Artificial intelligence hates the poor and disenfranchised


The biggest actual threat faced by humans, when it comes to AI, has nothing to do with robots. It’s biased algorithms. And, like almost everything bad, it disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized.

Machine learning algorithms, whether in the form of “AI” or simple shortcuts for sifting through data, are incapable of making rational decisions because they don’t rationalize — they find patterns. That government agencies across the US put them in charge of decisions that profoundly impact the lives of humans, seems incomprehensibly unethical.

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How rich and poor Americans spend money now and 30 years ago


Rent has nearly doubled as a share of a poorer family’s spending.

Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us what the typical American spends on everything from his rent to his reading material. There’s just one problem. In a country with growing income inequality, the typical American leaves out a lot of Americans.



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Bill Gates crushes 3 myths about foreign aid

bill and melinda gates

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates have released a letter in January outlining the work the foundation has done in the last year and they have done this for the past five years. This year, they took a bit of a different approach. They were concerned by virulent myths that programs funded by the Gates Foundation are useless, are not effective, or are potentially dangerous, the couple’s letter focuses on dispelling what they call the three main myths of foreign aid. (videos)



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Northeast corridor is the wealthiest region in the U.S.

The Northeast region shows a kind of wealth belt unmatched even on the West Coast.

America is a tremendously unequal place at the county level.  In 2012, the median household income in the poorest county (Wilcox County, Alabama) was $22,126. In Falls Church, Virginia, where highly educated defense contractors and federal government workers cluster, the median income last year was $121,250, more than five times higher.



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Being a young adult in America is a financial nightmare

Between the ages of 25 and 34, 41.3% percent of Americans will spend at least a year earning less than 150 percent of the poverty line.

In the world’s richest country, poverty is an astonishingly common experience. Almost 40 percent of American adults experience it for at least a year by age 60.  But poverty is especially common among young adults in America.



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50 million Americans living in poverty in the U.S.

Food stamps keep about five million people out of poverty.

There are some big problems with the way poverty is measured in this country. A Census report came out this week based on the “supplemental poverty measure” — a newer, unofficial method that figures in the value of many government benefits, the cost of living in different cities, and health-care costs.



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In America the poor don’t get holidays off

National holidays in the United States really aren’t national holidays. The U.S. isn’t like the rest of the developed world, we don’t guarantee every worker paid time off. Not for summer vacations. Not for Christmas. Not for Memorial Day. So while most of us kicked back with beer and overcooked burgers this past holiday weekend, many were still be on the clock because they need the check.



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17% of smart, poor kids apply to the wrong colleges

The majority of high-achieving kids from low-income backgrounds fail to apply to any selective colleges.

Middle-class American high-school seniors with good grades go through a familiar ritual of the college application process each year. The seniors file a bunch of applications.  They submit test scores, grades, essays, and letters of recommendation. They apply to a “reach” school or two and a “safety” school or two along with some in the middle. The idea is to see where you can get in and then decide where you want to go after researching both the quality of the schools on offer and the actual financial cost of attending. This system is a bit stressful and annoying, but basically it works. Students get matched with schools that roughly suit their level of academic preparation and people have a chance to shop around a bit for the myriad forms of financial aid that make college attendance feasible.

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