Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

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wendy.murphy in

Students consistently rank themselves as prepared in areas where employers do not agree. The area where students and employers are the closest to being aligned is in staying current with new technologies.  But in a number of key areas (oral communication, written communication, critical thinking, being creative), students are more than twice as likely as employers to think that students are being well-prepared.

Some argue that the schools need to update their techniques.  Meanwhile; what are you doing to practice the “soft skills”?


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Those of a certain age will fondly remember the recorded messages left for Jim Phelps and his Impossible Missions team which self-destructed after being listened to.  And who hasn’t seen a TV episode or movie where a character is forced to eat a hastily scribbled message to keep others from reading it?  In the new digital age, pressing the delete key can wipe your thoughts from a screen so they are never actually communicated.  Maybe there are certain things that shouldn’t be kept forever…

Whether you think it’s a good thing or not, the printed page will fade over time, but here’s a twist on making the printed page cease to exist in a much shorter period of time!  From FOXNews Tech:

Scientists invent erasable printer paper

The “paper” (actually a film made of glass or plastic, Engadget reports, though a paper version is in the works) comes in red, blue, and green, and the printing process bleaches it where text doesn’t appear, instead of adding ink where it does. Exposure to oxygen eventually “erases” the text by returning the bleached sections to their original color.

American businesses are so entrenched in keeping hardcopy as ‘backup’; this game-changer could eliminate the rows of filing cabinets that people feel are key to their work function.  Reducing waste is a key component in becoming a Smarter Planet!

Any other potentially stagnant office materials that spring to mind? Can you bring your scientific knowledge to the party to find a reusable spin for their usage?

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     Centuries ago, music and learning were almost synonymous.  As many across the globe were not able to read, oral tradition was the means by which information was transmitted by minstrels, troubadours, and tribal or societal elders.  The rhythms and rhymes of of their voices, and any instrumental accompaniment, brought knowledge to the masses.  But, times have changed somewhat as we’ve moved further along into the technological world…
     Cognitive computing taking its place in education and all sorts of learning environments is big business.  This focus on applying mind activity to inform computing activity will continue to grow in 2015 and the years ahead.   And, observing brain activity when music is part of the equation is simply fascinating!
When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Music is good for the brain       Check out the video here:


How playing an instrument


benefits your brain


     Here is a story about the impact of music – not from a corporate slant, but a view of how it may be transformational to the very smallest people on the planet…Venezuela music project helps low-income kids even before birth

From their South American beginnings, they have grown; increasing their reach of dedication to bringing music into the lives of children worldwide…  Click this link to explore their organization’s website El Sistema Around the World

 What ‘gift’ or talent of your own will YOU

share to enhance a child’s learning potential???

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December 31st, 2014

While everyone watches fireworks, shares hugs and kisses, sings boisterously, etc., etc., the messages about celebrating safely flash at us from all over – - – billboards, tv screens, loudspeakers…  heck, even tweets from Mom and Dad or good friends.  While this particular invention is not yet ready for market, it’s an unusual use of Natural Language Processing technology that has been years in the making.  And there are probably MANY other applications for this kind of speech recognition software.

Between 2007 and 2009, linguistic researchers from the Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Institute of Legal Medicine in Munich in Germany have been hard at work on the Alcohol Language Corpus

Its main purpose is to keep drivers from taking the wheel of a car when they are intoxicated or impaired.  Still in testing, it will have champions and detractors; its intent is to save lives by reducing the incidence of preventable driving accidents.

Inside The First Audio Library of

Alcohol-Addled Speech

(Which Just Might Help Stop Drunk Driving)


So, when you hoist your champagne or beer or wine or apple cider or whatever on December 31st, think of what contributions you’ll make to bring about a Smarter Planet and a safer world in 2015 (and do get home safely!!)

With best wishes for a wonderful New Year! – Anita                    new year


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December 29th, 2014

Want to make a salad without risking slicing your fingers? Just leave it up to Kodiak.  “The real high level goal for this project is basically just to have a robot do all those little things in your house that you don’t want to do,” says researcher and Ph.D student Ian Lenz.

A team of researchers at Cornell University’s Personal Robotics lab are busy developing new algorithms and software that will enable robots to increasingly work in human environments.

KodiakUnlike other robots that are programmed to repeat the same motions over and over again, Kodiak is designed to be “intuitive” and can manipulate objects it may not have used before. To achieve this, researchers use a technique that emulates the human learning process.

Maybe you can train him to be your full-time errand boy?  I’m joking, of course – but there’s really endless possibilities for this automated buddy!  What applications do you see and does your work dovetail with the Cornell group?  HMMM – maybe there’s a cooperative project in there somewhere…

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