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

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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 a female CEO which has significantly increased its number of female Fellows over recent years.

Meanwhile the Scottish Government set up a taskforce earlier this year to tackle gender stereotyping in schools which aims to drive ‘bold and far-reaching’ actions including ensuring greater gender equality in key professions.

Organisations like ours are also seeking to affect positive change. Through our annual AccelerateHER Awards programme for female company founders, we have now introduced four specific categories – MedTech and Science; FinTech and Cyber Security; CleanTech and Climate; and Disruptive Innovation – all of which are STEM-focused.

Women leading these types of companies not only demonstrate the potential to thrive in these sectors, they also play an important role as inspirational mentors to younger girls who with a talent in STEM-related subjects.

Encouraging more established businesswomen to become investors is another key part of the STEM equation. We’ve seen this phenomena in

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

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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 announced the launch of its system called Amazon One. Its initial roll-out is small: only at a couple of Amazon Go shops in Seattle where shoppers can pay for goods quickly and easily. But there are big ambitions. “We plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums and office buildings, so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience,” says Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon’s physical retail business.

How does it work? Computer vision technology scans your vein and line patterns to create a “palm signature”. You connect that palm signature to a payment card. Then you pay for items merely by holding your hand over a scanner. Combined with the “Just Walk Out” experience of Amazon Go shops (which use cameras and sensors to bill you for what you pick up and walk out with) it’s the ultimate in frictionless shopping. You

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

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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.

Common Sense Logo

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 key aspects of our society, and to offer constructive solutions for change.

“We are at a pivotal moment in history, as technology collides with our democracy, our fundamental approach to education, and our mental, physical, and emotional health,” said Steyer. “Technology’s original promise to foster connection has been lost, but it is not too late for us to right the ship. By tackling these important issues in the book, and sharing it across Common Sense’s powerful network of millions of parents and educators, my hope is that this campaign will build awareness and inspire actions that will alter the trajectory we are currently on, and result in positive changes for kids, families, and our country.”

The campaign kicks off today at 10 a.m. PT with a live virtual event hosted in partnership with the Commonwealth Club and moderated by Danielle Abril, tech reporter at Fortune. During the talk,

How Technology Shapes Our Lives

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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 crucial periods of innovation spurred profound social and interpersonal changes: The invention of the plow, for instance, led to the beginnings of monogamy and marriage. And in the 20th century, washing machines, automobiles, and contraceptives helped free women from the “cult of domesticity” and ignite feminism.

“The machines we create begin to recreate us as well, to change the work we do, the lives we lead, and what we define as good,” Spar writes. “As technology evolves, in other words, so do we.”

In this interview, Spar provides more detail about the links between critical pieces of technology and significant social shifts and explores how the latest tech tools, including cell phones and robots, are bound to once again fundamentally reshape notions about our relationships.

Dina Gerdeman: Can you explain how the plow is responsible for creating monogamy and marriage as we know it today?

Debora Spar: This is

Audi’s cellular vehicle-to-everything communications tech will save road workers’ lives

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Audi CV2X Communications

New technology can warn road workers of oncoming traffic.


Audi

Audi on Tuesday announced that it’s working to improve the safety of road workers in construction zones. The German luxury automaker’s next-generation “C-V2X,” or cellular vehicle-to-everything communications technology, could significantly reduce crashes and fatalities.

This new system will work in conjunction with existing Traffic Light Information and Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory features that Audi already offers. TLI currently works at around 15,000 intersections in about 35 cities in the US, advising drivers of how long a signal will remain red before changing. GLOSA can advise motorists to travel at a certain speed to avoid hitting red lights, saving frustration and fuel.

Many vehicles on the road today are already equipped with modems that enable them to connect to cellular networks, but what Audi’s been developing here does not use this communications technology. Instead, it’s working on a system that lets cars connect directly with other vehicles, infrastructure or even people (in the designated 5.9GHz spectrum), rather than sending data to the cloud and back. This change should result in faster, more accurate communications and it avoids clogging up limited cellular bandwidth. Beyond that, by directly connecting all these things, this sort of communication can work in areas with limited or even no cellular service.

Audi will roll C-V2X out after it’s been tested and made legal.  


Audi

But how can Audi’s C-V2X technology save lives? If road workers wear special vests that can communicate with vehicles, they can be warned of oncoming traffic and avoid getting hit. This is a simple but potentially highly impactful development. On average in Virginia, for instance, there are more than seven crashes every day in work