Computers and Essay Questions in Training

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    Professor Jack Shaw

    As a blogger, I get ideas for my blogs from pretty much anywhere. Even as a university professor, I am sometimes piqued by something said or a student assignment. In this case, it is a very basic assignment to get my English students to think about the question: Can computers grade essays? Why is this valid for trainers?

    I’ll tell you, but first we have to look at some basic differences between machine and Man. Computers operate on a logic based system; they can grade a standard essay and even more complex writing as long as we are looking for a specific response. We already have programs that check grammar. How is that working for you? And spelling? If you are close…

    Objective tests or fill in the blanks are easy. A “yes” or “no” answer in simple binary code. What about an idea that contains at least three paragraphs the culminates in the formation of an idea? You are now asking the computer evaluate standard language with maybe some expected wording specific to the organization. Quote the mission? Easy one. Ask for ideas? Forget it!

    What if the writer uses humor, imagery, exaggeration or irony? Can we expect a logic based computer to understand the basic creative principle of Man, which is to be unpredictable given the same circumstances.

    Now I know at this point many of you are saying, “Computers are evolving everyday and will be able to do that someday.” I’m not sure I want them to. And, need I say it, artificial intelligence?

    Have you heard the term “Singularity?” Basically, it is a project going on right now all over the world to create a computer infinitely smarter than us in every way and when we reach a certain point we will merge with the computer and be able to solve all the problems in the world–that’s if we can control this evolving artificial intelligence. The whole world as we know it and our existence may change drastically or be non-existent. We may not be needed in this new world.

    As for training, there are probably some programs that do a pretty good job identifying leaders and thinkers, but I think they are probably missing a great many creative people who don’t fit the established mold. Do we know for sure this is the best mold? We do know it is one of many.

    Keep the essays in, see the creativity for yourself. You can see the ideas; the computer can’t. Video games are probably the best guage of creativity and quickness of thought. And, the scores get higher as learning occurs. So, here the video game computer is aiding in developing creativity and speedy correct answers.

    Ironically, I wrote a novel that deals with this subject, too, but in a different more positive way. The humans involved had given thought to how far the artificial intelligence would go to running the world and so it has a positive ending. Major change occurs, but it is happening now.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    I don’t just teach and train. I have a website. I am also a speech coach, theatre critic, and artistic director. I do more than write blogs. My novel is called Harry’s Reality and is available as an e-book, as well as is my best selling The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. I have two other e-books recently released on theatre: ActingSmarts on Regional and Local Theatre, and ActingSmarts Reviews Regional and Local Theatre. It’s funny when you think about it how we bring all of our experiences to what we do. I spent 30 years in the government where I was a communicator and trainer, did theatre when I could–some of it professional, and started blogging and reviewing plays.

    Happy training.