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Monday, June 27, 2016

Governor McAuliffe Announces Expansion Of Cybersecurity Apprenticeships | Alexandria news

Photo: Governor Terry McAuliffe
"Governor McAuliffe announced yesterday at the National Governors Association’s Talent Pipeline Policy Academy that for the first time in Virginia history, businesses have the opportunity to stand up registered apprenticeships for cyber security occupations." notes Alexandria news.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Formally approved by the Virginia Apprenticeship Council on June 16, the three new registered apprenticeship cybersecurity occupations include: Information Security Analyst - Cyber Security Analyst, Information Security Analyst - Computer Forensics Analyst, and Information Security Analyst - Incident Response Analyst. The Virginia Apprenticeship Council established the criteria registered apprentices in cybersecurity must learn and demonstrate through the program to gain the necessary proficiency in the cybersecurity field.

Administered by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, Registered Apprenticeships combine on-the-job learning with classroom-related instruction, with the latter often delivered by a community college or career and technical education center. Registered Apprenticeships provide valuable, life long career benefits, including: certifications and licenses guaranteeing proficiency to employers, hands-on skill development in the field, and the opportunity to simultaneously learn and earn - with a graduated pay scale that recognizes increased skill attainment.
 
“Expanding apprenticeship programs for cybersecurity is essential for this sector’s workforce development, which will further establish Virginia as a global leader this high-tech industry,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I commend the Virginia Apprenticeship Council for their work and look forward to seeing hardworking Virginian develop the skills they need to succeed. Moving forward, we will continue to look for new ways to foster innovative workforce development initiatives that encourage private sector growth and build the new Virginia economy.”
 
“Having competency-based registered apprenticeships provides Virginia with yet another tool to leverage as we work to strengthen our pipeline of high-quality, industry-ready cybersecurity professionals,” said Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. "Introducing registered apprenticeship occupations in an industry sector like cybersecurity that has not traditionally employed apprentices will boost the ability of young adults and career switchers to attain in-demand skills and even earn industry certifications and college credits while simultaneously working full time and earning wages. Governor McAuliffe’s commitment to increasing registered apprenticeships in IT and cyber security led to a recent launch of a VDOLI administered program that provides fiscal incentives of up to $1,000 a year for related instruction costs. Companies hiring IT or cybersecurity apprentices are eligible for the incentive.”
 
“These newly approved apprenticeships in cybersecurity will help make Virginia a national leader in cyber education and training,” said Secretary of Education Anne Holton. “Now more than ever, we need to be preparing our students for the jobs of the future, and these apprenticeships will lay a firm foundation for this emerging sector.”
 
“Registered apprenticeship credentials are universally recognized and demonstrate that an employee has mastered skills on the job and in the classroom,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “The value to employers and hardworking Virginians of an apprenticeship credential is why Governor McAuliffe included apprenticeships in his call for 50,000 STEM-H workforce credentials a year by the end of his administration.” 
Read more...

Source: Alexandrianews.org


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Benedictine values remain key to good teaching | St. Cloud Times

This is the opinion of St. John's University President Michael Hemesath.

Story Highlights 

  • Amid debates on pedagogy, don't get swept up by factors such as technology

Photo: Michael Hemesath
St. John's University President Michael Hemesath  writes " Benedict's wisdom about listening, hospitality and community gives educators valuable insights to helping students learn."

Since at least the time of John Dewey, over 100 years ago, there have been debates about educational reform and pedagogy. What are the most effective ways to help students learn? What does the latest educational research say about learning outcomes?


These conversations begin with preschool and continue through graduate school. There is the Montessori Model for children at the preschool level; there are debates about tracking in elementary school; there are self-paced learning and competency-based models; universities offer both large lectures and small seminars. While discussion-based learning is dominant at many liberal arts colleges and most graduate programs, technology has added another dimension to the conversation, with distance learning and flipped classrooms, among other innovations.

At St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict, our faculty are engaged in these conversations as we seek to provide the best possible learning experiences for our students. But there are times I worry that we are overthinking these matters.

During some recent conversations with faculty colleagues, I was reminded that the 1,500-year-old 
Benedictine tradition of our monks and nuns has some wisdom about teaching and education that may not be trendy but has the distinct benefit of being effective.
Read more...

Source: St. Cloud Times


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Women in Tech: Grit and Innovation Pay Off | SiteProNews

"When it comes to the number of female founders of startups, it appears that quality trumps quantity.;" summarizes Mary Ann Azevedo, award-winning journalist based in Austin, Texas. 


The number of startups with a female founder more than quadrupled from 117 in 2009 to 555 in 2014, according to data compiled by CrunchBase. In 2009, 9.5 percent of startups had at least one woman founder, but by 2014 that rate had almost doubled to 18 percent, the same data found.

While that growth is positive, the number of female founders remains relatively low. But what they lack in number, they make up for in innovation and grit.

The Network talked with three female founders about what drove them to start their own company and what it’s taken to be successful.

Sheri Atwood, Founder of SupportPay 
Atwood grew up the child of divorced parents, describing the experience as “horrific” and “as bad as bad could get” with her mom and dad arguing constantly over money.

Atwood herself married at age 19 and found herself going through her own divorce after her daughter was born. She and her ex-husband swore the experience would be amicable but inevitably found themselves arguing about who would pay for expenses such as medical, dance lessons and things like gymnastics.

“It became this constant back and forth,” Atwood recalls, “with one of us asking the other, ‘Where’s my check?’”

A weary Atwood started to research the problem but was unable to find a solution. She did discover that 55 million parents live apart in the U.S. alone, exchanging over $200 billion a year in child support. Globally, those numbers jumped to 450 million parents and $900 million exchanged every year. The conundrum spelled opportunity to Atwood, whose breaking point was when her daughter needed emergency brain surgery.

She began to explore how to use technology to eliminate financial conflicts between divorced parents...

Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, Co-Founders of Roominate
Roominate co-founders Brooks and Chen were friends in graduate school at Stanford, both studying engineering.

The pair noticed they were two of the few women in their classes and tried to understand why.

They realized they had both found inspiration in things they played with as young girls, and began researching just how kids these days were playing.

“We found that most of the toys targeted toward girls didn’t include spatial skills,” Brooks says.

So they created a toy that was already familiar, such as a dollhouse, that could be built with a modular system and Santa Clara-based Roominate was born.

A Kickstarter campaign launched in 2012 hit its $25,000 goal on its fifth day. In the end, the two friends raised about $86,000.

Things were a whirlwind after that. The pair’s award-winning building sets aimed at girls were being sold by major retailers such as Walmart and on Amazon...


Sabari Raja, Co-Founder of Nepris
In 2013, Texan Sabari Raja and friend Binu Thayamkery co-founded Nepris, a startup aimed at engaging more students – especially girls – in STEM.

While working in the education division of Texas Instruments, Raja realized there was a gap between industry and schools.

“I began to examine what is the role of industry in helping to bridge this gap and increase exposure to students,” she said. “It seemed we had a platform for everything such as Match.com and Facebook but no single scalable platform connecting industry and education with the purpose of bringing relevance to students...”

Read more...

Source: SiteProNews


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Amazing analysis of the Brexit with machine learning | Network World

Photo: Mark Gibbs
"MonkeyLearn analyzed thousands of tweets concerning the Brexit and the results are fascinating ... and you can do it, too!" according to Mark Gibbs, author, journalist, and man of mystery. 

Photo: Pixabay

So the UK has just given itself a national headache. Whether you think the Brexit was the right decision or a dangerous and unmitigated screw-up (as I do), the consequences of the referendum will be non-trivial and take years to complete. But the mechanics of the UK exiting the European Union aside, the question of how people now feel about the Brexit is interesting. Are they awash in jubilation or has buyer’s remorse set in? An intriguing post by MonkeyLearn attempts to answer this question by analyzing tweets and, as a bonus, provides tools that you might well find useful for similar exercises.

First, let me explain what MonkeyLearn is: The service defines itself as a “[highly] scalable Machine Learning API to automate text classification.” To use MonkeyLearn you assemble your text data,  train and test a machine learning model with that data, then, using a custom API for your model, have your application code interact with the API to perform analysis and classification of new data. 

You can also provide your data to MonkeyLearn by pasting it into their Web interface or uploading CSV files or Excel spreadsheets.

The beauty of MonkeyLearn’s service is that you don’t need to know much at all about the mechanics of machine learning although there’s still some technology to master to get the best out of the service. Interestingly, you don’t even need to have training data available to create classifiers as MonkeyLearn has more than 100 pre-built classifiers for functions such as classifying retail products from their descriptions, English tweet and product review sentiment analysis, and keyword and entity extraction.
First, we used a python library called tweepy to connect to the Twitter stream and get more than 450,000 tweets that used the hashtag #Brexit.
Afterwards, we filtered these tweets by language using our language classifier and kept only those that were in English (around 250,000 tweets). Then, we analyzed these tweets using MonkeyLearn with some public, pre-trained and ready-to-use machine learning models. We performed sentiment analysis on these tweets to understand if people talking were talking positively, negatively or neutrally about the brexit.
Finally, we wanted to go a step deeper and better understand the different point of views, so we performed keyword extraction on the tweets of the different sentiments we analyzed to know the words or phrases people were using to get a better picture and more context.
It's important to note that the tweets collected were a random sample expressing the sentiments of the Twitter universe rather than just those of people in the UK but the results were interesting all the same. MonkeyLearn found that from a final sample of 133,605 tweets, 47% were classified as positive with (natch) 53% negative which is extremely close to the actual final UK voting results of 48% for and 52% against. If you wanted to specifically measure UK sentiment, you'd have to restrict the analysis to tweets with attached geolocation data.

Source: Network World


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Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem | SundayReview - New York Times

Photo: Kate Crawford
Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft and co-chairwoman of a White House symposium on society and A.I. insist,  "ACCORDING to some prominent voices in the tech world, artificial intelligence presents a looming existential threat to humanity: Warnings by luminaries like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom about “the singularity” — when machines become smarter than humans — have attracted millions of dollars and spawned a multitude of conferences.

Photo: New York Times

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems. Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

Take a small example from last year: Users discovered that Google’s photo app, which applies automatic labels to pictures in digital photo albums, was classifying images of black people as gorillas. Google apologized; it was unintentional.

But similar errors have emerged in Nikon’s camera software, which misread images of Asian people as blinking, and in Hewlett-Packard’s web camera software, which had difficulty recognizing people with dark skin tones.

This is fundamentally a data problem. Algorithms learn by being fed certain images, often chosen by engineers, and the system builds a model of the world based on those images. If a system is trained on photos of people who are overwhelmingly white, it will have a harder time recognizing nonwhite faces.

A very serious example was revealed in an investigation published last month by ProPublica. It found that widely used software that assessed the risk of recidivism in criminals was twice as likely to mistakenly flag black defendants as being at a higher risk of committing future crimes. It was also twice as likely to incorrectly flag white defendants as low risk.

The reason those predictions are so skewed is still unknown, because the company responsible for these algorithms keeps its formulas secret — it’s proprietary information. Judges do rely on machine-driven risk assessments in different ways — some may even discount them entirely — but there is little they can do to understand the logic behind them.
Read more...

Source: New York Times


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At Stanford, experts explore artificial intelligence’s social benefits | Stanford University News

Photo:Tom Abate
Tom Abate, Associate Director of Communications, School of Engineering - External Relations inform, "Experts from Stanford and elsewhere talked about the future of artificial intelligence in society as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit."

Professor Russ Altman, left, and Professor Emeritus Yoav Shoham are members of a study group that will take a very long-term look at artificial intelligence. The two scientists were among the participants in a event looking at artificial intelligence’s social benefits at Stanford on Thursday. 
Photo: Krista Victoria Chew

As artificial intelligence emerges from science fiction to everyday life, the power to shape and direct this world-changing technology remains within society’s reach.

That overarching theme animated a crowd of more than 300 people at a Stanford event Thursday evening. The discussion was titled, “The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Emerging Topics and Societal Benefit.”

The four-hour-long discussion featured 15 speakers from government and academia, and was one of many tech-orients events being held on the Stanford campus this week as part of a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by the United States government. The summit includes a scheduled Friday morning appearance by President Barack Obama.
Photo: Fei-Fei Li

Photo: Russ Altman
The Future of AI panel was co-chaired by Stanford faculty members Russ Altman, a professor of bioengineering and medicine, and Fei-Fei Li, an associate professor of computer science.

Altman opened the event on a lofty note, citing the value that AI would have in his fields of medicine and biological discovery, then became playful in welcoming keynote government speaker Megan Smith, the United States Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“Is that not the coolest job title ever?” Altman quipped.

Smith touched on how government is using artificial intelligence, machine learning and similar techniques in tasks ranging from planning space missions to forecasting job growth. 
But given the potential effects of these technologies on culture and the economy, she said government’s larger challenge is to bring “humanity’s greatest talent” to bear on the development and direction of AI by throwing open the discussion.

“How are we going to make sure we are bringing everyone into this conversation?” Smith asked, previewing an initiative that the White House is expected to formally announce Monday that will offer literally anyone a way to register an opinion or view on this emerging technology.

Li, who followed Smith to the podium, also hit on the theme that AI’s direction would depend on who stands up to computer science. “Will AI become the force of destruction or the hope we have for tomorrow?” she asked rhetorically, saying the answer would depend in part on broadening gender diversity in computer science. “The future of AI is in the hands of those who make AI,” she said.
Read more... 

Additional resources
President Obama touts global innovation at summit at Stanford

Photo: Stanford University
At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit on campus Friday, President Barack Obama discussed how to empower people around the world to foster the kind of innovation characteristic of places like Stanford and the Silicon Valley.

Source: Stanford University News


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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Maths course game changer: Dr Sue Black tells her story at London Tech Week | IDG Connect

Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect notes, "We attend ‘Tech Talent: Developing Our Future’ as part of London Tech Week"

Photo: IDG Connect

“If I’d not had the course at the college who knows where I’d be now,” says Dr Sue Black at this morning’s Stack Overflow event on developing tech talent. 

This was a simple maths course, completed in any hours she could snatch whilst her three young kids were asleep. Yet it was the crucial first step in a prodigious academic career, and tireless community engagement initiatives, which saw her awarded an OBE earlier this year. 

Women in Tech is a trending topic. Back in 2013 we published our own research into the shortage. The findings were nothing short of stark, showing that just under a quarter of male respondents thought the IT gender imbalance was a “good thing”. Since then the issues surrounding this topic have become far more widely publicised. Yet even now it can all get all get a bit shouty and sometimes, ultimately, miss the point. 

This is why Dr Sue Black makes such an excellent role model and her story ought to get as much attention as possible. She provides an outstanding example of an ‘ordinary’ woman who got into tech for pragmatic reasons and through hard work, passion and good humour did genuinely great things. I also can’t help loving the fact she has bright pink hair, laughs about her “rubbish PowerPoint” skills and is completely down to earth. 

‘Tech Talent: Developing Our Future’ by Stack Overflow was hosted at the iMax cinema, near Waterloo, as part of London Tech Week. Aside from Black, it featured Gerard Grech, CEO of TechCity UK who talked about local potential, Melissa Di Donato, AVP of Salesforce’s Wave Analytics Cloud, who was focused on mentoring, and Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Overflow, who was keen to highlight the potential in developers. Black told her own personal story. 

In this she skimmed through a troubled childhood, leaving home at 16, not completing her A-levels and eventually, following the breakdown of an early marriage, finding herself a single mother aged 25 with three young children. That was where the maths course stepped in and paved the way for a degree, a PHD and ultimately a better standard of life for her kids. 

What I like about all this is it isn’t an ideological story about setting out to save the world. It is about a woman who found herself in difficult circumstances, wanted to get out of her Brixton council estate and increase her earning potential. But also, because she was a decent human being, spotted a few social things that needed fixing along the way and had a good old go at doing it. 
Read more...

Source: IDG Connect


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Where are all the women in cybersecurity? | IDG Connect

Photo: Martin Veitch
Martin Veitch, Editorial Director at IDG Connect inform, "Security entrepreneur Jane Frankland is writing a book about getting more women into infosec."


Jane Frankland built a successful UK cybersecurity business at Corsaire in the late 1990s and has held a series of executive and consulting roles. She recently raised crowdfunding to write a book (working title: Women in Cybersecurity: Standard Not Exception) in which she will suggest why only a small, and declining, minority of those working in security are female. The book, currently being researched, is also likely to suggest ways in which we can correct a gender imbalance that is bad enough in ICT generally and might be worse yet in security.

She’s no stranger to uphill tasks though, having made her startup Corsaire into a seven-figure sterling revenue business in the late 1990s, by specialising in high-end penetration testing – and all without Frankland having prior experience of technology.

The lack of women in the infosec sector shocked and still shocks Frankland and it also today seems out of kilter when a skills shortage is so apparent and as cybersecurity has grown as a threat. Also, for Frankland, the benefits of there being more women in IT go beyond the arguments for equal representation and she has an interesting take on why a feminine perspective is so important in security thinking.

“Women think differently to men and see risk in a different way,” she says. “It really comes down to genetics. We’re programmed to give birth so we’re more risk-averse naturally. When we have more diversity we all do better.”

Frankland also believes IT could do with more glamour.

“Many job specs use the language of combat – ‘cyber warrior’, ‘ninja’ and so on - and this does nothing for our industry. It holds us back as it doesn't appeal to most women. Perception is reality. So the thought of being a minority surrounded by middle-aged men or guys dressed in hoodies that obsess about code and malware day-in, day-out isn't terribly appealing to most young women. When 

I started out, security interested me because I thought it was cool - a bit like James Bond. I still think it's cool. In fact, it's cooler than ever!”

She also takes a broader perspective on hiring that goes further than gender.

“If we bring people in who see things in a different way - be they women or creatives - that’s to our benefit. Techies tend to be very detailed as they focus on one thing that's siloed. As a result they can be blindsided. And by being blindsided the chances of missing something increase.

Frankland’s answer to all this is very hands-on. There have of course been many rallying calls and efforts to attract women into IT careers but they have, believes Frankland, been well meaning but disjointed.
Read more...

Additional resources

Stay informed about Frankland’s book 
Why do we need more women in IT? - Freelance technology journalist Alex Cruickshank.

Source: IDG Connect 


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When did globalisation truly begin? | The Star Online

Photo: Andrew Sheng
Tan Sri Andrew Sheng, writes on global affairs from an Asian perspective summarizes, "1492 is associated with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus."  
 
Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By 1498, when Vasco da Gama opened up the sea route via the Cape of Good Hope to Asia via Africa, trade became truly globalised. Prior to 1492, trade between Europe and Asia was dominated by Islamic traders from Spain to Malacca, via the sea route and also overland via Bagdad to China through the Silk Road.  
1492 was an important watershed for globalisation because it also marked the re-conquest of Spain by the Catholic King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castile when the last Islamic fortress of Alhambra in Granada surrendered. That year began the expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain, drawing a line on the Golden Age of Islam (8th to 15th century) when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived for 700 years in Spain, changing the intellectual landscape of Europe.

The rise of the West is commonly associated with the Renaissance (14th to 17th century), sparked by the migration of Greek scholars to Italy after the fall of Constantinople (Istanbul) to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. But the revival of Greek philosophy and science in Europe owed no small measure to Islamic philosophers like Ibn Rusd (Averroes, 1126-1198 AD), scientist Ibn Sina (Avicenna 980-1037 AD) and travellers like Ibn Battuta (1304-1369) who also travelled to Asia and Africa after the journey of Marco Polo (1254-1324 AD) to China.

There is increasing awareness that even though there was considerable trade between Rome and the Indian and China market during the time of Christ, it was essentially Euro-Asian trade.

What was remarkable was that within 100 years of discovery of America, Spain and Portugal had opened up the American and Asian markets, followed quickly by the Dutch and English. Between 1530 to 1670, Europe imported over 255 tonnes of gold and 150,000 tonnes of silver from South America, which enabled Europe to finance its Industrial Revolution.

After 1574, when Manila was founded, silver was shipped in Spanish galleons across the Pacific for transshipment to China in exchange for porcelain, tea and silk. At the same time, the potato and chillies which originated from South America began to change the Asian diet and palate.

The five centuries of globalised trade after 1492 may be divided into roughly two halves. Up to roughly 1750, the Europeans were attracted to the wealth of Asia, particularly India and China. Economic historian Angus Maddison estimated that in 1700, the GDP of Asia (in purchasing power parity basis) was US$214bil (1990 dollars) or nearly 58% of world GDP. China alone accounted for 22% of world GDP. By comparison, Western Europe at that time had an estimated GDP of US$81bil. But once the Europeans had started competitively to carve up colonies in Asia, Africa and Americas, the proceeds of colonisation brought new wealth and new markets. The US farmlands that produced cotton and tobacco could not have taken off without the slave labour imported from Africa.

After two centuries of land grab, the global game changed with the independence of the American colonies in 1776, which caused the English to turn further eastwards to consolidate their empire in India and further along the maritime route to China via the Straits of Malacca.

By 1870, Europe plus America accounted for nearly 54% of world GDP, whereas China’s share had dropped in both absolute and relative terms to US$190bil or 17% of world GDP.
But what was remarkable was the growth of the United States of America. Read more...

Source: The Star Online


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'Programming is problem solving': Local senior conducts STEM camp for girls | The Commercial Dispatch

"Rising Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science senior Mary Lee says technology and computers are pivotal subjects for students to learn and master in order to succeed in the future." writes India Yarborough, a 2015 graduate of Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and a sophomore at Loyola University in New Orleans and interning this summer with The Dispatch.

Camper Mariah Cunningham, 10, programs her robot, seen in the foreground, during a computing camp held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus on Wednesday. Mariah attends Sale Elementary and is the daughter of Melissa and David Cunningham.
Photo: Mary Alice Truitt/Dispatch Staff


Her philosophy and personal experience with computer science inspired Lee to develop and direct a summer computing camp in Columbus for rising third, fourth and fifth grade girls. 

"In anything you do, you need to learn how to deal with technology and computers," she said. "I personally love math. And to me, programming is problem solving." 

Lee welcomed 14 campers Monday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church for the first Bulldog Bytes Aspire IT Day Camp for Girls. The camp teaches programming using "Snap!" programming language and Finch educational robots. It also encourages internet safety through exercises in creating strong passwords and teaching basic aspects of digital forensics. 

Mariah Cunningham, 10, is a rising fifth grader at Sale Elementary. Cunningham said her favorite part of the camp is controlling the Finch robots. She demonstrated her programming skills by using the computer in front of her to make the robot move forward and backward. 

Cunningham said in the future she might like "to make people robots and invent other robots." 

The campers will be able to take their robots home at the end of the camp week, and they have learned about programs they can download to their home computers, allowing them to continue programming and to show their family and friends what they learned. 

Five counselors and staff members assist Lee in making the Bulldog Bytes Day Camp for Girls a reality. 

Camp counselor 
Heather Bostick, 18, will attend Mississippi State University in the fall and major in computer science. An alumna of New Hope High School, Bostick stresses the importance of girls' interaction with a science-, technology-, engineering- and math-based education, or STEM. 

"In computer science, it's very much male-dominated. So in a camp like this, it's really cool that [the campers] see robots are for girls, too," Bostick said. "It's empowering." 

Bostick will also attend a residential Bulldog Bytes computing camp at MSU in July. 

Source: The Commercial Dispatch


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