Weekly I/O #60 (last episode here)
Kuleshov Effect, Dark Room Metaphor, Bicycle of the Mind, Chess Popularity after AI, Predictable by Ideology
Weekly I/O is a project where I share my learning Input/Output every week.
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The below is extracted from the email sent on April 09, 2023
1. Kuleshov Effect: Viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.
The Kuleshov effect is a cognitive phenomenon where viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two back-to-back shots than from a single shot in isolation. Modern filmmakers widely use it as a film editing technique.
In this video, Alfred Hitchcock demonstrated the Kuleshov Effect. For instance, if a close-up shot of Hitchcock is followed by a woman holding a baby and then his reaction of smiling, the audience may perceive him as a kind old man.
However, if the middle shot is replaced with a young woman in a bikini while the other two shots remain the same, the audience may perceive him as a dirty old man. The audience’s perception of the same shot of Hitchcock’s reaction changed by their juxtaposition with other shots. In other words, the Kuleshov Effect changes the meaning of individual shots by its preceding and succeeding shots.
2. Dark Room Metaphor: Learning is a process of reconstruction (Constructionism), not transmission(Instructionism). Creating our mental 3D model of a room by exploring it in the dark is a slower but more effective learning method than being shown a picture of the room.
In education, a common approach to teaching is called “Instructionism”, which assumes students are like blank papers to be filled with knowledge through proper instruction by teachers. This metaphor is widely-accepted because, culturally, we see knowledge as being transmitted from one to another and passed down through the generations.
However, this approach fails to acknowledge that learning can be a process of reconstruction rather than transmission. “Constructionism” is a newer approach to education that focuses on letting students actively build their own understanding of the world. This approach is based on the metaphor of knowledge as a map, which students create by exploring their environment and making sense of what they find.
A better way to understand learning is through the “Dark Room” metaphor. Learning is like exploring a dark room, where you slowly build up a mental map of the room through fumbling and exploring. This process of constructionism allows students to create their own 3D model of knowledge in their minds, which they can manipulate freely later. On the other hand, instructionism is more like being shown a picture of the room. While it might provide faster understanding, this knowledge is more fragile and less likely to enable the Transfer of Learning (#54.2).
3. Humans are tool builders. We build tools like computers as the “Bicycle of the Mind” that take us beyond our inherent abilities.
In a 1990 interview, Steve Jobs recalled reading an article when he was 12 that measured the efficiency of locomotion of various species on Earth. How many kilocalories did they expend to get from point A to point B? The Condor was the most efficient, while humans ranked only about a third down the list.
However, somebody there had the imagination to test the efficiency of a human riding a bicycle. When a human rode a bike, they were more efficient than a Condor, all the way off the top of the list. This article made a lasting impression on Steve Jobs, as it highlighted how humans create tools to amplify their abilities. Humans are tool builders. We build tools like computers as the “bicycle of our mind” that can take humans far beyond their inherent abilities.
4. When AI beat the chess world champion in 1997, it was claimed that “Chess is over”. But 26 years later, chess is more popular than ever.
When Deep Blue beat Chess world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, people claimed, “Chess is now over” and questioned what’s the point of playing chess. However, 26 years later, chess has become more popular than ever.
Technically, two Artificial Intelligences playing chess together would be a better game. However, the crowd is not a fan of this in general because what interests and entertains us more is drama. And drama stems from imperfection and flaws.
I think this little piece of history provides another perspective on the current trend of generative AI and the tasks it will eventually take over.
5. If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself, your conclusions will not be predictable.
That said, differentiating the so-called “principle” from ideology is a difficult line-drawing problem.
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