The Chegg situation is worse than you think — from eliterate.us by Michael Feldstein

Excerpts:

Forbes just ran with an article entitled “This $12 Billion Company Is Getting Rich Off Students Cheating Their Way Through Covid“.

Ouch.

Chegg -- This $12 Billion Company Is Getting Rich Off Students Cheating Their Way Through Covid

[Per Michael] To sum up:

  • Publishers, after selling expensive textbooks to students, sold the answers to the homework questions in those expensive books to Chegg.
  • Chegg sells the answers to the questions to the students, who often use them to cheat.
  • To combat this problem, universities pay for proctoring software, which is apparently more effective at preventing students from going to the bathroom than it is at preventing cheating.
  • To add insult to all of this injury, “to chegg” is now apparently a verb in the English language. We will all have to live with that linguistic violence.

Addendum on 2/9/21:

 

Could 2021 Be The Year Of Civil Justice Reform? — from law360.com by Cara Bayles

Excerpt:

Now, any tenant in Boulder, regardless of means, can get an attorney to represent them in housing court for free. While a handful of other cities like New York and San Francisco offer similar programs, there is no universal right to an attorney in eviction cases.

Justice advocates are hoping that could change. COVID-19, they say, has drawn attention to access to justice issues that have plagued civil proceedings for years. They hope the tragedies of 2020 can fuel reform in 2021.

Six months into the pandemic, millions of Americans had fallen behind on rent. One statistic that civil justice advocates have known for years became apparent — that while 90% of landlords have legal counsel in eviction proceedings, only 10% of tenants do.

 

 

Thank you LORD for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!!!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Excerpt:

[Dr.] King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

 

From DSC:
An interesting, more positive use of AI here:

Deepdub uses AI to dub movies in the voice of famous actors — from protocol.com by Janko Roettgers
Fresh out of stealth, the startup is using artificial intelligence to automate the localization process for global streaming.

Excerpt:

Tel Aviv-based startup Deepdub wants to help streaming services accelerate this kind of international rollout by using artificial intelligence for their localization needs. Deepdub, which came out of stealth on Wednesday, has built technology that can translate a voice track to a different language, all while staying true to the voice of the talent. This makes it possible to have someone like Morgan Freeman narrate a movie in French, Italian or Russian without losing what makes Freeman’s voice special and recognizable.

From DSC:
A much more negative use of AI here:

A much more negative use of AI here...

 

 

The Digital Divide for Tribal College Students — COVID, CARES Act, and Critical Next Steps — from diverseeducation.com

Excerpt:

In this episode staff writer Sara Weissman shares a story that focuses on the digital divide for Native Americans by bringing in voices of tribal college leaders and their students during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Many don’t know but Native American colleges and universities have long struggled with the worst internet connectivity in the nation while ironically paying the highest rates for service. Hear first-hand how students from Diné College and other institutions are currently affected. Carrie Billie (Big Water Clan), President & CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and Dr. Cynthia Lindquist (Star Horse Woman), President of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in North Dakota, break down the data and lay out critical next steps necessary to address the digital divide.

Many don’t know but Native American colleges and universities have long struggled with the worst internet connectivity in the nation while ironically paying the highest rates for service.

From DSC:
When will there be justice!? Let’s join in and make amends and provide the funding, concrete assistance, products, and services to Native American colleges, universities, and communities. Some potential ideas:

  • For the short term, could there be Loon balloons deployed immediately to provide free and stronger access to the Internet?

Could Project Loon assist Native American colleges, universities, and communities?

  • Could our Federal Government make amends and do the right thing here? (e-rate program, put Internet access in, make policy changes, offer more grants, other?)
  • Could Silicon Valley assist with hardware and software? For example:
    • Can Apple, HP, Microsoft, and others donate hardware and software?
    • Can Zoom, Adobe, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and others donate whatever these communities need to provide videoconferencing licenses?
  • Could telecom providers provide free internet access?
  • Could MOOCs offer more free courses?
  • Could furniture makers such as Steelcase, Herman Miller, and others donate furniture and help establish connected learning spaces?
  • How might faculty members and staff within higher education contribute?
  • How could churches, synagogues, and such get involved?
  • Could the rest of us locate and donate to charities that aim to provide concrete assistance to Native American schools, colleges, universities, and communities?

We need to do the right thing here. This is another area* where our nation can do much better.

* Here’s another example/area where we can do much better and make amends/changes.

 


Addendum on 12/7/20:

 

Pushback is growing against automated proctoring services. But so is their use — from edsurge.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpt:

Many students have pushed back, arguing that remote proctoring tools result in a serious invasion of privacy and create stress that can hinder academic performance. More than 60,000 students across the U.S. have signed petitions calling on their colleges to stop using automated proctoring tools, meaning that the technology has become arguably the most controversial tool of the pandemic at colleges.

From DSC:
We have an issue oftentimes within higher education — including graduate schools/professional schools as well — where the student and the professor aren’t always on the same team (or at least that’s the percaption). To me, the professors need to be saying (and living out the message that), “We ARE on your team. We are working to help make you successful in the future that you have chosen for yourself. We’re here to help you…not monitor you.”

It’s like I feel when I walk into so many public places these days (and even out on the roadways as well). When I walk into a store, it’s like the security cameras are whispering to me and to others…”We don’t trust you. Some of you have stolen in the past. so we’re going to carefully watch every single one of you. And we aren’t just going to watch you, we’re going to record you as well.”

The message? We don’t trust you.

This severely hampers the relationships involved.

And I’m sure that cheating is going on. But then, that makes me think that perhaps it’s time to change the way we assess students — and to help them see assessments as opportunities to learn, not to cheat. 

Lower the stakes. Offer tests more frequently. Provide more opportunities to practice recall. And be on their team.

 

“Especially given that these systems replicate and amplify the harms of structural racism and historical discrimination, which fall predominantly on Black, brown, and poor communities.”

From DSC:
Some serious fodder for thought in this article. I’d like to see
#computerscience students and faculty members debate and/or weigh in on this type of topic.

 
 

Wrongfully accused by an algorithm- from the New York Times

Wrongfully accused by an algorithm — from nytimes.com by Kashmir Hill

Excerpt:

On a Thursday afternoon in January, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was in his office at an automotive supply company when he got a call from the Detroit Police Department telling him to come to the station to be arrested. He thought at first that it was a prank.

An hour later, when he pulled into his driveway in a quiet subdivision in Farmington Hills, Mich., a police car pulled up behind, blocking him in. Two officers got out and handcuffed Mr. Williams on his front lawn, in front of his wife and two young daughters, who were distraught. The police wouldn’t say why he was being arrested, only showing him a piece of paper with his photo and the words “felony warrant” and “larceny.”

His wife, Melissa, asked where he was being taken. “Google it,” she recalls an officer replying.

“Is this you?” asked the detective.

The second piece of paper was a close-up. The photo was blurry, but it was clearly not Mr. Williams. He picked up the image and held it next to his face.

“No, this is not me,” Mr. Williams said. “You think all black men look alike?”

 

Also relevant/see:

What a machine learning tool that turns Obama white can (and can’t) tell us about AI bias

 

PhotoVoice -- using photography to tell one's story

Photo voice dot org

 

Why photography?

A photograph is the quickest and easiest way for somebody to document the realities of their circumstances. Most people are familiar with photography to some degree, and it can be picked up relatively quickly by all abilities and ages.

Photography also crosses cultural and linguistic barriers, with its power lying in its dual role as both a form of creative expression and a way to document facts.

It provides an accessible way to describe realities, communicate perspectives, and raise awareness of social and global issues to different audiences.

Its relatively low cost and ease of dissemination encourages sharing, facilitating dialogue and discussion, even for those who have never picked up a camera before.

 

Addendum on 6/25/20

 

IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft abandon law enforcement face recognition market — from which-50.com by Andrew Birmingham

Excerpt:

Three global tech giants — IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft — have all announced that they will no longer sell their face recognition technology to police in the USA, though each announcement comes with its own nuance.

The new policy comes in the midst of ongoing national demonstrations in the US about police brutality and more generally the subject of racial inequality in the country under the umbrella of the Black Lives Matter movement.

From DSC:
While I didn’t read the fine print (so I don’t know all of the “nuances” they are referring to) I see this as good news indeed! Well done whomever at those companies paused, and thought…

 

…just because we can…

just because we can does not mean we should


…doesn’t mean we should.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

Addendum on 6/18/20:

  • Why Microsoft and Amazon are calling on Congress to regulate facial recognition tech — from finance.yahoo.com by Daniel HowleyExcerpt:
    The technology, which can be used to identify suspects in things like surveillance footage, has faced widespread criticism after studies found it can be biased against women and people of color. And according to at least one expert, there needs to be some form of regulation put in place if these technologies are going to be used by law enforcement agencies.“If these technologies were to be deployed, I think you cannot do it in the absence of legislation,” explained Siddharth Garg, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, told Yahoo Finance.
 

From DSC:
As the technologies get more powerful, so do the ramifications/consequences. And here’s the kicker. Just like we’re seeing with trying to deal with systemic racism in our country…like it or not, it all comes back to the state of the hearts and minds out there. I’m not trying to be preachy or to pretend that I’m better than anyone. I’m a sinner. I know that full well. And I view all of us as equals trying to survive and to make our way in this tough-to-live-in world. But the unfortunate truth is that technologies are tools, and how the tools are used depends upon one’s heart.

Proverbs 4:23 New International Version (NIV) — from biblegateway.com

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

 

This startup is using AI to give workers a “productivity score” — from technologyreview.com by Will Douglas
Enaible is one of a number of new firms that are giving employers tools to help keep tabs on their employees—but critics fear this kind of surveillance undermines trust.

Excerpt:

In the last few months, millions of people around the world stopped going into offices and started doing their jobs from home. These workers may be out of sight of managers, but they are not out of mind. The upheaval has been accompanied by a reported spike in the use of surveillance software that lets employers track what their employees are doing and how long they spend doing it.

Companies have asked remote workers to install a whole range of such tools. Hubstaff is software that records users’ keyboard strokes, mouse movements, and the websites that they visit. Time Doctor goes further, taking videos of users’ screens. It can also take a picture via webcam every 10 minutes to check that employees are at their computer. And Isaak, a tool made by UK firm Status Today, monitors interactions between employees to identify who collaborates more, combining this data with information from personnel files to identify individuals who are “change-makers.”

Machine-learning algorithms also encode hidden bias in the data they are trained on. Such bias is even harder to expose when it’s buried inside an automated system. If these algorithms are used to assess an employee’s performance, it can be hard to appeal an unfair review or dismissal. 

 

 

From DSC:
I can’t help but reflect on how slippery the slope is when we start talking about using drones — especially as sponsored and used by governments, including our government here in the U.S. Consider the following from The Future Institute.

The Future Institute Today -- discussing the slippery slope of using drones

Excerpt:

Eyes in the sky
As nationwide racial justice protests continue, some journalists and protestors have noticed a new addition to the armed police officers and National Guard troops: a drone flying a hexagon-shaped route 20,000 feet above the streets in Minneapolis. The drone, flown by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is called a Predator, and is a piece of military technology used for identifying and targeting terrorists overseas. Lately, it’s become a more common sight domestically.

Last month, a number of New Yorkers witnessed a drone floating above them, barking orders to follow social distancing guidelines. The mysterious drone wasn’t official police equipment, but rather a privately owned device piloted by a man named Xavier Arthur in Queens, who was frustrated that people weren’t following stay-at-home orders. He claimed to represent the “Anti-Covid-19 Volunteer Drone Task Force. 

It’s not an isolated incident. During the outbreak, drones have been used extensively to monitor residents and encourage them to stay indoors, to inspect traffic stops and hospitals, and to spray cities with disinfectants. In Paris and Mumbai, they’re patrolling social distancing violators. In China, a video clip went viral, showing a drone breaking up a mahjong game—residents had defied local orders that they stay indoors. Drones with infrared cameras also allegedly flew overhead and checked for people with fevers.

Advanced drones can pinpoint certain behaviors in crowds from high altitudes, recognize and automatically follow targets, and communicate with each other or to command centers on the ground with remarkable precision and low latency. The pandemic and protests are playing to the strengths of an emerging real-time aerial surveillance ecosystem.

3 Things You Should Know

  1. The Flying Internet of Things is taking off.
  2. New drones can self-destruct.
  3. Shareable drones may drive growth in the industry.
 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian