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Episode Info: Moshe Vardi is a Professor of Computer Science at Rice University in the US and holds numerous honours and awards. This is the second part of our conversation where we focus more on the changes and challenges in academic life. Moshe reflects on: the increasing pressures to publish, the seduction of big data on how we evaluate research, and the increasing pressure and stress on students for these and other reasons; how we need academics to get more involved in social issues but that we are instead training people to be self-centred focusing on their own careers just at a time when we need then to get more involved in social issues; whether we should be focusing mentoring more on post-tenure people because of how hard it is to sustain an innovative research agenda over time; and why we need to have more conversations about our obligations as academics to take more social responsibility.The first part of the conversation (separate podcast) discusses the social implications of technology & our responsibility not just computer scientists but all academics.“Now people feel that if they don’t graduate with 10 papers they are not competitive in the job market.” “Assessing research is like assessing art. History will decide what is important, what is not important. We have to make some judgement now but we have to be incredibly modest about the quality of our judgement. … data gives the illusion it is measurable.” “We are basically telling people, just be self-centred, then we’re discovering very often after they have received tenure of full professor, oh my goodness they are really self-centred! … We’ve selected them for being self-centred. This is the paradox of academia.” “We expect people to be innovative now for 45 years. That’s incredibly difficult.”He talks about (times approximate) … 01:35 Reflecting on changes in academia over time – an inflationary process going on, publication expectations. And the expectation of having many papers now is corrupting the system. There is increasing pressure on PhD students now.06:35 Technology making it easier now for more transparency re number of publications, citations. Not convinced it is helpful. Talks about being asked to talk at an EU conference about how to use big data to help in evaluation of research and innovation and he gave a cautionary account – can we be sure we know what to measure. How do you assess research? Data giving the illusion it is measurable. But significance doesn’t always translate into h-Indexes. 11:07 He has been told that 40% of students at his university are going to counselling services to ask for help. Discusses reasons why this might be the case. Economic anxiety. Crisis in the humanities because of rising cost of tuition and wanting to get a well-paying job. So increasing engineering students. Needing humanities to be involved in the discussions about technology and human life and dignity, answering questions about what is the good l...
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