Forum Posts

Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 28, 2021
In Thoughts from Learners
Firestein: There is a lot of antiscientific thinking rampant in our population. Many refuse to believe scientists even when you provide data and numbers. How do you think this subset would react if you tell them ignorance is good for scientists? Wouldn't this further affirm their notion that scientific thinking is "subjective"?
0
1
8
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 28, 2021
In Thoughts from Learners
I really like how Firestein doesn't always consider ignorance to be stupidity. Though most would believe ignorance precedes knowledge, in science, ignorance follows knowledge because often time an answer leads to more questions and assumptions which may mislead us off an entirely different path. Knowledge enables scientists to propose and pursue interesting questions that don't make sense and in no may should be considered stupidity but just refined critical thinking.
0
1
7
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 21, 2021
In Earth
Meade: Obviously natural disasters are not preventable but their impacts can be reduced with the help of data science and engineering. Earthquakes can be extremely disastrous especially as we saw in Japan when nuclear powerplants fall near fault lines and are unprepared to face the damage and earthquake may cause. If we are trying to design a nuclear power plant, what magnitude earthquake should be the baseline for it to survive? Would it be possible to simulate this?
0
0
5
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 21, 2021
In Earth
I found it interesting about how Brendan Meade said there were no robust computational tools to study earthquakes. Those would be the greatest gains in the field coming from better algorithms and super computers. Right now, the default physical models are so simplified and don't do a good projection of the consequences of a disaster. Other natural disasters seem to be modeled relatively well, like hurricanes and other tropical storms but looks like we haven't figured it out for earthquakes.
0
0
4
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 10, 2021
In Space
Jill Tarter: Recently a former Israeli space security chief raised eyebrows across the world stating that governments have been in contact with extraterrestrial life from a "galactic federation" and that Donald Trump knows about it. He claims that the UFOs have been told not to publicize their presence because humanity is not ready yet. Is there any truth to what this highly respected general is saying? II addition, he stated that aliens were equally curious about humanity and were seeking to understand the fabrics of our society. If any of this were to be true, when can society truly be ready to learn that we are not alone out there?
0
0
4
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 10, 2021
In Space
Jill Tarter's line of work is extremely fascinating. Are we alone? Is there extraterrestrial life out there? Has her team heard signals? Are they even allowed to tell us? Regardless, the most interesting part of the interview to me was the integration of social scientists and astroethics philosophy to discuss these questions on how we would interact with this newfound life. Are we to come up with a strict set of guidelines that govern the way people on future space missions should study and interact with these aliens? Is such a framework even enforceable? In the event that we discover such a world, there is no question that this will be an influential event that creates mass hysteria unless we approach this carefully.
0
0
3
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 03, 2021
In Health
Dan Gilbert mentioned affective forecasting and how we tend to be biased in predicting positive outcomes. My question to him is how does happiness relate to affective forecasting? If our beliefs about what will make us happy are wrong, then what do we need to change? Should we bother predicting our happiness or "go with the flow"? To what point do we separate desires from reality or just be more realistic about our capabilities? Doesn't taking the extreme of being realistic curtail innovation? How can we dream big without feeling discouraged if the fruits of our labor don't work out?
1
2
8
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 03, 2021
In Earth
Something I really liked in this interview is when Dan Gilbert talked about persuasion, especially in regards to hot button issues like Climate Change. Statistics and modeling are often used to convince scientists about phenomena but they don't always resonate with the lay public. There are other ways to change attitudes towards persuasion and actually getting people's attention. That way we can send a more effective message to them by recognizing the cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of their methods. Communication is key and it is important to think about our audience's motivations, desires, and goals and relate our message towards those.
0
0
6
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Mar 31, 2021
In Health
Many investigators have tried to predict the outbreak of COVID-19 through modeling. Last spring in particular, despite the prediction of disease course in short-term intervals many of the constructed models were unable to forecast the actual spread and pattern of the epidemic in the long term leading to widespread medical mistrust and conspiracy theories of government paranoia. How should models be presented to the general public so they understand that such uncertainty exists? Or that they are everchanging based on our holistic response?
0
0
9
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Mar 31, 2021
In Earth
Kammen: One of the most interesting concepts brought up in the Dan Kammen interview was the idea of a performance contract and that could be used to incentivize contractors in the future. In traditional contracts, owners define what needs to be done and how to do it. The contractor is paid for the immediate result regardless of long-term performance. But in a performance-based contract, the contractor is paid for in part for their work but also the long-run performance of their construction. For example, in the case of remodeling a kitchen, contractors may receive a bonus based on key performance indicators like efficiency (less consumption of electricity/gas). While this all sounds nice in theory, it would seem difficult to get labor unions to agree to this structure of pay. Contractors like payment upfront, especially in cash. The client likes bargains and even if paying more for an efficient system would lead to long-term savings, that's not on most people's minds at the moment. Perhaps what a contractor could do is lower the price of the efficient design, but then require 20% of the client's long-term savings as commission. That still makes things complicated as no one wants to be obliged to long-term contracts, especially for smaller projects like a kitchen remodeling job. McCarthy: Recently in an interview with CNBC, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg opened a whole new can of worms stating that a mileage tax"shows a lot of promise" for the future opening up debate as to whether the Biden administration should consider such an idea. There are many reasons I can think of which would make this a poor policy decision: First off privacy concerns, what level of data collection from our vehicles would be required from the government? Second, why would we be incentivized to buy fuel-efficient vehicles with such a policy? There is already a gas tax, and those who drive electric would supposedly not have to worry about these surcharges. Also, many lower-income communities who can't afford to live in expensive cities would have longer commutes to work and therefore disproportionality affected by such a policy. To Administrator McCarthy, I would have asked what her thoughts are on Secretary Buttigieg's proposal and what would she would consider an ideal policy to generate funds for infrastructure projects as we move away from gas-powered vehicles?
1
1
10
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Mar 31, 2021
In The Future of the Future
Shneiderman Interview: An idea that Professor Shneiderman continued to emphasize is that AI and Machine Learning models are tools, not partners. In society, many individuals tend to place too much faith in models and cry foul on the occurrences where they are completely wrong. In more simple terms, lazy humans trust their algorithms too much. Human oversight and interpretation are extremely important for modeling which is why governments around the world have already proposed guidelines in optimizing their use. Keeping a human decision-maker in the loop is critical as mindful insight should not always be overruled by what a model tells you to do. Professor Shedierman emphasized that we may not be good enough in interpreting these models true meaning. Oversight for an AI system does not solve the problem if we continue to place excessive trust in the systems without thinking about the negative consequences that can sometimes be dramatic.
0
0
7
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Mar 29, 2021
In Thoughts from Learners
Kammen: One of the most interesting concepts brought up in the Dan Kammen interview was the idea of a performance contract and that could be used to incentivize contractors in the future. In traditional contracts, owners define what needs to be done and how to do it. The contractor is paid for the immediate result regardless of long-term performance. But in a performance-based contract, the contractor is paid for in part for their work but also the long-run performance of their construction. For example, in the case of remodeling a kitchen, contractors may receive a bonus based on key performance indicators like efficiency (less consumption of electricity/gas). While this all sounds nice in theory, it would seem difficult to get labor unions to agree to this structure of pay. Contractors like payment upfront, especially in cash. The client likes bargains and even if paying more for an efficient system would lead to long-term savings, that's not on most people's minds at the moment. Perhaps what a contractor could do is lower the price of the efficient design, but then require 20% of the client's long-term savings as commission. That still makes things complicated as no one wants to be obliged to long-term contracts, especially for smaller projects like a kitchen remodeling job. McCarthy: Recently in an interview with CNBC, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg opened a whole new can of worms stating that a mileage tax"shows a lot of promise" for the future opening up debate as to whether the Biden administration should consider such an idea. There are many reasons I can think of which would make this a poor policy decision: First off privacy concerns, what level of data collection from our vehicles would be required from the government? Second, why would we be incentivized to buy fuel-efficient vehicles with such a policy? There is already a gas tax, and those who drive electric would supposedly not have to worry about these surcharges. Also, many lower-income communities who can't afford to live in expensive cities would have longer commutes to work and therefore disproportionality affected by such a policy. To Administrator McCarthy, I would have asked what her thoughts are on Secretary Buttigieg's proposal and what would she would consider an ideal policy to generate funds for infrastructure projects as we move away from gas-powered vehicles?
0
0
12
Neil Khurana
Harvard GenEd 2021
+4
More actions