This experiment, described by the Daily Bruin Online, the newspaper of the University of California (UCLA), Los Angeles, reminds me of the famous Michael Powell's movie, "Peeping Tom." In this movie, a young boy was continuously filmed by his father during his childhood. And once grown up, he kills women while filming them.
A UCLA professor, Mani Srivastava, wants to outfit an entire first grade classroom with minuscule sensors, from the students to the physical room. Here are some highlights of the project.
The lessons this experiment may provide -- including potential insight on teaching techniques, the speech of children, and the application of software and hardware in novel environments -- have been deemed important enough for the National Science Foundation to provide $1.8 million in funding grants.
Students will wear caps with sensors called "iBadges" pinned to them, Srivastava said. These badges will track the location of the child and the physical orientation of the child's head, as well as capture their speech with small microphones.
The spying doesn't stop here. There will be cameras and microphones in the classroom to provide more data about the students' activities.
Not only the students will be continuously monitored, the gathered data will be processed by a data-mining software, called Sylph, designed by another UCLA professor, Richard Muntz.
Muntz said the program is designed to collect queried data from sensors, store data and query archived data once it has been stored. Most importantly, he said the program includes data-mining capabilities, which implies distinguishing patterns among collected data.
"Data mining has been a growing field in the last decade," he said. "Data collections are too overwhelming for humans to study so we are now using programs to help in the assessment."
The project is currently in testing phase and will be fully deployed next spring.
So what's your take? Do you think this experiment should be allowed or banned? Would you like to be in such a classroom or send your kids there? Personally, I wouldn't like this constant monitoring.
Source: Christian Mignot, The Daily Bruin Online, July 28, 2003
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