CS Table

CS Table 3/12/19: The Story of Mel

March 12 CS Table location: JRC 224B, noon.

The reading this week is The Story of Mel: a classic short story about a "real programmer" to give you some historical perspective on computing. There will probably be terms that aren't familiar to you, such as "drum memory," "core memory," and "machine code." While the faculty can provide some context during the discussion, we recommend that you do a bit of delving into strange terms in advance.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm. Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B inside the Marketplace, though a small number will be in an alternate location, so watch each week for the location. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 3/5/19: Moonshots

March 5 CS Table location: CS Commons (3817), noon.
RSVP by noon on March 1 to be included in the pizza order.

At CS Table we will discuss the innovation (or lack thereof) driven by technology companies, guided at least in part by a critique of Google’s "moonshots" that appeared in Communications of the ACM: Thomas Haigh. 2018. Hey Google, What's a Moonshot?: How Silicon Valley Mocks Apollo. Communications of the ACM 62, 1 (December 2018), 24-30.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm. Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B inside the Marketplace, though a small number will be in an alternate location, so watch each week for the location. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 2/26/19: Massive Open Online Courses

Feb. 26 CS Table location: JRC 224B, noon.

At CS Table we will discuss Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

To prepare for our discussion, please read the selection of short articles that appeared in Communications of the ACM in late 2012, and one of the many retrospectives on MOOCs that has appeared more recently. All of the articles are brief, but contain many links to outside sources. You are encouraged to read all of these articles and explore some of their links, but any subset of these articles would be helpful for you to prepare for our discussion.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm. Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B inside the Marketplace, though a small number will be in an alternate location, so watch each week for the location. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 2/19/19: Who owns 3D scans?

Feb. 19 CS Table location: JRC 224B, noon.

In honor of the recent talks about 3D reproduction of Mayan sites, we will discuss the ownership of the data associated with such reproductions. We have two readings, and both include links to other possible resources.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm. Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B inside the Marketplace, though a small number will be in an alternate location, so watch each week for the location. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 2/12/19: Location Data

Feb. 12 CS Table location: JRC 224B

In CS Table on Feb. 12, we will discuss some of the concerns around sharing location data and the implications that sharing location information can have for individuals and society. We will read about two separate cases to inform our discussion.

In the first case, we will read about how cell phone companies sell users’ location information to third parties. Cox, Joseph (2019). I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300, Then He Located Our Phone. Motherboard..

The second case is a recent development in New York City, where police officers object to sharing the locations of officers conducting sobriety checks. Gold, Michael (2019). Google and Waze Must Stop Sharing Drunken-Driving Checkpoints, New York Police Demand. The New York Times..

As you read about each case, consider the following questions: who owns location data, when is it acceptable for location data to be shared, and what are the consequences of sharing location data?

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm. Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B inside the Marketplace, though a small number will be in an alternate location, so watch each week for the location. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 2/5/19: Machine Learning (meets in CS Commons)

NOTE: This Tuesday we will meet in the CS Commons at noon. Please bring your own lunch; we'll try to have some drinks and snacks, too.

This week in CS Table, we will consider some applications of machine learning that show both potential benefit and great risks: The use of ML algorithms in decisions related to bail, sentencing, and parole. We have two readings:

CS Table 1/29/19

Most CS Tables for the spring semester will meet in JRC 224B, though a small number will be in an alternate dining room, so watch each week for the location.

This week we will return to a classic: Ken Thompson’s Turing Award lecture, “Reflections on Trusting Trust.” In this lecture, Thompson reveals a security vulnerability he implemented for UNIX. This thought-provoking lecture raises questions about what it takes to build secure software. We’ll follow that reading up with Bruce Schneier’s summary of Thompson’s work and one attempt to counter this type of attack. You can find both readings below, or in the clear folder on the door to room 3827.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm inside the Marketplace. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table POSTPONED: Software Failures

In one of the early spring CS Tables, we will have a (hopefully) fun discussion focused on software failures. As an example, consider this particular famous Windows blue screen. Regardless of whether or not you are able to attend, please send suggestions to me by email before noon on Monday, December 17th. We will have a projector, so please share relevant images or videos if you find any.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 12/4/18: Open Source and Security

This week's discussion topic was suggested by an alumna, who writes:

Recently an NPM package author handed over control of his open source project to a stranger who promised to maintain the package for future users. The stranger added malicious code to the package, which was then downloaded by millions of users. This raises questions about responsibility in the open source world. What responsibilities does the owner of an open source project hold? What responsibilities are up to the user? What can developers do to utilize open source projects in a safe and secure manner?
There are two recommended readings for the CS Table discussion; the first is an account of the recent event we’ll discuss, and the second is a perspective on security and open source from Bruce Schneier, written in 1999.

You may also find these resources helpful or informative as you prepare for our discussion:

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

CS Table 11/6/18: Tech Company Jobs, Then and Now

This week we’ll look at an interesting article that compares the situations for janitors at two tech companies in two different eras: Kodak in the 1980s, and Apple in 2017. The article paints an interesting picture of how employment at tech companies has changed over the last four decades. In addition to the specifics in the article, I hope we’ll have an opportunity to discuss the role that tech companies (or any employer) might play in economic inequality, the availability of blue-collar jobs, and the changing landscape of career opportunities.

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now. Neil Irwin. The New York Times. 3 Sept 2017.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

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