Lemmings for the robot overlords

Pretty much explains why people just follow anyone who takes the lead irrespective of demonstrated competence.

Source: We may all happily follow our robot overlords to disaster | Ars Technica

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Letting students set the exam rules

A very interesting experiment by an UCLA professor where he let the students set the rules for the final exam of the Behavioral Ecology course:

In the end, the students achieved their goal: They earned an excellent grade. I also achieved my goal: I got them to spend a week thinking like behavioral ecologists. As a group they learned Game Theory better than any of my previous classes. In educational lingo, “flipping the classroom” means students are expected to prepare to come to class not for a lecture, but for a question-and-answer discussion. What I did was “flip the test.” Students were given all the intellectual tools beforehand and then, for an hour, they had to use them to generate well-reasoned answers to difficult questions.

via Quora

Wine: What’s in a name and price?

After my post on diamonds and water, I came across a really detailed article – The Price of Wine – on how the price and brand of wine influences the “taste-buds”. Also covers the wine investment market and wine making. This bit sums up the taste bit:

However, it’s unclear whether anyone can tell the difference between a $2,000 Lafite Bordeaux and a $3 table wine. In fact, most wine economists consider the matter settled. Blind tastings and academic studies robustly show that neither amateur consumers nor expert judges can consistently differentiate between fine wines and cheap wines, nor identify the flavors within them.

Personally, I prefer my grapes unfermented.

The 7 habits and the 6 hats

I purchased the book “How to have a beautiful mind” by Edward de Bono last weekend. I have covered about half the book so far. It talks about the different angles to discussions in general and the thoughts behind them along with ways to make interactions more meaningful for all the parties concerned. It also had a chapter on de Bono’s six thinking hats (it is also supposed to be covered in the “Start Thinking” course on Learning@IBM). The concepts are quite interesting, and does give some tips to make make you think.

I also found many of the concepts discussed about the thinking hats in particular to be quite similar to the 7 habits discussed by Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” (I have not read this particular book, but the one by his son Sean Covey for teenagers about 6-7 years back). In particular, the concept of the six hats is quite similar to habits 4 (think win/win) and 5 (seek first to understand, then to be understood). So, in effect, both de Bono and Stephen Covey’s concepts aim at making interactions between people more productive and trying to look at things from different angles rather than just putting forward one’s thoughts and trying to get the better of an interaction.

I also think that these concepts are quite relevant in today’s world where social collaboration, networking (which would also be in some ways bring in “the wisdom of the crowds“) and innovation are the buzzwords. It is important to see things form various angles and seek different opinions, especially given the degree of connectivity available to us. So, although both the concepts are close to 2 decades old, they still retain their values in today’s environment.