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What They Don't Tell You About Climate Change

Slashdot - 27 min 36 sec ago
Countries are scrambling to limit the rise in the earth's temperature to just two degrees by the end of this century. But Slashdot reader dryriver shares an article titled "What They Don't Tell You About Climate Change." No, it is not that Climate Change is a hoax or that the climate science gets it all wrong and Climate Change isn't happening. According to the Economist, it is rather that "Fully 101 of the 116 models the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses to chart what lies ahead assume that carbon will be taken out of the air in order for the world to have a good chance of meeting the 2C target." In other words, reducing carbon emissions around the world, creating clean energy from wind farms, driving electrical cars and so forth is not going to suffice to meet agreed upon climate targets at all. Negative emissions are needed. The world is going to overshoot the "maximum 2 degrees of warming" target completely unless someone figures out how to suck as much as 810 Billion Tonnes of carbon out of Earth's atmosphere by 2100 using some kind of industrial scale process that currently does not exist. That breaks down to 1,785,742,000,000,000 pounds of CO2, "as much as the world's economy produces in 20 years," according to the Economist. "Putting in place carbon-removal schemes of this magnitude would be an epic endeavour even if tried-and-tested techniques existed. They do not."

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Bitcoin Prices Surge 26% in November, Pass $8000

Slashdot - Mon, 20/11/2017 - 00:34
Bitcoin's value has increased more than 26% in less than three weeks, writes Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report: Bitcoin topped $8,000 for the first time, as investors set aside technology concerns that had derailed its advance earlier this month. Bitcoin rose 4.8 percent to $8,071.05 as of 7:17 a.m. Sydney time on Monday. Itâ(TM)s now up more than 700 percent this year after shrugging off a tumble of as much as 29 percent earlier this month. It's been a tumultuous year for the largest cryptocurrency, with three separate slumps of more than 25 percent in value all giving way to subsequent rallies.

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Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Its Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 23:34
An anonymous reader quotes Gizmodo: Earlier this year, remotely piloted robots transmitted what officials believe was a direct view of melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant's destroyed reactors [YouTube] -- a major discovery, but one that took a long and painful six years to achieve... Japanese officials are now hoping that they can convince a skeptical public that the worst of the disaster is over, the New York Times reported, but it's not clear whether it's too late despite the deployment of 7,000 workers and massive resources to return the region to something approaching normal. Per the Times, officials admit the recovery plan -- involving the complete destruction of the plant, rather than simply building a concrete sarcophagus around it as the Russians did in Chernobyl -- will take decades and tens of billions of dollars. Currently, Tepco plans to begin removing waste from one of the three contaminated reactors at the plant by 2021, "though they have yet to choose which one"... Currently, radiation levels are so high in the ruined facility that it fries robots sent in within a matter of hours, which will necessitate developing a new generation of droids with even higher radiation tolerances. Friday a group of Japanese businesses and doctors sued General Electric of behalf of 150,000 Japanese citizens, saying their designs for the Fukushima reactors were reckless and negligent.

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Firefox vs Chrome: Speed and Memory

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 22:32
Mashable aleady reported Firefox Quantum performs better than Chrome on web applications (based on BrowserBench's JetStream tests), but that Chrome performed better on other benchmarks. Now Laptop Mag has run more tests, agreeing that Firefox performs beter on JetStream tests -- and on WebXPRT's six HTML5- and JavaScript-based workload tests. Firefox Quantum was the winner here, with a score of 491 (from an average of five runs, with the highest and lowest results tossed out) to Chrome's 460 -- but that wasn't quite the whole story. Whereas Firefox performed noticeably better on the Organize Album and Explore DNA Sequencing workloads, Chrome proved more adept at Photo Enhancement and Local Notes, demonstrating that the two browsers have different strengths... You might think that Octane 2.0, which started out as a Google Developers project, would favor Chrome -- and you'd be (slightly) right. This JavaScript benchmark runs 21 individual tests (over such functions as core language features, bit and math operations, strings and arrays, and more) and combines the results into a single score. Chrome's was 35,622 to Firefox's 35,148 -- a win, if only a minuscule one. In a series RAM-usage tests, Chrome's average score showed it used "marginally" less memory, though the average can be misleading. "In two of our three tests, Firefox did finish leaner, but in no case did it live up to Mozilla's claim that Quantum consumes 'roughly 30 percent less RAM than Chrome,'" reports Laptop Mag. Both browsers launched within 0.302 seconds, and the article concludes that "no matter which browser you choose, you're getting one that's decently fast and capable when both handle all of the content you're likely to encounter during your regular surfing sessions."

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In Defense of Project Management For Software Teams

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 21:31
mikeatTB writes: Many Slashdotters weighed in on Steven A. Lowe's post, "Is Project Management Killing Good Products, Teams and Software?", where he slammed project management and called for product-centrism. Many commenters pushed back, but one PM, Yvette Schmitter, has fired back with a scathing response post, noting: "As a project manager, I'm saddened to see that project management and project managers are getting a bad rap from both ends of the spectrum. Business tends not to see the value in them, and developers tend to believe their own 'creativity' is being stymied by them. Let's set the record straight: Project management is a prized methodology for delivering on leadership's expectations. "The success of the methodology depends on the quality of the specific project manager..." she continues. "If the project is being managed correctly by the project manager/scrum master, that euphoric state that developers want to get to can be achieved, along with the project objectives -- all within the prescribed budget and timeline. Denouncing an entire practice based on what appears to be a limited, misaligned application of the correct methodology does not make all of project management and all project managers bad." How do Slashdot readers feel about project management for software teams?

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Cringely: Amazon Is Starting To Act Like 'Bad Microsoft'

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 20:28
An anonymous reader quotes Cringely.com: My last column was about the recent tipping point signifying that cloud computing is guaranteed to replace personal computing over the next three years. This column is about the slugfest to determine what company's public cloud is most likely to prevail. I reckon it is Amazon's and I'll go further to claim that Amazon will shortly be the new Microsoft. What I mean by The New Microsoft is that Amazon is starting to act a lot like the old Microsoft of the 1990s. You remember -- the Bad Microsoft... Tech companies behave this way because most employees are young and haven't worked anywhere else and because the behavior reflects the character of the founder. If the boss tells you to beat up customers and partners and it's your first job out of college, then you beat up customers and partners because that's the only world you know. At Microsoft this approach was driven by Bill Gates's belief that dominance could be lost in a single product cycle leaving no room for playing nice. At Amazon, Jeff Bezos is a believer in moving fast, making quick decisions and never looking back. The market has long rewarded this audacity so Amazon will continue to play hard until -- like Microsoft in the 90s -- they are punished for it. Cringely points out most startups are already usings AWS -- and so are all 17 US intelligence agencies ("taking 350,000 PCs out of places like the CIA.") Bonus link: 17 years ago Cringely answered questions from Slashdot readers.

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46% of Americans Now Have High Blood Pressure

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 19:14
"Millions more Americans will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure," reports NBC News, which describes the condition as "one of the leading killers around the world." Anyone with blood pressure higher than 130/80 will be considered to have hypertension, or high blood pressure, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology said in releasing their new joint guidelines. "It's very clear that lower is better," said Dr. Paul Whelton of Tulane University, who chaired the committee that wrote the guidelines... 130/80 to 139/89 is now considered Stage 1 hypertension and anything 140/90 or above will be considered stage 2 hypertension... "Rather than one in three U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension," the groups said in a joint statement... While people may be confused by the change, the heart experts said three years of reviewing the research showed that many fewer people die if high blood pressure is treated earlier. "We are comfortable with the recommendations. They are based on strong evidence," Whelton said. Slashdot reader 140Mandak262Jamuna blames the pharmaceutical lobby, arguing that "a few years down the line, we all will be taking blood pressure medications," though Dr. Robert Carey of the University of Virginia, who helped write the guidelines, claims there will only be a 1.9% increase. The new guidelines recommend that everyone watch their diet and exercise, and that people with stage 1 hypertension should also first try eating less salt, more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains before taking blood pressure medications.

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'Lazy' Hackers Exploit Microsoft RDP To Install Ransomware

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 18:10
An anonymous reader writes: An investigation by Sophos has uncovered a new, lazy but effective ransomware attack where hackers brute force passwords on computers with [Microsoft's] Remote Desktop Protocol enabled, use off-the-shelf privilege escalation exploits to make themselves admins, turn off security software and then manually run fusty old versions of ransomware. They even delete the recovery files created by Windows Live backup -- and make sure they can also scramble the database. "Because they've used their sysadmin powers to rig the system to be as insecure as they can, they can often use older versions of ransomware, perhaps even variants that other crooks have given up on and that are now floating around the internet 'for free'." Most of the attacks hit small-to-medium companies with 30 or fewer employees, since "with small scale comes a dependence on external IT suppliers or 'jack-of-all-trades' IT generalists trying to manage cybersecurity along with many other responsibilities. In one case a victim was attacked repeatedly, because of a weak password used by a third-party application that demanded 24-hour administrator access for its support staff."

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Apple Fixes the iPhone X 'Unresponsive When It's Cold' Bug

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 17:06
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Apple released iOS 11.1.2 for iPhones and iPads Thursday afternoon. It's a minor, bug-fix update that benefits iPhone X users who encountered issues after acquiring the new phone just under two weeks ago... The update fixes just two problems. The first is "an issue where the iPhone X screen becomes temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid temperature drop." Last week, some iPhone X owners began reporting on Reddit and elsewhere that their touchscreens became temporarily unresponsive when going outside into the cold... The update also "addresses an issue that could cause distortion in Live Photos and videos captured with iPhone X." The article notes that the previous update "fixed a strange and widely mocked autocorrect bug that turned the letter 'i' into strange characters." "To date, iOS 11's updates have largely been bug fixes."

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CD Projekt Red: "We leave greed to others"

Eurogamer - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 16:20

Witcher game maker CD Projekt Red has let off a zinger on Twitter while trying to calm fears Cyberpunk 2077 will be out to take more of our money.

CD Projekt joint-CEO Adam Kicinski rattled fans when, in a Polish interview with Strefa Inwestorow, he said things like, "we're interested in Cyberpunk being commercially even more significant", and, "Online is very necessary, or very recommended if you wish to achieve long-term success."

Cyberpunk 2077 having online multiplayer is not something we've heard for a while but it is something CD Projekt Red has talked about before, even as long ago as in 2013, when studio head Adam Badowski told me Cyberpunk 2077 will be "a story-based RPG experience with amazing single-player playthroughs, but we're going to add multiplayer features".

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Categories: Video Games

Dolphins that find treasure! Minecraft's big ocean overhaul

Eurogamer - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 14:20

The Minecon Earth show happened yesterday and a handful of Minecraft announcements were made. The biggest was the reveal of Update Aquatic, an entire overhaul to oceans coming spring 2018, and it has dolphins - dolphins that can lead you to treasure, which is Flippering marvellous.

But also of note were accompanying updates on the development of the Super Duper Graphics Pack and cross-platform multiplayer for Minecraft on Switch. And I'm afraid neither will make it out this year.

On the Super Duper Graphics Pack, a Minecraft statement read: "While originally set for release this year, there's a lot of work to be done still and we're not going to be ready to launch it in 2017. We'll be releasing Super Duper next year."

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Scientists Develop Kill Switches In Case Bioengineered Microbes Go Rogue

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 14:01
schwit1 quotes UPI: Scientists at Harvard have developed a pair of new kill switches that can be used to thwart bioengineered microbes that go rogue. Researchers have been testing the use of bioengineered microbes for a variety of purposes, from the diagnosis of disease in the human body to the neutering of mosquitoes. But there remain concerns about releasing manipulated microbes into nature. Could their augmented genes have unintended consequences? Could they morph and proliferate? Kill-switches ensure the microbes effectively shutdown, or commit suicide, after they've executed their intended function. While kill switches have proven effective in the lab, researchers suggest kill-switch technologies needed to be improved to ensure safety in real-world environs... The researchers detailed their new kill switches in a new paper published this week in the journal Molecular Cell. "This study shows how our teams are leveraging synthetic biology not only to reprogram microbes to create living cellular devices that can carry out useful functions for medicine and environmental remediation, but to do this in a way that is safe for all," said Donald Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute.

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'I See Things Differently': James Damore on his Autism and the Google Memo

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 10:58
"James Damore opens up about his regrets -- and how autism may have shaped his experience of the world," writes the west coast bureau chief for the Guardian. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The experience has prompted some introspection. In the course of several weeks of conversation using Google's instant messaging service, which Damore prefers to face-to-face communication, he opened up about an autism diagnosis that may in part explain the difficulties he experienced with his memo. He believes he has a problem understanding how his words will be interpreted by other people... It wasn't until his mid-20s, after completing research in computational biology at Princeton and MIT, and starting a PhD at Harvard, that Damore was diagnosed with autism, although he was told he had a milder version of the condition known as "high-functioning autism"... Damore argues that Google's focus on avoiding "micro-aggressions" is "much harder for someone with autism to follow". But he stops short of saying autistic employees should be given more leniency if they unintentionally offend people at work. "I wouldn't necessarily treat someone differently," he explains. "But it definitely helps to understand where they're coming from." I ask Damore if, looking back over the last few months, he feels that his difficult experience with the memo and social media may be related to being on the spectrum. "Yeah, there's definitely been some self-reflection," he says. "Predicting controversies requires predicting what emotional reaction people will have to something. And that's not something that I excel at -- although I'm working on it."

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A brief history of 2000AD's 8-bit games

Eurogamer - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 10:00

To a young lad growing up on Star Wars and the sci-fi writings of Harry Harrison and Douglas Adams, 2000AD was a natural home when it came to my weekly comic fix. Each issue came action-packed with a range of serialisations that represented the very finest of British art and writing. I didn't have a favourite character; I loved them all. The neo-fascism of Judge Dredd's grimy, flawed universe; the distant revenge-fuelled tale of biologically-engineered soldier, Rogue Trooper; the relatively light-hearted and whimsical Ballad Of Halo Jones; and the unsubtle paean to religious genocide in the fabulous Nemesis The Warlock. These were stories that mixed sci-fi, fantasy and horror themes, eloquently told and brilliantly drawn, and it all started over 40 years ago.

The first issue would have passed me by (at four years old, I was a little too young to fully appreciate the antics of Dredd and co), but by the early 80s my local newsagent was regularly reserving me a copy of 2000AD, my name scrawled proudly across the top of each issue. Shortly after, I finally persuaded my parents that a ZX Spectrum would actually be good for my education, and eagerly awaited the inevitable arrival of 2000AD's iconic characters in video game form. Today the pull onto modern gaming platforms remains strong, as the release of Rebellion's Rogue Trooper Redux would appear to confirm. But 1984 was when it all started, and with that classic tale of a red-eyed mutant bounty hunter and his Viking chum.

Strontium Dog: The Death Gauntlet was the brainchild of Mark Eyles, Quicksilva's software manager and a massive 2000AD fan. Coincidentally, 2000AD's assistant editor, Richard Burton, was a gaming and Quicksilva fan, making it a match made in Mega-City One. When Eyles wrote to 2000AD asking for a picture of Tharg to help add thrill-power to his games, it instigated a meeting at a ZX Microfair, and Quicksilva was soon negotiating one of the first character licences of the 8-bit era, and the first official 2000AD licence. This Commodore 64 game, developed in-house and designed by Eyles, didn't, by his own admission, 'work out quite as well as we might have liked'. The player controls Johnny Alpha in his quest to eliminate the nefarious Stix Brothers, and meet up with his pals Wulf and Gronk. It's an unremarkable side-scrolling run 'n' gunner that bears little resemblance to the comic strip, and an inauspicious start to 2000AD on home computers.

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Categories: Video Games

CNBC: Google's New 'Pixel Buds' Suck

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 07:54
Google's new Pixel Buds "are really bad" and "not worth buying," according to CNBC's technology products editor: The stand-out feature of Google Pixel Buds is that they're supposed to be able to translate spoken languages in near real-time. In my real-world tests, however, that wasn't the case at all. I took the Pixel Buds out on the streets of Manhattan, speaking to a Hungarian waiter in Little Italy, multiple vendors in Chinatown and more. If you press the right earbud and say "help me speak Chinese," for example, the buds will launch Google Translate, you can speak what you'd like to ask someone in another language, and a voice will read out the translated speech through your smartphone's speakers. Then, when someone replies, you'll hear that response through the Pixel Buds. The microphone on the Pixel Buds is really bad, so it barely picked up my voice queries that I wanted to translate. I stood on the side of the road in Chinatown repeating myself at least 10 times trying to get the phone to pick up my speech in order to begin translation. It barely worked, even if I took the buds out and spoke directly into the microphone on the right earbud, and often only translated half of what I was trying to ask. In a quiet place, I was able to allow someone to respond to me, after which I'd hear the English translation through the headphones. That was neat, but it barely ever actually worked that way. To mitigate this, I found it was just easier to manually open the Google translate app, speak into my phone's microphone, and then let someone else also speak right into my phone. This executed the translation nearly perfectly, and meant that I didn't need the Pixel Buds at all. The article ends by answering the question, Should you buy them? "Nope. There's nothing I recommend about the Pixel Buds. "They're cheap-feeling and uncomfortable, and you're better off using the Google Translate app on a phone instead of trying to fumble with the headphones while trying to translate a conversation. The idea is neat, but it just doesn't work well enough to recommend to anyone on any level."

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Musk-Backed 'Slaughterbots' Video Will Warn the UN About Killer Microdrones

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 04:50
An anonymous reader quotes Space.com: A graphic new video posits a very scary future in which swarms of killer microdrones are dispatched to kill political activists and U.S. lawmakers. Armed with explosive charges, the palm-sized quadcopters use real-time data mining and artificial intelligence to find and kill their targets. The makers of the seven-minute film titled Slaughterbots are hoping the startling dramatization will draw attention to what they view as a looming crisis -- the development of lethal, autonomous weapons, that select and fire on human targets without human guidance. The Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mitigating existential risks posed by advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, commissioned the film. Founded by a group of scientists and business leaders, the institute is backed by AI-skeptics Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, among others. The institute is also behind the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of non-governmental organizations which have banded together to call for a preemptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons... The film will be screened this week at the United Nations in Geneva during a meeting of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons... The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is hosting a series of meetings at this year's event to propose a worldwide ban on lethal autonomous weapons, which could potentially be developed as flying drones, self-driving tanks, or automated sentry guns. "This short film is more than just speculation," says Stuart Russell, a U.C. Berkeley considered an expert in artificial intelligence. "It shows the results of integrating and miniaturizing technologies we already have."

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DJI Threatens Researcher Who Reported Exposed Cert Key, Credentials, and Customer Data

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 02:46
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: DJI, the Chinese company that manufactures the popular Phantom brand of consumer quadcopter drones, was informed in September that developers had left the private keys for both the "wildcard" certificate for all the company's Web domains and the keys to cloud storage accounts on Amazon Web Services exposed publicly in code posted to GitHub. Using the data, researcher Kevin Finisterre was able to access flight log data and images uploaded by DJI customers, including photos of government IDs, drivers licenses, and passports. Some of the data included flight logs from accounts associated with government and military domains. Finisterre found the security error after beginning to probe DJI's systems under DJI's bug bounty program, which was announced in August. But as Finisterre worked to document the bug with the company, he got increasing pushback -- including a threat of charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. DJI refused to offer any protection against legal action in the company's "final offer" for the data. So Finisterre dropped out of the program and published his findings publicly yesterday, along with a narrative entitled, "Why I walked away from $30,000 of DJI bounty money." The company says they're now investigating "unauthorized access of one of DJI's servers containing personal information," adding that "the hacker in question" refused to agree to their terms and shared "confidential communications with DJI employees."

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Apple Is Served A Search Warrant To Unlock Texas Church Gunman's iPhone

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 01:42
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Daily News: Authorities in Texas served Apple with a search warrant in order to gain access to the Sutherland Springs church shooter's cellphone files. Texas Ranger Kevin Wright obtained the warrant last week, according to San Antonio Express-News. Investigators are hoping to gain access to gunman Devin Patrick Kelley's digital photos, messages, calls, videos, social media passwords, address book and data since January 2016. Authorities also want to know what files Kelley stored in his iCloud account. Fast Company writes that "it's very likely that Apple will give the Rangers the same answer it gave the FBI in 2016 (in effect, hell no!)... That may be why, in the Texas case, the FBI and the Rangers didn't even bother calling Apple, but rather went straight to court."

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Microsoft Debuts Minecraft-Themed Coding Tutorial

Slashdot - Sun, 19/11/2017 - 00:34
theodp writes: In a few weeks, writes Microsoft Corporate VP Mary Snapp, "millions of kids and others will participate in an Hour of Code, a global call to action to spend an hour learning the basics of coding. Today, it's my privilege to announce that Microsoft has released a new Minecraft tutorial for Hour of Code, called Hero's Journey." The release of the new Code.org-touted flagship Hour of Code tutorial -- the third since Microsoft purchased Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5B in 2014 -- comes as Microsoft celebrates Minecraft: Education Edition reaching a milestone of 2 million users. Microsoft boasts that nearly 70 million of its Minecraft Hour of Code sessions have been launched to-date, which is certainly impressive from an infomercial or brand awareness standpoint. But does [adding a Scratch block to] move a Minecraft character forward 7 times on an $800 Microsoft Surface offer all that much more educational value than, say, moving a peg forward 5 times on a $10.99 Pop-O-Matic Trouble board game?

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Tech Companies Try Apprenticeships To Fill The Tech Skills Gap

Slashdot - Sat, 18/11/2017 - 23:34
Slashdot reader jonyen writes: For generations, apprenticeships have been the way of working life; master craftsmen taking apprentices under their wing, teaching them the tools of the trade. This declined during the Industrial Revolution as the advent of the assembly line enabled mass employment for unskilled laborers. The master-apprentice model went further out of focus as higher education and formal training became increasingly more valuable. Fast forward to the 21st century, where employers are turning back the page to apprenticeships in an effort to fill a growing skills gap in the labor force in the digital age. Code.org estimates there will be a million unfulfilled tech jobs by 2020. jonyen shared this article by IBM's Vice President of Talent:IBM is committed to addressing this shortage and recently launched an apprenticeship program registered with the US Department of Labor, with a plan to have 100 apprentices in 2018. ... Other firms have taken up the apprenticeship challenge as well. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, for example, has called for creating 5 million American apprentices in the next five years. An apprenticeship offers the chance for Americans to get the formal education they need, whether through a traditional university, a community college or a trade school, while getting something else: On-the-job experience and an income... Right now, there are more than 6 million jobs in the U.S. that are going unfilled because employers can't find candidates with the right skills, according to the Labor Department. IBM says their apprentices "are on their way to becoming software developers in our Cloud business and mainframe administrators for technologies like Blockchain, and we will add new apprenticeships in data analytics and cybersecurity as we replicate the program across the U.S." "Ninety-one percent of apprentices in the U.S. find employment after completing their program, and their average starting wage is above $60,000."

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