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E-learning and The Fourth Revolution E-Learning in Dialogue Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "E-learning and The Fourth Revolution E-Learning in Dialogue Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 E-learning and The Fourth Revolution E-Learning in Dialogue Conference University of York Wednesday, 14 May 2008 Luciano Floridi Research Chair in Philosophy of Information School of Humanities Department of Philosophy University of Hertfordshire Director, Research Group in Philosophy of Information, University of Hertfordshire Director, Information Ethics research Group, OUCL & Philosophy, University of Oxford

2 Outline The Background The Classic Analysis of the Three Revolutions 21 st Century: the Information Revolution The Information Revolution as the Fourth Revolution The Fourth Revolution: Inforgs e-Learning after the Fourth Revolution Learning to interact with Artificial Agents Learning to interact with the Infosphere Back to the Fourth revolution Conclusion 2/25

3 Knowledge, Science, Technology have two ways of changing our understanding. 1) Extrovert or about the world. What have the scientists ever done for us? George Porter (1920 – 2002), undergraduate at the University of Leeds. Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967 (photolysis and photosynthesis). 2) Introvert or about ourselves (more radical than Porter). Introduction: The General Framework 3/25

4 Three revolutions that changed our self-understanding: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) Heliocentric cosmology displaces the Earth from the centre of the universe. Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) All species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through natural selection. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) The mind is also unconscious and subject to the defence mechanism of repression. The Classic Analysis of the Three Revolutions 4/25

5 21 st Century: the Information Revolution Since the fifties Computer revolution? Mobile, Internet (Web 2.0), computers as communication rather than computational devices, distributed interactivity (GPS). Digital revolution? Amazon and the book renaissance, more printing. Digital ICT Information revolution: from things to energy to information. What matters: changes in the life-cycle of information. 5/25

6 Extrovert interpretation: how the world and our interactions with it are changing. Information society: essential role played by intellectual, intangible assets (knowledge- based economy), information- intensive services (business and property services, finance and insurance comm.), public sectors (especially education, public administration and health care). 21 st Century: the Information Revolution Digital ICT Perhaps the most radical change is once again in our self-understanding (introvert interpretation). 6/25

7 The Inf. Rev. as the Fourth Revolution Turing and the Fourth Revolution. Information is becoming our environment (infosphere). The information revolution is deeply affecting our understanding of ourselves as agents. We are becoming not sci-fi cyborgs but connected, informational organisms, inforgs. Most radical change brought about by the fourth (information) revolution: the disclosure of human agents as interconnected, informational organisms among other informational organisms and agents, sharing an environment which is basically informational. 7/25

8 Two definitions Re-ontologize (from re-engineering) = radical form of re-engineering, that not only designs, constructs or structures a system (e.g. a company, or a machine) anew, but that fundamentally transforms its intrinsic nature (e.g. nanotechnologies and biotechnologies are not merely re-engineering but actually re-ontologizing our world). Infosphere (from biosphere) = the whole informational environment constituted by all informational entities (thus including informational agents as well), their properties, interactions, processes and mutual relations. Re-ontologization of the infosphere 8/25

9 Three Theses a) digital ICTs are re-ontologizing the very nature of (and hence what we mean by) the infosphere b) the re-ontologization of the infosphere affects the nature of the agents inhabiting it and hence their behaviour (inc. ethical and pedagogical processes). c) a + b are the source of some of the most profound transformations and challenging problems that we shall experience in the close future, as far as technology is concerned. Re-ontologization of the infosphere 9/25

10 Conceptualising our life online = a mixture between a) an evolutionary adaptation of human agents to a digital environment, and b) a form of post-modern, neo-colonization of the latter by the former. (a) + (b) probably a mistake. ICTs are as much re- ontologising our world as they are creating new realities. The threshold between here (analogue, carbon-based, off- line) and there (digital, silicon-based, online) is fast becoming blurred, but this is as much to the advantage of the latter as it is of the former. The digital is spilling over into the analogue and merging with it. This recent phenomenon is variously known as Ubiquitous Computing, Ambient Intelligence, The Internet of Things (ITU report, November 2005) or Web-augmented things. How information is becoming our ecosystem 10/25

11 1) in the re-ontologized infosphere, progressively populated by ontologically-equal agents, where there is no difference between processors and processed, online and offline, all interactions become equally digital: read/write (i.e., access/alter) and execute. 2) our understanding of ourselves as agents will also be deeply affected. Not as a sci-fi cyborged humanity. Not as GM humanity. But as inforgs: connected informational organisms (inforgs). 3) the moral status and accountability of both human and artificial agents will become an ever more challenging issue. 4) When the e-migration is complete, we shall increasingly feel deprived, excluded, handicapped or poor to the point of paralysis and psychological trauma whenever we are disconnected from the infosphere, like fish out of water. The evolution of inforgs in the infosphere 11/25

12 Nowadays, we are used to considering the infosphere as something we log-in to and log-out from. Our view of the world is still modern or Newtonian, made of dead cars, buildings, furniture, clothes, which are non- interactive, irresponsive and incapable of communicating, learning, or memorizing. A2A (anything to anything) What we still experience as the world offline is bound to become a more interactive and responsive environment of wireless, pervasive, distributed, information processes. A2A works A4A (anywhere for anytime), in real time. The world as something a-live (a-rtificially live). Such animation of the world will, paradoxically, make our outlook closer to that of animistic cultures which interpreted all aspects of nature as inhabited by teleological forces. A2A + A4A 12/25

13 e-Leaning after the Fourth Revolution Classic e-Learning 1.Applications of digital ICTs to learning/teaching processes. 2.Tele-didactic: distance teaching/learning (online courses). 3.Un-manned learning (software, computer-based learning/teaching). 4.ICT training. New e-Learning 1.Interactions among different kinds of agents: convergence between machine-learning and e-Learning. 2.Interactions with onlife (online/offline) environments: a neo-manufacturing approach to information handling. 13/25

14 A first generation of simple ACs (artificial companions) is already available: expected to be sociable, informationally skilled, autonomous (in the sense of behaving in self-initiated, self-regulated, goal-oriented ways), with some natural- language processing abilities, able to learn (machine-learning). The technology to develop them is largely available. The question is when rather than whether they will become commodities. Artificial companions come in all shapes: The Wi-Fi enabled rabbit Nabaztag. The therapeutic robot baby-harp seal Paro. The child-sized humanoid robot KASPAR. The interactive doll Primo Puel more than one million copies sold since 2000, produced by Bandai, the producer of the Tamagotchi). 14/25 Learning to interact with Artificial Agents

15 Technologically successful: not AI, but the social equivalent of Deep Blue: successful at interactive tasks, with the intelligence of a toaster. e-Learning significant: address humanitys needs and wishes, with serious impact on standards of life and related economic issues. Consider the pedagogical impact of Neopet, (online virtual pet game): ca. 154 million owners of ca. 227 million digital pets. (March 2008). In 2007, ca. $40.8 billion spent on biological pets in the U.S. alone. Saudi Arabia plans to invest at least $40 billion over the next 20 years to meet the kingdom's water needs, according to Reuters. Philosophically interesting: not Sci-Fi (Asimovs robots, Hals children) so they posit very concrete, pedagogical challenges, which well-illustrate the fourth revolution. Learning to interact with Artificial Agents 15/25

16 Socially relevant: specialised computer-agents dedicated to specific informational tasks: service providers, in contexts such as education, health, safety, communication, etc.; social workers, which may copy with human loneliness, social needs and the desire for emotional bonds and interactions, not unlike pets; memory keepers, as stewards of the informational space constituted by human memories, individual or socially shared. Learning to interact with Artificial Agents 16/25

17 First time in history: people age 65 and over will outnumber children under age 5. ACs increasingly popular the more they can assist elderly users satisfactorily and cost-efficiently (Japan and parts of Europe). However: future generations of senior citizens will not be e-migrants but children of the digital era. Useful projections from the game industry: 67% of American heads of households play computer and video games average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years. ACs should be planned more for the digitally impaired than the computer illiterates. Learning to interact with Artificial Agents 17/25

18 ACs will address the human desire for emotional bonds and playful interactions, not unlike pets, thus competing with the omnipresent TV for attention. Is allowing humans to befriend ACs morally questionable because of their non-biological nature? Not necessarily: Descartes, Huxley, or Wiener argue that animals are living machines anyway. Like avatars, ACs likely to become means to interact with other human beings as well as social agents in themselves. Problem: the availability of AC may increase social discriminations and the digital divide. Individuals with relevant needs or disabilities may be able to enjoy the support of an ACs. Cf. the Motability Scheme in the UK (citizens have the opportunity to own or hire powered wheelchairs at affordable prices). AIBO (Artificial Intelligence roBOt, homonymous with "companion" in Japanese) by Sony (1999-2006). Learning to interact with Artificial Agents 18/25

19 Soon it will be difficult to understand what life was like in predigital times (to someone who was born in 2000 the world will always have been wireless, for example). The distinction online vs. offline is being eroded. The infosphere is progressively absorbing any other space. In the (fast approaching) future, more and more objects will be ITentities able to learn, advise and communicate with each other. Good example: RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags. Market Research Company InStat: the worldwide production of RFID will increase more than 25-fold between 2005 and 2010 and reach 33 billion. Imagine networking these 33 billion ITentities together with all the hundreds of millions of PCs, DVDs, iPods, and ICT devices available and you see that the infosphere is no longer there but here and it is here to stay. Learning to interact with the Infosphere 19/25

20 Learning to interact with the Infosphere Changes in interfaces. HCI (interface/interaction) is a symmetric relation. Changes in our body and identity. Two examples of interaction with the infosphere. 1.The eyeBook: multimedia, acoustic annotation and reading monitoring. 2.The Smart Laser Scanner for Human-Computer Interface: creating and handling digital objects with your fingers (Minority Report, Iron Man interfaces. 20/25

21 Learning to interact with the Infosphere DFKI GmbH, Kaiserslautern 21/25

22 Learning to interact with the Infosphere The Smart Laser Scanner for Human-Computer Interface. 22/25

23 New forms of e-Learning are part of a wide and influential informational turn, a fourth revolution in the long process of dislocation and reassessment of humanitys fundamental nature and role in the universe. We are not immobile, at the centre of the universe (Copernicus). We are not unnaturally detached and diverse from the rest of the animal world (Darwin). We are not Cartesian subjects entirely transparent to ourselves (Freud). We are not disconnected entities, but rather inforgs, sharing with biological agents and engineered artefacts a global environment ultimately made of information, the infosphere (Turing). Back to the Fourth Revolution 23/25

24 Important consequence: new e-Learning, understood as the process through which biological and artificial agents can learn to interact with each others, and agents can learn to interact with the infosphere will pose ever more challenging problems. Great opportunity: developing a new ecological approach to the whole of reality. How we build, shape and regulate the new infosphere ecologically is the crucial challenge brought about by the fourth revolution. Crucial role: new forms of e-Learning can contribute enormously to the development of a better information society.Conclusions 24/25

25 E-learning and The Fourth Revolution E-Learning in Dialogue Conference University of York Wednesday, 14 May 2008 Luciano Floridi Research Chair in Philosophy of Information School of Humanities Department of Philosophy University of Hertfordshire Director, Research Group in Philosophy of Information, University of Hertfordshire Director, Information Ethics research Group, OUCL & Philosophy, University of Oxford Many thanks to: Constantinos Athanasopoulos, the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, and the Staff of the Conference. COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER Texts, marks, logos, names, graphics, images, photographs, illustrations, artwork, audio clips, video clips, and software copyrighted by their respective owners are used on these slides for non-commercial, educational and personal purposes only. Use of any copyrighted material is not authorized without the written consent of the copyright holder. Every effort has been made to respect the copyrights of other parties. If you believe that your copyright has been misused, please direct your correspondence to: stating your position and I shall endeavour to correct any misuse as early as possible.

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