Amazon Employees Ask Bezos To Stop Selling Facial Recognition To Cops – Thomas Fox-Brewster

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Amazon employees have written a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos in which they ask the company to stop selling its facial recognition tool to American law enforcement.

The tech giant’s sales to U.S. cops were revealed by an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigation earlier this month, as it emerged Amazon Web Services’ Rekognition tool was shipped to police in Florida and Oregon. The cost of the tool was also revealed to be remarkably low, as evidenced by a Forbes test of the product, in which a facial recognition project was set up for free across the publication’s Jersey City and London offices.

In a letter posted to an internal forum, first revealed by The Hill and published in full by Gizmodo, some employees expressed the same concerns as the ACLU about the power of Amazon’s Recognition being abused by American officers. The letter also called on Amazon to cease providing computing infrastructure to Palantir, the Peter Thiel-backed surveillance company, over concerns about the company’s work with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department that’s been caught up in the furor over the forced separation of children from their parents at the border.

“Our company should not be in the surveillance business; we should not be in the policing business; we should not be in the business of supporting those who monitor and oppress marginalized populations,” the letter, signed off by “Amazonians,” read.

“We refuse to build the platform that powers ICE, and we refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights.

“As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used.”

 Employee activism is alive

It comes after a recent spate of protests across workforces in Silicon Valley about tech giants’ work with the U.S. government. As uncovered by Gizmodo’s Kate Conger, Google employees were up in arms about the company’s work with the Pentagon on an artificial-intelligence-powered drone footage analysis initiative known as Maven. Google subsequently decided to stop working on the project.

Microsoft staff this week called on the company to cease working with ICE. While CEO Satya Nadella slammed the practice of separating children and parents, he said the company was not providing any tech aiding in ICE’s work on separating families.

Palantir, which The Intercept last year revealed provides a $20 million Investigative Case Management service for ICE, has not responded to Forbes’ request for comment on its work for the immigration department. Recent contracts show Palantir received $250,000 from ICE this month and $12.2 million in May 2017, among many other orders.

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Empathy Will Help The World Change Course on Climate Change – Eco Business

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Small actions can have a big impact and individuals must believe in their ability to make a difference in the fight against climate change, said experts at the launch of Eco-Business’ film and photography exhibition this week.

“The government cannot tackle climate change alone. We need industry, households and individuals to play active roles. This is why we designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action—to raise awareness on climate change, and to spur collective action,” said Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, who was attending the official opening.

Bringing about a better understanding of climate change and spurring the public to take action is exactly what the exhibition Changing Course aims to do. The exhibition features photos and a short documentary about Antarctica created and curated by Eco-Business managing director Jessica Cheam and Scottish documentarian Fraser Morton.

They are a visual record of the duo’s experiences as part of the ClimateForce: Antarctica 2018 expedition in March, which was led by British environmentalist Sir Robert Swan. Part of Eco-Business’ year-long Changing Course campaign, the exhibition seeks to help the public understand the relationship between Antarctica and Asia.

Earth’s only uninhabited continent holds 90 per cent of the world’s freshwater, but is heating up faster than anywhere else due to climate change. Melting glaciers could flood coastal cities such as Jakarta and Shanghai by the end of the century if global warming is not stopped.

Photos and documentary From Asia to Antarctia are on display at the Green Pavilion in the Singapore Botanic Gardens until 12 July, with satellite exhibitions at the Marina Barrage and OCBC bank branches.

Empathy and social change

The launch also celebrated United Nations World Environment Day, held on 5 June every year, with plenary dialogue ‘From apathy to action: How to shape the climate conversation’.

Speakers emphasised the need for empathy to combat indifference towards climate change, and the possibility for a single person to make an impact.

Olam Group’s global head of corporate finance, Srinivasan Ventika Padmanabhan told the audience that empathy resides in every human being as does the capacity to take action. “We can create and make a change as long as we believe that we need to make a change,” he said.

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Michael Maniates, professor of social science and founding head of studies of Environmental Studies, Yale-NUS College, highlighted the power of just a small number of people getting together to think strategically, question the status quo and move social systems.

“Many students believe that nothing can happen until you have 60, 70, 80 per cent of people buying in to an idea. And that is a real prescription for cynicism and despair, because you never get that [realistically],” he said.

The now-widespread ban of sharks fin in Singapore was driven by the local diving community and is an example of how consumers can make a change, said Isabelle Louis, deputy regional director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office Asia Pacific.

She shared: “Singaporean divers spoke up and said to the supermarkets, ‘We want you to remove canned tuna that contains shark fin!’ and that made a great impact. The power of small can actually be big.”

Changing course for 2018

Riding on the momentum generated from the launch of the Changing Course exhibition, real estate developer City Developments Limited (CDL) that sponsored Cheam’s participation in the 2041 expedition announced the next edition of the  CDL E-Generation Challenge 2018. The winner of this year’s competition will travel to Raja Ampat in Indoesia with Dr Sylvia Earle, legendary deep-sea diver, marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, educator, author and founder of Mission Blue.

Eco-Business also unveiled a partnership with US-based adventure travel company The Explorer’s Passage on the ClimateForce 2019 expedition to the Arctic in June 2019. Eco-Business will be joining the expedition to film the sequel to From Asia to Antarctica, and help to select and support candidates in Asia who want to join the expedition.

“We are still in the midst of planning the Arctic expedition, and we hope to interest those who have a passion for climate issues to apply for this excellent opportunity to examine and learn about the situation there, and why what’s happening in the North and South Poles is important for Asia,” said Eco-Business’ Cheam.

The Singapore-based sustainability media organisation will also continue raising awareness about climate change through the Changing Course campaign. “Eco-Business will be organising further climate action activities for the rest of the year with our various partners, including talks and events around our focus topics—renewable energy, zero waste, sustainable lifestyles and youth,” she said.

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How To Transform Learning with Google Tools – Miguel Guhlin

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Teachers often struggle during professional development sessions, wondering how to make connections between how-to at the workshop and classroom learning. Diana Benner, Peggy Reimers, and I did some napkin PD planning and came up with a solution.

Here’s a chance to get hands-on Google experience with six different project stations that offer the opportunity to explore lesser-known Google tools. These tools enhance critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.

Developing PD on a napkin with Diana Benner, Peggy Reimers, and Miguel Guhlin. Let’s explore these ideas in more detail.

Essential Elements

Before we jump into the project stations, let’s review a few components common to each. Each project station includes three components:

  • Explore
  • Adapt/Create
  • Share

In the Explore portion, participants develop background knowledge in the key concept shared. In the Adapt/Create, they make connections between their own experiences as learners. Two ways to accomplish this include adapting an existing work in light of new information. The second way is to create a new product. After they create or adapt, they share that online with a global audience. An additional component is listing what Google tools will be used.

Project Station #1: Inquiry-Based Learning Developers

In this station, participants will explore inquiry-based learning (IBL). Why continue to introduce IBL in professional learning? IBL creates engagement in both teachers and learners. Research has shown it has several benefits. It can:

  • Boost students’ learning in inter-disciplinary studies
  • Motivate students to learn, developing flexible, real-life, problem-solving strategies
  • Deepen critical thinking skills
  • Use of knowledge in new areas (Source)

Learning to ask the right questions and then finding answers that work remain critical to the work of educators and their students. To that end, it’s important to scaffold the use of IBL in the context of modern tools. Not unlike Dr. Bernie Dodge’s and Tom March’s webquest activity, new approaches adapt IBL for modern technology.

  • Explore: In this station, participants are given twenty minutes.
  • Adapt/Create: Participants, having explored hyperdoc exemplars, rely on a template to develop their own hyperdoc.
  • Share: Participants share their hyperdoc creation or modification with others via a sharing space, such as Google Forms tied into a Google Sheet or link their hyperdoc in an existing Google Doc created for that purpose.
  • Tools: Google Docs, Google Slides

Project Station #2: Research Explorers

One of the first uses of the internet for teachers involves encouraging students to use it for research. It’s important to clarify expectations for research-based activities. While research should be embedded in the context of an inquiry-based learning lesson, some additional expectations can be set. Students can be expected to:

  • Craft a research question
  • Locate and gather appropriate sources
  • Consider and assess the quality of the sources
  • Seek patterns in the data
  • Develop a position about the research

Given that the internet is a deep ocean of information, it’s important to assist students to engage in content curation using frameworks like the Big 6, Super 3, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). While there are many online research tools that could be introduced, one of note is Google Scholar.

“I usually start with Google Scholar or Google just to figure out what the topic is. Once I have a better idea, I’ll go deeper,” says Leslie Harris O’Hanlon. “For example, if it’s a history paper, I’ll use the online library catalog, or sometimes there are e-books online through the university” (Source).

  • Explore: Participants experience the power of Google Scholar as a tool to find journals, save document sources in a personal space, and obtain citations. First, participants go through the process of developing a research question using the infographic from UC San Diego Library as a guide. Then they complete the steps.
  • Adapt/Create: Participants begin with a general topic, then narrow the topic down with How and Why questions, not unlike what is shown in the image below:
  • Share: Once participants have identified a topic using Google Scholar to identify research and information, they can create a Google Slides PDF ebook or Google Docs.
  • Tools: Google Scholar, Google Docs ePub export or Google Slides PDF ebook

Project Station #3: Multimedia Tour Builders

Mix up learning for your students. Create engaging and relevant learning experiences for students with Google Tour Builder. Better yet, turn students loose to create their own multimedia tours of relevant content. Tour Builder enables students to create a virtual tour of their research data, adding photos, text, and video as needed. This map-based approach enables students to organize their research according to location and impact, which is appropriate for various topics. Students combine research, life stories, images, and video to make a compelling case for their research thesis.

  • Explore: Encourage participants to explore existing Google Tours available and then reflect on how current content in their curriculum goals could be aligned.
  • Adapt/Create: Using a simple storyboard template, participants use Google Tour Builder to create a multimedia tour relevant to an area of study.
  • Share: Once participants have completed their tour, they make it available via a Google Form or common space or backchannel (e.g. Tozzl in lieu of Padlet).
  • Tools: Google Tour-Builder, Maps 3D

Project Station #4: Toontastic Reporters

Whether you have students synthesizing information from a variety of sources and then reporting it in front of a green screen (read tips about setting up your own inexpensive green screen, as well as see examples) or creating reports with Toontastic, students can learn quite a bit. Putting students in the role of journalists has a powerful impact on their own ability to curate and construct knowledge. Consider the following benefits:

  • Students develop the critical thinking skills needed to be smarter, frequent, transliterate consumers (and creators) of information
  • Students learn to tell between fact and opinion
  • Learners explore how to become better-informed citizens and voters (Source: The News Literacy Project)

One approach to achieve this involves presenting a problem and then inviting students to create a report that presents facts.

Wait, There’s More

Ready to get going with these project stations? Consider adding two more, if time allows. Two more final project stations include casting teachers in the roles of Flipped Learning Creators and Digital Breakout Artists.

In the former, flipped learning is explored. Participants learn to create screencasts, embed assessments with EdPuzzle, or engage in post-reflection activities with Google Forms. In the Digital Breakout Artists project station, participants learn how to create engaging activities that involve clue finding and problem solving.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

Data JEO Traffic

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