Burning fossil fuel in the North American continent contributes more to the CO2 global warming problem than in any other continent. The resulting climate changes are expected to alter food production. The overall changes in temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide, insect pests, plant pathogens, and weeds associated with global warming are projected to reduce food production in North America. However, in Africa, the projected slight rise in rainfall is encouraging, especially since Africa already suffers from severe shortages of rainfall. For all (...) regions, a reduction in fossil fuel burning is vital. Adoption of sound ecological resource management, especially soil and water conservation and the prevention of deforestation, is important. Together, these steps will benefit agriculture, the environment, farmers, and society as a whole. (shrink)
Following previous work that shows engineering students possess different levels of understanding of ethics—implicit and explicit—this study focuses on how students’ implicit understanding of engineering ethics influences their team discussion process, in cases where there is significant divergence between their explicit and implicit understanding. We observed student teams during group discussions of the ethical issues involved in their engineering design projects. Through the micro-scale discourse analysis based on cognitive ethnography, we found two possible ways in which implicit understanding influenced the (...) discussion. In one case, implicit understanding played the role of intuitive ethics—an intuitive judgment followed by reasoning. In the other case, implicit understanding played the role of ethical insight, emotionally guiding the direction of the discussion. In either case, however, implicit understanding did not have a strong influence, and the conclusion of the discussion reflected students’ explicit understanding. Because students’ implicit understanding represented broader social implication of engineering design in both cases, we suggest to take account of students’ relevant implicit understanding in engineering education, to help students become more socially responsible engineers. (shrink)
This article describes research to build an embodied conversational agent as an interface to a question-and-answer system about a National Science Foundation program. We call this ECA the LifeLike Avatar, and it can interact with its users in spoken natural language to answer general as well as specific questions about specific topics. In an idealized case, the LifeLike Avatar could conceivably provide a user with a level of interaction such that he or she would not be certain as to whether (...) he or she is talking to the actual person via video teleconference. This could be considered a extended version of the seminal Turing test. Although passing such a test is still far off, our work moves the science in that direction. The Uncanny Valley notwithstanding, applications of such lifelike interfaces could include those where specific instructors/caregivers could be represented as stand-ins for the actual person in situations where personal representation is important. Possible areas that come to mind that might benefit from these lifelike ECAs include health-care support for elderly/disabled patients in extended home care, education/training, and knowledge preservation. Another more personal application would be to posthumously preserve elements of the persona of a loved one by family members. We apply this approach to a Q/a system for knowledge preservation and dissemination, where the specific individual who had this knowledge was to retire from the US National Science Foundation. The system is described in detail, and evaluations were performed to determine how well the system was perceived by users. (shrink)
This essay discusses how ontological commitments within modern Western culture are no less problematic than those within traditional African cultures. Each posits unobservable entities to explain the experiential world, and neither has ready access to those posits held as grounding or as otherwise determining what is experienced. It looks at the conceptions of persons in Western and African traditions and suggests that each tradition can learn from the other.
If classical Western theism is correct that God's timeless omniscience is compatible with human free will, then it is incoherent to hold that this God can in any strict sense be immutable and a se as well as omniscient. That is my thesis. ‘Classical theism’ shall refer here to the tradition of philosophical theology centring on such mainstream authors as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. ‘Divine omniscience’ shall mean that the eternal God knows all events as a timeless observer of them. (...) ‘Human free will’ shall mean that human beings are, at least sometimes, self-determining agents who make choices not decisively caused to be what they are by external or internal factors other than the free willing itself – choices that these agents have the capacity and the freedom to make differently than they do. Except where stipulated otherwise, ‘divine immutability’ shall ‘mean that God is neither subject to, nor capable of, change in being, knowing, or willing, since God is immune to external influences, and without internal needs, of the sorts that might give rise to such change. Finally, ‘aseity’ shall be used to underline the divine immunity to external influences, since a being that is wholly a se or self-caused , cannot be open to such influences, cannot be made to be what or how it is by anything other than itself. (shrink)