As millions file for unemployment benefits in the United States every week, states’ aging computer systems simply cannot keep up.
States like New Jersey and Connecticut have said they are desperate for programmers who are still familiar with COBOL, a programming language that debuted in 1960 and is still used in critical computer systems like unemployment databases and banks. It’s estimated that COBOL is currently used in 95% of ATMs around the world.
Despite its wide usage, most programmers today are taught newer languages, like C (which is only a few years newer but has had more staying power) or…
Over the weekend, New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, made an unusual public plea during his daily coronavirus briefing: The state was seeking volunteer programmers who know COBOL, a 60-year old programming language that the state’s unemployment benefits system is built on. Like every state across the nation, New Jersey was being flooded with unemployment claims in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. And New Jersey’s data processing systems were unprepared.
“We literally have a system that is 40-plus years old,” Murphy said.
Twenty years ago, learning how a website worked was as simple as clicking “view source” in a web browser — which is how many of today’s developers learned to write code. It was easy to start by hacking together custom MySpace or Tumblr themes, which eventually led to building a website or app, and ultimately a career.
These days, things are a little different: While the “view source” option is still ubiquitous in modern browsers, sites use code libraries like Facebook’s React that make it easier for programmers to add complex features, but also make that public code undecipherable. …
Artificial intelligence should treat all people fairly, empower everyone, perform reliably and safely, be understandable, be secure and respect privacy, and have algorithmic accountability. It should be aligned with existing human values, be explainable, be fair, and respect user data rights. It should be used for socially beneficial purposes, and always remain under meaningful human control. Got that? Good.
These are some of the high-level headings under which Microsoft, IBM, and Google-owned DeepMind respectively set out their ethical principles for the development and deployment of A.I. They’re also, pretty much by definition, A Good Thing. …
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