Chris Anson: “Can’t Touch This: Reflections on the Servitude of Computers as Readers”

12 Nov

I suppose I would say that Anson falls as 5 on a scale of 1-10 because he presents a clear argument that computers cannot actually read and interpret texts in the same ways that humans can, but he tentatively asserts that e-raters could be used to provide some formative assessment in the classroom.

Argument: Anson argues that computers cannot assess student writing because they are unable to read for context and interpret writing in the same ways that humans can. He presents information about research that has been done using AI, and he provides multiple examples that serve to show that using and interpreting natural language is a skill that computers do not yet possess. He also gives an example of his writing a summary containing intentionally false information alongside the e-rater’s response and high score.


-to assess writing, we need to interpret the content and understand the context
-“factual” information is important for certain types of writing
-“counting” could reveal useful pieces of information about student writing
-computers might one day have natural language abilities

Points of Interest:

-p 42 has a useful example of why natural language is difficult for AI to work with
-p 47 has a discussion of how multiple interpretations are part of the human reading process, which further complicates a machine’s ability to “read” text

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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