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+ - Parents' Privacy Concerns Kill Bill Gates' $100M inBloom Initiative

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "As things turn out, All Your Child's Data Are Not Belong To inBloom, the Bill Gates-bankrolled and News Corp. subsidiary-implemented data initiative that sought to personalize learning. GeekWire's Tricia Duryee reports that inBloom, which was backed by $100 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, is closing up shop after parents worried that its database technology was violating their children's privacy. According to NY Times coverage (reg.), the inBloom database tracked 400 different data fields about students — including family relationships ("foster parent" or "father's significant other”") and reasons for enrollment changes ("withdrawn due to illness" or "leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident") — that parents objected to, prompting some schools to recoil from the venture. In a statement, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept, and complained that the venture had been "the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism." He added, "It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole [although it was still apparently vulnerable to Heartbleed]." As far as Gates goes, the world's richest man has a couple of irons left in the data-driven personalized learning fire via his ties to Code.org, which seeks 7 years of participating K-12 students' data, and Khan Academy, which recently attracted scrutiny over its data-privacy policies. Khan Academy — which counted the managing partner of Gates' bgC3 think-tank and Google CEO Eric Schmidt as Board members in a recent tax filing — just struck an exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to prepare students for the redesigned SAT."

+ - Google: Better to be a 'B' CS Grad than an 'A+' English Grad 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In a NY Times interview on How to Get a Job at Google with Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google, the subject of grit-based hiring came up. Bock explained: "I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer." Bock also advised, "You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans." Hey why not require an I.Q. of 300, two centuries of Unix experience, and a track record of winning Nobel Prizes, too? Oops, wrong HR Director."

Comment: Re:Why does google care about oil and immigration? (Score 1) 239

by theodp (#46799963) Attached to: Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

Don't doubt they're concerned about the environment, but Google also has a financial stake in energy. From Google Reaps Tax Breaks in $1.4 Billion Clean Energy Bet: "The Galt solar farm, 20 miles south of Sacramento, is one of 15 alternative-energy projects that Google has funded since 2010 as part of a more than $1.4 billion investment in clean power production. That makes the Internet search giant the biggest backer of U.S. alternative-energy projects over that stretch, excluding financial institutions and utilities, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance."

+ - Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined," writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. "Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law." Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a "Major Contributor" to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"

+ - Heartbleed Sparks 'Responsible' Disclosure Debate

Submitted by bennyboy64
bennyboy64 (1437419) writes "IT security industry experts are beginning to turn on Google and OpenSSL, questioning whether the Heartbleed bug was disclosed "responsibly". A number of selective leaks to Facebook, Akamai and CloudFlare occurred prior to disclosure on April 7. A separate, informal pre-notification program run by Red Hat on behalf OpenSSL to Linux and Unix operating system distributions also occurred. But router manufactures and VPN appliance makers Cisco and Juniper had no heads up. Nor did large web entities such as Amazon Web Services, Twitter, Yahoo, Tumblr and GoDaddy, just to name a few. The Sydney Morning Herald has spoken to many people who think Google should've told OpenSSL as soon as it uncovered the critical OpenSSL bug in March, and not as late as it did on April 1. The National Cyber Security Centre Finland (NCSC-FI), which reported the bug to OpenSSL after Google, on April 7, which spurred the rushed public disclosure by OpenSSL, also thinks it was handled incorrectly. Jussi Eronen, of NCSC-FI, said Heartbleed should have continued to remain a secret and be shared only in security circles when OpenSSL received a second bug report from the Finnish cyber security centre that it was passing on from security testing firm Codenomicon. "This would have minimised the exposure to the vulnerability for end users," Mr Eronen said, adding that "many websites would already have patched" by the time it was made public if this procedure was followed."

+ - Tech Billionaires and the Separate-But-Equal Revival

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Brown decision," writes the New Yorker's Jelani Cobb in The Failure of Desegregation, "the landmark case seems, in hindsight, like a qualified victory. Racially homogenous schools remain a fact of American life." And the resegregation of schools isn't limited to the Deep South. In the New York City public-school system, Cobb notes, Black and Latino students have become more likely to attend schools with minimal white enrollment, and a majority go to schools defined by concentrated poverty. And, despite the backing of Bill Gates and other like-minded super-wealthy tech "education investors", charter schools are no panacea for integration's failures. "Three-quarters of the city’s charter schools, which were a key component of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts at education reform," writes Cobb, "have fewer than one per cent white enrollment," which UCLA's Civil Rights Project terms "apartheid schools". And at KIPP Schools, a darling of Gates, Netflix's Reed Hastings, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, "more than 86 percent of our students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino.' So, would Bill send his own kids to a charter school? 'A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' Gates explained, 'but if by some happenstance, my kids had to go to KIPP schools [instead of, say, BillG's alma mater], I wouldn't feel bad at all.' So, while well-intentioned, are tech's billionaire education reformers inadvertently contributing to today's separate-but-equal revival?"

+ - Bill Gates Patents Detecting, Responding to "Glassholes" 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "As Google Glass goes on sale to the general public, GeekWire reports that Bill Gates has already snagged one patent for 'detecting and responding to an intruding camera' and has another in the works. The invention proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are among the 16 co-inventors of the so-called Unauthorized Viewer Detection System and Method, which the patent application notes is useful "while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present." So, is Bill's patent muse none other than NYC subway rider Sergey Brin?"

+ - Jenny McCarthy: 'I Am Not Anti-Vaccine' 1

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she’s been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. “People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,” McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. “Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.” But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles." That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don’t cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism." Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: "I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe," said McCarthy. "If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism." Kluger finishes with this: "Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it’s just too late to play cute with the things you’ve said. " For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. "She can claim all she wants that she’s not anti-vax," concludes Plait, "but her own words show her to be wrong.""

+ - Code.org Sends Mixed Messages on CS Job Opportunities

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""What's Wrong With This Picture?" Code.org asks of an infographic that suggests 1.4 million jobs await U.S. kids who are willing to study Computer Science. But next to the infographic is a Code.org Tweet lamenting the annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas (certain organizations are exempt from the cap) that is limiting the number of international job-seekers who can come to the U.S. to fill these jobs. The linked-to article reports that the head of FWD.us, the PAC founded by Code.org backers Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, "lambasted current law regarding the cap structure of high-skill visas in an email to TechCrunch, calling the current set of regulations 'dysfunctional.' He went on to state that it is 'absolutely critical that House Republicans take action on immigration reform now to do right by American families and boost the American economy.'" Further muddying the CS job estimate waters, FWD.us cites an example elsewhere on its site that upping the cap would enable H-1B workers to fill 18,000 STEM jobs in South Dakota, perhaps some of the same jobs that are presented as job opportunities for SD kids at Code.org. While it jibes nicely with FWD.us's call for high-tech immigration reform and Microsoft's National Talent Strategy (the groups share many common supporters), could Code.org's advocacy for more H-1B visas raise concerns about future computer science job prospects, possibly discouraging CS study by U.S. kids?"

+ - Could Code.org's H-1B Advocacy Discourage CS Study?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Code.org is certainly sending out mixed signals to visitors to its What's Wrong With This Picture? page. Next to an infographic that promises a bottomless-cup-of-Computer-Science-jobs to U.S. kids is a Twitter feed with a Code.org Tweet lamenting a cap on H-1B visas that prevents international job-seekers from filling these jobs. In the linked-to article, TechCrunch reports that the head of FWD.us — the PAC founded by Code.org supporters and "CS teachers" Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates — "lambasted current law regarding the cap structure of [H-1B] high-skill visas in an email to TechCrunch, calling the current set of regulations 'dysfunctional.' He went on to state that it is 'absolutely critical that House Republicans take action on immigration reform now to do right by American families and boost the American economy.'" Elsewhere on its site, FWD.us suggests H-1B workers as the answer to filling 18,000 STEM jobs in South Dakota (due to the state's inability to produce a skilled workforce). It's unclear if some of those jobs are also counted as job opportunities for SD kids in Code.org's infographic. So, in the long run, could Code.org's advocacy for more H-1B visas, while it aligns nicely with FWD.us (common supporters of both organizations), actually wind up discouraging CS study by U.S. kids?"

+ - Commenters to Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "On Friday, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sought to quell the uproar over the appointment of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the company's board of directors, promising in a blog post that Rice's appointment won't change its stance on privacy. More interesting than Houston's brief blog post on the method-behind-its-Condi-madness (which Dave Winer perhaps better explained a day earlier) is the firestorm in the ever-growing hundreds of comments that follow. So will Dropbox be swayed by the anti-Condi crowd ("If you do not eliminate Rice from your board you lose my business") or stand its ground, heartened by pro-Condi comments ("Good on ya, DB. You have my continued business and even greater admiration")? One imagines that Bush White House experience has left Condi pretty thick-skinned, and IPO riches are presumably on the horizon, but is falling on her "resignation sword" — a la Brendan Eich — out of the question for Condi?"

+ - Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner to Code

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Gigaom reports tbat while speaking at the Bloomberg Energy Summit on Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he gives "a lot of money to the Sierra Club" to help close dirty coal plants, but added that as a society we have to "have some compassion to do it gently." Subsidies to help displaced workers are one option, said Bloomberg, while retraining is another option. But, in a slight to the tech industry's sometimes out-of-touch nature with workers outside of Silicon Valley, he said retraining needs to be realistic, "You're not going to teach a coal miner to code", argued Bloomberg. "Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you ...but no.""

+ - Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500. Teach Boys, Get $0.

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""Public school teachers," reads the headline at Khan Academy (KA), "introduce your students to coding and earn $1000 or more for your classroom!" Read the fine print, however, and you'll see that the Google-bankrolled offer is likely to ensure that girls, not boys, are going to be their Computer Science teachers' pets. "Google wants public high school students, especially girls, to discover the magic of coding," KA explains to teachers. "You'll receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code for every female student who completes the [JS 101: Drawing & Animation] course. When 4 or more female students complete it, we'll email you an additional $500 gift code as a thank-you for helping your students learn to code." While "one teacher cannot have more than 20 of the $100 gift codes activated on their DonorsChoose.org projects," adds KA, "if the teacher has more than 20 female students complete the curriculum, s/he will still be sent gift codes, and the teacher can use the additional gift codes on another teacher’s DonorsChoose.org project." So, is girls-are-golden-boys-are-worthless funding for teachers' projects incongruent with Khan Academy's other initiatives, such as its exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to eliminate inequality among students studying for the SAT?"

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