Riches not beyond imagining

UNSW has $30m over seven years from the ARC for research into climate extremes (CMM yesterday). “Wow-don’t spend it all at once,” a learned reader counsels

How the blockchain could stop a subprime data crisis

As Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Senate, Jason Potts and colleagues from RMIT were proposing a very different take on the damage badly regulated big data can do, pointing to unintended possible consequences from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. The RMIT team suggest that in attempting to protect peoples’ privacy the EU will devalue data already collected by firms and sold to third parties, who will need consent to use it. “This will create a secondary market in insurance contracts that pay out if data cannot be used. Collateralised Data Obligations (CDO) may also emerge, with data ‘originators’ packaging personal data into tranches of varying risk of consent withdrawal.” Sounds ridiculous? So did the packaged housing debt that started the 2008 US financial crisis which was brought on in-part by poorly designed regulation. “Government intervention into what are deemed to be instances of market failure often has unintended (but foreseeable) consequences when rational market agents endeavour to offset the additional risks or costs the regulatory intervention imposes,” the RMITers remark.

So, is there nothing that can save us from the irresistible force of the state and immutable objects of markets’ will to profit? Funny you should ask that, because the authors, all from the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub have an idea;

“Other solutions allowing data protections and addressing privacy concerns should be examined, including the use of technology to allow data subjects greater control over how they disseminate personal information. Research into the concept of self-sovereign identity, and the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology is one such promising avenue.”

Researchers across the country are researching the blockchain as technology and financial exchange but Professor Potts and colleagues are leaders in analysing its potential to transform the way society is organised.

First trams now TV

It’s pre-budget goodies time in Victoria. On Tuesday the state government promised a tram to Monash U’s Clayton campus. Yesterday the TV, video and movie museum, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image was promised $36m to transform its exhibits into the “world’s leading museum for screen culture, education and innovation.”

Bezos be warned

The House of Reps standing committee for industry, innovation, science and resources has delivered its inquiry on internet competition’s impact on small business. With Amazon spending more on digital R&D than Australia the committee recommends the government create education materials for small business and “opportunities to collaborate with universities.” Jeff Bezos be warned.

Engineers behaving badly and what academics should do about it

CMM suspects that initiatives to increase women studying engineering will accomplish sod-all if the culture of engineering workplaces continue to drive women away.

Sally Male (UWA) and colleagues surveyed women (and some male) engineering graduates to  make the point, finding; “female students were more likely than the male students to experience imposed gendered expectations, comments that drew attention to their gender, and requests based on their gender.”

Part of the problem is that there are still few women engineers on worksites; “No-one in the workplace expects the woman to be an engineer and women frequently find that they have not been accommodated.”

Another issue is the way the workplace is constructed as a place for blokes;

“Although physical strength is irrelevant for professional engineering, engineers are associated with remote and/or dirty environments in which the workforce is mainly male. … This is in contrast with professions such as dentistry, law, medicine and teaching which involve interactions with families and children. “

And men behave badly, asking women to do their typing, refusing to acknowledge they are engineers, being crude.

That men emerge from university thinking this is how engineers can behave does not say much for the teaching environment. Male and colleagues propose; ensuring mixed-gender study groups and that “engineering academics must support students to recognise gendered culture so that students do not take it personally, do not normalise inappropriate cultures, and do not feel the need to meet gender norms.”

There is more to engineering education than engineering.

Don’t miss this Austrade opportunity

On Monday Trade Minister Steven Ciobo announced a toolkit for consortia of SME interested in exporting education services, which he said is available for subscribers to Austrade’s Market Information Package (CMM Tuesday). However, Austrade’s Naomi Mapstone asks it be known that the package is open access until April 18. Why Austrade’s MIP is for subscribers only has long eluded CMM.