How a Discriminatory Algorithm Wrongly Accused Thousands of Families of Fraud — from vice.com by Gabriel Geiger; with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource
Dutch tax authorities used algorithms to automate an austere and punitive war on low-level fraud—the results were catastrophic.

Excerpt:

Last month, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte—along with his entire cabinet—resigned after a year and a half of investigations revealed that since 2013, 26,000 innocent families were wrongly accused of social benefits fraud partially due to a discriminatory algorithm.

Forced to pay back money they didn’t owe, many families were driven to financial ruin, and some were torn apart. Others were left with lasting mental health issues; people of color were disproportionately the victims.

On a more positive note, Sam DeBrule (in his Machine Learnings e-newsletter) also notes the following article:

Can artificial intelligence combat wildfires? Sonoma County tests new technology — from latimes.com by Alex Wigglesworth

 

Celebrating Black History Month — from blog.edmentum.com

Excerpt:

February is Black History Month, a time to learn about, reflect on, celebrate and honor the pivotal role Black Americans have played in U.S. history.

Throughout the month, we’ll take time to learn about Black culture and spotlight some incredible Edmentors, educators, and students each week who are working to make a difference in the lives of kids all over the world. You’ll hear from some fantastic Edmentors about what inspires them and gain insight into the ways in which Black culture, identity, and perspectives help Edmentum succeed as an organization.

 

AALS Hosts First-Ever Virtual Annual Meeting

AALS Hosts First-Ever Virtual Annual Meeting — from am.aals.org

Excerpt:

More than 5,100 law school faculty, deans, professional staff, and sponsors gathered virtually, January 5-9 at the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting.

Over five days, the meeting included moderated panels, interactive discussions, and networking events. The programs closely reflected the most pressing issues of the day, including sessions related to the pandemic’s impact on civil rights, disability law, the economy, executive powers, eviction, voting, and workers’ rights, among other topics. There were also several sessions on how the pandemic has affected law schools, especially as it relates to online and hybrid teaching.

The theme of the meeting was “The Power of Words,” selected by 2020 AALS President Darby Dickerson, Dean and Professor of Law at UIC John Marshall Law School.

“Words matter and how we use words matter,” Dickerson said during a welcome video introducing the meeting. “Words are powerful tools. They can inspire social movements, evoke emotions, and create allegiances. They can help and they can heal, but like many tools, words can also be wielded as weapons to hurt and hinder and to mislead and manipulate.”

 

How Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther inspired this Black engineer — from fastcompany.com by Karl Zelik
The best superheroes are those that inspire real people to make the world a better place.

Excerpt:

On Twitter, Black in Engineering was launched in the week leading up to Boseman’s passing in August 2020, and Black in Computing was launched two months earlier. The same cathartic experience of seeing Wakandan scientists and engineers on the big screen is how I felt reading all the posts tagged #BiERollCall—Black engineers and scientists across STEM disciplines introduced themselves and their work, their passions, and their expertise.

[Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images]

[Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images]
 

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.

 

Apple launches major new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects to challenge systemic racism, advance racial equity nationwide — from apple.com
Commitments build on Apple’s $100 million pledge and include a first-of-its-kind education hub for HBCUs and an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit

Apple launches major new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects to challenge systemic racism, advance racial equity nationwide

Also see:

Apple reveals how it will spend the $100 million it pledged in June toward racial equity — from fortune.com by Michal Lev-Ram

Excerpt:

On Wednesday morning [1/13/21], the iPhone maker said it would invest in a series of programs: a learning hub for historically Black colleges and universities (both online and brick-and-mortar, in Atlanta), an Apple Developer Academy to teach coding skills in Detroit, and a $10 million check toward venture capital funding for entrepreneurs of color.

 

From DSC:
Reading through the article below, I can’t help but wonder…how might the eviction crisis impact higher education?


 

Losing a Home Because of the Pandemic Is Hard Enough. How Long Should It Haunt You? — from nytimes.com by Barbara Kiviat (professor of sociology) and Sara Sternberg Greene (law professor)
Americans who default on their rent may find it hard to escape lasting effects on their financial future.

Excerpts:

Millions of Americans have fallen behind on rent during the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting the passage of eviction moratoriums and rental assistance plans. But as policymakers have struggled to meet the needs of tenants and landlords, they’ve largely overlooked a crucial fact: The looming eviction crisis isn’t just about falling behind on rent and losing one’s home to eviction. It’s also about the records of those events, captured in court documents and credit reports, that will haunt millions of Americans for years to come.

Just as criminal records carry collateral consequences — preventing people from getting jobs, renting apartments and so on — blemishes on a person’s financial history can have far-ranging effects. Records of evictions can prevent Americans from renting new places to live, and debts and lawsuits related to unpaid rent can follow people as they apply for jobs, take out insurance policies, apply for mortgages and more. The process starts when landlords report late payments directly, file for eviction, sue in small claims court and hire debt collectors to pursue back rent. Those paper trails of unpaid rent and eviction get sucked into the digital warehouses of credit bureaus and data brokers.

 

 

 

Timnit Gebru’s Exit From Google Exposes a Crisis in AI — from wired.com by Alex Hanna and Meredith Whittaker
The situation has made clear that the field needs to change. Here’s where to start, according to a current and a former Googler.

Excerpt:

It was against this backdrop that Google fired Timnit Gebru, our dear friend and colleague, and a leader in the field of artificial intelligence. She is also one of the few Black women in AI research and an unflinching advocate for bringing more BIPOC, women, and non-Western people into the field. By any measure, she excelled at the job Google hired her to perform, including demonstrating racial and gender disparities in facial-analysis technologies and developing reporting guidelines for data sets and AI models. Ironically, this and her vocal advocacy for those underrepresented in AI research are also the reasons, she says, the company fired her. According to Gebru, after demanding that she and her colleagues withdraw a research paper critical of (profitable) large-scale AI systems, Google Research told her team that it had accepted her resignation, despite the fact that she hadn’t resigned. (Google declined to comment for this story.)

 

#survivingcovid19 #reinvent #highereducation #futureofhighereducation #60yearcurriculum #costofhighereducation #alternatives #innovation #learningfromthelivingclassroom and many more

 

How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men — from propublica.org by Akilah Johnson and Nina Martin
They were pillars of their communities and families, and they are not replaceable. To understand why COVID-19 killed so many young Black men, you need to know the legend of John Henry.

Excerpt:

While COVID-19 has killed 1 out of every 800 African Americans, a toll that overwhelms the imagination, even more stunning is the deadly efficiency with which it has targeted young Black men like Bates. One study using data through July found that Black people ages 35 to 44 were dying at nine times the rate of white people the same age, though the gap slightly narrowed later in the year. And in an analysis for ProPublica this summer using the only reliable data at the time accounting for age, race and gender, from Michigan and Georgia, Harvard researcher Tamara Rushovich found that the disparity was greatest in Black men. It was a phenomenon Enrique Neblett Jr. noticed when he kept seeing online memorials for men his age. “I’ll be 45 this year,” said the University of Michigan professor, who studies racism and health. “I wasn’t seeing 60- and 70-year-old men. We absolutely need to be asking what is going on here?”

Our efforts led us to a little-known body of research that takes its name from one of the most enduring symbols of Black American resilience.

 

24 Big Ideas that will change our world in 2021 — from linkedin.com by Scott Olster

Excerpt:

The remote classroom will get a much-needed upgrade

One key idea: making it easy for students to “sit” together at tables of two to eight learners, while an instructor’s lesson unfolds. Students can confer with table-mates without being heard by the larger group. Meanwhile, the instructor can explain things to all the tables at once, while still being able to visit specific tables to make sure everything is on track. Avida says educators prefer this model to the rigid constraints of other vendors’ breakout rooms, which were built to suit corporate needs.

Meanwhile, leading business-video players such as Zoom, Cisco’s WebEx, and Microsoft Teams are likely to move quickly to address the needs of the education market in 2021, too. (Microsoft also owns LinkedIn.) But Avida says Engageli has been filing lots of patents to protect its ideas, adding that its single-minded focus on education may help it move faster than other rivals for whom education is only a niche market. — George Anders

 

A New Report and Recommendations: Civil Justice for All — from amacad.org (the American Academy of Arts & Sciences)

Also see:

  • Expiring Eviction Moratoriums and COVID-19 Incidence and Mortality — from papers.ssrn.com by Kathryn Leifheit, Sabriya Linton, Julia Raifman, Gabriel Schwartz, Emily Benfer, Frederick Zimmerman, and Craig Pollack
    Excerpt of Abstract:
    Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis has rendered millions of U.S. households unable to pay rent, placing them at risk for eviction. Evictions may accelerate COVID-19 transmission by increasing household crowding and decreasing individuals’ ability to comply with social distancing directives. We leveraged variation in the expiration of eviction moratoriums in U.S. states to test for associations between evictions and COVID-19 incidence and mortality.
 

Eric Schmidt’s Youth Talent Competition, Part of $1B Effort, Kicks Off With Unusual App — from edsurge.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpts:

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has committed $1 billion to finding exceptional young people aged 15 to 17 and offering them financial support and mentorship throughout their lives.

The first questions that the contest asks applicants to address with a short video response is: “In what ways do you consider yourself privileged? In what ways do you consider yourself underprivileged?” The second question: “What’s one problem that you are going to use your life to solve? Why? Show us what steps you’ve taken to solve it already.”

 

After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits — from nytimes.com by Thomas Friedman
Providing more Americans with portable health care, portable pensions and opportunities for lifelong learning is what politics needs to be about post-Nov. 3.

No job, no K-12 school, no university, no factory, no office will be spared. 

Excerpt:

Your children can expect to change jobs and professions multiple times in their lifetimes, which means their career path will no longer follow a simple “learn-to-work’’ trajectory, as Heather E. McGowan, co-author of “The Adaptation Advantage,” likes to say, but rather a path of “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn.”

“Learning is the new pension,” Ms. McGowan said. “It’s how you create your future value every day.”

The most critical role for K-12 educators, therefore, will be to equip young people with the curiosity and passion to be lifelong learners who feel ownership over their education.

 

State of Student Success and Trends in Higher Education — from instructure.com
2020 Global Research Study and Trends

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In the following report, we’ve identified six leading trends for student success and engagement in today’s world:

  1. Career readiness is the number one priority for students.
  2. Institutions need to think beyond the lecture.
  3. Faculty-student engagement is critical.
  4. Online learning needs to be intentionally designed.
  5. Socioeconomic disparities impact engagement.
  6. Democratisation of education begins with equitable access.
 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian