The End of the ITT Tech Era

The End of the ITT Tech Era

The end is near for the once financially viable ITT tech due to sanctions it is facing that could now ensure that they are soon be to out of business, for good. Many business insiders are calling this the death sentence for ITT technical institutes, while we can see that they are on their way out to be yet another for profit school that has been put out of business with similar such sections. The education department made it clear last Thursday that they would be handing down a series of devastation restrictions that could put the Carmel-based ITT educational services Inc out of bushiness within weeks. This is a good day for education and closes yet another toxic hole on society as a whole. The government was successful in banning ITT tech from enrolling any new students who depend of federal aid, which is basically everyone given the astronomical costs of education today and your dependence on them to make it work. The source of most of the company’s revenue was from this, and it was just cashing checks in hopes of making a quick buck and getting people through the doors as quickly as possible without ever having to invest in anything beyond online courses and slight customer services. Even more onerous, is a measurement that ITT tech must increasing its reserves from 94.4 million to 247.3 million or 40 percent of the federal student aid the company recied in 2015. So yeah things are not looking very good from an ITT tech perspective. ITT has been ordered thus to provide a letter of credit for the beefed up surety which is meant to support students in case of the company closes within 30 days. The education departments making of this announcement sent a shock was that was heard loud and clear across demographics. It made ITT techs shock plummet by 35 percent to just 1.40 dollars per share. the action come amid a federal crackdown of for profit colleges that has already causes the Corinthian college to close last year and brown mackie college to close all but 4 of their locations across this great land we call America. 

ITT tech has thus offered on campus and as well as online classes in business, nursing and health science, the electronics and information technology. It right now has about 137 campuses across 39 states. ITT last year supposedly generated a huge 850 million dollars in revenues, about 580 dollars which came from federal student loans.

“Looking at all of the risk factors, its clear that we need increased financially protection and that it simply would not be responsible or in the best interest of students to allow ITT tech to continue enrolling new students who rely on federal student loans.”

King said.

As you could imagine ITT tech did not accept our invitation to comment on this article and you could imagine we are not the only ones holding their feet to the fire. So this is going to be the dawn of something that was actually kind of a good move for the government.

 

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An Augmented Future

An Augmented Future

This is a very inspiring time to be a part of the human race when you see the myriad of innovations that take place everyday and when you consider all the innovations that rest just over the horizon. Yes it is a common though to come back to notion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the hill and that is nice. On the same coin though what makes our future so bright also has the ability to cast the greatest shadow of all and entrap us in more ways that one which much give us some pause. 

For one example we can look at the rise of Virtual reality as well as OR and think that this is going to be a pretty cool thing that has some upside potential but seems pretty innocuous when we consider the affects on the planet as a whole. True it does not have the direct affect that we consider when we think of adverse future tech but perhaps it is the things like this that seem to offer the greatest degree of change. That is because they offer a big change to the way we live our lives, but we are not considering them ahead of time as being of consiquence thus we are are thrust into these moments and leaps forward in technology and really history and history in a largest sense and it is a remarkable thing to consider when we look at what may have been the case before this point. Rather there will not be a though of the sort, rather we are going to be in a new state of sedation without really considering that perhaps we do not need to ogmant our reality until it is serious improved. This is just one way we can get the ball rolling when thinking about technology and the moral and social implications of the future. It is often the case that we need to look at what it means in terms of what it is replacing and from there we can consider how the change will be felt and to what extent we are going to see it manifest in our lives and the trajectory it sets forth. Another way we are going to need to consider the future of tech and our place in terms of society is the notion of liberty in an age where the idea of privacy is not only being lost every day in terms of what can be accessed and how easily by companies or other individuals, but what is striking is the affect this has on the age groups that are younger. What I mean is that in many ways there is a sense that it is kind of inevitable, and in many ways not really a bad thing, it just is. If you are going to put yourself out there you accept a certain amount of liberty lost, and that is just the way it is, for better or worse, it is things that like this that make the landscape of tomorrows landscape totally unrecognizable.

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German Police Involved in Hate Speech Raids

German Police Involved in Hate Speech Raids

According to major news outlets, Germany’s police force has been conducting raids in an effort to find and prosecute people suspected of posting hate speech on the internet, particularly those using social media platforms to disseminate racist, sexist, and homophobic ideals. Meanwhile, Russia is developing killer robots.

muenchThe raids, which were coordinated across 60 addresses, constituted the first time that law enforcement officials were called upon to handle issues of digitized hate speech.

The police have stated that their intention is to combat “a substantial rise in verbal radicalism,” including “glorification of Nazism [and] xenophobic, anti-Semitic and other right-wing extremism.”

Holger Muench is the current president of Germany’s federal criminal police force, a position known as the Bundeskriminalamt, said the following: “Today’s action makes it clear that police authorities of the federal and state governments act firmly against hate and incitement on the internet.”

Muench went on to comment that politically motivated hate crime on the Internet had spiked since refugees from the Middle East started entering the country in massive numbers. Germany took a whopping one million migrants and refugees last year, a change that has rocked the country politically, socially and culturally.

“Attacks on refugee shelters are often the result of radicalization which begins in social networks,” explained Mr. Munch.

According to the police, a lot of the hate speech that prompted the raids occurred in a secret Facebook group between July and November of last year. Raids were conducted accordingly across 14 German provinces, a project that necessitated the help of over 25 police departments.

refugee crisisUnder German law, the incitement of racial hated is a crime for which a person can be jailed for up to five years given that he or she incite “hatred against a national, racial, religious group or a group defined by their ethnic origins.”

Germany has held social media platforms responsible for limiting hate speech as well, meaning that Facebook, Twitter and Google have all fell from Germany’s good graces at one time or another for not removing hate speech from their websites quickly enough. Last year, numerous instances of this and increasing pressure yielded an agreement between Germany and the three tech moguls that they would delete hate speech from their services within 24 hours.

Facebook in particular agreed that it would partner with a German group of multimedia service providers to meet anti-hate speech goals and launch a task force devoted to deal with the instances of such speech.

Facebook also agreed to launch a campaign promoting “counter speech” in Germany, asking experts to develop new ways to fight racism through initiating discussions on social media.

It seems that the argument brings to a head many conflicting philosophical ideas and ideals prevalent not only in Germany but in the Western world in general. Should free speech trump a society’s wish to avoid coming across the ugliness and ignorance of other people, in person or on the internet? Should someone be held responsible for inciting racist hatred in another with their speech, or does the person in whom racial hatred has been incited need to be held responsible for being so impressionable? Who’s to blame in any situation and do we have any real control over our own values and actions?

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AI Directs its First Movie

AI Directs its First Movie

The development of artificial intelligence has captured the imaginations and ambitions of sci fi nerds and highly-trained researches since powerful computers first surfaced.

ai video2Nowadays computers equipped with artificial intelligence are beginning to display performances that best even the most highly skilled champions of games of strategy and knowledge. An artificially intelligent computer program just wrote its first song, trained to fight in its first war, and even more recently, an artificially intelligent computer program just directed its first movie.

The movie was debuted among other films created by emerging talents at the Cannes Lions advertising festival early Thursday morning.

The video, called Eclipse, is a pop video featuring a French band and was commissioned by Saatchi and Saatchi, which also runs the Cannes showcase. The video itself is apparently somewhat boring, but the process by which it was created has generated a fair amount of interest and curiosity in both the tech and film communities.

All the AI company received before the video was created was the track for which the video would be made.

“We relied on the machine to give us a script and then a treatment,” Explained director of film and content Andy Gulliman. Then, a machine took that treatment and directed the shooting of the promo, by cameras on drones, all connected to an AI program called “AI Spielberg.”

Other famous AI programs such as IBM Watchon and Microsoft chatbot Ms Rinna were also used at different stages of the game. Facial-recognition software was also utilized during the filming and editing process.

A computer program ultimately decided where cuts should be made according to the beat of the song and its emotional content; a program even casted for the film using an electroencephalogram to find brain data taken from actors. The program then matched that data to the emotions that it had detected in the song and in the song’s singer.

ibm watshoApparently the production team was also involved in the casting, but the computer had picked the same actor as them.

Andy Gulliman has some experience producing glossy advertisements show in locations all around the world, but he found this gig to be a more hands-off experience than that to which he was accustomed:

“As producer, my responsibility is to crew up and find the right people to deliver a script I have on my desk,” he explained. “With this, it’s a case of sitting back and watching the machine take responsibility.”

The machine ended up choosing a starlit landscape where the band’s leading female vocalist sang and a man ran towards her. The visual effects were generated by a neural art program that learns styles from different artists like Van Gogh and Monet and then imitates them.

While the entire experiment begs the question, “Can a computer be an artist?” the band involved in the video found that after the experience they didn’t think it was possible. The electro-pop group chose to have their name omitted from the news article and refused to have the video released to the public.

I guess to them, the video must have been somewhat embarrassing.

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Russia Unveils Terrifying Robot Soldier

Russia Unveils Terrifying Robot Soldier

Popular TV show host John Oliver once referred to Russia as “Earth’s Death Star.” Now that the country has unveiled plans to create robot soldiers that are genuinely terrifying, the nickname may prove more of a euphemism than an insult.

robot2Affectionately called Ivan the Terminator, Russia has developed a military droid designed to replace soldiers in battle. It joins a variety of other recent military developments that Russia has been preparing in an effort to prove its status at the forefront of high-tech weaponry and compete with the efforts of the United States and China.

According to a Russian newspaper, the droid is designed “to replace the person in the battle or in emergency areas where there is a risk of explosion, fire, high background radiation, or other conditions harmful to humans.”

“The development of a special military robot is one of the priorities of military construction in Russia,” the paper continued.

The robot soldiers, called “Iron Man” machines by some English-speaking publications, are designed to be controlled remotely, though there are fears that the technology could be further developed to make the robots autonomous in the future. The robots can also drive cars through scanning the road for blockages and barriers.

Perhaps the most impressive and frightening thing about these robots is their ability to emulate the exact movements of a human thanks to a special control suit that can be worn by the operator. In this regard they truly do seem straight out of a science fiction movie, power rangers for example.

Sensors in the suit, when worn by a soldier, make it possible for even the finest motor skills of the neck, shoulders, hands and fingers to be read and emulated by the droid.

As stated earlier, this isn’t the only highly advanced weaponry that Russia is investing in developing. The country has also spent millions of dollars on aerial drones, tank drones and other military vehicles meant to be controlled by robots.

robot3Many are concerned that, akin with Russia’s exact intentions, these new developments could make Russia more of a threat to the western world and the way of life that they feel so strongly about protecting. However, experts in artificial intelligence claim that Russia already has a fair amount of power and could invade other countries, regardless of their possession of robot soldiers. In other words, they choose not to avoid due to political motivations, not a lack of robot soldiers that they’re recently ameliorated.

It’s frightening to consider that this may be the direction that technology is moving in; robotic development has made a lot of previously difficult tasks much more easily done, but the obvious question to address (preferably before developing this technology) is this: would its development actually better the human race and condition. Because while the robots may enable Russia to save the lives of its own soldiers, it’s inevitable that the robots would be used against humans, whether in war against a country that doesn’t have the same technological prowess or even against normal citizens in their homes.

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New Applications for Watson

New Applications for Watson

The IBM supercomputer Watson was famously put to the test a few years ago when it took on all comers and destroyed the competition on the TV game show Jeopardy. But when it comes down to the computing difficulty is pretty linear in its reasoning. What I mean is that it operates the way any of your voice command systems work such as Siri for the Apple system. Essentially a combination of words are searched in conjunction with one another and the system finds reverent combinations and derives a conclusion based on statistical prevalence. This is great for the kind of thinking you want out of Jeopardy, essentially you try to make yourself as computer like as possible and recall facts and bits of linguistic significance with little to no display of your understanding of the topic at hand. This lacks a fundamental component we consider when determining the necessary conditions for defining sentient and more importantly intelligence.  This technology could also fundamentally change the way to get media. 

Thus the next frontier for IBM is to make Watson have an “original thought” essentially, they want Watson to come up with something they did not program into him as such. Chairman Brown has said that “IBM is an industrial research lab – dedicated to innovate invent, and push the state of the art tech. We do basic research and have a real products and solutions that can benefit Society in general.”

Brown reminded us that in 2004 America watched as Ken Jennings racked up a record 74 game winning streak. That’s what motivated him to push the Watson project into over drive. This is because he knew he could do it, and do it better. The way he was going to do it was basically right the book on natural language processing. Then it ran 8,000 models and test simulations over the course of a few years then they were ready.

He then offered this bit of advice for the high school audience, “A public service announcement, anything you put on the internet. Snapchat, Facebook stay on there. Employers might look at that.” This is worrisome considering his plans to make the Watson super computer an intelligence that would exceed the human potential. In essence he wants to  pluck something right out of the pages of science fiction, and create an Ultron like super mind that has no consideration of empathy or respect for human life. If you think about it, it may be wise to try to ensure this before long. Because, it is one thing to have sentient computers without a sense of morality because they could affect our internet lives or vital infrastructure if compromised. The truth is that computers at the end of they day no matter how smart are still at the control or at least harm of mans influence. With this trend reaching the military, we must give pause and wonder what the priorities of the tech sector should be and whose running this ship. The Watson system may have some applications that are extremely beneficial to human en devours, but we should has that out concretely rather than making it and seeing what happens.

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Ad Blocker Under Fire

Ad Blocker Under Fire

Consumers have turn to ad blocker to to avoid the incessant advertising on their mobile phones and personal computers. They know that marketers and content providers depend on their pitch to pay the bills and are looking frantically for lays to counter the program that is beginning to meet its match.  BlockIQ, which is owned by AdSupply, has recently merged with Adaptive Medias, begain to launch BlockBypass. This is a software that can. This software can detect when a users of the popular ad blocker AdBlock and perform a myriad of counter blocking maneuvers, which are all geared to the attainment of the ultimate goal: AdBlock aversion. The way we compute is being influenced by the Government everyday with the passage of new legislation.

“the incredible growth of ad blocking has reached the tipping point where sites will no longer be able to operate BlockIQ CEO Justin Bunnell said.

over the last year alone, there has been use of ad blockers on the rise to the tune of 41 percent globally. this brings the number of world wide users to an estimated 198 million, which costs publishers an estimated $22 million in the US alone, this coming from a PageFair’s 2015 global ad-blocking report. techedddk

“if ad blocking continues unchecked, it will eliminate the advertising revenue websites need to survive,” Bunnell adds. “it is like expecting a movie theater to stay in business when 30 percent of their audience doesn’t pay for a ticket.”

The thing which is ironic is that marketers have noted that ad blockers not only cost them in terms of publishers revenues, but they themselves squeeze money from advertisers and are guilty of the very same. Ad blockers are little extortionists themselves when it comes to getting a pretty penny from the advertisers. “the big ad-blocking companies will whitelist an advertiser’s ads if they pay a fee. If you don’t pay them, they’ll block your adds,” he added “we don’t think that’s a fair situation at all, and our technology defeats it,” he said confidently. handad

Eyeo is the maker of the most used ad bokcker, Adblock Plus, which has been taking payments for years for companies, which include the big ones like Google and Microsoft.

This is an interesting time to be in the internet business. On one hand we do not want ads on our computers, but what we don’t realize is that what we want even more than that is really high quality content on the internet. We are constantly reaping the benefits of the money used to produce the high content of the internet because advertisers assume their adverting dollars are being seen by consumers. What we are beginning to see is that advertisers are pulling their money and thus the quality is beginning to drop.

I do not want to say that we must submit to being constantly inundated with advertising as the only way to justify our using the internet, I think there has to be a middle ground. Like anything else I think you should be able to use our dollar to dictate the level of you comfort. What I am getting at is that there should be a way to pay to have the ads not reach you that still pays the content generators and ensures that you are not going through a back door and taking money from their pockets.

 

 

 

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What the Outcome of the FBI-Apple Battle Means

What the Outcome of the FBI-Apple Battle Means

The encryption battle that waged between FBI and Apple has already become the news of yesterday, yet it seems that few sides have shared their opinions over what the high-profile and unprecedented legal and technological situation and conclusion might imply for the future of government surveillance, privacy rights, and public access to strong encryption.

political dissidentFirst, let’s go over the facts: After the tragic San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI acquired an iPhone belonging to one of the shooters. The iPhone was locked and required a password to be opened. The FBI wanted to open the phone to see if they could find any further information regarding the suspect and any recruiting methods or other criminals involved in the event.

Accordingly, the FBI requested that Apple help the FBI break into the phone. Apple has cooperated with different kinds of requests of this nature, in which Apple is requested to give information about the user of the phone for the sake of national security.

However, this case was distinctly different; the government didn’t just want the information that Apple already had to offer. It wanted Apple to create an entirely new software for the government that would act as a backdoor to the encryption that comes with every iPhone. The software could be used for the government to hack into the phone.

The government claimed to have the right to request this of Apple due to a law called the All Writ’s Law, which is over two centuries old and was actually signed into action by George Washington himself. Written when the country was still nascent and had yet to develop its judicial system, much less the wide variety of laws that would become necessary to maintain order and consistency in a nation, the All Writ’s Law acted as a bypassing of legal system when a timely situation involved a context that the legal system hadn’t adequately outlined. Accordingly, the FBI and other government agencies could issue demands that had the authority of law without any laws themselves being relevant to the demands.

authoritarian regimeApple was having none of it. Its CEO, Tim Cook, wrote open letters and was very public about his denial of the government’s authority to force Apple engineers to write code for anything. Cook claimed that the All Writ’s Law was bunk and that no government authority had the authority to force a company to create a product that weakened its own product’s value. He also believed that reducing the encryption capabilities of his products would make consumers more at risk for cyberattacks from cybercriminals, not to mention the government would be able to carry out its largely un-monitored surveillance that much easier.

Even UN Commissioners started to pitch in, stating that encryption was an important resource for political dissidents in authoritarian countries whose governments would execute any identified nay-sayers.

The government eventually backed down and closed the case, stating that it had already found its own way to crack into the phone so it no longer needed Apple’s help.

What’s strange about this is that the government had the power to do what was seen as an offense to human rights all along, and did it legally, and announced it. So was there truly a victory for Apple and human rights? Probably not.

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USA Today on Course to Develop VR News

USA Today on Course to Develop VR News

Last week, USA Today announced the development of a virtual reality program set to evolve in tandem with the VR sector. The program is set to be relerased in Spring and will be titled VRtually There.
According to the USA Today Network (owned by Gannett), VRtually There plans to move forward with a network approach and will contain its own set of regularly scheduled programming.
usa todayUSA Today spokesperson Amber Allman stated that the new program will take its news from the USA Today Network’s same news rooms, but deliver the news on a VR platform.
“We will promote the show through our multiplatform USA Today Network, which is comprised of our national brand, USA Today, and 92 local news brands- all of our websiets, mobile applications and newspapers- on a regular basis,” she explained.

VRtually There will broadcast its music news from a newsroom in Nashville, Tennessee; its sports from Indianapolis and Detroit; its outdoor living channel from Reno, Nevada and Fort Collins, Coloragao; its tech coverage from newsrooms based in Los Angeles and San Francisco; its finance reports from Westchester, New York; its consumer tips from Reviewed.com; and its politics and government briefs from Washington D.C.
VR stands apart from all other existing platforms in that it offers a 360-degree, 3D view for watchers and listeners. VRtually There will offer 360-degree videos on desktop displays, smartphones and tablets along with headsets made for virtual reality viewing like the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive.
“We will also feature a comprehensive tutorial for first-time users explaining VR- for our show and our other VR content- as well as how to use it,” stated Allman. “Additionally, we intend to pr omote in other news platforms and at industry and consumer events.”
Whether VRtually There will utilize an autoplay playlist or allow users to create their own playlists remains unclear.
“This is part of the adventure of storytelling in a new medium,” explained Allman. “We will test and learn on an ongoing basis to determine if features like autoplay, the concept of a playlist, or even simpler ideas like lower-thirds graphic make sense on a 360-degree canvas.”
A huge amount of research remains undone regarding the successful implementation and management of VR online experiences. In fact, VR has gone so untouched by the mainstream that attempts to incorporate it into standard products like news programs threaten to destabilize the entire industry.

oc rift“A poorly received user experience could impact negatively the adoption of VR,” Larry Chiagouris stated regarding USA Today‘s announcement. Chiagouris is a current professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

“The most important contributing factor to the success of VR is creating as realistic an experience as possible,” he continued. “In the early stages, if an inexpensive means negatively impacts the user experience, that will do more harm than good to the adoption of VR.” For this reason, some VR enthusiasts were worried by the development of Google Cardboard, an extremely inexpensive but low-quality product offering VR to the masses.

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IP Bill Worries Tech Companies

IP Bill Worries Tech Companies

The UK Parliament recently drafted the Investigatory Powers Bill, a piece of legislation that would overhaul rules on how authorities access the communications of British citizens.

appleThe wording of the bill has concerned a variety of tech companies, especially those affiliated with social media like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and even Microsoft. Apple has already challenged the reach of the draft’s legislation.

The aforementioned five firms are united in a coalition called Reform Government Surveillance or RGS. RGS hopes to promote principles and make legal arguments that curtail the governments’ increasing power to collect communications data on their citizens.

“There are many aspects of the bill which we believe remain opaque,” asserted the RGS companies in their written evidence. The RGS has pointed out wording related to judicial authorization, encryption and technical requirements on tech firms that is vague to the point of being potentially exploited.

twitterThe government bill take issues with tech companies that offer end-to-end encryption services for customers like the messaging app in Apple’s iPhones. The encryption makes decoding messages extremely difficult and time-consuming, even for Apple engineers. The bill would allow for encryption to take place, but also make it possible for the government to force firms to give up the decryption keys.

Apple has been the frontrunner in fighting this effort, stating “We reject any proposals that would require companies to deliberately weaken the security of their products via backdoors, forced decryption, or any other means.”

The creation of backdoors would also allow for increased government surveillance, though Apple also points out that third party malicious hackers can and will also exploit any vulnerabilities that they build into their products.

Another facet of the debate is the issue of extraterritorial jurisdiction; authorities are unsure the extent to which UK authorities can compel US based companies to comply with their laws.

“We have collective experience around the world of personnel who have nothing to do with the data sought being arrested or intimidated in an attempt to force an overseas corporation to disclose user information,” stated the RGS firms. “We do not believe that the UK wants to legitimize this lawless and heavy-handed practice.”

The polite reminder of this totalitarian-regime-like movement of more “advanced” nations like the UK and US in terms of increased government surveillance has been a repeated motif amid the privacy vs. security debate.

The tech firms seem determined to use their economic power to fight this trend in government surveillance, to the relief and accolade of privacy advocates.

“As a general rule, users should be informed when the government seeks access to account data, ” the firm asserted. “It is important both in terms of transparency, as well as affording users the right to protect their own legal right.”

The role that tech firms are playing in government surveillance issues has been truly remarkable, according to Paul Bernal, legal expert at the University of East Anglia.

“I think it’s very interesting how strongly the ‘big players’ of the internet have responded to the UK government’s surveillance plans. The breadth of the intervention is remarkable- they haven’t kept to purely technical matters, but talk about judicial authorization, transparency and so forth. The breadth shows how seriously they are taking the issue.”

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