Design Of Hiring Algorithms Can Double Diversity In Firms

from Fast Company We know that algorithms can outperform humans across an expanding range of settings, from medical diagnosis and image recognition to crime prediction. However, an ongoing concern is the potential for automated approaches to codify existing human biases to the detriment of candidates from underrepresented groups. For example, hiring algorithms use information on workers they have previously hired in order to predict which job applicants they should now select. In many cases, relying on algorithms that predict future success based on past success will lead firms to favor applicants from groups that have traditionally been successful. But this […]

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The iOS COVID-19 App Ecosystem Has Become A Privacy Minefield

from ars technica When the notion of enlisting smartphones to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic first surfaced last spring, it sparked a months-long debate: should apps collect location data, which could help with contact tracing but potentially reveal sensitive information? Or should they take a more limited approach, only measuring Bluetooth-based proximity to other phones? Now, a broad survey of hundreds of COVID-19-related apps reveals that the answer is all of the above. And that has made the COVID-19 app ecosystem a kind of wild, sprawling landscape, full of potential privacy pitfalls. Late last month, Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital […]

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Zoom Finally Has End-to-End Encryption.

from Wired ZOOM HAS GONE from startup to verb in record time, by now the de facto video call service for work-from-home meetings and cross-country happy hours alike. But while there was already plenty you could do to keep your Zoom sessions private and secure, the startup has until now lacked the most important ingredient in a truly safe online interaction: end-to-end encryption. Here’s how to use it, now that you can, and why in many cases you may not actually want to. It’s been a long road to get here. This spring, as Zoom rode the pandemic to video […]

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Dear Congress: Platform Accountability Should Not Threaten Online Expression

from ACLU Tomorrow, the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing entitled “Does Section 230 Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” This is just the latest attempt by Congress and the Trump administration to amend, reinterpret, or eliminate Section 230, a key provision of federal law that generally ensures online platforms, including social media, can’t be held liable for the speech and content their users post on these platforms. This law means Yelp can’t be held legally responsible every time one of its users posts a false negative review. The Bed Bug Registry doesn’t have to visit every hotel with a […]

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Boston Dynamics’ Robots Won’t Take Our Jobs … Yet

from Wired IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO talk about Boston Dynamics robots without acknowledging two things: They’re a marvel of modern engineering, and their agility can be incredibly unnerving. A 46-second video of Spot the robot “dog” opening a door has more than 56 million views on YouTube. Atlas, the company’s headless humanoid robot, can go for a jog or do parkour. And just last week, the company released new footage of Spot the robot recharging on its own. (If it sounds like a Black Mirror episode, well, that’s because it sort of is.) But even as many observers joke about a […]

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Study Shows Which Messengers Leak Your Data, Drain Your Battery, And More

from ars technica Link previews are a ubiquitous feature found in just about every chat and messaging app, and with good reason. They make online conversations easier by providing images and text associated with the file that’s being linked. Unfortunately, they can also leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. Among the worst offenders, according to research published on Monday, were messengers from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. More about that shortly. First a brief discussion of previews. More here.

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New Report on Police Decryption Capabilities

from Schneier on Security There is a new report on police decryption capabilities: specifically, mobile device forensic tools (MDFTs). Short summary: it’s not just the FBI that can do it. This report documents the widespread adoption of MDFTs by law enforcement in the United States. Based on 110 public records requests to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country, our research documents more than 2,000 agencies that have purchased these tools, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We found that state and local law enforcement agencies have performed hundreds of thousands of cellphone extractions since […]

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How To Improve Your Working From Home Game With These Hacks

from Forbes Working from home for the last eight months has certainly created its share of challenges for me as an entrepreneur and I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone. It took me a short while to get myself and my team situated, and, thanks to their adaptability and dedication, we were able to flex to our new reality and demands rather easily. As the months of working remotely wore on, I decided to begin adapting my home office to better meet my needs on a more sustained basis. I did a lot of research and was pleasantly surprised […]

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Agtech’s Moment To Shine

from Forbes Agtech, the marriage of agriculture and technology, recently hit headlines with word of AppHarvest’s impending IPO. AppHarvest is an agtech startup that builds high-tech greenhouses with innovations that support water and energy conservation, including what is may be the world’s biggest greenhouse. The company’s high profile investors include domestic lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance. Over the summer celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry invested in Apeel Sciences a California-based food bio company that produces a coating that extends the life of produce. Earlier this month Syngenta announced its acquisition of the Italian biotech […]

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The Plain View

from Plaintext Like any good nonfiction writer, the Majority Staff (i.e., Democrats) of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has produced a long-read document distinguished by deep research and an unyielding thesis: Big Tech is too big, too bad, and fights dirty. Sixteen months ago, the subcommittee set out to expose bad behavior in Silicon Valley’s top companies. Empowered with subpoenas, it had little trouble finding it. The docket of whistle-blowing witnesses and damning exhibits uncovered a litany of bullying, self-interested, anti-competitive behavior that justified the exercise, which some thought redundant because of ongoing investigations by the […]

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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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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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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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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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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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Revolutionary Quantum Breakthrough Paves Way For Safer Online Communication

from PHYS.ORG The world is one step closer to having a totally secure internet and an answer to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, thanks to a team of international scientists who have created a unique prototype which could transform how we communicate online. The invention led by the University of Bristol, revealed today in the journal Science Advances, has the potential to serve millions of users, is understood to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, and could be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By deploying a new […]

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Forget TikTok. China’s Powerhouse App Is WeChat, and Its Power Is Sweeping.

from NYTs Just after the 2016 presidential election in the United States, Joanne Li realized the app that connected her to fellow Chinese immigrants had disconnected her from reality. Everything she saw on the Chinese app, WeChat, indicated Donald J. Trump was an admired leader and impressive businessman. She believed it was the unquestioned consensus on the newly elected American president. “But then I started talking to some foreigners about him, non-Chinese,” she said. “I was totally confused.” She began to read more widely, and Ms. Li, who lived in Toronto at the time, increasingly found WeChat filled with gossip, […]

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EU Launching Deep Probe Into Google’s Planned $2.1 Billion Fitbit Buy

from ars technica Regulators in the European Union are launching a deep investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit after expressing concerns that giving Google access to Fitbit’s user data could “distort competition.” The Commission’s in-depth investigation will examine not only the potential outcomes for the advertising market if the transaction goes through, but it will also look at the effects of the deal on the digital healthcare sector and the potential for Google to lock competitors out of access to Android users. More here.

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