From the Front Page Sections, translated…
An American friend forwarded a short film of how machines are used to chop off trees, he’d told me with this heartfelt manner, that way back when, when he’d gone to Alaska to work as a lumberjack to pay his own tuition, he’d worked from dawn ‘til dusk, and can only chop one tree down; now, the machines can chop off a ton of trees in a matter of few short minutes, after the trees were chopped, they’re immediately sawed up into normal lengths, and transported with a specialized truck down the mountainsides. A machine can make up for five hundred men, and it’s easy to operate, it’s totally opposite of how much he’d sweated from when he worked back in the days.
He said, that even now, the sports broadcasters are changed to using robots, because humans are naturally biased, in the international competitions, one may get too patriotic and lose her/his neutrality; in the competitions of the teams in one’s own country, you’d rooted for the other team on your own, but, robots don’t have this sort of emotional issues, it could report the stories as they’d come to it, with precision and neutrality. He’d asked, “if everything we do now, is replaced by the machines, then, what’s the use of humans?”
This, is a good question, and so, in my course, “Brain and Creativity”, I’d shown this video to my students, and asked them how they think. I thought, that the students would raise their hands to participate, because no matter how good the machines are, they’re still, all created by man, just like how in those fighting novels, no matter how good the apprentices got, they can never beat the masters who’d trained them. What makes humans better than machines is in that we have knowledgeable thoughts, and, although the machines can have the abilities for statistical learning, but it couldn’t measure up to the humans’ abilities. I thought that the students would realize, that the 21st Century would not be a competition of physical power, but of brain power, like how in “The Lost Crusade”, when the Arab ran towards him with a gun, Harrison Ford has no other option, shrugged his shoulders, took out his pistol, and, although using a gun in a knife fight wasn’t at all fair, but under the circumstances, there’s just the way of using technology to beat the traditions, one bullet solved that crisis.
I couldn’t imagine, that the lecture hall fell silent, the students all watched to see how I reacted, (not like how we were, lowered our heads, not daring to look up at the teacher, they’re now, staring at me, without any reactions.) I couldn’t help but recall the words that Cheng-Ning Yang stated, to criticize the students of Taiwan. But, the Taiwanese students aren’t unintelligent, lazy, or not putting enough mind into what they do, just look at how they’d won the biggest of prizes at the international creative competitions. They are NOT showing enough care or concern for anything that doesn’t involve them, plus now, we’re all focused on the minor blessings of life, the students were misled to believe, that so long as they have it made right now, they don’t care about their futures, they have a different value systems compared to us.
But, why is there this difference of values? We were all raised, in Asian communities, it’s just that the stories we’d read, we’d heard are different compared to the younger generations’ now, we didn’t grow up being told stories of “Snow White”, “Cinderella”, or “Sleeping Beauty”, I’d heard the stories of history, of how the stories of how our parents carried us on their back, as the Japanese invaded into our towns. Our parents taught us, there’s NO trials that are too awful to endure through, the most precious, the ugliest side of human nature will all show up. A day after my older sister was born, the Japanese invaded our town, my mother took her into the mountains to hide out, my sister had a fever, the elderly man from next door walked eighty kilometers from the mountain to the herbal shops, to bring it back up the mountains, so my sister could be treated, saved my sister’s life. My parents’ escape experiences made us realize, that, “as the nests got tipped over, there would be NO eggs that survived”, and we’d felt more responsible toward the wellbeing of our nation, other people’s assistances, our parents’ gratitude, all of these, helped shaped and formed our systems of values.
The most basic goal of education is logical thinking and the right kinds of values, the books we’d read when we were children, the things we’d come in contact with when we were younger, will help shape our views of country, of our own lives, of our goals too. The elementary and middle school years are the time when the personalities are slowly forming, and, we shouldn’t sacrifice the basic qualities of education, because of the grades or the diplomas.
This just shows, how my stats instructor’s words, “Focus on getting an education, NOT just a degree” is still important, but, because in schools, they now long longer TEACH any values, like how we should treat one another, and, we don’t take the time, to observe, how people are treating each other, that, is why this world is having so many problems, because of this carelessness, and, the professor was right on how we NEED to focus on the values that we are teaching the younger generations, instead of focusing on the grades that our kids are making…