Restoring eyesight: a simple solution with huge consequences - Capital Research Center
Finally, the Himalayan Cataract Project is a semi-finalist for a new program of the MacArthur Foundation where they hold a contest where one lucky winner gets a $100 million grant. Some of the project’s competitors seem like good programs to me. Rice University, for example, wants to improve neonatal care in the Third World. HarvestPlus has a program for adding vitamins to rice, wheat, and other staple crops.

Then there’s a program that seems to me to be completely daft. Suppose you’re a refugee. What do you need? Food? Shelter? Clothes? Well, the International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshop think what refugees need is…TV, sorry, “multimedia content.” The TV these two organizations think kids need is the Muppets, or “the trusted and recognized Sesame Street Muppets.”

I confess that part of me hopes that the Muppets win this competition because the MacArthur Foundation would be subject to a barrage of healthy and sustained laughter. But given the babies that could be protected or the eyes saved with MacArthur money, I hope the foundation does the right thing and give their $100 million to a charity that would do something useful with it.
6 days ago
Prizes and Competitions – Mission Innovation
Mission Innovation member countries and private-sector groups offer a number of prizes and competitions designed to generate new ideas, support entrepreneurship, and create incentives to spur clean energy innovation. Links to some of these prizes are shown below.
prizes  challenges  competitions 
7 days ago
Impact of Social Sciences – Addicted to the brand: The hypocrisy of a publishing academic
Academics generally recognise that the scholarly publishing business model is flawed, the impact factor does not point to quality, and open access is a good idea. And yet, academics continue to submit their work to the same for-profit journals. Philip Moriarty looks at what is keeping academics from practicing what they preach. Despite many efforts to counter the perception, journal ‘branding’ remains exceptionally important.
open_access  publishing 
14 days ago
World's Largest Annual Humanitarian Prize Will Be Awarded in Los Angeles · Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
(Los Angeles) July 19, 2017 – “The Future of Humanitarian Action: Bridging Our Divides,” will be the theme of this year’s Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Symposium and accompanying Prize Ceremony. The Foundation announced today that its annual event will be held in Los Angeles this year at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.
prizes  challenges  competitions 
15 days ago
America’s foundations spend many millions of dollars every year on investment advice. In return, they get sub-par performance.
philanthropy  sins 
18 days ago
Learning to Bridge a Generation Gap in Philanthropy - The New York Times
There are a lot of dollars at stake. A 2014 report by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College estimated that $59 trillion would be transferred to the next generation from 2007 to 2061. Lifetime giving to charity in that same period is pegged at $20.6 trillion.

It used to be that the philanthropic baton would be passed to the next generation when the parents died. In the past, fewer generations actively worked together.

But with longer life spans, “there are several generations in the philanthropic space at the same time and around the table at the same time,” said Sharna Goldseker, the founder and managing director of 21/64, a consulting firm that focuses on next-generation philanthropy. There may well be agreement among the generations about the importance of giving, but also disagreement about who to give to and how to give it.
21 days ago
Is the world really better than ever? | News | The Guardian
The loose but growing collection of pundits, academics and thinktank operatives who endorse this stubbornly cheerful, handbasket-free account of our situation have occasionally been labelled “the New Optimists”, a name intended to evoke the rebellious scepticism of the New Atheists led by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. And from their perspective, our prevailing mood of despair is irrational, and frankly a bit self-indulgent. They argue that it says more about us than it does about how things really are – illustrating a certain tendency toward collective self-flagellation, and an unwillingness to believe in the power of human ingenuity. And that it is best explained as the result of various psychological biases that served a purpose on the prehistoric savannah – but now, in a media-saturated era, constantly mislead us.
eutopia  optimism  worldgame 
22 days ago
We Need More, Not Fewer, Collaborations With Tech Companies - The Chronicle of Higher Education
cademic circles are stirred up over a recent Wall Street Journal article that accused scholars of taking Google’s money to study technology’s impact on society. In researching the story, reporters relied on a source’s database that amassed a list (probably using Google) of papers, workshops, and centers that purportedly had Google’s financial backing. The point was to prove that Google-backed professors seeded regulatory debates with studies to shore up the tech giant’s business interests.


Scholars Cry Foul at Their Inclusion on List of Academics Paid by Google
The database is rife with errors and tenuous links. For example, it lists people who never received a dime from Google and names graduate students who attended tech conferences co-sponsored by Google, a frequent sponsor of academic technology events, because the attendees published papers about tech and society a few years later. The article’s "Gotcha!" angle suggests that private technology support for university research is a problem that must be rooted out. It suggests that money will inevitably produce conflicts of interest and pave the way for tech companies to bamboozle the public.
25 days ago
A Son’s Race to Give His Dying Father Artificial Immortality | WIRED
I dream of creating a Dadbot—a chatbot that emulates not a children’s toy but the very real man who is my father. And I have already begun gathering the raw material: those 91,970 words that are destined for my bookshelf.
The thought feels impossible to ignore, even as it grows beyond what is plausible or even advisable. Right around this time I come across an article online, which, if I were more superstitious, would strike me as a coded message from forces unseen. The article is about a curious project conducted by two researchers at Google. The researchers feed 26 million lines of movie dialog into a neural network and then build a chatbot that can draw from that corpus of human speech using probabilistic machine logic. The researchers then test the bot with a bunch of big philosophical questions.
4 weeks ago
How I lost my 25-year battle against corporate claptrap
For nearly a quarter of a century, I have been writing columns telling business people to stop talking rot. For the same amount of time they have been taking no notice.
plain_english  jarg 
5 weeks ago
Family History Microfilm Discontinuation
On September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services.  (The last day to order microfilm will be on August 31, 2017.)
5 weeks ago
Who Needs Hard Drives? Scientists Store Film Clip in DNA - The New York Times
It was one of the very first motion pictures ever made: a galloping mare filmed in 1878 by the British photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who was trying to learn whether horses in motion ever become truly airborne.

More than a century later, that clip has rejoined the cutting edge. It is now the first movie ever to be encoded in the DNA of a living cell, where it can be retrieved at will and multiplied indefinitely as the host divides and grows.
archives  genetics 
5 weeks ago
In today’s complex and uncertain times, philanthropy associations and networks are more vital than ever - National Committee For Responsive Philanthropy
The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers represents a growing network of 56 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs). These include regional philanthropy associations, national philanthropy affinity groups and other types of national associations and networks. What they all have in common is that they are indisputable leadership organizations for advancing, informing and supporting philanthropy, with a focus on a region, an issue, a type of philanthropic practice or a type of funder.
5 weeks ago
Frameworks for Private Foundations | GrantCraft
This GrantCraft leadership series paper produced in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), explores the core frameworks that shape private foundations, and offers a roadmap for funders interested in reflecting on these frameworks to better align purpose, public benefit, and action.
5 weeks ago
Risk, Trust, and Impact: Connecting the Dots | Stanford Social Innovation Review
In my experience, grantmakers and grantees continuously confront a trust divide, with some very understandable reasons. After all, one seeks the resources that the other controls. The playing field is never level, and that fact inevitably introduces tension that can discourage frank admissions about the level of risk each is willing to take on. Therefore, the two sides rarely have a candid conversation about methods for risk management.
5 weeks ago
Award-Winning Philanthropists Explain the Roots of Their Giving - The New York Times
Ann Limberg, head for philanthropic solutions and the family office of U.S. Trust.
5 weeks ago
AI Impacts – Changes in funding in the AI safety field
The field of AI Safety has been growing quickly over the last three years, since the publication of “Superintelligence”. One of the things that shapes what the community invests in is an impression of what the composition of the field currently is, and how it has changed. Here, I give an overview of the composition of the field as measured by its funding.
8 weeks ago
The Nihilism of Julian Assange | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of Books
The danger of carving off WikiLeaks from the rest of journalism, as the attorney general may attempt to do, is that ultimately it leaves all publications vulnerable to prosecution. Once an exception is made, a rule will be too, and the rule in this case will be that the government can determine what constitutes real journalism and what does not, and which publications, films, writers, editors, and filmmakers are protected under the First Amendment, and which are not.

This is where censorship begins. No matter what one thinks of Julian Assange personally, or of WikiLeaks’s reckless publication practices, like it or not, they have become the litmus test of our commitment to free speech. If the government successfully prosecutes WikiLeaks for publishing classified information, why not, then, “the failed New York Times,” as the president likes to call it, or any news organization or journalist? It’s a slippery slope leading to a sheer cliff. That is the real risk being presented here, though Poitras doesn’t directly address it.
journalism  media 
8 weeks ago
The Blathering Superego at the End of History - Los Angeles Review of Books
The most significant development in the past 30 years of liberal self-conception was the replacement of politics understood as an ideological conflict with politics understood as a struggle against idiots unwilling to recognize liberalism’s monopoly on empirical reason. The trouble with liberalism’s enemies was no longer that they were evil, although they might be that too. The problem, reinforced by Daily Kos essays in your Facebook feed and retweeted Daily Show clips, was that liberalism’s enemies were factually wrong about the world.
9 weeks ago
Power Causes Brain Damage - The Atlantic
The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.
power  psychology  philanthropy 
9 weeks ago
Can China Really Rein in Credit? - Bloomberg
The central strategy is “kicking the can down the road” or “extend and pretend,” avoiding crucial decisions that would reduce current living standards, eschewing necessary sacrifices, and deferring problems with associated costs into the future.
9 weeks ago
'It was quasi-religious': the great self-esteem con | Life and style | The Guardian
Vasco & self-esteem. Social policy.

"How did he rate the academics’ research? “As you read the book,” he said, “it’s a bunch of scholarly gobbledegook.”"
education  psychology  philanthropy  policy  berkeley 
11 weeks ago
We need a science of philanthropy : Nature News & Comment
Billions of dollars are being donated without strong evidence about which ways of giving are effective.

[reads more like a scientism of philanthropy]
11 weeks ago
How Facebook's tentacles reach further than you think - BBC News
"What is most striking is the sense of resignation, the impotence of regulation, the lack of options, the public apathy," says Dr Powles. "What an extraordinary situation for an entity that has power over information - there is no greater power really."
12 weeks ago
Hits-based Giving | Open Philanthropy Project
One of our core values is our tolerance for philanthropic “risk.” Our overarching goal is to do as much good as we can, and as part of that, we’re open to supporting work that has a high risk of failing to accomplish its goals. We’re even open to supporting work that is more than 90% likely to fail, as long as the overall expected value is high enough.
philanthropy  risk 
12 weeks ago
Black Swan Farming
The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.
12 weeks ago
How Twitch Learned to Make Better Predictions About Everything
At Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, we saw the promise in this research. If an individual can gain a predictive edge, so can a company. We created a program that teaches all our employees to become better forecasters regardless of their quantitative background, organizational role, or area of expertise.
futures  predictions 
12 weeks ago
Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer - Recode
if we are really going to turn over our homes, our cars, our health and more to private tech companies, on a scale never imagined, we need much, much stronger standards for security and privacy than now exist.
privacy  security 
12 weeks ago
Morgan Stanley's Impact Investment Fund Raises $125 Million
Morgan Stanley's Impact Investment Fund Raises $125 Million
may 2017
Indian Election Officials Challenges Critics To Hack Electronic Voting Machine
Indian Election Officials Challenges Critics To Hack Electronic Voting Machine
voting  democracy 
may 2017
Notes From An Emergency
But when it comes to the Internet, Europe doesn't put up a fight. It has ceded the ground entirely to American corporations. And now those corporations have to deal with Trump. How hard do you think they'll work to defend European interests?
EU  BigData 
may 2017
A Story of Slavery in Modern America - The Atlantic
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
slavery  firstperson 
may 2017
Contribution of Libraries to the SDGs - United Nations Partnerships for SDGs platform
IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions will work with our members, including library associations and institutions in 150 countries, to ensure their readiness to support implementation of the SDGs in their country and locally through library services and programmes, including public access to ICT. Libraries provide an essential means of reaching the next billion by supporting digital inclusion through access to ICT, and dedicated staff to help people develop new digital skills.
libraries  SDG 
may 2017
SPI - Current Research
Research Goals
The overarching goal of the Science of Philanthropy Initiative (SPI) is to develop a deeper understanding of the types of social preferences that shape philanthropic giving (including altruism, reciprocity, inequity aversion, warm-glow giving, cooperation and generosity) and to apply this knowledge to inform both practitioners and policymakers interested in philanthropy and the private provision of public goods.
may 2017
Tell the Truth: Do You Secretly Believe That Elites Know Best? — Inside Philanthropy
If you ask a top philanthropist or foundation chief how their influence squares with democracy, they’ll likely say that private giving strengthens civic life by underwriting more robust public debates. They’ll say that a rich tapestry of funders, holding a vast diversity of views, is fueling pluralism in America by backing all kinds of organizations and ideas. Some will also say that smart grantmaking helps to overcome key flaws of democracy—like an aversion to risk taking by elected officials and a lack of long-term thinking by government.

What they’ll never, ever say, at least explicitly, is that philanthropy doesn’t square so easily with democracy—and that this is OK because elites often know best about how to advance the common good. 
may 2017
A Philanthropist’s Guide to the Future
The points of entry have grown more diverse, the attitudes more humble and inclusive, the tactics more sophisticated.
philanthropy  futures 
may 2017
Richard Feynman Creates a Simple Method for Telling Science From Pseudoscience (1966) | Open Culture
Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language. Without using the word “energy,” tell me what you know now about the dog’s motion.

Feynman’s insistence on ordinary language recalls the statement attributed to Einstein about not really understanding something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. The method, Feynman says, guards against learning “a mystic formula for answering questions,” and Oxenham describes it as “a valuable way of testing ourselves on whether we have really learned something, or whether we just think we have learned something.”

It is equally useful for testing the claims of others. If someone cannot explain something in plain English, then we should question whether they really do themselves understand what they profess…. In the words of Feynman, “It is possible to follow form and call it science, but that is pseudoscience.”

Does Feynman’s ordinary language test solve the demarcation problem? No, but if we use it as a guide when confronted with plausible-sounding claims couched in scientific-sounding verbiage, it can help us either get clarity or suss out
plain_english  evaluation 
may 2017
White Fear in the White House: Young Bannon Disciple Julia Hahn Is a Case Study in Extremism
a strange parallel between far-right radio and television empires presided over by the likes of Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and Steve Bannon, and fundamentalist mosques and madrassas that manufacture the extremists of the Islamic world
extremism  CVE 
may 2017
Physiognomy’s New Clothes – Blaise Aguera y Arcas – Medium
Rapid developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have enabled scientific racism to enter a new era, in which machine-learned models embed biases present in the human behavior used for model development. Whether intentional or not, this “laundering” of human prejudice through computer algorithms can make those biases appear to be justified objectively.
A recent case in point is Xiaolin Wu and Xi Zhang’s paper, “Automated Inference on Criminality Using Face Images”, submitted to arXiv (a popular online repository for physics and machine learning researchers) in November 2016. Wu and Zhang’s claim is that machine learning techniques can predict the likelihood that a person is a convicted criminal with nearly 90% accuracy using nothing but a driver’s license-style face photo. Although the paper was not peer-reviewed, its provocative findings generated a range of press coverage. [2]
AI  responsible_innovation 
may 2017
‘I don’t know who I am without it’: the truth about long-term antidepressant use | Society | The Guardian
Prescriptions have doubled in a decade, but very little is known about the effect of taking SSRIs for years and years.
drugs  health 
may 2017
Bradley Files - EXPOSEDbyCMD
may 2017
Why Fiction Might Be Just What Philanthropy Needs | Kris Putnam-Walkerly | Pulse | LinkedIn
Instead, I gained an insight I never expected: fiction can be a bridge for foundations to connect more deeply with the rest of the world.

Here in these pages, amid the twists and turns of a murder mystery and an ill-advised professional romance, is a look at the very human struggles that those behind the walls of foundations face every day. The internal conflicts that many program officers struggle with are presented in the character of Katie Nelson, the book’s protagonist, who is extremely frustrated with her board’s grantmaking decisions and the overall pace of change.
may 2017
The Synergos Approach
Systemic change requires collaboration. Solutions to poverty are often built in silos – and therefore fail.

Synergos creates, promotes, and sustains collaborations among business, government, civil society, and marginalized communities.

We foster successful collaborations by building trust, designing and implementing change processes, and enhancing the effectiveness of bridging leaders and institutions.
may 2017
Second Thoughts: Why I Changed My Mind About Philanthropy and Public Policy — Inside Philanthropy
One problem, as I see it, is that funding for these groups is basically political giving by another name—which is not what philanthropy is supposed to be about, at least as most Americans understand it. 
may 2017
The Soviet Union's Scientific Marvels Came From Prisons - The Atlantic
how do you want to get science done? What you need to do is give people a lot of money and leave them alone. And that’s a very difficult sell if you’re dealing with public money. How do you justify handing money over without very obvious returns? When you look at the hoops that today’s researchers have to jump through, in terms of impact of their research, and what this research is likely to achieve, and what the applications of this research are—it astounds you that anything ever gets discovered at all.
science  evaluation 
may 2017
Applying OKRs | Dan North & Associates
Over the last year or two I have been exploring OKRs—Objectives and Key Results—with several organisations, from a few hundred people in size to a couple of thousand. Some are well over a year in, some are just starting out. There doesn’t seem to be much out there in terms of experience reports or hands-on advice so I have tried to capture the advice I wish I’d had when I started out.

As with any tool, OKRs are going to be misunderstood, misapplied, and just plain abused, but when they are framed properly and applied sensibly I’ve seen them bring order and direction to organisations that lacked both.
may 2017
Global Challenges Foundation
Calling big thinkers, from all disciplines, everywhere. The world needs your brainpower and your best ideas as never before. Compete for US$5 million in prizes. Help to reshape our world.
challenges  prizes  competitions 
may 2017
The internet is enabling scientists to understand how 'collective memory' works
The internet is enabling scientists to understand how 'collective memory' works
april 2017
Emails show how a donation boosted a billionaire's business
STAT reported last month that the university sent $10 million of Soon-Shiong’s $12 million gift right back to NantHealth to pay for genetic sequencing of blood, tissue, and tumor samples. Soon-Shiong, a showy entrepreneur who has vowed to “solve cancer,” denied that the contract had been set up to funnel money to his company or that he had benefited from the arrangement.

But those denials are contradicted by more than a dozen documents STAT obtained from critics of the deal, including email chains and internal memos that circulated at the university and at NantHealth as the deal was being planned and executed.
philanthropy  criticism 
april 2017
T100 Reports – Toniic
The T100: Launch – Insights from the Frontier of Impact Investing makes public for the first time the aggregated portfolios of more than 50 investors, ranging in size from less than $2 million to more than $100 million, successfully targeting and achieving both impact and financial returns across the same asset classes available to traditional investors
impact_investing  philanthropy 
april 2017
Transcript of Reboot 11 speech by Bruce Sterling, 25-6-2009 | WIRED
For people of your generation and especially for your children, objects are print-outs.
april 2017
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