The Fool's Journey
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2001-11-23 05:54:00 (UTC)


Examinations are underway, and that means a lot of burning
the midnight oil for the students. But that also mean a
different kind of duty for the lecturers and other staffs
of the university- invigilation. Invigilation is fun if you
are doing it for the first time. You no longer sit at the
desk pouring out every single detail about capacitors and
inductors, but now you are the one standing above them,
watching them doing all that. A change of role which in
itself is a sense of innate satisfaction- a round trip back
to where it all began. But then, having been invigilating
for countless of times, the novelty of it wears away, and
what is left is a boring and mentally-sapping task of
watching paint dry. And since exams typically last 2 hours
or more, time seems like a standstill. Nevertheless,
invigilation is a duty you need to perform well- and that
is putting a tab on what is most likely to happen in exams-
cheating. But that sometimes can be quite a challenge. It
is not spelled out in any constitution about what behaviour
constitutes cheating. The sideway glance and the cocked
head are all too suspicious while the sudden brush of the
hair, the touching the chin, strumming the fingers on the
table, flicking the pen and tapping the feet is more
subtle. But still, it is not necessarily a crime to do the
afore-mentioned. A cheat would certainly do better than
that for cheating is an art itself. Probably this is where
robots could come in. Robots that operates with omni-
directional sensors that picks up the slightest hint of
cheating is the perfect invigilator. Equipped with the
latest x-ray visions, they would flawlessly detect
concealed objects. They could even follow the students to
the toilet if such a need ever arise. They would certainly
be superior to human beings since humans have a knack of
falling asleep in such circumstances. But more importantly,
they would make unbiased decisions, impartial in their
judgements and punishments- something humans find it hard
to imitate. But then again, robots are only as intelligent
as the programmer. Since students these days can come up
with the most ingenious and innovative reasons not to hand
up their homeworks on time, it follows that they could
quite as easily outsmart the robots as well. And besides,
robots are so much more expensive than human manpower,
which certainly says something about our worth. And so, we
are back to square one. But then again, robots can never
replace humans. They do not have that human touch, the
friendly smile or gesture that certainly does a lot to ease
the tension in examination theaters. So I guess, I will
just have to bear with it for the time being.

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