September 17, 2019

China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns. - MIT Technology Review

Experts agree AI will be important in 21st-century education—but how? While academics have puzzled over best practices, China hasn’t waited around. In the last few years, the country’s investment in AI-enabled teaching and learning has exploded

Link: China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns. - MIT Technology Review

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September 2, 2019

John Chau, American Missionary, and the Uncontacted Tribe | GQ

When a 26-year-old American missionary set out for a lush island in the Indian Ocean last year, it was with one objective in mind: to convert the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe, who had lived for centuries in isolation, free from modern technology, disease, and religion. John Chau’s mission had ambitions for a great awakening, but what awaited instead was tragedy.

Link: John Chau, American Missionary, and the Uncontacted Tribe | GQ

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September 1, 2019

How India’s Media Landscape Changed Over Five Years | The India Forum

The five-year period of 2014-2019 has seen such an explosion of media creation and media use in India that the answer to the question, who is the media, has become, literally, everybody. The Indian public sphere is increasingly mediated not just by conventional media—TV, print, online, and radio in the hands of a few—but by technology in the hands of millions of users seeking information, pushing disinformation and instant gratification.

Link: How India’s Media Landscape Changed Over Five Years | The India Forum

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August 22, 2019

The child of all nations

I recalled the phrase Anak semua bangsa” when I heard Mita speak Bahasa Indonesia. Mita is the adopted Indonesian name of a young Vietnamese person I met in a small alley in Saigon. I remarked to her that I rarely hear a Vietnamese speak such fluent Indonesian. Mita replied that her curiosity about cultures and religions led her to explore Indonesia. She lived in Surabaya for a year and fell in love with Indonesia.

Most South-East Asian teenagers are keen on Korean or Japanese popular culture. But often in Vietnam, I meet young people who are interested in Indonesia, India or Myanmar. They are the true Anak semua bangsa” - the child of all nations (the phrase is the title of a novel that is set in Surabaya). I miss another Saigon friend who loves Indonesia. We sometimes used to go to the Indonesian/Malaysian enclave to eat Mee Goreng. And I miss Indonesia. What time is the next flight to Jakarta?

Mita, a child of all nations

Vietnam Indonesia People
August 3, 2019

The eyes have it all

The eyes have it all - As I move through different lands, one observation I have is about eye contact. Almost always, eye contact (or the lack of it), is directly proportional to the affluence of the place. In richer places, I find that strangers do not make eye contact unless they are in a defined space and it is considered alright to talk - for example an event or a meetup. In less affluent places, people easily make eye contact.

The eyes have it all

Whenever I see a striking pair of eyes, I remember a story by Ruskin Bond called The eyes have it”. The story is about a blind man who briefly meets a girl on an empty Himalayan train coach. He tries to hide his blindness by making small talk about the scenery. As the girl leaves the train a few stations later, a new passenger arrives. In author’s words:

The man who had entered the compartment broke into my reverie. You must be disappointed’ he said. I’m not nearly as attractive a travelling companion as the one who just left.’

She was an interesting girl’ I said. Can you tell me—did she keep her hair long or short?’

I don’t remember’ he said sounding puzzled. It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had beautiful eyes but they were of no use to her. She was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?

Travel Vietnam Cambodia
July 30, 2019

The secret social lives of viruses

But when he and his team at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, looked into the contents of their flasks, they saw something completely unexpected: the bacteria were silent, and it was the viruses that were chattering away, passing notes to each other in a molecular language only they could understand. They were deciding together when to lie low in the host cell and when to replicate and burst out, in search of new victims.

Link: The secret social lives of viruses

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