[Popular STEM] Curating the Internet: STEM digest for January 3, 2021

2개월 전

False arrests arising from faulty facial recognition; A proposal to saturate computer science education with "critical computing"; What is exercise-induced nausea and how to respond to it; Five observations about the massive and devastating "Sunburst hack"; and MIT Technology Review offers a list of 2020's biggest technology failures


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  1. Another Arrest, and Jail Time, Due to a Bad Facial Recognition Match (Dec. 29, 2020) - Nijeer Parks was identified by facial recognition software in February, 2019, then accused of shoplifting and trying to hit a police officer with a car. This despite the fact that he was 30 miles away at the time of the incident. He spent 10 days in prison, but the case was dismissed in November due to a lack of evidence. Parks is now suing the city of Woodbridge, NJ for false imprisonment and civil rights violations. Parks is the third known person to be arrested for false imprisonment, and all three of the known mistaken arrest victims were black men. In Parks' case, the false match was obtained when police gained access to a fake driver's license that had a photo of the person believed to be the actual criminal and ran that photo through the facial recognition system. A study in 2019 also found evidence that facial recognition systems are less effective for black and Asian faces. However, law enforcement defends the continued use of facial recognition, saying that it is used as one clue among many and is not used as the sole basis for an arrest. -h/t Communications of the ACM

  2. Teaching Critical Computing is a Grand Challenge for the Whole CS Curriculum (Dec. 28, 2020) - Discussing the paper, It is time for more critical CS education, Mark Guzdial argues that students must be taught three things about computer science: (i) Computing has limits; (ii) Data has limits; and (iii) CS has responsibility. He also argues that this represents a grand challenge because it cannot be accomplished by a handful of researchers, but needs participation from all researchers. Finally, he echoes a theme from Erin Cech, who says that a "culture of disengagement" can only be bypassed with a "consistent message across the entire curriculum".

    Here is a 2019 keynote lecture by the author of "It is time for more critical CS education", Amy Ko:

    In this talk, Ko argues for adding four big ideas into the computer science curriculum: (i) The limits of computing; (ii) Social responsibility; (iii) Data literacy; and (iv) Designing for diversity.

  3. When working out makes you sick to your stomach: What to know about exercise-induced nausea (Dec. 29, 2020) - Exercise induced nausea, experienced by as many as 90% of endurance athletes, is caused by competing demands for oxygen from the skeletal and muscular system as well as the gut and remainder of the digestive tract. In order to meet the demand for oxygen that's coming from the areas of the body that are involved in the "fight or flight" response, the body diverts blood (carrying oxygen) away from the gut. Although the mechanism isn't completely understood, it is this diversion that causes the nausea response. The two categories of solutions for exercise induced nausea include moderation and modification. In particular, the athlete can moderate the time, duration, and intensity of exercise and also modify the time and content of meals. Finally, one of the best ways to avoid exercise-induced nausea is by ensuring that the body gets enough water.

  4. The Sunburst hack was massive and devastating – 5 observations from a cybersecurity expert (Dec. 29, 2020) - (i) The victims were tough nuts to crack; (ii) This was almost certainly the work of a nation, not criminals; (iii) The attack exploited trusted third-party software; (iv) The extent of the damage is unknown; and (v) The fallout could include real-world harm. Victims included the US Treasury department, FireEye - a top security firm, Microsoft, Intel, and many others that have comprehensive cybersecurity practices. Criminal intruders typically look for short-term gains with tools like ransomware or stealing information that they can sell, and they usually use vulnerabilities that have been previously revealed and could have been patched. In contrast, intruders that seek long-term advantage and make use of unknown exploits are usually nation-state actors. In this case, the attack was a new one and the attack vector was sophisticated. The malware was inserted into trusted Solarwinds Orion software, and customers unknowingly installed in the course of routine updates. Finally, experts are still learning about the attack, in its entirety and the consequences are still coming to light, but may extend out of the cyber realm.

  5. The biggest technology failures of 2020 (Dec. 31, 2020) - (i) COVID tests; (ii) Unregulated facial recognition; (iii) Quibi's quick collapse; (iv) Mystery microwave weapon; (v) \#zoomdick; (vi) Light pollution from satellite megaconstellations; (vii) The vaccine that make (sic) you test positive for HIV; (viii) Cyberpunk 2077; (ix) Hydroxychloroquine, the covid drug that never worked

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Hi Steve!
I had no idea that the facial recognition detector could be wrong on black or Asian people. this post is completely informative. Definitely interesting, there is a lot to read and a lot to comment on. What an injustice to be arrested for something you did not commit and for a computer error.

I remember that when I was doing physical education in high school, I got dizzy, they evaluated our resistance and always made me want to vomit.

I had no idea what happened to our body!


Thanks for the reply! I'm glad you thought these summaries were interesting.

I already know that facial recognition had trouble with black people sometimes, but just like you, this is the first time I've read that it also has more errors for Asian faces. I guess the only up-side from that story is that he wasn't in jail for a terribly long time. Sometimes I have read about people who spent years or decades in jail after wrongful convictions. That's just unimaginable, so I'm glad it was only 10 days for this guy.


I totally agree with @remlaps it was 10 days, it is an injustice but the world is full of them. innocent people die in prison.