US federal government no longer requires degree for cybersecurity jobs. Hashtag Trending Wed May 1st

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The US federal government relaxes the requirement for university degrees for cyber security professionals, a new study finds that AI may have more empathy that human therapists, Elon Musk lays off an employee who slept in his car near the plant so he could work longer hours and if you think that cancelling that credit card is the way to end all of those online subscriptions – think again.

All this and more on the “some days, you can’t make this stuff up” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host, Jim Love. Let’s get into it.

The US federal government is overhauling its hiring practices for certain technology roles. The White House announced Monday that degree and years-of-experience requirements will be eliminated for a subset of IT and cybersecurity positions across federal agencies.

Under the new skills-based hiring model set to take effect next summer, educational credentials like college degrees will no longer be mandatory for nearly 100,000 current federal IT management jobs. The changes will also apply to government contractor positions in those fields.

National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. said the reforms are intended to open up more cybersecurity career pathways in both the public and private sectors amid a critical workforce shortage.

Rather than focusing on diplomas or strict experience thresholds, applicants will be evaluated primarily on their skills and competencies through assessment tests. The goal is to facilitate hiring from non-traditional talent pools like self-taught technologists.

The initiative stems from the Biden administration’s cyber workforce strategy aiming to modernize the government’s IT recruitment. Previous hiring processes prioritized formal degrees, conflicting with how many cyber professionals develop expertise through certifications, on-the-job training or self-study.

According to data cited by the White House, the U.S. currently has enough qualified workers to fill just 82% of available cybersecurity roles. By broadening its pipelines, officials hope federal agencies and contractors can attract more diverse candidates.

Now if they can just get rid of those requests for 10 years of experience on entry level roles.


Sources include: Axios

A new study suggests advanced AI language models like GPT-4 may possess a remarkable ability to understand and respond to complex human emotions – even outperforming clinical psychologists in some areas. The findings point to the potential for AI to play an increasingly important role in mental health care.

Researchers at King Khalid University in Saudi Arabia put GPT-4, Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing Chat through a series of scenarios designed to test emotional intelligence and social cognition skills. They compared the AI’s responses to those from 180 psychologists at various degree levels.

Remarkably, GPT-4 scored the highest of all participants on the Social Intelligence Scale, correctly navigating 59 out of 64 intricate emotional situations. This exceeded even the most educated psychology professionals involved in the study.

The researchers believe AI’s strong performance showcases the potential for language models to comprehend nuanced psychological needs and provide personalized support, especially as the technology continues advancing.

For example, OpenAI recently introduced a new “memory” feature allowing ChatGPT to retain context from past conversations and learn over time, much like a human therapist understanding a patient’s history.

While AI is not a replacement for human mental health providers, experts say the technology could become a powerful supplemental tool – offering 24/7 access to emotional support, early detection of disorders, and unique treatment insights derived from large data analysis.

Some AI therapy chatbots like Wysa and Woebot are already being deployed to help address shortages of mental health professionals, particularly in underserved areas. And new empathetic voice interfaces can detect emotional cues from speech.

If you haven’t tried it, check out that’s pee eye dot eh eye. I’ve had long and involved conversations with pi. I’m surprised it’s not a therapeutic tool already. Full warning – I am not a mental health care professional – I just was amazed.

And there is the potential for these things to go wrong. Just ask the Catholic diocese that installed an AI without enough testing. Their AI started taking confession and recommended do it yourself baptisms with Gatorade.

But the bottom line is that there is no shortage of need for mental health support here or around the world.  With further development and the right safeguards, this latest study suggests AI’s emotional intelligence capabilities could pave the way for more accessible, personalized and equitable mental health services worldwide.

Sources include: Analytics India and the IBTimes

And speaking of needing help. Here’s a story that epitomizes the continuing layoff stories out there. For those who’ve missed, it, Google fired its Python group a day or so ago and Elon Musk continues to double down on Tesla layoffs.

We can easily forget that these are real people.

An employee at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory who was so dedicated he slept in his car to work longer hours has been laid off by the Tesla.

Nico Murillo spent five years working his way up at Tesla, going from an entry-level production role all the way to becoming a production supervisor. With a 90-minute commute each way, last year Murillo started sleeping in his car and showering at the factory so he could put in even more hours on the job.

But that exceptional commitment didn’t protect Murillo from Tesla’s recent mass layoffs that saw at least 10 percent of the workforce let go with little notice or clarity.

In a LinkedIn post, Murillo described the shocking moment he realized he was out of a job, starting with his corporate accounts being deactivated at 4:30am. When he tried to enter the factory, security guards scanned his badge and informed him he had been laid off.

The abrupt termination left Murillo, who had been logging 12-hour days, sitting in disbelief in his car in the factory parking lot at 6am.

The layoffs were carried out in typical disorganized Tesla fashion according to reports, with security going badge-by-badge to determine who still had jobs.

It’s a stark illustration of how even the most dedicated employees are treated as disposable at Elon Musk’s Tesla as it cuts costs.

And it underscores why unionization efforts are gaining steam at auto plants across America, including at Tesla facilities, as workers fight for better treatment.


Sources include: Yahoo Finance

If you’ve ever switched credit cards thinking it would cancel your recurring subscriptions, you may have been in for an unwelcome surprise. Thanks to a relatively unknown banking tool, those monthly charges could have kept right on coming to your new credit card number.

It’s a common belief that closing an old credit card will automatically stop any subscriptions billed to that card. But major credit card networks actually offer services that can update a merchant with your new card details when you get a replacement.

This essentially creates a virtual tracking system for customers’ financial accounts across banks. When you get a new credit card, your bank automatically shares those updated card details through the network.

This allows companies to seamlessly migrate your recurring charges over to your new credit card behind the scenes – without your permission.

It means those subscription fees could keep getting charged even after you think you’ve moved on.

All major card issuers like Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover offer similar account updater tools for merchants.

Consumer advocates argue the practice is problematic, allowing corporations to keep charging customers who may have intentionally tried to cancel by closing payment methods. But the credit card industry defends it as a customer convenience.

So while cutting up that card may have felt like a clean break, chances are your streaming accounts lived on thanks to this little-known credit card industry tool.

By the way this happens in Canada and the US. We found that LinkedIn and Calendly did this in Canada, much to our surprise.

The only sure-fire way to cancel is to proactively do so with each service and good luck in finding out where you do this on some services.

And that’s our show.

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I’m your host Jim Love, have a Wonderful Wednesday.


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