Story image

STEMM should be backed by understanding of communication

09 May 17

Advances in technology need to be met by a new kind of moral and ethical leadership says Open Polytechnic professor of communication, Gary Mersham.

He says communication studies could fill the gaps STEMM may be leaving.

With human to machine, and machine to human communication moving towards natural spoken language, as well as facial and body language there is a renewed interest in communication studies says Mersham.

“Image recognition, speech recognition, and machine translation now allow machines to truly understand how humans communicate and respond in kind. Numerous speaking and learning bots now populate our digital devices.”

With revolutionary new technologies, such as University of Auckland professor Mark Sagar's Avatar Nadia, being able to understand body language as well as verbal, there is a need to learn how humans communicate first.

Mersham says in the past there has been a tendency to rate STEMM skills over soft skills. He says this is now being re-assessed, with key players in the industry upping their communication offerings.

“The Institute of IT professionals in NZ, for example, runs courses specifically aimed at improving communication among IT professionals.

“Francis Valentine, founder of the highly successful Mindlab concept and leading advocate for a new form of digital skills education, is proposing trialling a public school model with a curriculum that includes visual communication, philosophy, economics and English language studies along with the core STEMM subjects.”

This movement in the tech and education industries shows there is a need to be able to understand and analyse how we communicate as well as being able to interact digitally.

Mersham says he is concerned that this need may go unnoticed by some in the industry, and as there are pressing issues that can be solved by technology, there’s no time to waste.

“The impact of new technologies such as AI, IOT, Blockchain and robotics will demand a new kind of moral and ethical leadership that most CEO’s are ill-prepared for.

“Social sciences and humanities with their ethical focus will be more and more important in the education system as the world looks towards solving its big problems of polluted environments, climate change, social displacement, poverty and dysfunctional politics through technology.”

The urgency of these changes has been noticed by some, says Mersham.

“General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt recently said that soon ‘All business will be in the education business’ as increasingly workers are re-skilled for jobs in the modern economy by their organisations.”

Mersham will be speaking to these needs in the industry, and be joined by a panel of experts in the area to offer demonstrations and hands-on experience.

The free, open session will be a part of the Hutt Valley STEMM Festival - Saturday 13 May 11:00am to 1:00pm, The Dowse.

IDC: Standalone VR headset shipments grow 428.6% in 3Q18
The VR headset market returned to growth in 3Q18 after four consecutive quarters of decline and now makes up 97% of the combined market.
Meet Rentbot, the chatbot that can help with tenancy law
If you find yourself in a tricky situation  - or if you just want to understand your rights as a landlord or tenant, you can now turn to a chatbot for help.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) finally releases on PS4
PUBG on PS4 feels like it’s still in Early Access as the graphics look horribly outdated and the game runs poorly too. 
How AI can fundamentally change the business landscape
“This is an extremely interesting if not pivotal time to discuss how AI is being deployed and leveraged, both in business and at home.”
CERT NZ highlights rise of unauthorised access incidents
“In one case, the attacker gained access and tracked the business’s emails for at least six months. They gathered extensive knowledge of the business’s billing cycles."
Report finds GCSB in compliance with NZ rights
The Inspector-General has given the GCSB its compliance tick of approval for the fourth year in a row.
Game review: Just Cause 4 on PC
Rico Rodriguez returns to wreak over-the-top havoc for a fourth time. This time the island nation of Solís is our hero’s sandbox, ripe for destruction.
Hands-on review: Logitech G502 HERO gaming mouse
My favourite feature of the G502s is the ‘Sniper’ button, which is found on the left hand side of the device. When held, this lowers the DPI and allows you to achieve maximum accuracy whilst honing in on a kill on your favourite FPS title.