Category Archives: Education

Uber’s Problems Are Silicon Valley’s Problems

By Katy Steinmetz – The world’s most valuable venture-backed company is no doubt in crisis. And the story of Uber, in its extreme success and what may turn out to be extreme failures, is in some ways singular. But it also hits on issues in the technology industry that are far bigger than one company.

Silicon Valley has struggled for years with diversity and inclusion, as critics have wondered whether the industry can achieve its grand self-image: a bunch of brilliant minds set on making the world a better place, for whom no problem is too tough to solve, no status quo too established to upend.

Despite whistle-blowing at other companies about hostile office cultures and widespread acknowledgement that the industry needs to “do better” when it comes to hiring and retaining women and people of color, those problems have persisted.

The fact that Uber, the brightest product of the Silicon Valley ecosystem of the past several years, could become such an influential global powerhouse while seemingly neglecting its own workplace speaks to some of the reasons that broader progress, as many see it, has been slow.

The pressure for startups to grow fast — and the prospect of profits or an enriching “exit” for investors — can be blinding. Taking time to think about unsexy HR practices often feels antithetical to hard-charging disruption.

Company culture and bias can be hard things to see, much less change, especially if the people at the top believe they’re running a meritocracy. more> https://goo.gl/WwGncQ

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How to Prepare for an Automated Future

By Claire Cain Miller – How do we educate people for an automated world?

People still need to learn skills, the respondents said, but they will do that continuously over their careers. In school, the most important thing they can learn is how to learn.

Schools will also need to teach traits that machines can’t yet easily replicate, like creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability and collaboration. The problem, many respondents said, is that these are not necessarily easy to teach.

Employers will also place more value on on-the-job learning, many respondents said, such as apprenticeships or on-demand trainings at workplaces. Portfolios of work are becoming more important than résumés.

Consider it part of your job description to keep learning, many respondents said — learn new skills on the job, take classes, teach yourself new things.

The problem is that not everyone is cut out for independent learning, which takes a lot of drive and discipline. People who are suited for it tend to come from privileged backgrounds, with a good education and supportive parents, said Beth Corzo-Duchardt, a media historian at Muhlenberg College. “The fact that a high degree of self-direction may be required in the new work force means that existing structures of inequality will be replicated in the future,” she said.

“The ‘jobs of the future’ are likely to be performed by robots,” said Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast, an email company. “The question isn’t how to train people for nonexistent jobs. It’s how to share the wealth in a world where we don’t need most people to work.” more> https://goo.gl/LVkagm

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Understanding The Digital Revolution And What It Means

By Henning Meyer – The digital revolution, used here as shorthand for broader technological change, is one of today’s most hotly debated topics in politics, economics and business.

We are undoubtedly faced with large-scale disruptions in many areas that require adjustments.

To analyse exposure to the digital revolution and potential policy solutions you need to start breaking it down into manageable dimensions. Three areas in particular warrant special attention: What are the forces shaping the application of new technologies? What does the digital revolution mean for the future of work? And what kind of policies could help to address these issues?

There is a general lack of structured analysis of the ways in which technological progress translates into real life. This is an important shortcoming as it leads to a distorted view of real-time developments. Here we try to structure this process and identify five filters that in effect moderate technology’s impact.

First, an ethical filter. This filter restricts research itself as it sets a permission framework for what can be done.

Second, a social filter. Social resistance against technological change is not new and it is likely to be more intense in areas where there is a perceived threat to people’s jobs.

Third, a corporate governance filter.

Fourth, a legal filter also moderates what is possible and what is applied in the real world.

Last but not least a productivity filter. This filter means in principle that the application of new technology does not have a dramatic effect on productivity because either the productivity bottleneck lies elsewhere or diminishing marginal returns mean that there is little real improvement in products or services. more> https://goo.gl/nZdclG

The crisis of expertise

BOOK REVIEW

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, Author: Tom Nichols.
Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? Author: Philip Tetlock.

By Tom Nichols – Experts get things wrong all the time.

The effects of such errors range from mild embarrassment to wasted time and money; in rarer cases, they can result in death, and even lead to international catastrophe. And yet experts regularly ask citizens to trust expert judgment and to have confidence not only that mistakes will be rare, but that the experts will identify those mistakes and learn from them.

Day to day, laypeople have no choice but to trust experts. We live our lives embedded in a web of social and governmental institutions meant to ensure that professionals are in fact who they say they are, and can in fact do what they say they do. Universities, accreditation organizations, licensing boards, certification authorities, state inspectors and other institutions exist to maintain those standards.

Science is learning by doing. Laypeople are uncomfortable with ambiguity, and they prefer answers rather than caveats. But science is a process, not a conclusion. Science subjects itself to constant testing by a set of careful rules under which theories can be displaced only by other theories. Laypeople cannot expect experts to never be wrong; if they were capable of such accuracy, they wouldn’t need to do research and run experiments in the first place.

Democracy cannot function when every citizen is an expert … more> https://goo.gl/NpQgga

Public Education Vs. Public Schooling

BOOK REVIEW

Deschooling Society, Author: Ivan Illich.

By Kerry McDonald – Until we separate public education from public schooling–to truly “de-school” our perspective on learning–we will be mired in a debate about reforming one, singular method of education (that is, mass schooling), while ignoring other methods of education that could be better.

The industrial model upon which compulsory public schooling was founded in 1852 is no longer relevant in a new economy that increasingly values creativity over conformity, knowledge workers over factory laborers. Despite the fact that sociologists and economists believe we have left the Industrial Age for the Imagination Age—an era defined by creativity and innovation and technological application—American education is stuck with an outdated system of mass schooling. Instead of adapting to the changing needs of a creative culture, American schooling has sought to become even more restrictive and entrenched. We need a new model of learning, separate from our modern experiment with mass schooling, that taps into the innate, self-educative capacity of humans.

A perfect example of educational webs, as opposed to funnels like school, is the public library. Libraries are ideal examples of existing, taxpayer-funded, community-based, non-coercive learning hubs. They are openly accessible to all members of a community and, unlike public schools, do not segregate by age or ability. They offer classes, lectures, cultural events, ESL lessons, computer courses, mentoring opportunities and a whole host of other public programming. They are brimming with gifted facilitators who love “learning, sharing, and caring” and who are eager to help guide community learning. more> https://goo.gl/heaclm

Updates from Adobe

Disrupting Domesticity: Julie Blackmon’s Irreverent Take on Small-Town Family Life
By Dan Cowles – Though Julie Blackmon started out as a documentary photographer, originally influenced by her first encounter with the work of Sally Mann, Blackmon’s art has evolved into a more exaggerated reality—highly stylized tableaus, more influenced by fine art than documentary at this point.

Blackmon thinks a lot about her projects before shooting anything, experimenting and evolving her ideas over time. “Sometimes it’s just whatever is around, including props,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I think I’ll use that book over there.’ Kind of like my nieces and nephews: ‘They’re just hanging out. Maybe I could borrow them.’”

By the time she sets the camera up, she has a pretty good idea of what she’s after. “Once you get all that figured out, that’s really when kind of the fun starts,” she says. And seeing Blackmon in action, one has the sense that there is little boundary between work and play, between directing the kids and playing dress-up with them. Blackmon shoots most of her material in and around the same Springfield, Missouri, neighborhood she grew up in, and she uses her friends and family as her subjects. more> https://goo.gl/Oq9KE9

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The end of globalisation as we know it?

By Durukal Gun , Christian Keller, Sree Kochugovindan, Tomasz Wieladek – Modern globalisation has gone well beyond the trade of goods, as technology allowed for transfer of know-how and skills.

Since glottalization began in the middle of the 1800s, it has been through several different cycles. Now it appears to have reached yet another turning point.

Only recently has globalization matched the heights it reached before World War I.

  • First wave of globalization (1850s to 1914)
  • Protectionism (1914 to 1945)
  • Second wave of glottalization (1945 to 1990)
  • Hyperglobalization (1990 to present)

Among the clear beneficiaries of hyperglobalization are the emerging economies, which have become increasingly integrated into more and more complex global value chains. Their role in processing raw materials, and in value-added manufacturing and services has grown rapidly.

The first signs of opposition to hyperglobalisation emerged amid major demonstrations at the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Concerns mounted in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis and subsequent global recession, reflected more recently in public resistance to trade and investment agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Discriminatory protectionist tariffs and trade measures are on the rise. more> https://goo.gl/K54eeK

Updates from GE

By Yari M. Bovalino & Tomas Kellner – Frank Herzog was still in elementary school in the historic Bavarian city of Bamberg when he fell in love — with metals. So ardent was his passion that he later quit high school to pursue it. “I was young when I realized that I loved the material,” he says.

More than three decades later, Herzog’s fascination with shiny objects continues. He is the founder and CEO of Concept Laser, a pioneering maker of 3D printing machines, including the world’s largest industrial printer for metals. His machines can print delicate jewelry and dental implants as well as massive engine blocks for trucks.

Last fall, GE acquired a majority stake in Herzog’s company, and Concept Laser is now part of GE Additive, a new GE business dedicated to supplying 3D printers, materials and engineering consulting services.

Herzog, 45, grew up in a state that’s obsessed with engineering. Mechanical engineers alone account for 17 percent of Bavaria’s workforce. more> https://goo.gl/uS55hn

A pioneering computer scientist wants algorithms to be regulated like cars, banks, and drugs

By Katherine Ellen Foley – It’s convenient when Facebook can tag your friends in photos for you, and it’s fun when Snapchat can apply a filter to your face. Both are examples of algorithms that have been trained to recognize eyes, noses, and mouths with consistent accuracy.

Such algorithms are already deeply embedded in many aspects of our lives. They do such things as setting prices on stock markets, flying aircraft on autopilot, calculating insurance risks, finding you an Uber, and devising routes for delivery trucks.

But algorithms make mistakes too, and when they do it can be extremely hard to figure out why—witness the flash crashes on stock markets and the autopilot failure that brought down Air France flight 447 in 2009. more> https://goo.gl/O8inEI

The Difference Between Real And Pretend Strengths

BOOK REVIEW

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, Author: George Bradt.

By George Bradt – Real strengths are made up of talent, knowledge and skills. It’s not enough to study a subject. Expertise is born of practice.

Real strengths enable people to do what they need to do. Pretend strengths may be intriguing at first, but end up disappointing.

Too many people think they should be able to sell because they’ve worked with salespeople before, either as buyers themselves, providing support to sales, or making products or services that others sell. They can’t sell. Selling requires talent, knowledge and skills born of practice.

Too many people think they can teach because they’ve been students.

Frontier Communications bought AT&T’s wire line services in Connecticut. They were excited because the transaction was going to: “be accretive” and “improve Frontier’s dividend payout” while customers “will have the same products and services that they currently enjoy”. (From their press release.)

Wasn’t true. The day of the transfer, my voicemail service got “disabled”. And it stayed disabled for 11 days. Each of the four times I called Frontier I was informed that they would “open a ticket”. I didn’t want a ticket. I wanted voicemail.

Frontier’s not a real phone company. It just plays one on TV. more> https://goo.gl/pH2m1L