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Volume 55, Number 18   January 21, 2008         

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Robots everywhere
In a Dec. 9 San Francisco Chronicle article, Engineering Lecturer David Calkins suggested that robots are not a thing of the future; they are all around us. "Why do we call a Roomba a robot and not a dishwasher?" asked Calkins, arguing that we already rely on special-purpose devices such as search engines, which use rudimentary artificial intelligence to answer queries and rank replies. "It's a problem of definitions," Calkins said. "People use the r-word to mean so many different things." Calkins added that we need not worry about our electronic servants turning against us. "If today's 'robots' don’t even know that they are robots, how could they be imbued with a moral code?"

Following Ford
In a Dec. 15 opinion piece in The Capital Times, Assistant Professor of Cinema Joseph McBride recalled his experiences with director John Ford. McBride, who teaches a film class on Ford, interviewed the esteemed director in 1970 for McBride's 2001 book, Searching for John Ford: A Life. "It was kind of comical," McBride said. "I was 23. I hadn't met many people in the industry. … He was such an enigmatic, complicated figure. Just having been able to observe him was important." McBride also recorded the full-length commentary for Ford's 1940 film "Grapes of Wrath."

Working for the green
Professor of Urban Studies Raquel Pinderhughes discussed her latest study on "green-collar jobs" in the Dec. 17 edition of National Public Radio's Morning Edition. "Employers are looking for workers. There are not enough places where workers are currently being trained for these jobs in terms of the hard skills, and there is a tremendous window of opportunity for people to be trained up and placed in manual labor jobs in green businesses," she said. The broadcast noted Pinderhughes' belief that vocational training can both help sustain green businesses and break the cycle of urban poverty.

In a Dec. 5 Oakland Tribune article about a plan to make Oakland the center for "green-collar jobs," Pinderhughes said, "The idea here is reaching out to those who are locked out of the traditional labor market, or are locked into low-wage, no benefit jobs," noting that green business employment "is poised for dramatic growth."

For more media coverage of faculty, staff, students, alumni and programs, see SF State in the News.

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