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AI

Billionaire Jack Ma Says CEOs Could Be Robots in 30 Years, Warns of Decades of 'Pain' From AI (cnbc.com) 282

Self-made billionaire, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma warned on Monday that society could see decades of pain thanks to disruption caused by the internet and new technologies to different areas of the economy. From a report: In a speech at a China Entrepreneur Club event, the billionaire urged governments to bring in education reform and outlined how humans need to work with machines. "In the coming 30 years, the world's pain will be much more than happiness, because there are many more problems that we have come across," Ma said in Chinese, speaking about potential job disruptions caused by technology. [...] Ma also spoke about the rise of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and said that this technology will be needed to process the large amount of data being generated today, something that a human brain can't do. But machines shouldn't replace what humans can do, Ma said, but instead the technology community needs to look at making machines do what humans cannot. This would make the machine a "human partner" rather than an opponent.
Education

Pioneering Researchers Track Sudden Learning 'Epiphanies' (sciencedaily.com) 30

wisebabo quotes Science Daily: Until now, researchers had not had a good way to study how people actually experienced what is called "epiphany learning." In new research, scientists at The Ohio State University used eye-tracking and pupil dilation technology to see what happens as people figured out how to win a strategy game on a computer. "We could see our study participants figuring out the solution through their eye movements as they considered their options," said Ian Krajbich, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology and economics at Ohio State. "We could predict they were about to have an epiphany before they even knew it was coming."
The original submission suggests, "This might be useful to determine when you are trying to teach a difficult subject to someone who you're afraid might be inclined to just nod their head. Or maybe this is how the Voight-Kampff test works. (Are you a replicant?)"
Education

Slashdot Asks: What Was Your First Programming Language? (stanforddaily.com) 625

This question was inspired by news that Stanford's computer science professor Eric Roberts will try JavaScript instead of Java in a new version of the college's introductory computer programming course. The Stanford Daily reports: When Roberts came to Stanford in 1990, CS106A was still taught in Pascal, a programming language he described as not "clean." The department adopted the C language in 1992. When Java came out in 1995, the computer science faculty was excited to transition to the new language. Roberts wrote the textbooks, worked with other faculty members to restructure the course and assignments and introduced Java at Stanford in 2002... "Java had stabilized," Roberts said. "It was clear that many universities were going in that direction. It's 2017 now, and Java is showing its age." According to Roberts, Java was intended early on as "the language of the Internet". But now, more than a decade after the transition to Java, Javascript has taken its place as a web language.
In 2014 Python and Java were the two most commonly-taught languages at America's top universities, according to an analysis published by the Communications of the ACM. And Java still remains the most-commonly taught language in a university setting, according to a poll by the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education. In a spreadsheet compiling the results, "Python appears 60 times, C++ 54 times, Java 84 times, and JavaScript 28 times," writes a computing professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, adding "if Java is dying (or "showing its age"...) it's going out as the reigning champ."

I'm guessing Slashdot's readers have their own opinions about this, so share your educational experiences in the comments. What was your first programming language?
Cloud

Leaked Document Sheds Light On Microsoft's Chromebook Rival (windowscentral.com) 91

Microsoft has announced plans to host an event next month where it is expected to unveil Windows 10 Cloud operating system. Microsoft will be positioning the new OS as a competitor to Chrome OS, according to several reports. Windows Central has obtained an internal document which sheds light on the kind of devices that will be running Windows 10 Cloud. The hardware requirement that Microsoft has set for third-party OEMs is as follows: 1. Quad-core (Celeron or better) processor.
2. 4GB of RAM.
3. 32GB of storage (64GB for 64-bit). 4. A battery larger than 40 WHr.
5. Fast eMMC or solid state drive (SSD) for storage technology.
6. Pen and touch (optional).
The report adds that Microsoft wants these laptops to offer over 10-hour of battery life, and the "cold boot" should not take longer than 20 seconds.
The Internet

Trump's FCC Votes To Allow Broadband Rate Hikes Will Deprive More Public Schools From Getting Internet Access (theoutline.com) 256

The FCC voted on Thursday to approve a controversial plan to deregulate the $45 billion market for business-to-business broadband, also known as Business Data Services (BDS), by eliminating price caps that make internet access more affordable for thousands of small businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals. The Outline adds: The price caps were designed to keep phone and, later, broadband, access cheap for community institutions like schools, hospitals, libraries, and small businesses. Now, there will be no limit. A spokesperson for the trade association Incompas, which advocates for competition among communications providers, told The Outline that the increase is expected to be at least 25 percent across the board. Low-income schools already don't have enough money; according to a report last year in The Atlantic, schools in high-poverty districts, where the property taxes are lower, spend 15.6 percent less per student than schools in low-poverty districts. If internet costs go up by 25 percent, it may make more sense to cut that budget item, or, for schools that still don't have internet, never add it at all. Add it to the list of things that well-funded schools in already-rich neighborhoods get that schools in low-income neighborhoods don't. New textbooks. Gyms. Advanced Placement classes that let students earn college credits. Computers. Internet access.
Businesses

No, Millennials Aren't a Bunch of Job-Hopping Flakes (fastcompany.com) 214

From a report: Today, Pew researchers published findings that refute yet another stereotype about millennials that actual millennials find infuriating: the idea that they're job-hopping more often than other generations. According to Pew's analysis of recent government data, "college-educated millennials are sticking with their jobs longer than their Gen X counterparts."
Education

States Are Moving To Cut College Costs By Introducing Open-Source Textbooks (qz.com) 123

In an effort to curb the rising cost of textbooks, which went up by 88% between 2006 and 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland and New York have announced initiatives that adopt open-source, copyright-free textbooks. The initiatives will reward colleges who adapt or scale the use of OER (open educational resources) -- "materials like electronic textbooks that typically use licenses that are far less restrictive than traditional, copyrighted textbooks," reports Quartz. From the report: The University System of Maryland recently announced that it would be giving out 21 "mini-grants" to seven community colleges and five public four-year schools. The grants will go to "faculty who are adopting, adapting or scaling the use of OER [open educational resources] in Fall 2017 through high-enrollment courses where quality OER exists," according to the announcement. Although the mini-grants are only $500 to $2,500 each, the effort in Maryland is expected to save 8,000 students up to $1.3 million in the Fall 2017 semester alone. That's a significant amount, but just a drop in the bucket of what students in the state spend on textbooks each year. Another big investment in open educational resources came in the budget passed in New York state last week. The news was somewhat buried by the fact that the budget includes free tuition for New York students whose families make up to $125,000 a year, but the state will also be putting $8 million into open source materials over the next fiscal year.
Education

TED Wants To Remind Us That Ideas -- Not Politicians -- Shape the Future (qz.com) 262

An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: Amid global political upheavals, TED curator Chris Anderson argues that ideas have never mattered more. "Ideas changes how people act and [shape] their long term perspective," he said in during a April 17 press briefing. "Politicians come and go and ideas are forever." He said TED -- two segments of which will be broadcast live in movie theaters this year -- wants to re-introduce civility into political discourse. "We want to avoid the zero sum game we see on cable television every day," said Anderson, noting that TED is a non-partisan organization and has historically featured controversial and intriguing thinkers from both sides of the political divide. In place of the shrill, headline-bait tenor of political spectacles, TED wants to take viewers to a place of "reasoned discourse" where big ideas can act as a bridge between opposing views. By creating an eclectic program -- including an entire session delivered in Spanish and another on artificial intelligence -- Anderson said he wants to steer the conversation away from government and politics. "With so much focus in politics, the world is in danger of forgetting that so much of what really changes the future happens outside completely of politics. It happens inside the mind of dreamers, designers, inventors, technologists, entrepreneurs," he said.
Education

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork Apps for Mac and iOS Free for All Users (macrumors.com) 65

Apple today updated several of its Mac and iOS apps, making them available for all Mac and iOS users for free. From a report: iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and GarageBand for both Mac and iOS devices have been updated and are now listed in the App Store for free. Previously, all of these apps were provided for free to customers who purchased a new Mac or iOS device, but now that purchase is not required to get the software. Many Apple customers were already likely eligible to download the software at no cost if they had made a device purchase in the last few years.
United States

Steve Ballmer's New Project: Find Out How the Government Spends Your Money (theverge.com) 249

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't satisfied with owning the Los Angeles Clippers and teaching at Stanford and USC. On Tuesday, the billionaire announced USAFacts, his new startup that aims to improve political discourse by making government financial data easier to access. A small "army" of economists, professors and other professionals will be looking into and publishing data structured similarly to the 10-K filings companies issue each year -- expenses, revenues and key metrics pulled from dozens of government data sources and compiled into a single massive collection of tables. From a report on The Verge: The nonpartisan site traces $5.4 trillion in government spending under four categories derived from language in the US Constitution. Defense spending, for example, is categorized under the header "provide for the common defense," while education spending is under "secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity." Spending allocation and revenue sources are each mapped out in blue and pink graphics, with detailed breakdowns along federal, state and local lines. Users can also search for specific datasets, such as airport revenue or crime rates, and the site includes a report of "risk factors" that could inhibit economic growth. The New York Times has the story on how this startup came to be.
Cloud

Microsoft's Rumored CloudBook Could Be Your Next Cheap Computer (venturebeat.com) 206

An anonymous reader shares a report: In a few weeks, at its education-oriented software and hardware event in New York, Microsoft could unveil a sub-premium laptop -- something more robust than a Surface but not as fancy as a Surface Book. And rather than run good old Windows 10, the new product could run something called Windows 10 Cloud, which reportedly will only be able to run apps that you can find in the Windows Store, unless you change a certain preference in Settings. The idea is that this will keep your device more secure. However, that does mean you won't be able to use certain apps that aren't in the Store -- like Steam -- on a Windows 10 Cloud device, such as the rumored CloudBook. Microsoft is going after Google's Chromebooks that are very popular in the education space -- so much so that they are playing an instrumental role in keeping the entire PC shipments up.
Education

Maryland Awards 21 Grants To Prepare 'Open Source' Textbooks (usmd.edu) 98

"The University System of Maryland has awarded 21 "mini grants" to university faculty to "help them expand open education resources," reports OpenSource.com. Recipients of the grants are also given time off to prepare courses that use open textbooks, and will receive personalized support and training on effective course design. An anonymous reader writes: "Although our faculty view textbooks as essential, some of our students see them as a luxury they cannot afford," said Community College of Baltimore County President Sandra Kurtinitis. "Having access to open educational resources will provide some financial relief for our students as well as contribute to their academic success." The cost of textbooks has risen 812% since 1978, the school system said in an announcement, "outpacing even the cost of medical services and new housing. Nationally, students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks."

The Maryland Open Source Textbook initiative started in 2013 "to provide a state-wide opportunity for faculty to explore the promise of open education resources to reduce students' cost of attendance while maintaining, or perhaps even improving, learning outcomes." Since then it's helped replace traditional textbooks in over 60 different courses at 14 public institutions across the state, resulting in a cumulative cost savings of over $1 million for 3,500 students. "In addition to saving students money, faculty have gained the ability to adapt and customize their instructional materials to ensure they are aligned with their pedagogical methods to best meet their students' needs," the school system reports. "In follow up surveys with students participating in the MOST initiative, 93% reported that the open educational resource content they used was the same or better quality than traditional textbooks."

Education

New Research Says Starting University Classes at 11am or Later Would Improve Learning (qz.com) 178

Using a sample of first- and second-year college students at the University of Nevada-Reno in the US and Britain's Open University, a group of researchers analyzed students' cognitive performance throughout the day and found that the best learning happened in classes that began later in the morning. From a report: Since every person's chronotype, or sleep pattern, is slightly different, there isn't one universal start time to benefit everyone -- but according to students' survey responses as well as theoretical data on circadian rhythms parsed by the researchers, starting classes at 11am or later benefits the greatest number of students. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience this week, bolsters prior research indicating that teenagers learn better with late starts; it also extends the studied age group from high school students to college sophomores and freshmen.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Should You Launch A Software Startup? (theguardian.com) 140

Slashdot reader ben-hnb is a developer who loves the idea of running a startup, or being one of the ones who got in early. But how exactly does he get there? I've got no "business" experience. Everyone seems to want to get on the startup incubator train -- the latest U.K. model I've seen, Launchpad, would even train (MA!) and support me financially for a year while developing the initial product. This just one in a long list of different models, from the famous Y-Combinator three-month model to the 500 Startups four-month seed program and simple co-working spaces with a bit of help, like Launch 22.

If you wanted to get a startup going, where would you go to first and why? Or would you just strike out in your bedroom/garage?

Leave your best answers in the comments. How would you launch a software startup?
Programming

Eric S. Raymond Unveils New List Of 'Hacker Archetypes' (ibiblio.org) 116

An anonymous reader writes: Open source guru Eric S. Raymond has announced public brainstorming on a "gallery of hacker archetypes to help motivate newbies" by defining several different psychologies commonly found among programmers. He's unveiled an initial list developed with a friend, along with some interesting commentary. (Algorithmicists often have poor social skills and "a tendency to fail by excessive cleverness. Never let them manage anyone!")

Raymond cautions that "No hacker is only one of these" -- though apparently most of the hackers he knows appear to be two of them, "an indication that we are, even if imperfectly, zeroing in on real traits." But the blog post ends by asking "What archetypes, if any, are we missing?"

It'll be interesting to see if Slashdot readers if they recognize themselves in any of the archetypes. But the blog post also answers the inevitable question. What archetype is Eric S. Raymond?

"Mostly Architect with a side of Algorithmicist and a touch of Jack-of-All-Trades."
Bug

IRS Warns Tax Info Leaked By US Financial Aid Site (cnn.com) 21

"Hackers accessed the data of up to 100,000 people through a tool that helps students get financial aid," writes CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday that a breach had been discovered in the fall. In September, he said, his agency discovered that fraudsters could use someone's personal data to fill out a financial aid application, and the "Data Retrieval Tool" would populate the application with tax information. That information could be used to file false tax returns. The commissioner said fewer than 8,000 of these returns were processed, and refunds were issued totaling $30 million...

In October, the IRS told the Department of Education that the system could be abused by criminals, but because up to 15 million people use the system for convenience, they kept it available. However, in February, the agency witnessed a pattern of fraudulent activity, and it shut down the automated tool in March.

Now financial aid seekers will have to manually enter their parents' reported income from previous tax years -- at least until a new version of the tool comes online next October. In the meantime, the IRS is alerting 100,000 users who started an application but didn't finish it, warning them that their tax information may have been compromised.
Education

Tearing Down Science's Citation Paywall, One Link at a Time (wired.com) 50

Citations play an incredibly important role in academia. To scientists, citations are currency. Citations establish credibility, and determine the impact of a given paper, researcher, and institution. However, the system of how citations work is crippled with a problem. Over the last few decades, only researchers with subscriptions to two proprietary databases, Web of Science and Scopus, have been able to track citation records and measure the influence of a given article or scientific idea. This isn't just a problem for scientists trying to get their resumes noticed; a citation trail tells the general public how it knows what it knows, each link a breadcrumb back to a foundational idea about how the world works, reads an article on Wired. The article adds: On Thursday, a coalition of open data advocates, universities, and 29 journal publishers announced the Initiative for Open Citations with a commitment to make citation data easily available to anyone at no cost (alternative source). "This is the first time we have something at this scale open to the public with no copyright restrictions," says Dario Taraborelli, head of research at the Wikimedia Foundation, a founding member of the initiative. "Our long-term vision is to create a clearinghouse of data that can be used by anyone, not just scientists, and not just institutions that can afford licenses." Here's how it works: When a researcher publishes a paper, the journal registers it with Crossref, a nonprofit you can think of as a database linking millions of articles. The journal also bundles those links with unique identifying metadata like author, title, page number of print edition, and who funded the research. All of the major publishers started doing this when Crossref launched in 2000. But most of them held the reference data -- the information detailing who cited whom and where -- under strict copyright restrictions. Accessing it meant paying tens of thousands of dollars in subscription fees to the companies that own Web of Science or Scopus. Historically, just 1 percent of publications using Crossref made references freely available. Six months after the Initiative for Open Citations started convincing publishers to open up their licensing agreements, that figure is approaching 40 percent, with around 14 million citation links already indexed and ready for anyone to use. The group hopes to maintain a similar trajectory through the year.
Businesses

Why More Tech Companies Are Hiring People Without Degrees (fastcompany.com) 329

An anonymous reader writes: According to a recent article on Fast Company, tech companies are looking to hire people without degrees. From the report: "For years, the tech pipeline has been fed mostly from the same elite universities. This has created a feedback loop of talent and a largely homogenous workplace. As a result, tech continues to stumble when it comes to diversity. The technology industry is now trying to figure out a way to attack its cultural and demographic homogeneity issues. One simple initiative is to begin to recruit talent from people outside of its preferred networks. One way is to extend their recruiting efforts to people who don't have four-year degrees. The technology industry is now trying to figure out a way to attack its cultural and demographic homogeneity issues. One simple initiative is to begin to recruit talent from people outside of its preferred networks. One way is to extend their recruiting efforts to people who don't have four-year degrees. IBM's head of talent organization, Sam Ladah, calls this sort of initiative a focus on 'new-collar jobs.' The idea, he says, is to look toward different applicant pools to find new talent. 'We consider them based on their skills,' he says, and don't take into account their educational background. This includes applicants who didn't get a four-year degree but have proven their technical knowledge in other ways. Some have technical certifications, and others have enrolled in other skills programs. 'We've been very successful in hiring from [coding] bootcamps,' says Ladah. Intel has also been looking to find talent from other educational avenues. One program gave people either enrolled in or recently graduated from community colleges internships with the company. Similarly, the company has been trying to get a foothold in high schools by funding initiatives to boost computer science curricula for both the Oakland Unified School District and an Arizona-based high-school oriented program called Next Generation of Native American Coders. Intel, for example, invests in the program CODE 2040, which aims to build pathways for underrepresented minority youth to enter the technology space. Likewise, GitHub has partnered with coding-focused enrichment programs like Operation Code, Hackbright, and Code Tenderloin."
Education

Student Loan Debt Has Nearly Tripled (npr.org) 364

An anonymous reader shares a report: Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That's up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that report, out this week, the New York Fed took a careful look at the relationship between debt and homeownership. For people aged 30 to 36, the analysis shows having any student debt significantly hurts your chances of buying a home, compared to college graduates with no debt. The cliche of "good debt" notwithstanding, the consequences of borrowing are real, and they are lasting. The report paints a mixed picture of how student borrowing has evolved over the last decade, since the financial crisis. There are some bright spots: For example, student loan defaults peaked five years ago and have declined ever since. And repayment seems to have slowed down among high-balance borrowers -- those who owe $75,000 or more. Meaning, after 10 years, they have paid down only one-quarter to one-third of what they owe.
Education

'Grammar Vigilante' Secretly Corrects Bristol Street Signs (irishtimes.com) 158

An anonymous reader shares a report: A self-confessed "grammar vigilante" has been secretly correcting bad punctuation on street signs and shop fronts in Bristol for more than a decade. The anonymous crusader carries out his work in the dead of night using the "Apostrophiser" -- a long-handled tool he created to reach the highest signs. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC that correcting rogue apostrophes is his speciality.

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