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C'est la Z

Kicking off 2023

I never do much on New Years Eve. I can't remember the last time I stayed up until Midnight. It's just not really a big deal with me. Yesterday, thanks to Natan rushing tickets, I did close out the year seeing the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Fedora which was very enjoyable.

Woke up late today - around 5:00, went for my first run of the year and did the puzzle over coffee. My usual routine.

I'm still on a school calendar so my year goes from September to September but since so much of the world uses January first, I thought I'd share a couple of thoughts on education and tech in 2022 and 2023.

On the tech side, 2022 brought a rocky road. We had the cryptocurrency crash and NFTs came and (hopefully) went and all the big players had massive layoffs. The Crypto stuff is interesting and I'm curious where it goes. I haven't had the time to really get my head around all of it. I read the original whitepaper, and played with some code but haven't delved into web3 yet. I've always felt that NFTs were a scam and I think that this whole web3 thing is still a technology looking for an application but it does provide smart contracts and distributed identity and authentication and that should eventually lead to something. One of my post retirement side projects is to try to create something on/for web3 to really see what it's all about.

One thing I do wonder about with web3 looking forward is that a big deal about it is that it's distributed. That sounds great, but we've been there before. Whenever we've built a distributed platform, the next thing we do is centralize it. Thin about it:

Distributed Centralized
IRC Slack
Usenet News Reddit
Napster Spotify
Git GitHub

So, even if Web3 finds its legs and presents us with an amazing distributed platform, will it be fated to be a distributed platform controlled by one centralized player.

On the tech downturn, it was bound to happen. Interesting enough is that I'm hearing from friends desperately trying to hire while others were recently laid off. Messy and unfortunate but I think things will get better on the company side.

On the candidate size, I think we're going to need a correction there. CS enrollments have and continue to explode and while hopefully this will help bring along underrepresented groups, I'm guessing that there are many new CS majors who are along for the ride and are really meant for other things. Just like the law school boom and MBA booms in the late 80s, the hot major becomes oversubscribed frequently for the wrong reasons.

Moving forward both K12 CS and college CS has to do a better job in communicating what CS and tech majors are for and preparing students for all careers with the correct amount of CS. I don't think that'll happen much though in 2023.

On the CS Ed front, for the most part, things have been chugging along. At least in NY people are starting to recognize that while the PD based model was essential to start CS4All things have to pivot to pre-service programs. In general there also seems to be movement in understanding that not every CS major wants to be a software engineer (or a PhD candidate, which has long been the focus of most CS programs) and we're starting to see people waking to the fact that the CS that's appropriate and needed by the CS major is not the same as that for the software engineer, other tech sector roles and possibly most importantly everyone else.

The big negative in NY for CS Ed is that the state came out saying that if you taught at least 1 CS class you can get grandfathered in and won't need CS certification for 10 years. This means we're going to have a lot of under-prepared CS teachers in the state for a long time.

Looking forward in CS Education, I hope to see more preservice programs come online in New York state and I hope that discussion of CS for non-CS majors, non PhD candidates, and non software engineers continues to expand.

It looks like web3 will take a bit of a back seat though and the big topic in the next few months will be chatGPT and other AI systems.

I say AI systems, but as far as I can tell, chatGPT is really just pattern matching on a more massive scale. Pretty impressive but not closer to "intelligence." There's been talk about using it to solve programming problems and write essays and this morning, I saw something about asking it to lesson plan.

I've played with it a bit and it is impressive but I'm predicting that hype will fade as teachers will adjust. ChatGPT and related projects also bring into question the rights on the training materials and that it might threaten companies like Google. I'm not betting on that last one as I'm guessing that Google's got plenty of people working on similar technologies internally.

So, we'll see what 2023 brings in tech and education. I do plan to write more on chatGPT in the coming months but we'll see what other themes emerge.

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