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Robot Rapper Explores the Limits of Algorithmic Hip-Hop

Finnish researchers unveil DeepBeat, a rhyme-generating hip-hop computer system.

A robot, probably writing raps. Image by Arthur Caranta via Flickr

These days, with all the rapping holograms, rapping grannies, and rapping tomatoes, you’d think there would be a wealth of fun rapping robots out there. But considering the fact that we already have robot chefs and robot journalists, there’s a shockingly low number of rhyming androids. Now, researchers at the University of Aalto in Finland are taking us one step closer to a world of mechanical MCs with “DeepBeat,” an algorithm-based, computerized system for making hip-hop happen. Rapping is a lot of hard work, you see, and like with many other difficult jobs, some scientists envision a future where we can kick back, and let computers do the rapping for us.

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Meet the Punk Rockers Raising Learning Disability Awareness in This Year’s Eurovision Contest

Rockers Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (“PKN”) are loud, fast, and in your face—all for a good cause.

image via (cc) flickr user pnuk

For most Americans, the annual Eurovision Song Contest is, at best, a moderately amusing blip on our typically domestically-focused radar. The contest—in which musical acts representing European countries (along with a few non-European ones) compete for personal fame and continent-wide glory—is something like a cross between the rah-rah nationalist fervor of the Olympics and the highbrow artistry of American Idol. Sure it’s entertaining, but the contest’s labyrinthine rules and complicated voting system make it a tough pill to swallow for those of us overseas. Occasionally a Eurovision winner does make it big enough to get noticed by American audiences (See: ABBA, Celine Dion, and GWAR-esque rockers Lordi) but more often than not they come and go without much ado outside their home country.

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How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise

One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

What if getting from Point A to Point B was as easy as typing a destination into a phone? What if car ownership itself became a thing of the past? A world where urban transportation wouldn’t involve outdated routes, paying exorbitant fares, or putting yourself at risk may seem like a distant, futuristic dream, but one European city hopes to get there in just 10 years time.

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Demystifying International Tests: What Makes the PISA Special?

Hint: It's not about comparing students across nations.

If you've heard about how American students are scoring lower than their international peers on standardized tests, you've probably heard about the PISA. (No, it's not an exam about a famous Italian tower that leans.) The Program for International Student Assessment is a test that's given every three years to measure and compare the achievement of 15-year-olds across the globe.

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Developing Better Teachers by Training Them Like Medical School Residents

A new training program is educating teachers the way medical schools educate doctors. Can it help close America's persistent achievement gap?

Can the largest charter school organization in California close the achievement gap by revamping teacher training and ending the massive problem of high teacher turnover? The Aspire Public Schools Teacher Residency Program, a new teacher preparation initiative certainly wants to try. The program is approaching teacher education the way medical schools educate doctors—combining education theory, classroom practice, and intensive coaching and mentorship.

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Waiting for Superman Can Stop Waiting for Oscar

The Academy Awards dissed the biggest education documentary of 2010. What gives?


Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced yesterday, and in the documentary category Exit through the Gift Shop, Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo and Waste Land were all given nods. The documentary you probably heard about most last year—and probably actually saw—was not. Oscar dissed Waiting for 'Superman.'

When Superman made its debut, pundits claimed an Oscar would sit next to the golden statue director Davis Guggenheim garnered for An Inconvenient Truth. Despite the cast appearing on Oprah and generous support from Bill Gates, that's not happening and a few interesting theories are floating around about why.

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