Saturday, February 2, 2019

E = mc2: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

INTELLIGENCE — Photo by David Bruce, used under Creative Commons License. (Inscription carved by Roger Babson at Dogtown Common, Gloucester, Massachusetts, about 1930)

Presented to the Club by David Noyes on Monday evening, November 26, 2018

NEWS FLASH from the front page of the Boston Globe May 21, 2018:

“Massachusetts ponders hiring a computer to grade MCAS essays. Each year, students generate more than six million essays requiring a small army of graduate students, educators, and other professionals to read and score them — a laborious task that takes most of the summer. In an effort to speed up the delivery of the MCAS results to schools and families, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is exploring the option of replacing human test scorers with a computer program. This technology would help the state deliver the results in the summer instead of the fall so that schools could analyze the results and make any necessary adjustments before the school year begins. “

Yes, that’s correct. It’s possible that no human eye would ever see a student’s effort. Can you imagine the Board of Trustees of the Nobel Prize Committee submitting their choices for the Literature Prize to the same algorithm!

Last year Martin gave an intriguing, thought provoking, yet somehow, disquieting presentation about Artificial Intelligence. Tonight, I would like to discuss: Native Intelligence.

I can distinctly remember being in seventh grade, studying what was then called “New Math”. (To this day, I really can’t explain what was “new” about it) We had a two-inch thick paper back workbook with lessons, examples, and problems to be solved. I can even remember our teacher — Mrs. Mansfield. She was spry, agile, and always impeccably dressed. But we took turns guessing what color her otherwise naturally white hair was going to be on Monday morning. Sometimes it had a slight pinkish tone — other times a blue pattern. Once, I recall her head having a distinct green halo.

I soon discovered that I had a knack for this subject and relished the challenge. But I was also struck by how non-universal that experience was. For the first time, I recall being mystified that another student struggled to understand a concept which seemed so obvious to me.