I had some time to myself recently so I was able to do things that I like — like…thinking about machine learning? No, really. I like thinking about that. What started off as tinkering, puttering, and being mildly spontaneous led to following up on some of my own curiosities. Freeing myself even briefly from my predictable, repetitive life is satisfying enough but I found myself falling into watching documentaries and movies that no one that I share a household with would ever tolerate.
In two days, with the help of a cold and a house-sitting stint, I’ve watched:
The narratives of these movies provided a broad context within which I could re-think about programming. The questions they raise are interesting. In my day to day life for example, programming has a very narrow context, that is, programming in an educational context is still very much focused on finding efficiencies in workflow. No objection to that. It can be fun and at least it’s useful. I also don’t kid myself by assuming that it’s particularly ground breaking, at least from a computing perspective. Automating repetitive tasks has been a stable delivery of computing since its inception and distributing educational materials broadly, in different formats, or through different media channels is not a hot research topic. An area that is notable, in the very least that it’s hard to not to see the money flowing towards it is finding answers to questions around how machines (but really by this we mean programs) help us learn. Machine learning, adaptive learning, artificial intelligence are different terms used to describe what is essentially programming.