CIT computer scientist Milan Cvitkovic conducted 46 in-depth interviews with "scientists, engineers, and CEOs" and collated their machine learning research needs into an aptly named paper entitled "Some Requests for Machine Learning Research from the East African Tech Scene," which presents an illuminating look into the gaps in the current practice of machine learning, itself an example of how rich-world priorities shape our ability to understand, compute and predict the world.
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A few days after skipping out on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ebola decided, ‘nah,’ cropping back up in a town of around 60,000 potential carriers called Mangina, located in Congo’s North Kivu province. Since the latest outbreak was identified, four people have died of the hemorrhagic fever. The World Health Organization is hoping that the strain of Ebola that’s shown up in North Kivu province is the same as the one that Congolese health workers and an international team of medical professionals were able to put down, this past July: they have a vaccine for that particular strain and it works fabulously. The WHO plans on giving the vaccine a go with this new outbreak—fingers crossed! Unfortunately, in addition to the possibility that the vaccine might not work for this Ebola outbreak, those tasked with stemming the spread of the disease are facing a threat that doesn’t involve contracting a virus: Working in an active war zone.
From The New York Times:
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But North Kivu Province, the volatile region in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the new outbreak is centered, creates security complications that health officials did not confront in the outbreak they just defeated in northwest Équateur Province, 1,550 miles away. The World Health Organization is worried about the safety of medical workers in North Kivu and their access to areas controlled by militants.
“This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest,” said Dr. Peter Salama, the deputy director general of the health agency and the head of its emergency response unit.
Uganda's social media tax may be an unenforceable mess, but that doesn't make it harmless (it opens the door to selective enforcement and invites programs of censorship and mass surveillance in the name of fighting "tax evasion") but that's only half of dictator Yoweri Museveni's plan to control the internet.
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At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts.
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After Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ordered opposition party members evicted during a debate on lifting a presidential age limit, things got a little heated. Read the rest
It's been a year since the Ugandan government placed an order with a South Korean company for a "censor gadget or machine" that would "detect homos and porn actors, especially those misusing applications like Whatsapp with sex acts." Now, they've taken delivery of same. Read the rest
Uganda is so poor that few can afford medical care, giving it one of the lowest life-expectancies on the planet -- this toxic combination made the country ripe for infiltration by Tiens, a Chinese Multi-Level-Marketing "nutritional supplements" cult whose members set up fake medical clinics that diagnose fake ailments and proscribe fake medicines, then rope patients into becoming cult recruiters who convince their friends to sign up for the cult. Read the rest
The way these schoolchildren in rural Uganda react to a hobbyist's drone flight demo is so delightful. Honestly, my reaction when I first saw a friend navigate his UAV into the air was about the same.
Mark Brandon Smith shot this wonderful video, and tells the tale behind it. Read the rest
General YK Museveni has been president of Uganda for 30 years, presiding over a grinding and brutal civil war as well as a series of far-reaching laws that limit the human rights of Ugandans. Read the rest
Student Deena Herr, 22, has recently become a very unlikely superstar in the East African nation of Uganda.
"The mouth is made for eating and kissing, and gay oral sex will give you worms."
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda today gave a detailed explanation of why he believed homosexuals should be jailed for life.
"These mercenary homosexual prostitutes have to be punished," he said. "Just like those who are recruiting them." Read the rest
The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels." Read the rest
The Kite Patch is the subject of a very successful Indiegogo fundraiser, and holds the promise of a lasting peace between mosquitoes and humans. It bears a compound designed by UC Riverside entomologist Anandasankar Ray that confuses mosquitoes' ability to track and follow concentration gradients of CO2, which is how they locate humans. However, the product couldn't be marketed in the USA without further testing, hence the crowdfunding campaign, which will send thousands of patches to Uganda, where they will be used as part of a wider trial in fighting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The actual nature of the compound is confusing: the Wired article describes it as both "toxic" and "nontoxic" and the crowdfunding FAQ calls it "nontoxic." Read the rest
One more for the Charity Guide: Hackers for Charity:
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We’re about proving that hackers have amazing skills that
can transform charitable organizations. We’re about stepping into the
gap to feed and educate the world’s most vulnerable citizens. We are
virtual, geographically diverse and different. We are Hackers for
We employ volunteer hackers (no questions asked) and engage their
skills in short “microprojects” designed to help charities that can
not afford traditional technical resources. Our industry experts vet
all the work to guarantee a high-quality product, and volunteers are
rewarded with glowing references from our industry-recognized subject
matter experts. With each project, our volunteers move one step closer
to that dream job, and a charity is brought one step closer to its
technical goals. We’ve designed and built web sites, set up blogs,
programmed custom web applications, conducted code reviews, performed
security assessments and more, all through our volunteer’s efforts. In
addition, thanks to one donor, we provide hosting, bandwidth and
support for the final product free of charge.
We’re also working on the ground in Uganda, East Africa to support aid
organizations working to help some of the world’s poorest citizens. We
provide free computer training in our computer training center, and we
provide technical support in the form of computer repair, networking
services and more. We have supported many local schools with the
addition of computers and training software.
We also provide food to children in East Africa through our food
program. All the profits from sales of my No-Tech Hacking book go into
this program along with the income from our (now-defunct) Informer
Bruce Wilson has been looking deeper into ties between Invisible Children, the group behind "Kony 2012," and a secretive fundamentalist Christian organization known variously as The Family and The Fellowship—which, as it turns out, is said to be a force behind Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill. For a primer on The Family, by the way, there's no better place to start than Jeff Sharlet's book.
What Wilson dug up is now detailed in an extensive blog post. There's a lot to sort through, but it's exhaustively-researched stuff.
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At least two of Invisible Children's programs have involved collaboration with The Fellowship and and its members, and by 2007 -- according to accounts from both Invisible Children and Fellowship members -- Invisible Children had partially merged its developing school and mentoring programs in Uganda with The Fellowship's Ugandan educational and leadership training system, which works to raise up a cadre of elite Jesus-centered leaders who will transform their nation along "Biblical" lines - with one apparent objective being the categorical elimination of homosexuality.
In The Atlantic today, a must-read piece by Teju Cole on some of the cultural issues raised by Kony 2012, and reactions to it in the media-blog-Twitter-opinion-sphere.
I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.
Read "The White Savior Industrial Complex" at the Atlantic.
Revealed! Kony 2012's sinister Musical Comedy roots
Kony 2012 screening in Uganda results in anger, rocks thrown at ...
Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay ...
Leave Kony Alone
Medical aid worker on Kony 2012: "The aid industry has just been ...
African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign ...
Invisible Children co-founder detained for vandalizing cars, public ... Read the rest
From the first time I watched "Kony 2012," I always sensed a link with the storyline of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Book of Mormon musical. But sweet fancy Moses, I did not know how closely linked the two truly were.
Aaron Stewart-Ahn tells us about the video above (which has been taken down by Invisible Children, but mirrored elsewhere):
Here's where the money has been going to: Invisible Children founder Jason Russell's vanity dance musical numbers which start off with exploitative footage of suffering children. How did no one else catch this? It makes the Kony 2012 video look subtle and sane. He's basically using this to fund his desire to make Glee.
This is where the millions are being spent: vanity musicals. Did Trey Parker write this??!! Russell has mentioned repeatedly how his ambitions were to make musicals. He intimated that he was going to make the musical popular again á la Glee, but this didn't work out—so he ended up in advocacy. It was that chat at the evangelical conference. So, here's a direct youtube link to 9m 10secs in the video where he talks about making musicals, and casually talks about his dream of documenting genocide.
That bit with the t-shirt with the African child on it is just... I'm speechless. Wonder why they've removed it from their YouTube channel, since it looks so damn expensive? It's insane, isn't it? I mean, seriously: it makes Scientology videos look charmingly naive.
UK funnyman Charlie Brooker has a bit of fun with Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 viral phenomenon, in the video embedded below. Read the rest