Opinion: Jackie Waring: Ada’s science and technology legacy lives on for women

TODAY is Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Ada, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and his mathematics-loving wife Annabella Milbanke, showed her gift for mathematics at an early age introducing many computer concepts in the 19th century. However, nearly 150 years since her death, Ada’s legacy reminds us of the work still to be done to create access to more females in STEM-related fields.

According to 2019 UK Government data, women make up 24% of the core-STEM workforce. While this figure is rising, albeit slowly, in some STEM sectors, it appears to be flat-lining in technology where females account for just 17% of the workforce.

Here in Scotland there are a number of other bodies seeking to address this gender imbalance, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), an internationally renowned science-focused organisation currently run by

Read More
Read More

Biometrics for authentication: how the future of technology is going to change our lives

Fortune tellers of old would, for a small fee, read your palm and attempt to predict your future. Today, there is another kind of palm reading, powered by technology, which seeks to confirm your identity. Your palm is unique: that particular combination of veins, lines and creases is like no other. That makes it a prime candidate for use in the field of biometrics, joining other techniques such as fingerprint, facial and voice recognition. Your palm could be used to usher you through passport control, enter the office, pay for goods and much else. But as these biometric techniques accumulate, concern is growing about weak security and the long-term effect on personal privacy.

Such systems may be convenient, but are they wise?

Palm ID is already being used in a few places around the world, including Jeju International Airport in South Korea. But last week, global giant Amazon

Read More
Read More

Common Sense Launches ‘Which Side of History?’ Campaign to Challenge Leaders to Reverse the Harm Tech Is Having on Democracy and Our Lives

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today Common Sense, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families in the digital world, launched Which Side of History?, a campaign to hold Big Tech accountable for sowing mistrust and spreading misinformation, threatening free and open societies, exacerbating the gap between rich and poor, creating an unequal society, and leaving an entire segment of the population behind.

Anchored by Common Sense founder and CEO James P. Steyer’s newest book, Which Side of History?: How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives (available October 13, 2020), the campaign convenes leading experts and Big Tech antagonists, such as Franklin Foer,Thomas Friedman, Shaun Harper, Julie Lythcott-Haims,Roger McNamee,Shoshana Zuboff, and others for a series of live virtual events to examine the impact of the tech sector on

Read More
Read More

How Technology Shapes Our Lives

by Dina Gerdeman

For centuries, the creation of innovative technology—from steam engines and automobiles to computers and smartphones—has dramatically changed the nature of our work. Less deeply understood has been the impact of technology on the inner currents of our personal lives, according to Harvard Business School Professor Debora Spar.

In fact, as many life-altering technologies have come into play, they have upended long-held beliefs about love, sex, marriage, and reproduction, says Spar in the new book Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny, which was published this week.

“Technological change doesn’t just stay in board rooms and companies,” she says. “It drives our most intimate personal relationships as well.”

Spar, the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at HBS, argues that

Read More
Read More

Science untangles the elusive power and influence of hope in our lives

<span class="caption">Traditional dancers celebrate Hari Raya, the end of Ramadan. </span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://unsplash.com/photos/pKyY_fosG90" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Photo by Aniq Danial for Unsplash">Photo by Aniq Danial for Unsplash</a>, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CC BY-ND">CC BY-ND</a></span>
Traditional dancers celebrate Hari Raya, the end of Ramadan. Photo by Aniq Danial for Unsplash, CC BY-ND

On Erin Gruwell’s first day as a high school English teacher, she faced a classroom of 150 “at risk” freshmen. Most of these kids, statistically, were going to fail. They were tough, their young lives already defined by poverty, gangs, violence and low expectations. These students, she wrote, knew nearly every “four-letter word” except one: hope.

Yet four years later, every one of her “at risk” students at Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA, had graduated from high school. More than half went on to graduate from college. The stories written by Gruwell’s students were published as a book called “The Freedom Writers Diary”. It became a New York Times bestseller and in 2007 was made into a major motion picture called “Freedom Writers” starring Hilary Swank.

<span class="caption">Graduation carries many messages of hope.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://unsplash.com/photos/mUd_SVGiFrA" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Photo by Marleena Garris for Unsplash.">Photo by Marleena Garris for Unsplash.</a>, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CC BY-ND">CC BY-ND</a></span>
Graduation carries many messages of
Read More
Read More

Inside the secret lives of synchronous fireflies

Inside the secret lives of synchronous fireflies
A stacked photograph of Photinus carolinus fireflies flashing in the wild. Credit: Peleg Lab

During typical summers in the southeastern U.S., streams of visitors travel to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to witness one of nature’s most spectacular displays of light: thousands of male fireflies, all flashing together in near-perfect harmony.


“This is the most beautiful biological phenomenon that I’ve ever witnessed,” said Orit Peleg, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder.

In a study published today in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface, she and her lab members shed new light on this beautiful phenomenon—striving to understand how relatively simple insects manage to coordinate such feats of synchronization.

The team discovered that the light shows may be more complicated than scientists realized: Rather than flash according to some innate rhythm, the fireflies seem to observe what

Read More
Read More