In the News 15.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 15.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 15.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 15.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How Google Took Over the Classroom


CHICAGO — The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill.

In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop. They opened Google Classroom, an app where teachers make assignments. Then they clicked on Google Docs, a writing program, and began composing essays.

Looking up from her laptop, Masuma Khan, then 11 years old, said her essay explored how schooling in ancient Athens differed from her own. “Back then, they had wooden tablets and they had to take all of their notes on it,” she said. “Nowadays, we can just do it in Google Docs.”

Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, with about 381,000 students, is at the forefront of a profound shift in American education: the Googlification of the classroom.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

How To Escape The Online Spies


Nobody likes being spied on. When you’re innocently browsing the web, it’s deeply unpleasant to think that faceless technology corporations are monitoring and recording your every move.

While such data collection is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s all right. There are plenty of things you might prefer to keep to yourself, such as your income, your sexuality, your political views or your membership of the Yoko Ono fanclub. For an indication of what can be inferred from your online habits, take a look at the Apply Magic Sauce tool produced by Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, which produces a profile of your personality based on Facebook and Twitter data.

And while you might console yourself with the knowledge that all of this information is mostly used for targeting ads, that might not be the case for much longer. The internet giants are building up ever more detailed user profiles – and finding new ways to exploit that information. In the Observer, Carole Cadwalladr’s ongoing investigation has highlighted how analytic techniques were used in the recent EU referendum to target and craft messages to groups of persuadable voters based on psychological insights gleaned from online data.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

How Vladimir Putin Mastered The Art of ‘Online Judo’ – and Why the West Should be Worried


Vladimir Putin has, for much of his life, been a practitioner of the martial art of judo. Rather than attack an opponent, the trick in judo is to leverage your strength to throw them off-balance. This allows a weaker opponent to defeat a stronger adversary.

In April 2014, Putin told an audience in St Petersburg that the internet was a “CIA project”. His claim reflected a deeply-held belief among Russia’s elite that the internet was a threat to their grip on power – a tool of subversion created to spread western values. But today, it is not Russia that is on the defensive but the west which is reeling on the mat, its own digital strength turned against it. Russia has learnt to effectively marshal technology – in domestic control, in espionage, in sabotage and in a new type of warfare. The internet may not really be a CIA project, but some of its champions in Silicon Valley did believe that it would change the world. And Russia’s mastery raises a difficult question for them: what if everything you have been told about how the internet was going to be a harbinger of liberation is wrong?

Read the rest of this article at Wired

Welcome to Twin Falls

Celestin Nkurunziza, 27, a Congolese refugee, milks  cows.

Main Street in downtown Twin Falls, Idaho, stretches three blocks, lined with thrift stores and shuttered storefronts. And yet the area’s industry is thriving. Ten miles away, Chobani operates one of the world’s largest yogurt-processing plants. Clif Bar recently opened a 300,000-square-foot bakery. The region’s more than 300 dairy farms make Idaho the nation’s third-greatest dairy producer, after California and Wisconsin. Statewide, unemployment sits at 3.6 percent, well below the national average of 4.7 percent.

According to the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, 85 to 90 percent of dairy workers are foreign-born, and since 1993, farmers have turned to the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Center for labor. In 2016, Twin Falls, population 47,000, resettled more than 300 refugees, most from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also from Burma, Eritrea, Sudan, and Iraq. Because there is no public transportation and little street culture, they are seldom visible. They experience America in cheap apartments, roadhouse kitchens, laundry rooms, and dairy barns.

Read the rest of this article at The California Sunday Magazine

The Body and Us


What is the function of the body in consciousness? Am I my body, or my brain, or a part of my brain? Could I ever exist separately from my body, my consciousness downloaded in a computer, for example, or received into heaven?

So far my dialogues with Riccardo Manzotti have presented two sharply contrasting accounts of consciousness. The standard “internalist” view assumes that conscious perceptions are representations generated by the brain’s neurons in response to input from the world without. The radical externalist view—the Mind-Object Theory—put forward by Riccardo suggests that our experience, or perception, is the object perceived. There is no internal representation; body and brain are simply the conditions that allow the world as we know it to manifest itself as it does. And we are the world we experience. Or to put it another way, your experience is you.

Both approaches have enormous implications for a theory of mind. The internalist view tends to align with traditional ideas of the self as an entity located or centered in the head. Though this subject, or self, is obviously dependent on the body for its existence, the internalist model nevertheless holds out the hope that, once mapped and fully understood, the brain could be copied, or its hugely complex electronic and chemical patterning downloaded onto some other “hardware” that would then make the subject, the self, immortal. In short, the dominant internalist position, though differing from the Christian and Cartesian position in being entirely materialist, nevertheless allows us to go on thinking of ourselves as at least potentially separate from the world around us where all is in flux.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Review of Books


P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @janicejoostemaa; @margarita_karenko; @stephaniewatts