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Chris Hadfield
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Will Skype's extended engagement in education result in more tech-loving and savvy teachers?

Although I have become increasingly frustrated with Skype over the past weeks due to all sorts of incompatibility issues with other users’ Skype versions, camera problems and painful recording experiences of Skype calls which led me to temporarily switch to another program, I have always been an advocate for the use of Skype in an educational context and I will continue to be.


My criticism aside, Skype along with UK based think tank The Education Foundation have just recently announced a new initiative with some exciting potential: The Learning Lab. According to The Education Foundation The Learning Lab, situated in the heart of London, is “a unique combination of an inspiring events and showcasing space for education leaders and businesses”, both in the UK and internationally, “a state of the art professional development centre” and “a classroom, laboratory and studio space”.

You might be familiar with the Skype in the Classroom project that launched about a year ago and based on the experiences made The Learning Lab can be seen as a logic continuation. The new partnership has the ambitious aim to get all groups of the normally rather scattered education space in one boat.

It addresses early childhood educators as well as teachers in the K12 space and leaders in Higher Education to get inspired and explore the possibilities to integrate Skype lessons in their teaching but also mentions to give businesses and providers of learning solutions the possibility to showcase their products. As Skype’s Tony Bates writes on the company blog at the launch event “guests had the opportunity to see the facility's fully-equipped, reconfigurable classroom, featuring practical examples of it in use from teachers, students and partner organizations”. 

The Education Foundation sees some additional use in offering workshops and roundtable discussion by and with policy makers and government officials. The future will show if this partnership has the potential to successfully merge the virtual Skype experience with the real world by allowing people in the education sector to learn from others and experience best practices as well as getting more knowledgeable about new products or services. If all works well we may see a bigger group of really tech-savvy teachers than we have now.

Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

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  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Lee Jae-Sung of Korea Republic lies on the pitch holding his knee during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Technology & Innovation

Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

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