By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
What if there were a way to eliminate student debt? No, really. Student debt reached a new height last year -- a whopping $1.5 trillion. A typical student borrower will have $22,000 in debt by graduation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Now, Silicon Valley is backing a novel idea that proposes to rewrite the economics of getting an education.
From a report: The concept is deceptively simple: Instead of charging students tuition -- which often requires them to take out thousands of dollars in loans -- students go to school for free and are required to pay back a percentage of their income after graduation, but only if they get a job with a good salary. The idea, known as an Income Share Agreement, or I.S.A., has been experimented with and talked about for years. But what's happening at Lambda School, an online learning start-up founded in 2017 with the backing of Y Combinator, has captivated venture capitalists.
On Tuesday, Lambda will receive $30 million in funding led by one of Peter Thiel's disciples, Geoff Lewis, the founder of Bedrock, along with additional funds from Google Ventures; GGV Capital; Vy Capital; Y Combinator; and the actor-investor Ashton Kutcher, among others. The new funding round values the school at $150 million. The investments will be used to turn Lambda, which has focused on subjects like coding and data science, into a multidisciplinary school offering half-year programs in professions where there is significant hiring demand, like nursing and cybersecurity. It's an expansion that could be a precursor to Lambda becoming a full-scale university.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's some-justice department
Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Elections, has been fined 15,000 Pound (roughly $19,000) in a UK court after pleading guilty to failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the national data protection watchdog, the Guardian reports. From a report: While the fine itself is a small and rather symbolic one, given the political data analytics firm went into administration last year, the implications of the prosecution are more sizeable. Last year the Information Commissioner's Office ordered SCL to hand over all the data it holds on U.S. academic, professor David Carroll, within 30 days. After the company failed to do so it was taken to court by the ICO. Prior to Cambridge Analytica gaining infamy for massively misusing Facebook user data, the company, which was used by the Trump campaign, claimed to have up to 7,000 data points on the entire U.S. electorate -- circa 240M people. So Carroll's attempt to understand exactly what data the company had on him, and how the information was processed to create a voter profile of it, has much wider relevance.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bigger-picture department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and this week's CES is clearly showing how what was once the way companies did business, has changed, and at the same time, what's old is new again and companies who once fought with each other are finding new ways to be allies. For example, Apple stopped licensing in 1997. Now they're redefining licensing by making it easier for anyone to access their iTunes platform. That's called distribution. What's next? Letting anyone make an iPhone -- I think NOT. Taken on face so far, it's clear Apple, Google and Amazon are dominating CES. News about assistants being deployed by multiple brands, new features and uses of the AI backed functionality and most of all iTunes ending up on Samsung, Vizio, and other smart TV brands. That and pure word play on the famed "what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas" line tied to your privacy.
Looking more closely, neither Amazon, Apple nor Google has really introduced any new products themselves. No new iPhones or MacBooks. No new Homes, Hubs, Mini's or Pixelbooks and no new Echos were introduced. But all three are dominating the news and over time, your wallets directly and indirectly. In everyway possible, they have mastered the hardware channel at this year's CES and at the same time proved that "software really is eating the world." But what about all the news about them you say? Well, its all indeed smoke and mirrors, with the media jumping on the names of Apple, Amazon, and Google when in reality what we have is a roll-out of services. Yes, those same services Tim Cook talked about is what caused the ill-informed stock market types to think Apple was a bad stock to hold onto, who misunderstand Google's real motivations, and who have yet to really see Amazon for what they are.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's glass-half-full department
The good news is that cancer in America was beaten back over the 25 years ending 2016, with death rates plummeting, particularly when it comes to the four most common types of the dreaded affliction. From a report: There's a caveat, however. Those gains have been reaped mostly by the well-off. While racial disparities have begun to narrow, the impact of limited access to treatment for the poorest Americans has increased wealth-based inequality, according to the American Cancer Society's annual update on trends and statistics. "Any time you have a disease as serious as cancer, when you have a substantial reduction in deaths, that's a notable achievement," said Len Lichtenfeld, the interim chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "But there are still a lot of areas for improvement."
Health insurance and access to care can be an issue in some poor and rural portions of the country, where there are higher death rates of colon, cervical and lung cancers, according to Cancer Statistics 2019. While poverty was actually associated with lower rates of cancer mortality prior to the 1980s, that trend has since reversed, due in part to changes in diet and smoking as well as screening and treatment rates, the health organization said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bad-news department
AmiMoJo shares a report: "The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019." That's the dire news from Rhodium Group, a research firm that released preliminary estimates of US carbon emissions in 2018. Though the Trump administration said it would exit the Paris Agreement in 2017, the US is still bound by the agreement to submit progress reports until 2020. But the administration has justified regulatory rollbacks since then, claiming that regulation from the US government is unnecessary because emissions were trending downward anyway. But it appears that emissions have increased 3.4 percent in 2018 across the US economy, the second-largest annual increase in 20 years, according to Rhodium Group's preliminary data. (2010, when the US started recovering from the recession, was the largest annual increase in the last two decades.)
This reversal of course -- the first increase in emissions in three years -- came from a few sources. Carbon emissions from the US electricity sector increased by 1.9 percent, largely because the installation of new natural gas plants has outpaced coal retirements. Cheap natural gas has been credited with killing coal, which is a dirtier fossil fuel in terms of emissions. But natural gas is a fossil fuel, too, and burning more natural gas than is needed to simply replace coal will result in more carbon emissions. But electricity wasn't the main culprit. Transportation was.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's worst-nightmares department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Nick Winke, a photographer in the Pacific northwest, was perusing internet forums when he came across a complaint that alarmed him: On certain Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones, users aren't allowed to delete the Facebook app. Winke bought his Samsung Galaxy S8, an Android-based device that comes with Facebook's social network already installed, when it was introduced in 2017. He has used the Facebook app to connect with old friends and to share pictures of natural landscapes and his Siamese cat -- but he didn't want to be stuck with it. He tried to remove the program from his phone, but the chatter proved true -- it was undeletable. He found only an option to "disable," and he wasn't sure what that meant.
A Facebook spokesperson said the disabled version of the app acts like it's been deleted, so it doesn't continue collecting data or sending information back to Facebook. But there's rarely communication with the consumer about the process. The Menlo Park, California-based company said whether the app is deletable or not depends on various pre-install deals Facebook has made with phone manufacturers, operating systems and mobile operators around the world over the years, including Samsung. Facebook, the world's largest social network, wouldn't disclose the financial nature of the agreements, but said they're meant to give the consumer "the best" phone experience right after opening the box.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's now-we're-talking department
MojoKid writes: Dell just unveiled its latest desktop-replacement class notebook, the new Alienware Area-51m. Unlike most other notebooks, however, the Area-51m is actually packing an array of desktop-class hardware. Intel's Core i9-9900K is an available CPU option, for example, and NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080 will be offered in the machine as well. The Area-51m also supports up to 64GB of RAM via quad SO-DIMM slots, multiple NVMe M.2 solid state drives and a SATA drive can be installed, and numerous 17.3" display options will be available as well, including a 144Hz IPS G-SYNC model. The Alienware Area-51m is also upgradeable, thanks to the use of socketed desktop processors and a custom GPU module. The machine will be available starting January 29th in two color options, Lunar Light and Dark Side of the Moon.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: AT&T is preparing for yet another significant round of layoffs according to internal documents obtained by Motherboard. The staff reductions come despite billions in tax breaks and regulatory favors AT&T promised would dramatically boost both investment and job creation. A source at AT&T who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly told Motherboard that company leadership is planning what it's calling a "geographic rationalization" and employment "surplus" reduction that will consolidate some aspects of AT&T operations in 10 major operational hubs in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Washington State, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington, DC. A spokesperson for AT&T confirmed to Motherboard that it is planning to "adjust" its workforce.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's ask-and-you-shall-receive department
Bell Canada is asking customers for permission to track everything they do with their home and mobile phones, internet, television, apps or any other services they get through Bell or its affiliates. "In return, Bell says it will provide advertising and promotions that are more 'tailored' to their needs and preferences," reports CBC.ca. From the report: "Tailored marketing means Bell will be able to customize advertising based on participant account information and service usage patterns, similar to the ways that companies like Google and others have been doing for some time," the company says in recent notices to customers. If given permission, Bell will collect information about its customers' age, gender, billing addresses, and the specific tablet, television or other devices used to access Bell services. It will also collect the "number of messages sent and received, voice minutes, user data consumption and type of connectivity when downloading or streaming." "Bell's marketing partners will not receive the personal information of program participants; we just deliver the offers relevant to the program participants on their behalf," the company assures customers. Teresa Scassa, who teaches law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy, says Bell customers who opt into Bell's new program could be giving away commercially valuable personal information with little to no compensation for increased risks to their privacy and security. "Here's a company that's taking every shred of personal information about me, from all kinds of activities that I engage in, and they're monetizing it. What do I get in return? Better ads? Really? That's it? What about better prices?" Toronto-based consultant Charlie Wilton, whose firm has advised Bell and Rogers in the past, says: "I mean, in a perfect world, they would give you discounts or they would give you points or things that consumers would more tangibly want, rather than just the elimination of a pain point -- which is what they're offering right now."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's best-of-the-best department
According to U.S. News and World Report's annual best jobs rankings, software developer is the top pick for the new year. "The publication's Best Jobs of 2019 list takes seven factors into account, including median salary, employment rate and stress level," reports USA Today. "The median salary for a software developer is $101,790, and the unemployment rate is 1.9 percent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics." From the report: Though software developers have neither the highest median salary nor lowest unemployment rate on the U.S. News Best Jobs of 2019 list, the position's projected increase in demand -- roughly 30 percent between 2016 and 2026 -- and average stress levels helped it land the top spot, said Rebecca Koenig, careers reporter at U.S. News and World Report. "Unlike some other jobs that do pretty well on the list, which are very demanding, software developer tends not to be a really stressful profession," Koenig said. Here are the Top 10, in order: 1. Software Developer
3. Physician assistant
5. (tie) Orthodontist
6. (tie) Nurse anesthetist
7. Nurse practitioner
9. (tie) Obstetrician and gynecologist
9. (tie) Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
9. (tie) Prosthodontist
9. (tie) PhysicianRead Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's food-tech department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Science: During a press event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods showed off its new plant-based ground beef replacement by offering a selection of foods from traditional sliders to the ambitious tartare. Thanks to a change in formula, the new Impossible Burger 2.0 goes beyond simple patties and aims to take on ground beef with every recipe, from lasagna to tacos. The first tastes are very promising. Back in 2016, the original Impossible Burger debuted as a veggie burger that could almost pass as beef. Its meaty secret was a molecule called heme, which contains iron and is largely responsible for the flavors we associate with cooked flesh. But, according to Impossible CEO Pat Brown, it requires a protein to bind it. The original Impossible Burger used wheat protein, which worked, but had some drawbacks. First, it meant the Impossible Burger wasn't gluten-free, but it also put some limitations on the meat's form factor. The wheat worked for burger patties that stayed in a relatively static shape, but it couldn't crumble or take on other shapes -- like meatballs -- without losing its integrity. The solution was a switch to soy.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Google has removed 85 Android apps from the official Play Store that security researchers from Trend Micro deemed to contain a common strain of adware. "The 85 apps had been downloaded over nine million times, and one app, in particular, named 'Easy Universal TV Remote,' was downloaded over five million times," reports ZDNet. From the report: While the apps were uploaded on the Play Store from different developer accounts and were signed by different digital certificates, they exhibited similar behaviors and shared the same code, researchers said in a report published today. But besides similarities in their source code, the apps were also visually identical, and were all of the same types, being either games or apps that let users play videos or control their TVs remotely.
The first time users ran any of the apps, they would proceed to show fullscreen ads in different steps, asking and reasking users to press various buttons to continue. If the user was persistent and stayed with the app until it reached a menu page, every menu button push would trigger yet another fullscreen ad, over and over again until the app would suddenly crash, hiding its original app icon. But despite the crash, unbeknownst to the user, the app would continue to run in the phone's background, showing new fullscreen ads ever 15 or 30 minutes, generating profits for the fraudsters until users either removed the apps or reset devices to factory settings as a last resort. You can view a list of the 85 adware apps via this PDF file.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's glitch-in-the-matrix department
A new program at DARPA is aimed at creating a machine learning system that can sift through the innumerable events and pieces of media generated every day and identify any threads of connection or narrative in them. It's called KAIROS: Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas. From a report: "Schema" in this case has a very specific meaning. It's the idea of a basic process humans use to understand the world around them by creating little stories of interlinked events. For instance when you buy something at a store, you know that you generally walk into the store, select an item, bring it to the cashier, who scans it, then you pay in some way, and then leave the store. This "buying something" process is a schema we all recognize, and could of course have schemas within it (selecting a product; payment process) or be part of another schema (gift giving; home cooking).
Although these are easily imagined inside our heads, they're surprisingly difficult to define formally in such a way that a computer system would be able to understand. They're familiar to us from long use and understanding, but they're not immediately obvious or rule-bound, like how an apple will fall downwards from a tree at a constant acceleration. And the more data there are, the more difficult it is to define. Buying something is comparatively simple, but how do you create a schema for recognizing a cold war, or a bear market? That's what DARPA wants to look into.Read Replies (0)