I spent most of Sunday (today) going through the end of course assignments for the university image processing course that I need to mark. I’ve read through four of the reports and watched three of the videos, making notes on them so I can compare then and assign marks uniformly across all the groups. I’m a bit burnt out on image processing and machine learning, but I’ll try to finish them off tomorrow, if I have enough time.
This evening I had two more ethics classes on the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence. Over the week of teaching this topic I’ve added some material about how far away stars are and how it would take any aliens thousands of years to travel to Earth, if they could even do it at all. Because nearly all of the kids’ answers to the various questions are coloured by their intense belief that if aliens knew we were here, they’d immediately come over and destroy us. I mention that it’s kind of illogical to do that, and many people say that advanced civilisations will probably be friendly, and repeat that it’d take them thousands of years to get here… but most of the kids basically respond with, “Yeah… but no, it’s still a terrible idea to let them know we’re here.”
They’re also strongly of the opinion that if/when news of receiving an alien radio signal is made public, the overwhelming reaction of humanity will be panic. I’m guessing their thoughts on this topic are strongly affected by exposure to TV and movies, and that they haven’t matured enough in this area to form more thoughtful opinions yet, because it’s not a topic that’s as commonly discussed in serious conversation as a lot of the other topics we cover.
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