The algorithm made me do it!

The algorithm made me do it shows one of the primary reasons explainable artificial intelligence will be needed in the future. Many AI solutions seem to be a black box which few, if any, individuals can explain the particular output.

This Harvard Business Review article highlights why the black box approach to AI in the future won’t be feasible. The author notes that the “The algorithm told me to do it” defense won’t likely stand up in court.

To read the rest of the article, go to hbr.org/2019/11/why-business-leaders-need-to-understand-their-algorithms

Juice-jacking — Is this a real security threat?

Juice jacking is ability for cybercriminals to replace legitimate, public USB chargers with devices that have the capability to download data from your phones. Just this month, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office warned travelers of the potential dangers of using USB charging ports in public places.

Image by mhoppsy from Pixabay

However, when asked, the DA’s office said they have had no official reports of Juice-jacking taking place in the area. In short, many believe this cyberattack is feasible, but not widespread.

My advice is to use either power packs or plug into an electrical outlet if at all possible. Even though this isn’t widespread to date, caution should still be exercised.

For more information, see Snopes at https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/juice-jacking-real-security-issue/ or How to Geek at: https://www.howtogeek.com/166497/htg-explains-what-is-juice-jacking-and-how-worried-should-you-be/

Are you teaching Blockchain?

For those of us discussing blockchain in our accounting courses, it can sometimes be difficult for students to visualize how the blockchain works.

Visualization of blockchain

I recently used this game in my business analytics and emerging technologies course for upper level accounting students. The feedback was great! Students commented that it helped them visualize the blockchain even more.

https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Blockchain-Game/

Best Excel Reference Book

Over the years, I have used many Excel reference books to continually try to find new tips and tricks. There have been several that have been pretty good. Some were too basic, others just not helpful.

This book is aimed at the intermediate level users. This feature made the book attractive as I don’t need pages of introductory material in Excel.

Picture of book

The book has great descriptions of methods to analyze and manipulating data — perfect for accountants. It also has tons of practice exercises for those wanting to use the text in the classroom.

For more information on the book, go to https://amzn.to/335Elez for Excel 2016 or https://amzn.to/358w77B for Excel 2019.

Fool the prof — Make any Wikipedia article look like a legitimate journal site

A recent Buzzfeed article (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/wikipedia-fake-academic-journal ) claimed that a new website would convert any Wikipedia page into a PDF that looks just like a respected journal article. It even gives users the appropriate MLA or APA citation with a preview of what a professor would see if they clicked the link.

So, I had to try the website myself.

The first thing I see on the website is a field to enter a link the Wikipedia link. So, I put in the URL for the Blockchain site.

M-journal.org first page
M-journal first page

After a few short seconds, it gave me a view of a PDF looking file, complete with ink blotches of an article on blockchain. Weird title, but possible.

Initial view of copied article.
Initial view of copied article

To get the citation, a student clicks on the button and different formats are provided. An URL is provided as part of the link.

The second button shows what an instructor would see if they viewed the link.

Instructor view
Instructor view

The page looks like a valid journal at first glance it looks like a legitimate journal, complete with a fake ISSN number. From what I can see, the article is pretty much a straight copy of Wikipedia.

So, this leads the question. Would you rather have the student cite Wikipedia directly, than trying to falsify the source? At least then the citation could be judged on its own merit.

Taking the CPA exam? Check out these free webinars

Surgent CPA review is offering free webinars for those interested in or preparing for the CPA exam.

Topics in October/November 2019 include:

  • You failed part of the CPA exam – now what?
  • Pass a section in 3 weeks – here’s how.
  • How earning a certification boosts your accounting career

In addition to the live upcoming webinars, there are several archived topics.

Improving teaching — Sometimes the easiest things are best

I hope all of us want to be better teachers and help students learn. That starts with students feeling comfortable in the classroom. Part of that is knowing that you care, or at least notice them.

Classroom

This Chronicle of Higher Education blog gives 3 ways that you can do this. Guess what? They are all pretty simple.

  • Get to learn students names. Sometimes we may make an error, but show that you are trying.
  • Respond to emails in a timely manner. Along with that, teach your students some basic e-mail etiquette.
  • Show up — for office hours, that is. Be there when you say you will be there.

Solving the cybersecurity skills gap

There is a global cybersecurity skills crisis. The threat continues to grow as there is a shortage of experts to reduce cyber attacks.

Computer Security

One expert believes the field is changing too fast that this issue will not be solved in the classroom. Certifications and other static methods lag behind the latest techniques used by hackers.

The most important skills for a cybersecurity to develop is creativity and curiosity, as well as thinking on one’s feet, skills that are rarely honed while in the classroom. The best learning will be by doing as real attacks are occurring.

INDEX/MATCH or VLOOKUP?

The VLOOKUP function is widely used to retrieve information from a range of data. Although that function works great, most of the time, it does have some limitations.

This article gives a great summary of when to use INDEX/MATCH vs the VLOOKUP function. https://excelzoom.com/3109-2/

Of course, soon in Office 365, this will all go away with the XLOOKUP function