Roger Revelle sees the future
In 1983 Scripps dedicated a new building, Ritter Hall, and invited folks to contribute to a twenty year time capsule. The sensible, and Roger Revelle was a very sensible man, view such exercises as opportunities. Revelle wrote
Time has passed so quickly that October 13, 1983 seems almost like yesterday. Yet higher education has been revolutionized during these 20 years. From being one of the most labor-intensive of human activities it has become a capital intensive industry.Defenestratiing computers is something we all yearn for too frequently.
The revolution in higher education didn't just happen, it came from computers. It began with IBM's development of a computer that could read handwriting - any kind of handwriting, no matter how strange - and could translate half-formed, ungrammatical sentences and misspelled words into good English. Some innovative faculty members immediately thought of using one of these machines to grade blue books. It turned out that the machine could do the job more rapidly and much more cheaply than graduate teaching assistants, many of whom were promptly terminated.
The next step came from the talking and listening, gully interactive computer developed by CDC for its PLATO programs early in 1992. This apparatus could give lectures and answer verbal questions from students; moreover, it could improvise professor type jokes during the lectures. It could also write equations and draw diagrams to illustrate what it was saying. Every now and ten, it would shoot a piece of chalk at a sleeping student. One enterprising chancellor - I believe he was at U.C. Irving - decided to appoint half a dozen of these machines to fill six faculty FTEs/ They were so successful and so inexpensive compared with faculty salaries (even though the initial cost was high) that soon every campus in the UC system had followed Irvine's lead.
Of course there was a little trouble with the Academic Senate. The Committees on Academic Personnel refused to recommend several machines for promotion to tenure, but they were quickly overriden in the name of economy by the vice chancellors - except in UC Santa Cruz. During the past 10 years, the new machines have replaced all assistant professors. As tenured professors and associate professors retire, they too are being replaced by machines. The financial savings are enormous.
In the last few years, an alarming new tendency has become evident. The students are also being replaced by machines. At first there was some question about whether machines could meet the admission requirements of the University of California, since none of them were high school graduates. But a few were admitted on an experimental basis, and all but one achieved a 4.0 grade point average. The one that didn't, turned out to be a defective Apple. "We mustn't let one bad Apple spoil the whole barrel," said the vice chancellor for Marine Affairs, as he threw the defective computer from the roof of Ritter Hall.
There were other interesting and earnest contributions, including one from Walter Munk and William Nierenberg who wite that:
Climate predictions shall have made great progress . . .(insert advertisement for Scripps) short term climate predictions shall become as much a part of society's operations as weather prediction is today. . . .
Rational approaches to protection of the environment will continue to deveop using the increasing scientific knowledge deriving from our efforts. In particular, we will ahve a sharper understanding of the carbon dioxide problem and more precise recommendations as to actions needed to combat perceived adverse effects