Transportation

Audi Creates "Fuel of the Future" Using Just Carbon Dioxide and Water 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the fiture-fill-up dept.
EwanPalmer writes: German car manufacturer Audi says it has created the "fuel of the future" made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable sources. The synthetic "e-diesel" was made following a commissioning phase of just four months at a plant in Dresden, Germany. Germany's federal minister of education and research, Dr Johanna Wanka, said she has already used the fuel in her Audi A8, and the company hopes to produce at least 160 liters of the crystal clear fuel every day in the coming months. "This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research," Wanka said. "If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the 'green economy' in place."
Education

The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-don't-need-no-education dept.
An anonymous reader writes: English teacher Michael Godsey writes in The Atlantic what he envisions the role of teachers to be in the future. In a nutshell, he sees virtual classrooms, less pay, and a drastic decrease in the number of educators, but thinks they will all be "super-teachers". From the article: "Whenever a college student asks me, a veteran high-school English educator, about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, I never think it's enough to say that the role is shifting from 'content expert' to 'curriculum facilitator.' Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation's most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The 'virtual class' will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country's best teachers (a.k.a. a "super-teacher"), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

I tell this college student that in each classroom, there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a 'tech') to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the 'tech' won't require the extensive education and training of today's teachers, the teacher's union will fall apart, and that "tech" will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the 'techs' can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore 'individualized'); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system."
AI

In New AI Benchmark, Computer Takes On Four Top Professional Poker Players 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave,-i-can't-let-you-take-that-pot dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Stephen Jordan reports at the National Monitor that four of the world's greatest poker players are going into battle against a computer program that researchers are calling Claudico in the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" competition at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Claudico, the first machine program to play heads-up no-limit Texas Hold'em against top human players, will play nearly 20,000 hands with each human poker player over the next two weeks. "Poker is now a benchmark for artificial intelligence research, just as chess once was. It's a game of exceeding complexity that requires a machine to make decisions based on incomplete and often misleading information, thanks to bluffing, slow play and other decoys," says Tuomas Sandholm, developer of the program. "And to win, the machine has to out-smart its human opponents." In total, that will be 1,500 hands played per day until May 8, with just one day off to allow the real-life players to rest.

An earlier version of the software called Tartanian 7 (PDF) was successful in winning the heads-up, no-limit Texas Hold'em category against other computers in July, but Sandholm says that does not necessarily mean it will be able to defeat a human in the complex game. "I think it's a 50-50 proposition," says Sandholm. "My strategy will change more so than when playing against human players," says competitor Doug Polk, widely considered the world's best player, with total live tournament earnings of more than $3.6 million. "I think there will be less hand reading so to speak, and less mind games. In some ways I think it will be nice as I can focus on playing a more pure game, and not have to worry about if he thinks that I think, etc."
Government

Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the daily-dose-of-cynicism dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Eric Lipton was just awarded a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting that shed light on how foreign powers buy influence at think tanks. So, it probably bears mentioning that Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy (PDF) to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas — which is on the verge of being codified into laws — was hatched at an influential Microsoft and Gates Foundation-backed think tank mentioned in Lipton's reporting, the Brookings Institution. In 2012, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings hosted a forum on STEM education and immigration reforms, where fabricating a crisis was discussed as a strategy to succeed with Microsoft's agenda after earlier lobbying attempts by Bill Gates and Microsoft had failed. "So, Brad [Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith]," asked the Brookings Institution's Darrell West at the event, "you're the only [one] who mentioned this topic of making the problem bigger. So, we galvanize action by really producing a crisis, I take it?" "Yeah," Smith replied (video). And, with the help of nonprofit organizations like Code.org and FWD.us that were founded shortly thereafter, a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis was indeed created.
Government

Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California 607

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
mpicpp sends the latest news on California legislation that would eliminate exemptions for vaccinating school children. A bill that would require nearly all children in California to be vaccinated by eliminating "personal belief" exemptions advanced through the State Legislature on Wednesday, though it still has several hurdles to clear. If approved, California would become one of only three states that require all parents to vaccinate their children as a condition of going to school, unless there is a medical reason not to do so. Under the bill, introduced after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland, parents who refuse vaccines for philosophical or religious reasons would have to educate their children at home. The legislation prompted a roiling debate in Sacramento, and last week hundreds of people protested at the Capitol, arguing that it infringed on their rights and that it would unfairly shut their children out of schools. Last Wednesday, the legislation stalled in the Senate Education Committee as lawmakers said they were concerned that too many students would be forced into home schooling. This Wednesday, however, the bill passed that committee after its authors tweaked it, adding amendments that would expand the definition of home schooling to allow multiple families to join together to teach their children or participate in independent study programs run by public school systems.
Education

Virtual Reality Games Can Improve Memory Retention of Safety Instructions 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget dept.
vrml writes: Using a virtual reality (VR) headset to experience risky situations as immersive 3D games improves memory retention of passenger safety instructions, according to research published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and illustrated by a YouTube video. Researchers recruited occasional flyers: half of them played a VR gaming experience of an airliner water landing and evacuation, while the other half studied a real airline safety card. After one week, passengers who had studied the safety card suffered a significant loss of knowledge, while passengers who had played the VR game fully retained the safety knowledge gained. The research group has now made available its emergency water landing experience also for the Oculus Rift.
Robotics

Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers 288

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-can-do-your-job-and-won't-complain-about-the-coffee dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NY Times that machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who's in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren't used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a "good enough" job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency."

According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers' dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we've been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. Tufekci points out that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."
Businesses

How Publishing Upstart Mendeley Weathered Revolt and Became Part of the Paywall 81

Posted by timothy
from the best-laid-plans dept.
Lashdots writes At Fast Company, Tina Amritha writes about the controversial rise of reference manager startup Mendeley, which inspired revolt among its users when it announced in 2013 it was being acquired by scholarly publishing conglomerate Elsevier. "Seeing that some of our most vocal advocates thought we had sold them out felt awful," CEO Victor Henning said recently over a tea in Amsterdam, where Elsevier, Mendeley's parent company, is headquartered. "I had steeled myself for some pretty violent reactions beforehand. After all, I was aware of Elsevier's reputation and the mistakes they had made."...

Elsevier, like other large publishers, loathed Mendeley's open model; In 2013, it had forced Mendeley to remove its titles from its database. The thinking behind its acquisition of Mendeley—for a sum rumored to between $69 million and $100 million—was simple: to squash the threat Mendeley posed to its traditional subscription model, and to own the ecosystem that Mendeley had constructed, with its valuable data on the behavior of millions of researchers. But Henning contends, "We've kept the promises we made when we began."
Privacy

The Upsides of a Surveillance Society 254

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-it's-not-all-upside? dept.
theodp writes Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. "Terrible behavior," Garber writes, "whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry's case, be an extremely beneficial one. It's good that her behavior has been exposed. It's good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It's good that she has publicly promised 'to learn from this mistake.'"
Education

LAUSD OKs Girls-Only STEM School, Plans Boys-Only English Language Arts School 599

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-a-balanced-education dept.
theodp writes: Citing statistics that showed a whopping 46 more boys than girls passed the AP Computer Science Exam in 2011-12, the 640,000+ student Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday approved a waiver to enable the District to operate a single-gender, all-girls STEM School called the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA). Students in GALA will follow a six year sequence of computer courses starting in middle school that will culminate in AP Computer Science Principles. "Fewer females take AP courses in math, science, or computer science, and they are not as successful as males in receiving passing scores of 3, 4 or 5," argued the General Waiver Request (PDF, 700+ pages). "An all girls environment is reasonably necessary for the school to improve the self-confidence of girls in their academic abilities, especially in STEM areas where an achievement gap currently exists. GALA's admissions shall also comply with AB 1266 to ensure male students who identify as female are admitted to the school." The school's CS-related Partners include the UCLA Exploring Computer Science Program, as well as Google-bankrolled Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and NCWIT. One of the reasons the all-girls STEM school reportedly got the green light is that its backers satisfied federal regulations requiring a "substantially equal school" for excluded male students by submitting a plan for a companion all-boys school that would emphasize English Language Arts, where they often fall short of girls' test scores, rather than GALA's focus on STEM. One suspects the no-fan-of-gender-restricted-public-schools ACLU may call BS on this maneuver.
Education

LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
SternisheFan sends news that Los Angeles Unified School District is asking Apple for a refund of the district's effort to equip students with iPads. The project was budgeted at around $1.3 billion to equip its 650,000 students, though only about 120,000 iPads have been purchased so far. After the program went bad, the FBI launched an investigation into their procurement practices. The iPads weren't standalone education devices — they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back. Lawyers for the local Board of Education are looking into litigation options. They've also notified Apple and Pearson they won't pay for any new products or services.
Crime

Can Online Reporting System Help Prevent Sexual Assaults On Campus? 234

Posted by timothy
from the vote-early-and-often dept.
jyosim writes Studies have shown that as many as 90 percent of campus rapes are committed by repeat offenders. A new system is designed to help identify serial assaulters, by letting students anonymously report incidents in order to look for patterns. But some argue that having the ability to report someone with just the click of a button may not be a good thing. Andrew T. Miltenberg, a New York lawyer who represents young men accused of sexual misconduct, says though the system seems well intended, he is concerned about dangers it may pose to students who are accused. 'We're all guilty of pressing send on an angry text or email that, had we had to put it into an actual letter and proofread, we probably wouldn't have sent,' he says.
Education

MIT Celebrates 10 Years of SCIgen Bogus CompSci Paper Generator With New Tool 13

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-all-up dept.
alphadogg writes Three MIT grads this week are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their clever SCIgen program, which randomly generates computer science papers realistic enough to get accepted by sketchy technical conferences and publishers, with a brand new tool designed to poke even more fun at such outfits. Just a bit late for April Fool's Day, the new SCIpher program from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab alums enables users to hide messages inside randomly-generated calls for papers from phony conferences whose names are so ridiculous that they sound legit. An MIT spokesman says the new tool is really just a way for geeky friends to mess with each other, whereas SCIgen pointed out major flaws in the worlds of scientific journals and conferences.
Education

Cornell Study: For STEM Tenure Track, Women Twice As Likely To Be Hired As Men 517

Posted by timothy
from the whose-bias-is-called-bias dept.
_Sharp'r_ writes In the first "empirical study of sexism in faculty hiring using actual faculty members", Cornell University researchers found that when using identical qualifications, but changing the sex of the applicant, "women candidates are favored 2 to 1 over men for tenure-track positions in the science, technology, engineering and math fields." An anonymous reader links to the study itself.
Education

US Dept. of Education Teams With Microsoft-Led Teach.org On Teacher Diversity 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-politically-correct-dept-lines-found dept.
theodp writes: Citing a new study that suggests academic achievement can benefit when children are taught by a teacher of their own race, the NY Times asks, Where Are the Teachers of Color? Towards that end, the Times reports that "Teach.org, a partnership between the Department of Education and several companies, teachers unions and other groups, is specifically targeting racial minorities for recruitment." Teach.org describes itself as a "public-private partnership led by Microsoft, State Farm and the U.S. Department of Education." To the consternation of some, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft in 2011. With its 2.2% African American/Black and 3.9% Latino/Hispanic tech workforce, who better to increase diversity than Microsoft, right?
China

Report: Chinese Government Plans To Put 3D Printers In All Elementary Schools 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the class-printer dept.
InfiniteZero writes The Chinese government has a new plan to install a 3D printer in each of its approximately 400,000 elementary schools over the next two years. Education is probably one of the areas that will benefit the most from 3D printers in the long run. The problem though is getting the machines into the schools in the first place. With prices generally ranging from $400 to $3,000 for typical desktop 3D printers, they are not cheap, and with budgets within many school districts running dry, both in the United States and overseas, the unfortunate fact is that many schools simply can’t afford them, not to mention the materials and time it takes to train teachers to use them.
Microsoft

Microsoft Pushes For Public Education Funding While Avoiding State Taxes 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the cognitive-dissonance-provides-shareholder-value dept.
theodp writes: After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, company general counsel Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio at 28:25). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through Nevada-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax.
Crime

Florida Teen Charged With Felony Hacking For Changing Desktop Wallpaper 629

Posted by Soulskill
from the climate-of-fear dept.
colinneagle writes: A 14-year-old middle school student in Holiday, Florida, was arrested this week and charged with "an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access," which is a felony. The student reportedly used an administrator password to log into a teacher's computer and change the background image to a photo of two men kissing.

The student also revealed his secrets after he was caught – the password was the teacher's last name, and the teacher had typed it in in full view of the students. The student said many other students used these administrators' passwords (their teachers' last names) so they can screen-share and video chat with other students. The student was briefly held in a nearby detention center, and the county Sheriff warned that other teenagers caught doing the same thing will "face the same consequences."
Education

German Teenager Gets Job Offer By Trying To Use FOI For His Exam Papers 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-for-an-edge dept.
Bruce66423 writes "A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK." and SATS in the USA. The media attention from his FoI request has already garnered him an offer of work from another transparency-related organization, the research website Correctiv. “If I have time before university starts I’ll definitely do it,” he said.
Education

Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming? 315

Posted by timothy
from the first-you-must-erase-his-mind dept.
THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER writes I'm a professional programmer and have been programming since I was a small boy. I want to introduce this to my 7-year-son but know nothing about teaching this to children. Since he enjoys Roblox and Minecraft very much, and knows how to use computers already, I suspect teaching him to write his own small games would be a good starting point. I'm aware of lists like this one, but it's quite overwhelming. There are so many choices that I am overwhelmed where to start. Anyone in the Slashdot in the community have recent hands-on experience with such tools/systems that he/she would recommend?