspires human to do the best, not the worst…

Currently, people use Eliza because they don’t get judged but feel safe to express their feelings freely, because humans may not understand them or will not listen to them for free. They have to pay… No one is completely substituting humans with programs, technology should enhance our decision-making and mitigate problems, and be therapeutic. The best of both worlds.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer Blog.

 

Instant America March 21, 2012

Instant America
Created by: OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

 

Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part Three) December 28, 2011

Dear hackers of the world,

It is not superpowers but traits of character that need to be developed by means of avatars and immersion. People like to solve problems especially when they are virtual. By trying different choices we will learn what leads to pain and suffering and what to do in real life if similar circumstances occur. The player will develop understanding, resilience and compassion.

There should be every day scenarios for people, like getting laid off after working for the same company for many years, not having savings and not being able to find a job for a while… What does avatar do and experience? Or racial – one white guy has to live in all black community or one black guy in all Asian community, etc. or to participate in religious services of other religions…  Learn about other cultures and their customs adn traditions. Go live in a foreign country for a year with no local language skills and being illegal. Become a virtual refugee!

It is important to create problem and suffering simulation both for existing and future scenarios. The impact will be tremendous.

Imagine that virtual Alcoholic Anonymous game was translated to all languages and distributed around the world, how many people would stop drinking heavily? Will alcoholism rates go down and people become happier?

Imagine that all young people have access to video games that teach what to do in difficult situations. A teen becomes pregnant or tries drugs for the first time to impress someone, the person creates a habit and starts eating fast food every day and gets ill, someone becomes a soldier and goes to war, followed by PTSD, etc. 

Suddenly a computer virus sounds lame. You can be immortal if you create something that impacts people’s lives positively. See Steve Pavlina’s story Living Virtues below:

“After I reached adulthood and began seriously pondering the question of how to live, the first major stopping point was essentially where Aristotle left off. In my early and mid-20s, I spent a lot of time working on living virtuously. I saw living the best possible life as becoming a person of virtue: to live with honor, integrity, courage, compassion, etc. I listed out the virtues I wanted to attain and even set about inventing exercises to help myself develop them. Benjamin Franklin did something very similar, as I read in his autobiography, and each week he chose to focus on one particular virtue in order to develop his character.

Oddly, there was a particular computer game I absolutely fell in love with during this time — Ultima IV. To date I would have to say it is still my favorite game of all time. In this role-playing game you are the Avatar, a seeker of truth, and your goal is not to destroy some enemy but rather to attain what is called the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. In order to achieve this goal, you must develop your character in the eight virtues. All of these virtues derive from the eight possible combinations of truth, love, and courage as follows:

Truth = Honesty
Love = Compassion
Courage = Valor
Truth + Love = Justice
Truth + Courage = Honor
Love + Courage = Sacrifice
Truth + Love + Courage = Spirituality
The absence of Truth, Love, and Courage is Pride, the opposite of which is Humility.

I found this system of virtues absolutely brilliant, especially coming from a game. Years later when I finally met Richard Garriott, designer of the Ultima series, at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), I asked him how he came up with this system and how he ended up choosing these virtues. He told me it started with brainstorming a long list and noticing patterns in how the virtues related to each other.

As strange as it is that I got these insights from a game, I still think of living virtuously in much the same way today, where these eight virtues come about through the overlapping sets of truth, love, and courage. For the combination of all three virtues though, I feel that “integrity” is a better fit than “spirituality.” Ultima V went on to explore the opposite of these, the vices which can be derived from falsehood, hatred, and cowardice. Unfortunately I feel the Ultima series really went downhill since then and completely lost its soul — I would have loved to have seen the virtue idea taken even farther”.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

Immortal Hacker Challenge (Part Two) December 26, 2011

Avatar based recovery. Patient has access to his data and an interesting ability to track goals and milestones. It is also efficient not to have paperwork which saves time.

Janus of Santa Cruz developed drug and alcohol treatment, which includes clinical assessment, goal setting, VR training and support. Digital registration, online wellness forms and presence questionnaire. They conducted a study with 35 adults, 8 weeks protocol, non-compliance and relapses happen. Participants had to play a game daily, which formed good rituals (habits) and relationships. 

Ivana Steigman, who formely worked at InWorld Solutions, told us about Thrive Research projects. In one research they had a sponsor (coach), clinician, basic assessment administrator, patient. They had reward contract and electronic forms. Link to thrive points, incentives – coffee, gas, grocery. There is a dashboard, where they had to check in daily – visual representation of where you are. The six domains of well-being: Physical, Social, Affective, Cognitive, Vocational, and Spiritual.

NeuroSim Lab makes use of virtual worlds to assess the ways in which the structure and function of the brain relate to specific psychological processes and overt behaviors.

Sim Coach, the goal is to create an experience that will motivate troops and their significant others to take the first step – to empower themselves with regard to their healthcare (e.g., psychological health and traumatic brain injury). There was a virtual agent, former US Army soldier,  who told his story about PTSD and encouraged audience to read some recommended reading and talk to someone about their traumatic experiences (he gave free numbers to call and suggested other resources). That was cool!

Virtually Better, treat a variety of anxiety disorders such as Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Specific Phobias.

There were other individuals and organizations working in that area (Patrick Bordnick, Virtual Patent lab, VRPsych Lab, etc.) and creating new technology to help patients overcome drug and substance abuse, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, etc. There are video chat rooms where you can see a bar and people tempt you to use alcohol but you learn to overcome urges in simulated environments. They modify level of urges to build your resilience.

My favorite was a virtual meeting for AA members. You as a member pick avatar and go to live sessions with other member’s avatars from different locations. You would then discuss your issues and do the same thing as you would do in a real meeting. What really works is the power of sharing and social support.

Read more about this session from Avatar-Based Recovery Using Immersive Virtual Environments article and another session from Innovative Technologies for Psychological Intervention, Consultation and Training article.

I also attended a session about Innovation and opportunities in mobile interventions for addictions, they were discussing various mobile apps. At the exhibition hall I saw a booth advertising Stress Tracker app, which is based in Needham, MA. Another session was about national tele centers providing psychological services to patients in remote areas by means of online CBTs and video conferencing. See another article about the UK approach.

It was mentioned that American psychologists are still hesitant to use Skype or Facetime out of fear to be completely replaced by technology. Les Posen from Australia told an incredible story about government support (subsidies) for depression-cure sites and tools and as a result hundreds of organizations had sprung across Australia: Beacon, e-couch, Mood gym, anxiety online, etc. They all deliver e-health services and strategy online.

Re-posted from The Ultimate Answer

 

 
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