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Who will train the next generation of data scientists?

Above: Bloomberg reporter Ellen Huet interviews Jennifer Chayes, a managing director and distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research at an event on June 22, 2017.

While artificial intelligence is a hot topic these days, the industry is facing a key problem: not enough scholars are staying in academia to teach the massive influx of students. It’s a problem that Jennifer Chayes, a managing director and distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research, has seen firsthand while recruiting top researchers away from universities and into her organization.

In her view, professors, like one who she hired away from a post at Stanford University last year, aren’t leaving entirely for the money, since they could work at startups or do consulting on the side while keeping their academic posts. Large companies like Microsoft offer increased pay, but also access to massive amounts of data that gets updated frequently.

It’s an issue because the top-notch researchers who might have been training the next generation of data scientists are leaving, instead. That could slow progress in a field that is critical to the future of computing.

Why ‘every person on the planet’ will need a digital ID

Image Credit: mauro mora/Unsplash

Living in the United States, in a land of (generally) functional government services, we take an awful lot for granted. We expect to be able to board a plane, provide a copy of a driver’s license or employee ID to get into a building, and pay with a credit card. All day, every day, we expect people to trust that we are who we say we are.

That’s a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted. Because for over 1 billion people, what I just described isn’t a day to day reality.

Unlike us, they never had a birth certificate, which means they often couldn’t access basic healthcare or enroll in public education. And unlike us, they were simply unable to get a line of credit or claim their government benefits. These people – 1/6 of the planet — live invisibly.

For these individuals, paper-based identity credentials aren’t much of a solution. Imagine a refugee fleeing from war — stopping at the safety deposit box to pick up a birth certificate isn’t always top of the list. And paper-based credentials can be lost or destroyed, or even worse, may place that refugee directly in harm’s way. Without validation from their country of origin and removed from communities that could provide informal confirmation of identity, displaced people can find themselves without any officially recognized identity at all.

In contrast, digital identity — the set of electronically captured and stored attributes and credentials that can uniquely identify a person — places control in the hands of the individual. If properly designed, digital identity can be portable (retrievable without reliance on a piece of paper), persistent (interoperable across institutions), private (only relevant information needs to be disclosed), and personal (uniquely linked to the individual).

Digital identity would allow some of the most vulnerable people on the planet the power to write their own narrative, accumulate trust, and craft their future.

While the need for digital identity is acutely felt by those with no identification whatsoever, the truth is that this technology would offer benefits to you or I, too. Imagine the headache of opening a new bank account gone because the bank could seamlessly — and critically, without even seeing your private data — know that you were you. Or being able to enter a bar without sharing your address and birthdate (and whatever else is on your ID card); instead, simply sharing, in a manner the bouncer…

A growing wave of tech startups is boosting the UK co-op movement

An increasing number of digital and creative companies are setting up as co-operatives, boosting the UK co-ops scene

The UK co-operative economy is being boosted by a new wave of digital and creative co-ops being set up by young people.

A report released today by Co-operatives UK revealed a 28 per cent increase in the number of startup digital and arts organisations over the past year. The rise accounted for just over 10 per cent of all co-op startups over the 12 months.

Why the surge? Co-ops allow greater freedom to collaborate with other companies and offer a say in how a business is run – a particular lure for younger people – finds the 2017 Co-operative Economy report.

Earlier this year saw the formation of CoTech, a network of 25 UK digital…

Digital organizations face a huge cybersecurity skills gap

Image Credit: Piotr Zajda/Shutterstock

Over the past five years, organizations have become more aware of cybersecurity, and yet DDoS, spear-phishing attacks, botnets, and other attack vectors have continued to get worse. Digital insecurity will continue for the foreseeable future, with the biggest reason being that we don’t have enough well-trained, skilled cybersecurity professionals to go around.

There are a few reasons for this gap.

First, from a hiring perspective, the trickle of security students emerging from post-secondary schools may not be fully prepared to tackle complicated security issues — what we need are people who can protect businesses environments from everything from spam and BYOD vulnerabilities to complex threats like APTs and spear phishing.

Second, certain companies may not know what to look for in a professional.

Third, when skilled professionals are hired, they can often be overworked to the point where they don’t have the time to keep up with the latest developments in the field — and even in their own security tools.

The result is that most positions go unfilled. In fact, according to the Information Audit and Control Association (IACA), about a quarter of all cybersecurity positions are left unfilled for about six months. The IACA study isn’t the only report with these dismal takeaways.

Another study by the Information Systems Security Association and Enterprise Strategy Group, reports that about 70 percent of surveyed organizations say the cybersecurity skills gap has impacted their business, with 54 percent reporting they’ve suffered at least one security event in 2016. Fifty-five percent of respondents also said the lack of skilled workers added to their security team’s workload so much that, in some cases (35 percent), their team couldn’t familiarize themselves with the security tools they use.

These are all systemic issues needing systemic answers that could take years to resolve. Still, these problems need to be addressed, and they won’t be until we change how cybersecurity experts are hired, retained, and educated.

Setting expectations is a good first step. Companies should have a clear understanding of what they need from a security professional and set their expectations accordingly. Typically, this will range from evaluating network and system ecosystems to routinely testing and prodding the companies’ security to establishing protocols and…

The Power of Volunteering

importance of volunteering
importance of volunteering

In the dictionary, volunteering is an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain “to benefit another person, group or organization”.

Volunteering, in the form which we would understand, dates back to 1851. It’s the same creation date of the first YMCA in the United States. During the American civil war, educator Clara Barton and a team of volunteers started to provide clothing, food, and supplies for the sick and wounded servicemen. Barton then formed the American Red Cross in 1851 and began to mobilize volunteers for disaster relief, including supporting the victims of the Johnstown flood in 1889.

Today, volunteering is the backbone of many non-profit organizations across the US. Studies by Volunteering in America have shown that young Americans spent over 3.6 million hours for organizations or causes which they felt passionate about.

If you have never volunteered, you may not know what type of volunteering would be good for you or where you can start on your journey to becoming a volunteer.

There are thousands of potential opportunities that can allow you to share your skills and knowledge or learn something totally new. Volunteering posts vary from fundraising and administration, right through to building new schools or sinking wells overseas.

Now, you might wonder what good volunteering can bring you. It may surprise you that, apart from the feeling of being able to do something good for the wider community, there are a large number of benefits to carrying out volunteer work.

It makes you feel better

Research has shown that taking part in volunteering activities can make you feel better, both in body and mind!

A survey of over 3,000 adults by the UnitedHealth Group found that of those people who had volunteered, 76% said that volunteering made them feel better and 94% stated that volunteering improved their mood and self-esteem. It was found that people who volunteered were able to manage their stress more easily and feel a stronger connection to their community.

So, doing something good can do you some good!

“I love the voluntary work I do now and equally loved the voluntary work I did for the Stroke Association a few years ago. It gives me a purpose, and is good for my mental health.”, said Karla, a volunteer for a number of organizations.

You can learn new skills

When you volunteer, you get the chance to undertake training, learn, and practice a number of new skills. Many of these are soft skills which are skills that you are unlikely to learn from any university. These include communication skills, teamwork and the ability to adapt to any situation.

Working with strangers on a project will help you build a set of skills and earn experiences that will be vital for every part of your life. You will have to create links and communicate, understand objectives and even resolve disputes.

Soft skills are difficult to represent on your resume. You can say you have excellent team building or communication skills, but you won’t be able to prove them on paper. By volunteering, you’ll be able to demonstrate how you gained and used these skills.

See Also: Importance Of Soft Skills: Why Grades Aren’t Enough

You can make new friends

This is one of the importance of volunteering.

In a world of online friendships or as you transition from high school to college, you can lose some real connections. Although it might help to read your friends’ status updates, it doesn’t compare to ‘face to face’ friendships!

Volunteering can help you build new friendships with people from all walks of life. You will be meeting in an environment you both support and care about and will be on a shared journey. The people you meet could…

The Grateful Dead Helps to Save Bees and Butterflies Through Jerry Garcia’s Legacy

Jerry Garcia passed away 22 years ago, but the legacy of the lead singer of the Grateful Dead lives on in a new effort to boost wild honeybee and monarch butterfly populations.

Embarking on a summer tour across America, Dead & Company, the group headed by former Garcia bandmates Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann (with special guest John Mayer), will give fans at each venue a way in which they can help repopulate the winged creatures.

The band will be hosting a charity outreach program in the form of Participation Row: a series of tents dedicated to presenting meaningful causes and organizations. One of the tents will feature the most recent work of the Jerry Garcia Foundation

RELATED: Man Single-handedly Repopulated Butterfly Species in a City Using His Backyard

To encourage butterfly and bee conservation among Deadheads, the Foundation will be passing out free…

Germany votes to end fur farming

Germany leaders vote for a bill that will shut down the country’s remaining fur farms

New legislation will force the closure of fur farms in Germany, reports PETA Germany. A blog post by the animal rights organisation reads: “Germany’s last fur farms will close down after a five-year transition. The new bill demands stricter regulations governing fur farming and will effectively make the raising of minks non-viable for farmers. Fur farming bans and stricter regulations that inevitably cause facilities to close are becoming increasingly widespread.”

The victory is more than 20 years in the making. PETA Germany has lobbied for a ban on fur farms since the organisation was founded in 1994. PETA say that millions of animals around the…

Cutting H-1B Visas Endangers Scientific Progress For Everyone

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President Donald Trump’s recent executive order calling for a sweeping review of the H-1B visa program has raised alarm in STEM-related industries that rely heavily on an international supply of high-skilled labor.

Current policy for H-1B visas, which permit highly skilled foreigners to work in the US temporarily, prohibits employers from undercutting wages or favoring foreign workers over Americans. But the president, along with a sizable bipartisan contingent, claims that the program has enabled private employers, especially those in the tech industry, to flood the labor market and provide temporary training for workers who eventually set up shop abroad. These grievances may be legitimate, but the conversation has largely ignored another industry that depends on the H-1B visa program: academic scientific research.

As a young scientist-in-training, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with and learning from a number of exceptionally gifted scientists from around the world. Many of the breakthroughs and discoveries made in labs where I’ve worked were in large part due to the extraordinary contributions of these foreign-born researchers. While Trump has revealed very little about his plans for reforming the policy, the ambiguity of the announcement and his subsequent silence on the issue have left scientists, both American and foreign-born, in a state of grave uncertainty.

Academic institutions have long relied on an international network from which to source the most successful and talented scientists. This global supply of talent, unrestricted by national boundaries, is critical to the ability of US institutions to compete on a global scale, and this fact is reflected in current policy. While the government caps the number of new H-1B visas awarded to the private sector at 85,000 visas annually, the number of H-1Bs granted to academic and non-profit research institutions is currently unrestricted, demonstrating just how important an unlimited source of international talent is for scientific discovery and innovation. It’s unclear if the Trump administration’s H-1B visa reform will alter or eliminate this protection for…

Raspberry Pi Foundation merges with coding club network CoderDojo

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, the organization behind the micro-computer designed as an easy point of entry for tinkerers and budding programmers, is merging with not-for-profit coding club network CoderDojo.

For the uninitiated, the Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized device that serves as the building blocks for computers, with users able to construct fully working PCs or machines that control their connected home. It has come a long way since its original launch back in 2012, with a third generation model going on sale last February for $35. The Foundation went on to sell more than 10 million of its mini computers, introduced a $130 starter kit, and recently launched a new Wi-Fi-enabled entry-level Raspberry Pi that costs $10.

Founded out of Dublin in 2011, CoderDojo is one of a number of coding club networks designed to teach young people how to code and build apps, games, websites, and more.

Though it kicked off in Ireland, CoderDojo has since gone on…

89% of CIOs are investing more heavily in innovation due to uncertainty

Nine out of 10 chief information officers are investing more heavily in innovation, according to an annual survey by recruitment firm Harvey Nash Group and accounting firm KPMG.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations are adapting their technology strategies in the midst of unprecedented global political and economic uncertainty, the survey found.

More than half of the respondents (52 percent) said they are investing in more nimble technology platforms. It is clear digital strategies have infiltrated businesses across the globe at an entirely new level. The proportion of organizations surveyed that now have enterprise-wide digital strategies increased 52 percent in just two years, and organizations with a chief digital officer have increased 39 percent over last year.

“From an organizational and cultural perspective, the CIO is now faced with a full transformation to digital, enterprise-wide,” said Harvey Nash president and CEO Bob Miano in a statement. “Digital is without question the CIO’s priority, but especially for legacy organizations, leading this change to a complete, unified digital strategy is top of mind. CIOs are responding by tackling this head-on with innovation and agility.”

To deal with that change, companies are increasing their demand for enterprise architects — the fastest growing technology skill this year, up 26 percent compared to 2016.

Cybersecurity vulnerability — as demonstrated by the latest ransomware case — is at an all-time high, with a third of IT leaders (32 percent) reporting their organization had been subject to a major cyberattack…