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There is a worldwide problem in math and it's not just about the pandemic
Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report, 2023/12/11


Canadians may have listed to the Cross-Country Checkup program on the subject (including one contributor very slowly explaining that we need to "decompose" concepts into simple and easy-to-understand components). But it's a phenomenon that defies easy explanation: as this article notes, the decline in math scores is worldwide, and the trend predates Covid. Canada remains near the top of the table, Finland has plummeted 60 points, China and India declined to participate in 2022, and the new star is Japan (where "students are taught with a more progressive approach in elementary school... by high school, when this PISA exam is taken, direct, explicit instruction is more the norm"). My explanation (which is as uninformed as the rest) is that most math just isn't useful any more to people; aside from the basics (which a calculator can do) the math students in some disciplines (like AI, which needs matrix functions) is different from that needed in others (like physics, which depends on calculus). So proponents are reduced to (and this was a real comment) defending math on the basis of its aesthetic qualities which, like are and culture, all students should be able to enjoy. Read more.


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Artificial Intelligence Act: deal on comprehensive rules for trustworthy AI
European Parliament, 2023/12/11


The European Parliament has "reached a provisional agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act. This regulation aims to ensure that fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability are protected from high risk AI." See the related statement from the European Commission, itself full of links to the history and background of the proposal. The agreement takes a risk-based approach, with few controls over low-risk AI, and gradually increasing regulation as the risk increases. Image and related story: TechCrunch.

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JSON Web Tokens
AuthIO, Okta, 2023/12/11


I want to point not only to the technology but also to the excellent way the concept has been presented here. Jason Web Tokens (JWT) are a method of sending information securely from one service to another. They contain a header, a payload, and a signature. The decoded message consists of JSON data that can be used to send credentials or contents. The JWT is created by hashing the contents with encryption algorithms and chaining them (much the way a blockchain works) so the content can't be changed without invalidating the whole message. This may sound complicated, but the presentation on this page makes the whole concept a lot clearer. Try playing around with the data to see what happens. Try sharing a JWT and sending it to another person by email as a URL to click on. It's your own way of sending verified messages! There's a very detailed and useful technical eBook you can download (I've linked directly but you may want to give them your information as they request).

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We publish six to eight or so short posts every weekday linking to the best, most interesting and most important pieces of content in the field. Read more about what we cover. We also list papers and articles by Stephen Downes and his presentations from around the world.

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