Category Archives: Technology

How The New York Times Chooses The Best Photos of 2019

“A painstaking selection process ensures that The Times’s annual visual review highlights the biggest news events and strongest images.” L. Takenaga, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Lesson Plan

Excerpt: From 500,000 Photos to 116: How Our Editors Distill the Year in Pictures, Lara Takenaga, The New York Times

“Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed in tear gas in Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled on a floor in Venezuela. The first-ever image of a black hole.

These are some of the pictures in the seemingly boundless photographic universe that Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.

At The Times, the Year in Pictures is the result of weeks of near round-the-clock culling and editing.

And 2019 marks the most ambitious year yet for the project, led by David Furst, the International photo editor, and Jeffrey Henson Scales, the Op-Ed photo editor.

For the first time since 2008, the project will have its own special section in the paper, on Dec. 15, featuring an introduction by Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor. At 36 pages, it has almost twice the print real estate that it did last year, when it ran as part of the Sunday Review.

Beyond expanding the project’s scale, Mr. Furst wanted to ‘bring the photographers out from behind their bylines’ this year. To that end, Dionne Searcey, a political reporter who recently returned to New York after being The Times’s West Africa bureau chief, interviewed about 50 of the photographers.

Their quotes and anecdotes — about covering an Ebola outbreak, being in the center of violent protests, working in arctic temperatures — help explain what goes into their thinking before they press the shutter button… To be as comprehensive as possible, Mr. Furst reached out to every desk in the newsroom and The New York Times Magazine, as well as to photo agencies and wire services, for their best material.

He and Mr. Henson Scales also kept a spreadsheet of hundreds of individual photographers, painstakingly reviewing their published and unpublished work from The Times and other assignments, and came up with a list of the most important news events to include.

Doug Mills, a Times photographer who covers the White House, has shot more than 12,000 pictures since January alone, making the task of narrowing those down to 100 initially, and later to just two, a herculean challenge…All told, the editors went through over 500,000 photos… They pared down the photos and organized them in folders by month. Hundreds of images for each month were narrowed down to dozens and, eventually, to about 10.

The final phase of cutting was grueling. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos side by side as they went through each month and then looked at the year as a whole.

Getting just the right mix of images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number of factors, such as the impact of a photo or its ability to delight, and the variety of images in each month.

A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa… The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions, finding ways to balance moments of tragedy and levity.

Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

One photographer who came up repeatedly in discussions of the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei, a photojournalist who has covered the protests in Hong Kong for The Times.

While most of the featured photographers are seasoned professionals, there are some fresher faces, too.

The month of June includes an image from the Pride Parade in New York by Brittainy Newman, a photography fellow at The Times who shot the event for her first big project.

When she found out she would be among this year’s photographers, ‘I almost cried,’ she said. ‘It’s really a dream come true.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Umbrella-wielding protesters were engulfed in tear gas.
  2. The Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.
  3. There was round-the-clock culling and editing.
  4. Mr. Furst wanted to bring the photographers out from behind their bylines this year
  5. The writers had many quotes and anecdotes
  6. The final phase of cutting was grueling.
  7. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos.
  8. A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa.
  9. The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions.
  10. Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with,

Additional Prepositions

Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed ___tear gas ___Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled ___a floor ___Venezuela. The first-ever image___a black hole.

___the first time ___2008, the project will have its own special section ___the paper, ___Dec. 15. One photographer who came

___repeatedly___discussions ___ the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei,a photojournalist who has covered the protests___Hong Kong___The Times.

Getting just the right mix___ images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number ___factors, such as the impact___ a photo or its ability ___delight, and the variety___ images each month.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctly  identify all of the speakers wins.

“They put you in the photographer’s spot.”

“When you feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re reminded that you missed a dozen different news events or these 20 photographers or these 15 projects in the newsroom.”

“We are always interested in finding images that really represent a particular photographer’s unique way of seeing something.”

“One of the big balances is news value versus craftsmanship and beauty,”said. “We’re always having to juggle those kinds of elements.”

“It’s like a Rubik’s cube.”

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Describe the process of choosing the final photos.
  2. According to the article what is the most challenging part of choosing the final photos?
  3. Who found the initial stage of the photo finding process daunting?
  4. Which photographer came up repeatedly in discussions? Why?

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Would you want to work as a photographer? Why?
  2. What type of photos would interest you? Why?
  3. What new ideas did you learn from reading this article?
  4. To See All of The Photos and Titles: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/world/year-in-pictures.html

 

Photo  Group Activity

Directions: Place students in groups and have them view all of the photos.  Each group chooses 3 or 4 photos and  writes a paragraph explaining what they think the photos mean.

Questions for the Authors

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Instagram Has A New Anti-Bullying Feature!

“Blocking a bully on social media doesn’t always bring an end to online abuse. And in some cases, it can make face-to-face interactions with the bully even worse.” A. Juhasz, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit: NPR

Excerpt: Instagram Now Lets You Control Your Bully’s Comments, Aubri Juhasz, NPR

“That’s what Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said he found out when he started talking to teenagers about their experiences with bullying on the platform.

‘Most of it seems to happen between people who know each other in real life … and teenagers are often reluctant to report or block their peers who bully them online,’ Mosseri said in an interview last month with NPR’s Audie Cornish.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, speaks about the social media platform’s anti-bullying efforts at the F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., on April 30.

‘The controls that we had before were insufficient.’ That’s why this week Instagram announced a new anti-bullying feature called Restrict.

Teenagers told Mosseri and other Instagram researchers that they often didn’t block bullies on the platform for two reasons. First, blocking a bully — something that the bully is aware of — can actually escalate the situation and result in more abuse on the platform or elsewhere.

Here’s the other reason: When you block a bully, you render yourself invisible, but at the same time you give up your ability to see what the bully is doing. To counter abuse, you often have to know what is happening.

Instagram says Restrict addresses these concerns by taking a more nuanced approach. If someone is bullying you on the platform — posting mean comments on your photos or sending you offensive messages — the new feature allows you to restrict the person’s actions.

Instagram- NPR

Once you’ve restricted a user, comments on your posts from that person require your approval. You can see the comment and so can the bully, but unless you choose to release it, no one else can.

Messages from the restricted user will be sent to a separate inbox, and you can choose whether or not you want to read them. If you do, the bully won’t receive a read receipt…A lot of bullying happens on Instagram, and Mosseri, who started as head of the platform a little over a year ago, said he is committed to changing that.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities

are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. A lot of bullying happens on Instagram.
  2. Teenagers are often reluctant to report or block their bullies.
  3. The controls that we had before were insufficient.
  4. Blocking a bully  can actually escalate the situation.
  5. To counter abuse, you often have to know what is happening.
  6. When you block a bully, you render yourself invisible.
  7. Teenagers never block their peers.
  8. Instagram says Restrict addresses these concerns by taking a more nuanced approach.
  9. Once you’ve restricted a user, comments from that person require your approval.
  10. What we aspire to do is to lead the fight against online bullying.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented within the sentences.

Instagram has/have been criticized as provide/providing a unique set of/on tools this/that enable bullying. It’s easy to set/sit up anonymous profiles that can than/then be used to troll others. The scale of the platform allows hurtful comments/comment or harassing post/posts to go viral. And while parents and teachers/teach may be able to observe and stop/stopped  bullying that happens face-to-face, online bullying are/is often hidden.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

“What we___to do — and this will take years, I want to be clear — is to___ the fight against ___bullying,” Mosseri said at Facebook’s ___F8 developers ___last April.

In an ___with NPR’s Cornish, Mosseri discussed being ___as a child.

WORD LIST:    annual,   lead,  conference, bullied,  interview, aspire,  online,

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Have you or someone you know experienced online bullying? If so, describe the experience and how it ended.
  2. In the article what are the two reasons teenagers give for not blocking bullies online?
  3. What is it that Adam Mosseri wishes to do about online bullying?
  4. According to the teens interviewed who are the bullies online?
  5. What is the name of Instagram’s new anti-bullying feature?
  6. In your own words explain how this feature will address issues of bullying.
  7. With group members list additional ways bullying can be stopped.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Google Glass Helps Kids With Autism

“Privacy concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail with the general public. But researchers believe it could help autistic children learn to recognize emotion and make eye contact.” C. Metz

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Esaïe Prickett wearing Google Glass at home in Morgan Hill, Calif. He and his family tested the device in a clinical trial. Credit C. Clifford for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Google Glass May Have an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children, By C. Metz, The NYT

“When Esaïe Prickett sat down in the living room with his mother, father and four older brothers, he was the only one wearing Google Glass.

As Esaïe, who was 10 at the time and is 12 now, gazed through the computerized glasses, his family made faces — happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored — and he tried to identify each emotion. In an instant, the glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.

Esaïe practicing facial expressions with his brother Morgan while wearing Google Glass.Credit C. Clifford for The New York Times

 

Esaïe was 6 when he and his family learned he had autism. The technology he was using while sitting in the living room was meant to help him learn how to recognize emotions and make eye contact with those around him. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.

He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently detailed in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, the trial fits into a growing effort to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum, including interactive robots and computerized eyewear.

The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise and indicate that they could help children like Esaïe understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them. They could also measure changes in behavior, something that has historically been difficult to do… But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require rigorous testing before their effects are completely understood.

Catalin Voss started building software for Google Glass in 2013, not long after Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media.

Catalin Voss was a Stanford freshman when he started to build an application for Google Glass. J. Chou NYT

An 18-year-old Stanford freshman at the time, Mr. Voss began building an application that could automatically recognize images. Then he thought of his cousin, who had autism.

Growing up, Mr. Voss’s cousin practiced recognizing facial expressions while looking into a bathroom mirror. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, might improve on this common exercise. Drawing on the latest advances in computer vision, his software could automatically read facial expressions and keep close track of when someone recognized an emotion and when they did not…The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods can help more children in more places, without regular visits to clinic. ‘It is a way for families to, on some level, provide their own therapy,’ Mr. Voss said…The concern with such studies is that they rely on the observations of parents who are helping their children use the technology, said Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The parents are aware of the technological intervention, so their observations may not be reliable.

Still, the Stanford team considers its study a first step toward wider use of this and other technologies in autism.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

 

 

  1. Researchers believe it could help autistic children learn to recognize emotion.
  2. Privacy concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail.
  3. Esaïe tried to identify each emotion.
  4. The glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.
  5. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.
  6. The growing effort is to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum.
  7. The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise.
  8. Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media.
  9. Mr. Voss was trying to build software that could recognize faces.
  10. The company hopes to commercialize the method once it receives approval from the  FDA.

Grammar focus: Modal Verbs

Directions:  The following sentences were taken from the article. Complete the sentences  using the modals listed.

English modals:     can     could      may     might  must   should  will would

  1. The Stanford study’s results show that the methods ___ help children like Esaïe .
  2. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they___require rigorous testing.
  3. They___ also measure changes in behavior.
  4. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, ____improve on this common exercise.
  5. Google stopped selling the device to consumers amid concerns that its built-in camera ___compromise personal privacy.
  6. The company hopes to commercialize the method [but] that ___still be years away.
  7. But researchers believe it ____ help autistic children learn to recognize emotion.
  8. The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods ___ help more children in more places.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Cost concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail with the general public.
  2. Esaïe, was 10 at the time when he first wore the computerized glasses.
  3. Esaïe was 12 when he and his family learned he had autism.
  4. He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University.
  5. Esaïe  aunts and uncles were present when he tried on the glasses the first time.  
  6. The main function of the glasses is to help autistic kids understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them.
  7. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require a large amount of money to continue research.
  8. Catalin Voss  is another child with autism.
  9. Dennis Wall is  Catalin’s friend.
  10. Esaïe  enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVD movies.

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. According to the article the Google glasses were intended to work as computerized eyewear for the general public. Why did this  fail?
  2. In addition to helping autistic children identify emotions and make eye-contact with others,  how else could the glasses  help the kids?
  3. What were the results of the Stanford study?
  4. What is the warning that researchers give about the results of the glasses?
  5. Do you know anyone who is autistic? If so, do you think a pair of glasses such as these would be helpful?
  6. Can you think of any drawbacks the glasses might have? If so please explain. 
  7. List 3  questions that you would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Share the questions as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Technology | Tags: ,

Your Next Boss Just Might Be A Machine

“The goal of automation has always been efficiency. What if artificial intelligence sees humanity itself as the thing to be optimized?” K. Roose, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The application Cogito on view on a monitor. Credit Tony Luong for The New York Times

Excerpt: A Machine May Not Take Your Job, but One Could Become Your Boss By Kevin Roose, The New York Times

“When Conor Sprouls, a customer service representative in the call center of the insurance giant MetLife talks to a customer over the phone, he keeps one eye on the bottom-right corner of his screen. There, in a little blue box, A.I. tells him how he’s doing. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an ‘energy cue,’ with a picture of a coffee cup.

Icons that are used in Cogito are placed around the MetLife call center.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.

For decades, people have fearfully imagined armies of hyper-efficient robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs once done by humans. But in all of the worry about the potential of artificial intelligence to replace rank-and-file workers, we may have overlooked the possibility it will replace the bosses, too.

Mr. Sprouls and the other call center workers at his office inR.I., still have plenty of human supervisors. But the software on their screens — made by Cogito, an A.I. company in Boston — has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching them.

At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied and added to a statistics dashboard that his supervisor can view. If he hides the Cogito window by minimizing it, the program notifies his supervisor.

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers and other workplaces. The goal, according to Josh Feast, Cogito’s chief executive, is to make workers more effective by giving them real-time feedback. ‘There is variability in human performance,’ Mr. Feast said. ‘We can infer from the way people are speaking with each other whether things are going well or not.’

When AI becomes your boss. Technocracy News

But using A.I. to manage workers in conventional, 9-to-5 jobs has been more controversial. Critics have accused companies of using algorithms for managerial tasks, saying that automated systems can dehumanize and unfairly punish employees.

And while it’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do, it’s less clear why workers would…Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity in its fulfillment centers, and can automatically generate the paperwork to fire workers who don’t meet their targets, as The Verge uncovered this year.

(Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input, saying that managers can intervene in the process.) IBM has used Watson, its A.I. platform, during employee reviews to predict future performance and claims it has a 96 percent accuracy rate.

Then there are the start-ups. Cogito, which works with large insurance companies like MetLife and Humana as well as financial and retail firms, says it has 20,000 users. Percolata, a Silicon Valley company that counts Uniqlo and 7-Eleven among its clients, uses in-store sensors to calculate a ‘true productivity’ score for each worker, and rank workers from most to least productive…Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have themexamine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. People have fearfully imagined armies of robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs.
  2. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer.
  3. Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.
  4. At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied.
  5. Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers.
  6. The goal of automation has always been efficiency.
  7. Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity.
  8. Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input.
  9. Human managers can intervene in the process.
  10. Mr. Sprouls feels that the software on his screen has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching him.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs use in call centers.

There is variability in human performance.

The goal of automation has always been efficiency.

II

It is surreal to think that any company could fire their own workers.

It actually changes peoples behavior without them knowing about it.

Defenders of workplace A.I. might argue that these systems are not meant to be overbearing.

III

Some wonder why anyone wouldwant to be judged on a computer.

There were no protests at MetLife’s call center.

Still, there is a creepy sci-fi vibe to a situation in which A.I. surveils human workers.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The best___ for workplace A.I. may be___in which ___bias skews decision-making, such as hiring. Pymetrics, a ___start-up, has made___in the corporate hiring world by replacing the ___résumé ___process with an A.I. program that uses a series of games to test for ___skills. The algorithms are then ___to make sure they are not ___biased hiring outcomes, or favoring one ___over another.

WORDLIST:  creating, analyzed, relevant, screening, traditional,  New York    human, group, inroads, situations, argument

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Have you ever worked for (or with) robots? If so, describe your experience.
  2. Do you think it might be fun working for a robot? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion would automated systems be able to judge a person’s work performance fairly? Please explain why or why not.
  4. What would you do if you found out that your new ‘boss’ was a robot?
  5. The article states, Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”  Explain what this means. Provide an example.

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Robots, Technology

Beware of The Silicon Valley “Con”

“The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year. Reading Amazon’s terms and conditions alone out loud takes approximately nine hours.If no one reads the terms and conditions, how can they continue to be the legal backbone of the internet?” The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Molly Snee, The New York Times

Excerpt:  How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent

“Why would anyone read the terms of service when they don’t feel as though they have a choice in the first place? It’s not as though a user can call up Mark Zuckerberg and negotiate his or her own privacy policy. The ‘I agree’ button should have long ago been renamed ‘Meh, whatever.’

The legal fiction of consent is blatant in the privacy scandal du jour. Both Google and Facebook have been paying people — including minors as young as 13 — to download an app that tracks nearly all their phone activity and usage habits.

Facebook advertised their app on services beloved by teens, like Snapchat and Instagram, seeking participants between the ages of 13 and 35. The sign-up process required minors to get parental consent. (How rigorous? Users simply had to scroll down and click on a check box.) In exchange for participating in what Facebook called a research project, each user received $20 a month, plus referral bonuses.

Similarly, Google’s Screenwise Meter app harvested user information in exchange for money. Google was a little more careful than Facebook, barring minors unless they were participating as part of a larger household.

It’s unlikely these children understood what they gave up by agreeing to use the app. And even if they’d received proper parental consent, their parents may not have understood what they were giving away on their child’s behalf.

But it wasn’t the predatory nature of these programs that prompted Apple to disable them on iPhones and iPads. Rather, Apple objected to how Google and Facebook had used a loophole to transmit customer data without having to go through Apple first… People are often startled by what they wind up giving away by clicking on the “yes” button.

They are shocked to find when they connect their Spotify and Netflix accounts to their Facebook account that those streaming services gain access to their Facebook messages.

They are confused and outraged by Facebook’s uncanny ability to recommend “friends” that the company shouldn’t really know about — say, a social worker’s client or a woman’s father’s mistress. Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways. Companies learn all about you, but also all about your friends who haven’t signed up for these services.

Consumers’ confusion about this gives rise to conspiracy theories that phone microphones are secretly snooping on users.  According to academics who have done the research, that’s probably just paranoia.

The likely truth is that all the other data you give away is enough to predict what you have said and will say in conversations… Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data and can give users the right to stop it from being sold. New laws can lay down basic guarantees of privacy that won’t require you to wade through hundreds of thousands of words of legalese…Americans deserve strong privacy protections. Consent is not enough to replace them. It’s time to start seeing the ‘I agree’ button for what it really is.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Users cannot negotiate his or her own privacy policy.
  2. The ‘I agree’ button should have long ago been renamed ‘Meh, whatever.’
  3. The legal fiction of consent is blatant in the privacy scandal du jour.
  4. Facebook advertised their app on services beloved by teens.
  5. Some claimed these programs were of a predatory nature.
  6. Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways.
  7. Many consumers feel that phone microphones are secretly snooping on users.
  8. There are countless  conspiracy theories concerning apps that spy on consumers.
  9. Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data.
  10. New laws can lay down basic guarantees of privacy.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Google were a little more careful.
  2. Two tech giants didn’t read the policy closely enough.
  3. People are often startled by what they wind up giving away.

II

  1. Facebook have the  ability to recommend friends.
  2. Companies learn all about you.
  3. Americans deserve strong privacy protections.

 

III

  1. The sign-up process required minors to got parental consent.
  2. Users simply had to scroll down and click on a check box.
  3. Parents may not understand what they are giving away on their child’s behalf.

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. When buying or signing up for  apps do you read the digital privacy policies  before hitting the “consent” button?
  2. Do you have Facebook or Instagram accounts? How is the service so far?
  3. The article states, The likely truth is that all the other data you give away is enough to predict what you have said and will say in conversations. Countless devices and internet services now pervade daily life.”  Do  you give away personal data online? If so describe how (e.g., one of the social media sites).
  4. The article also states, “Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data and can give users the right to stop it from being sold.”Rephrase this statement and provide an example of how this would work.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Technology