In Internet Dead Zones, Rural Schools Struggle With Distanced Learning

from KQED The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren’s. The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there’d be more family time and help with the chores. “I thought, I’ll be able to get my kids’ schooling done in a few hours and then they’ll be to work […]

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How Internet-Connected Voter Check-In Devices Can Create Election Chaos

from ars technica A federal judge in Georgia has ordered election officials to print paper backups of voter data so that voting can proceed even if the digital system for checking in voters fails. This is a win for plaintiffs who have argued that flaws in Georgia’s electronic-poll-book (EPB) system hampered voting in the June primary and could do so again in November. Over the last 20 years, a lot of discussion has revolved around the risk that electronic voting machines pose to the security and integrity of elections. But there has been less attention paid to electronic poll books—another […]

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When Should Schools Reopen Fully In-Person?

from Brookings Over the past several months, schools and colleges across the country have had to make heart-wrenching decisions about whether and how to reopen. Should they have any in-person activities? If so, when? And at what point—and with what adjustments—is it safe to return to fully in-person activities? If there is a flare-up in COVID-19 cases, should we scale back in-person activities? The debates over these questions have become rancorous. I argue below that this is because the questions themselves are very difficult to answer, and then offer some ideas on how to make the decisions easier and better. […]

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Self-Directed, Project-Based Learning

from Seth’s Blog Why do educated people too often fall for foolish scams and conspiracy theories? The problem is that no one taught us to understand. Instead, we are pushed to simply to memorize. To be educated enough to do well on the test, and then to forget what we were taught, because we never actually learned it. Understanding opens the door to insight and to comfort with the data. Understanding is the platform we need to go to the next level… memorizing is a fragile house of cards, with no foundation. And the compliance mindset of “will this be […]

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How A Cheat Sheet Can Help You Ace Your Next Video Interview

from Fast Company One of the advantages of interviewing during a pandemic is that you’re likely to be able to do it from the comfort of your own home through videoconferencing. Not only does it save time by eliminating a commute; you can set up your environment to help you shine. Having a cheat sheet can help, but it also has the potential to derail your interview, says Cheryl Hyatt, a partner with Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search. “Any candidate interviewing for a position, whether it’s in person or virtual, should make some type of notes,” she says. “When you’re in person, […]

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Section 230 Is a Government License to Build Rage Machines

from Wired Facebook has been called the “ largest piece of the QAnon infrastructure.” The app has not only hosted plenty of the conspiracy group’s dark and dangerous content, it has also promoted and expanded its audience. QAnon is hardly the only beneficiary: Facebook promotes and expands the audience of militia organizers, racists, those who seek to spread disinformation to voters, and a host of other serious troublemakers. The platform’s basic business, after all, is deciding which content keeps people most engaged, even if it undermines civil society. But unlike most other businesses, Facebook’s most profitable operations benefit from a […]

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Microsoft Declares Its Underwater Data Center Test Was A Success

from ars technica Microsoft retrieved a 40-foot-long, 12-rack, self-contained underwater data center from its seafloor home offshore from the Orkney Islands earlier this summer. The retrieval of the Northern Isles began the final phase of Microsoft’s Project Natick research initiative, exploring the concept of deploying sealed server pods just offshore major population centers as a replacement for traditional onshore data centers. Project Natick has been underway for several years; we covered the two-month trial deployment of Leona Philpot, the company’s first underwater server pod, in 2016, and the deployment of the newly retrieved Orkney Isles pod in 2018. The potential […]

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SCOTUStalk Heads To The Ballot Box: The Supreme Court And The 2020 Election

from SCOTUSblog Ever since Bush v. Gore, the case that effectively decided the 2000 presidential race, the Supreme Court increasingly has been asked to intervene in fraught disputes over election procedures. Add in a pandemic, and the 2020 election season promises to be unprecedented. This week on SCOTUStalk, SCOTUSblog’s social media editor, Katie Barlow, joins Amy Howe to break down the court’s influence on the election. They survey major election-related rulings the justices have already handed down this summer and preview what role the court might play in the run-up to Election Day – and, potentially, the weeks afterward. Katie […]

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‘We Were Shocked’: Rand Study Uncovers Massive Income Shift To The Top 1%

from Fast Company Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning. A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the nation’s economic output been shared over the past 45 years as broadly as they were from the end of World War II until the early 1970s, that worker would instead be making […]

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Antarctic Glaciers Are Growing Unstable Above and Below Water

from Wired For several years, scientists have been worried about the retreat and eventual collapse of Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized plug that holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet from the Southern Ocean. If Thwaites goes kaput, the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers, according to NASA estimates. That fear has driven a big push by international teams of researchers to understand what’s going on at Thwaites and nearby Pine Island Glacier. A group of researchers from the United States […]

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Mark Zuckerberg Is the Most Powerful Unelected Man in America

from NYTs On Thursday, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company’s “New Steps to Protect the U.S. Elections.” They include blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted. One can — and many will — debate just how effective these measures will be at preventing election night chaos during a pandemic. (So far Facebook’s “misleading post” labels are vague to the point of causing additional confusion for voters. Similarly, blocking new […]

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The Pandemic Is No Excuse to Surveil Students

from The Atlantic In Michigan, a small liberal-arts college is requiring students to install an app called Aura, which tracks their location in real time, before they come to campus. Oakland University, also in Michigan, announced a mandatory wearable that would track symptoms, but, facing a student-led petition, then said it would be optional. The University of Missouri, too, has an app that tracks when students enter and exit classrooms. This practice is spreading: In an attempt to open during the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition […]

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Why Online Voting Is Harder Than Online Banking

from ars technica For a feature last week, I talked to a number of election experts and computer security researchers who argued that secure Internet voting isn’t feasible today and probably won’t be for many years to come. A common response to this argument—one that came up in comments to last week’s article—is to compare voting to banking. After all, we regularly use the Internet to move money around the world. Why can’t we use the same techniques to secure online votes? But voting has some unique requirements that make secure online voting a particularly challenging problem. Every electronic transaction in the […]

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The Safest Ways to Log In to Your Computer

from Wired Whether your computer runs Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS, you have options for how you log in. And your choice doesn’t only affect how convenient it is for you to get into your laptop or desktop; it also affects how easily someone else can gain access. These are the different login options that are available and that you need to be aware of, so make sure you choose wisely. The right one for you will depend on how your computer is set up and just how cautious you’d like to be. More here.

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Is Anybody Listening?

from Forbes How much longer will we continue to ignore the impact of our continued refusal to do anything to mitigate the planet’s long-standing climate emergency? California and Oregon are in flames, forcing half a million people to abandon their homes, and exceeding in a matter of weeks the area burned last year: yet we still refuse to accept that this is a direct result of the increase in global temperature caused by human activity that has turned our forests into tinder. The orange skies lending an apocalyptic, science-fiction air to San Francisco illustrate the terrible magnitude of the catastrophe […]

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The Case for Dumping the Electoral College

from The New Yorker In 1961, Estes Kefauver, the crusading Democratic senator from Tennessee, denounced the Electoral College as “a loaded pistol pointed at our system of government.” Its continued existence, he said, as he opened hearings on election reform, created “a game of Russian roulette” because, at some point, the antidemocratic distortions of the College could threaten the country’s integrity. Judging from Twitter’s obsessions, at least, that hour may be approaching. The polls indicate that Donald Trump is likely to win fewer votes nationally than Joe Biden this fall, just as he won fewer than Hillary Clinton, in 2016. […]

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Welcome To Human-Computer Co-Creation: What GPT-3 Means For Education

from Forbes It’s a super auto-completer. With a little training, it’s a writer, coder, composer, translator, and puzzle solver. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of AI from OpenAI, a San Francisco R&D shop set up to guide a path to safe artificial general intelligence and funded by Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, and Vinod Khosla.  Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) is a deep learning language model that produces human-like text. The third-generation model “is the most powerful language model ever,” MIT Technology Review.   Trained by supercomputers with 175 billion parameters—an order of magnitude more than prior models—applications for GPT-3 have the potential […]

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We Can Have Social Media As We Know It, Or We Can Have Democracy

from Fast Company In early September, President Trump retweeted a video allegedly showing an “black lives matter/antifa” activist pushing a woman into a subway car. The video is nearly a year old, and the man in question was mentally ill and had no connection to either group. As a researcher studying social media, propaganda, and politics in 2016, I thought I’d seen it all. At the time, while working at University of Oxford, I was in the thick of analyzing Twitter bot campaigns pushing #Proleave messaging during Brexit. As a research fellow at Google’s thinktank Jigsaw that same year, I […]

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Why This Author Is Taking A Stand Against Amazon’s Audiobook Monopoly

from Fast Company When science fiction writer and activist Cory Doctorow releases his new novel, Attack Surface, next month, you’ll be able to pick up a physical copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. If you’d prefer an e-book, you’ll be able to download it on Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and other mainstream digital book platforms. But if you’re someone who prefers an audiobook, you’ll find the novel, which deals with a corporate cybersecurity expert struggling with the morality of her work, absent from one of the biggest audiobook stores on the internet: Amazon’s […]

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