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Study Opportunities' Blog

Self driving cars and morality

It finally happened. It was only a matter of time. A self-driving car has collided with and killed a pedestrian. The car belonged to Uber and Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars off the road whilst the incident is being investigated.

Motherboard has a fascinating article on the hard decisions that have to be made when planning and coding the decisions that a self driving car has to make regarding safety and who gets hurt / who dies. This is a great read - and a really great topic for a class discussion / debate. This is an issue which is going to feature prominently in your learner's lives.

You can read about the incident itself here.

The Facebook drama continues...

Facebook is dealing with a massive backlash from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal mentioned in last week's blog. There is a concerted DeleteFacebook campaign complete with hashtag and all. Elon Musk removed the Tesla and SpaceX presence from Facebook. Vox has an interesting article that details 'The Case against Facebook' - taking it far beyond data breaches. CNN AMP points out that no matter how much he promises and how much he wants to, Zuckerberg cannot control or fix Facebook (and he knows it). It's become a monster beyond its creator's control.

It's so bad even their own investors are suing them.

Meanwhile Boing Boing says : Facebook, ShmaisBook --- you should see what your ISP is doing with your data!



Human Error

This week the SA Post Office web presence did not exist - because someone did not pay the R125 domain renewal fee....!!!!

Amazing Graphics

Meet Siren.

What's really special about Siren is that she is rendered in real time from a motion captured human using the Unreal gaming engine - and a PC with multiple graphics cards.

The video below shows a fish-man (actually Andy Serkis) created with the same technology.

This shows where 3D graphics and video are headed. Soon you will really not be able to distinguish virtual from reality.

World's smallest computer.

The older ones amongst you (those who saw the first PCs in the 90's) pay attention. That clunking desktop computer that you paid an arm and a leg for.. well it is now the size of a grain of salt and cost $0.20. IBM just announced the product and sees it as the ideal way to embed computing power in everything.

Left: 64 motherboards with two tiny computers in the top-left corner. Right: The tiny computer, mounted to a motherboard, atop a pile of salt.

Image: IBM

Mashable has the details.

That's it for this week. Holidays soon!


Rio scales up Cybercrime for Olympics

If your learners need proof that Cybercrime is an industry - and an increasing threat to the general public - CSOOnline.com has an article on how malicious URLs (fake web sites for phishing, hacking, etc) have grown by 83% in preparation for the Olympics that start today. The New York Post has a more detailed article on the topic. A general prediction is that attempts to breach the cyber security of the event itself will be four times greater than the 165 million attacks recorded during the 2012 Olympics in London. Tripwire.com has some common sense tips to avoid being scammed / hacked whilst visiting the Olympics.

This might be a great opportunity for a task on Cybercrime for your class - a lot of information is available and you can easily break them up into groups and get them to do things such as:

  • Create an informative glossary of cyber crime terms for Olympic spectators
  • Create a few plausible phishing sites and a guide on how to identify them
  • Write an expose on how prevalent Cybercrime is in Brazil and how poorly it is policed
  • Write a short story entering on an Olympic spectator's experience with cybercrime
  • Create posters that could be put up to warn users of the dangers of free wifi
  • Make a short informative video / animation warning people about what to look out for on the streets of Rio

Phones, Security, Fingerprints and 3D Printers

Earlier this year we saw the whole drama about the FBI trying to force Apple to unlock a phone used by a terrorist. Now police in Michigan needed to unlock the phone of a murder victim to search for clues to the identity of the murderer. They managed to make a 3D scan of the victim's fingerprints and then create a 3D print of the fingerprints good enough to unlock his Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. Read about it here at qz.com.

Australia is changing its longitude and latitude

We all know the earth moves. That's why there are earthquakes. Well, tectonic shifts mean that Australia moves around 7 cm per year. Overall Australia has moved around 1.5m since 1994. That's a problem - for GPS and self driving vehicles. An error of 1.5m is large when you are trying to keep a car on the road.Officially changing the longitude and latitude fixes this problem. It is also a problem for some even more commonly used self-driving tech: farm equipment! Check out this article at CNet for some insight into tech and farming. There's a great video showcasing some of the tech built into John Deere farm equipment that should awe your learners too!

An illustration of Global Warming in action

If you have been paying attention to the news you will know that the world has just completed a streak of 14 months of record average temperatures - a streak that shows no sign of stopping in the near future. This article from the Washington Post contains some animated graphs worth looking at (and showing to your learners).

That's all for this week. Happy teaching!

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