Random Hacks of Kind is a rapidly growing global initiative encompassing a community of over 5,500 innovators in over 30 countries making the world a better place by developing practical, open source technology solutions to respond to some of the most complex challenges facing humanity. This is done by defining problems, organizing hackathons, and ensuring projects are effectively deployed.
Join us Bangalore at CIS on 1-2 June to hack and on 31 May 7:00 PM to listen to our keynotes at reception.
Our flagship product is a bi-weekly omnibus survey conducted in townships in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. It is constantly carried out by a dedicated team of young and motivated students from these areas using the latest mobile data collection devices. This way we are able to achieve a level of efficiency that allows us to offer unique and cost-effective access to reliable, high-quality data from South Africa’s most dynamic and challenging market. Clients can buy space in the form of once-off questions or for multiple survey cycles (ideal for longitudinal studies). Because of our technological and methodological advantages we are able to address two major concerns associated with face-to-face surveys: time constraints and costs. We offer turn-around times of less than three weeks for a sample size of around 1500 respondents. Our pricing model is based on an affordable fixed price per question regardless of question type and includes all extras such as wording of questions, translations, data cleaning etc. We guarantee transparency and easy data access as clients are able to login to their customised web dashboard anytime during the survey period for monitoring the survey progress (using GPS and Google Maps) in real time.More…
Smart mobile devices are rapidly replacing pen and paper solutions in the survey industry as they guarantee better data quality at lower costs. With our expertise we can assist you with customised surveys of any scale and form, from social research studies in townships using basic cellphones to customer satisfaction polls in shopping malls using iPads. The devices and software at our disposal are highly versatile, allowing us to provide you with solutions for any kind of data entry and management imaginable, for example stocktaking or site inspections. For a more permanent answer to your data needs we help you choosing the right solution to your specific requirements, developing the necessary frameworks and training your staff. We cater to your needs.More…
Hey kids! Forget trying to become a doctor or rapper or a football star, not to mention all the teasing you may get in school for being a nerd — computers are where it’s at.
That’s one message of a new video in which Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and other tech execs urge young people to learn computer programming.
“Learning how to program didn’t start off with wanting to learn all of computer science or trying to master this discipline or anything like that,” Zuckerberg says. “It started off because I wanted to do this one simple thing — I wanted to make something that was fun for myself and my sisters.”
Gates says, “I was 13 when I first got access to a computer. I wrote a program to play tick-tack-toe.”
The five-minute clip, called “What Most Schools Don’t Teach,” was posted online Tuesday by Code.org, a new nonprofit foundation that seeks to cultivate computer science in U.S. school curricula. The foundation argues there is a worldwide shortage of computer programmers but that only 1 in 10 schools in America teach kids how to code.
“Our policy (at Facebook) is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find,” Zuckerberg says. “The whole limit in the system is that there aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.”
The Facebook CEO appears to be passionate about supporting technology and science education. Last week Zuckerberg and a handful of other tech execs announced a $3 million annual prize for researchers doing life-saving work, saying he hoped it would inspire future scientists.
The “What Most Schools Don’t Teach” clip tries to make coding seem accessible and easy for anyone with a basic understanding of math.
“Addition, subtraction, that’s about it,” Gates says with a smile.
“It’s really not unlike playing an instrument, or playing a sport,” says Drew Houston, who created file-sharing site Dropbox. “Even if you want to become a race-car driver, or play baseball, or, you know, build a house — all of these things have been turned upside down by software.”
Also featured in the video are musician Will.i.am and NBA star Chris Bosh, both of whom have taken coding classes.
There’s been much recent hand-wringing in Silicon Valley about how the United States is lagging behind other countries in developing future software engineers. Code.org claims that computer-programming jobs are growing at twice the U.S. national average while less than 2.4% of college students graduate with degrees in computer science — less than 10 years ago.
The video also emphasizes the perks and casual vibe of working at a deep-pocketed tech company, where employees get free food, work barefoot and skateboard around the office.
“The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future,” says Gabe Newell, co-founder of video game developer Valve. “You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.”
The clip already has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube. Code.org hopes to get it shown in schools across the country.
Imagine an Internet where unseen hands curate your entire experience. Where third parties predetermine the news, products and prices you see—even the people you meet. A world where you think you are making choices, but in reality, your options are narrowed and refined until you are left with merely the illusion of control.
This is not far from what is happening today. Thanks to technology that enables Google, Facebook and others to gather information about us and use it to tailor the user experience to our own personal tastes, habits and income, the Internet has become a different place for the rich and for the poor. Most of us have become unwitting actors in an unfolding drama about the tale of two Internets. There is yours and mine, theirs and ours.
Here’s how it works. Advertising currently drives the vast majority of the Internet industry by volume of revenue. Silicon Valley is excellent at founding and funding companies that give you free apps and then collect and sell your data when you use them. For most of the Internet’s short history, the primary goal of this data collection was classic product marketing: for example, advertisers might want to show me Nikes and my wife Manolo Blahniks. But increasingly, data collection is leapfrogging well beyond strict advertising and enabling insurance, medical and other companies to benefit from analyzing your personal, highly detailed “Big Data” record without your knowledge. Based on this analysis, these companies then make decisions about you—including whether you are even worth marketing to at all.
As a result, 99 percent of us live on the wrong side of a one-way mirror, in which the other 1 percent manipulates our experiences. Some laud this trend as “personalization”—which sounds innocuous and fun, evoking the notion that the ads we see might appear in our favorite color schemes. What we are talking about, however, is much deeper and significantly more consequential.
For example, federal regulations make it illegal to discriminate in pricing access to credit based on certain personal attributes. But, as Natasha Singer recently reported in the New York Times, technical advances in mining online and offline data have made it possible to skirt the spirit of the law: companies can simply not make anyoffers to less credit-attractive populations. If you live on the wrong side of the digital tracks, you won’t even see a credit offer from leading lending institutions, and you won’t realize that loans are available to help you with your current personal or professional priorities.
For the past decade, e-commerce sites have altered prices based on your Web habits and personal attributes. What is your geography and your past buying history? How did you arrive at the e-commerce site? What time of day are you visiting? An entire literature has emerged on the ethics, legality and economic promise of pricing optimization. And the field is advancing quickly: last September, Google received a patent on technology that lets a company dynamically price electronic content. For instance, it can push the base price of an e-book up if it determines you are more likely to buy that particular item than an average user; conversely, it can adjust the price down as an incentive if you are judged less likely to purchase. And you won’t even know you are paying more than others for the exact same item.
These blind walls also appear in our digital political lives. As Eli Pariser has observed, the Internet shows us “what it thinks we want to see” by serving up content that matches the hidden profiles created about us based on our daily online interactions. This behind-the-scenes curation reinforces our political points of view through online “echo chambers” that affirm, instead of challenge, what we already believe to be true. As Harvard University scholar Cass Sunstein has written, liberals and conservatives who deliberate questions openly only with people of the same political stripe become more confident and extreme in their views.
Hacks have been popping up all over the place recently. Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, various news organizations. And off-shore oil rigs aren’t to be left out. According to the Houston Chronicle, more than one of the things have been “incapacitated” by malware that can be traced back to the Internet’s most common vices: pirated music and porn.
The Chronicle relays reports from unnamed cybersecurity professionals that indicate there are plenty of cases in which these literal islands of Internet disconnection have been infected, “exposing gaps in security that could pose serious risks to people and the environment.” Conventional Internet isn’t readily available on rigs, but the malware still gets in, sometimes due to satellite downloads, or good old-fashioned USB-drive stashes.
Obviously malware is never a good thing, but experts seem to be worried about infection on rigs in particular as it could lead to something like “a well blowout, explosion, oil spill and lost human lives.” And the whole situation is made worse due to the fact that many rigs, apparently, have little to no standards in place to keep malware at bay. One of the professionals described a situation in the gulf coast this way to the Chronicle: “They literally had a worm that was flooding their network, and they’re out in the middle of the ocean.”
So far there haven’t been any real catastrophic events, and chances are the malware that’s screwing stuff up is just nuance-grade, gumming up the works. But if something was to be directly targeted at the rigs, things could be much worse. Maybe it’s time someone updated that anti-virus software; getting rid of the porn is out of the question. [Houston Chronicle via The Next Web]