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[xmca] Automating Dynamic Assessment (DA)?

Our recent discussions have pushed me to revisiting interesting texts that
appeared in and around the
first socio-cultural studies conference which served as the setting for me
the remarks I sent out a few days

This revisiting turned up Harry Daniels' (1990) very useful Introduction to
Vygotsky which has an interesting
introduction where some of the issues frazzling around here are dealt with
in an interesting way. Several of the
issues that it raises seem relevant to xmca discussions. The one I have
picked out here is the question of the extent
to which computer technology has achieved sufficient power to model complex,
non-linear, open systems, such as
those characteristic of the kind of sophisticated pedagogical dialogues
illustrated in the P&L text.  Harry points us
to Phil John-Laird's (1986) critique of Vygotsian ideas as summarized by Jim
Wertsch in his 1985 book. I had never read it,
but was intrigued to read:

Modern Vygotskians must come to terms with the impact of computation on
conceptions of mind, They must offer an explicit theory
that can be modeled in a computer program in the same way that one can
model, say, the economy, or the weather, or quantum mechanics.
No Marxist psychology is likely to meet that demand, and Vygotsky's grand
theory will probably not be followed by another in the foreseeable
future..... Vygotsky was an artist trying to construct a scientific
psychology in an era when the only language for theories was the vernacular.


A whole lot of stuff one could engage with in all of that, but what strikes
me as how well Johnson-Laird's perspective, which can fairly be said to
have some contemporary influence, provides a perfect reason to find attempts
to model DA interesting. What, if instead of being replicas of reality,
AI theories of human action were treated as "just another" tool for
accomplishing the goal of merging instruction and assessment in an effective
activity that is part of a formal school regime? Can highly scripted
interactions that none-the-less require ongoing imaginative work by
participants be modeled to a "sufficient degree" to pass muster?  It seems
to me like work we could learn from. Locally there is widespread interest in
artificial social interaction -- although I have not heard the word societal
whispered about.

Could DA be "automated"? If it could be automated, what would it tell us
about the society that used it? Would it be as rigid as getting help when
contacting a government agency by telephone? Would it increase efficiency,
or strengthen the bars on the iron cage?

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