David Kirkpatrick

March 16, 2010

The Singularity in the ivory tower

Via KurzweilAI.net — Rutgers is offering an online course on the technological Singularity.

Rutgers plans online course on the Singularity
KurzweilAI.net, Mar. 16, 2010

This summer, Rutgers University plans to offer “Special Topics in Sociology: Singularity Studies, the first accredited college course on the Singularity and associated technologies.

The three-credit summer course will feature online lectures and discussions every Monday and Wednesday evening throughout the summer and is available to students internationally.

The textbook will be The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, supplemented by online articles appropriate to individual lectures.

The course will feature online interviews with leading futurists and technologists around the world exploring the social implications of these anticipated developments. Topics include future studies and forecasting, finance and entrepreneurship, networks and computing systems,biotechnology and informatics, nanotechnology,neuroscience and human enhancement, artificial intelligence and roboticsenergy and ecological systems, and space and physical sciences.

The course will be taught by a father-son team, Ben and Ted Goertzel. Ben is the Director of Applied Research for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and an External Research Professor at Xiamen University in China. He also heads up two startup companies, Novamente LLC and Biomind LLC, has written several books on artificial intelligence and related topics, and is an advisor to the AIRobotics Track at Singularity University.

Ted, Ben’s father, is a sociology professor at Rutgers who regularly teaches a Cyberspace and Society course and is author or co-author of numerous books on sociology andscience.

Students and guest speakers will be recruited internationally. The sessions will be recorded and available for viewing during the semester via the Elluminate system.

More info: Singularity Studies: The Future of Humanity in the Age of Superhuman Artificial Intelligence

October 1, 2009

Investment strategies affect financial aid eligibility

Who’d a thunk a government program for distributing funds might not be all that equitable, or in the parlance of this research, not achieving “horizontal equity.”

The research:

Financial Aid Rules Influence Household Portfolio Decisions

Current system for determining eligibility creates unequal aid distribution, MU researchers find

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Student Aid Financial Responsibility Act to address problems with the current financial aid system. The act calls for several changes to simplify the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid- FAFSA. In a new study, a University of Missouri researcher found flaws in the FAFSA’s method for assessing net worth that can create inequalities in the distribution of financial aid.

“The findings support the act and the need to simplify the financial aid application process. It is important to find a method that will provide a better picture of household net worth,” said Tansel Yilmazer, assistant professor in the MU Department of Personal Financial Planning. “One option would be to combine FAFSA questions with questions on tax forms.”

Currently, assets in retirement funds or home equity are not considered in the calculation of need for financial aid. Because of this, families with more money in other types of savings are eligible for less financial aid.

“Ideally, two families with the same income stream should be eligible for the same amount of financial aid,” Yilmazer said. “Right now, if one family invests more in retirement or in huge homes with high equity, then that family might be eligible for more financial aid than the family that doesn’t make these investments. Thus, the current system might not be achieving horizontal equity.”

In the study, Yilmazer examined the impact the marginal financial aid tax rate – a rate calculated using age, income, and number of children in college to determine aid eligibility – has on the assets in retirement funds and home equity. The researchers found that the current system allows for families to intentionally or unintentionally adjust their portfolios to receive more financial aid.

“We hope these findings will influence policy change that will eliminate the current loophole and make the financial aid system more efficient and equal,” Yilmazer said.

The study, “The Impact of College Financial Aid Rules on Household Portfolio Choices,” included household financial data from the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances. The study will be published in the December 2009 issue of the National Tax Journal.


November 4, 2008

Election day NASA post

Filed under: et.al., Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:37 pm

Amidst all the political blogging today, here’s a release from NASA that just crossed the inbox:

NASA Selects Astronomy Student Ambassadors

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Forty-six undergraduate and graduate students have been selected to represent NASA in their local communities as recipients of the agency’s International Year of Astronomy, or IYA, Student Ambassadors Program.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Two of the students were chosen to attend the opening ceremonies of an IYA event in Paris in January 2009. The students representing NASA at the ceremonies are Rebecca Holmes, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who is majoring in physics and astronomy, and Norberto Gonzalez, a junior at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo with a biology concentration.

The IYA Student Ambassadors Program is designed to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to participate in IYA activities and generate excitement about NASA’s discoveries in astrophysics, planetary science and solar physics within their local communities and beyond. These students will serve as role models to others.

“NASA is a major partner in the United States’ celebration of IYA activities,” said Hashima Hasan, NASA’s Astrophysics education and public outreach lead in Washington. “The Student Ambassadors Program is just one of many activities the agency has planned throughout the coming year.”

The ambassadors were selected from more than 150 online applications. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, full-time students and participate in activities that align with NASA’s IYA goals.

The National Space Grant Foundation manages the IYA Student Ambassadors Program through a grant from NASA. For more information about NASA’s involvement and a list of student ambassadors, visit:


  For more information about NASA and its programs, visit:


Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/