Saturday, October 22, 2016

Finnish Spare-Time Bug Bounty Hunter Found An Error Worth A $22.000 Reward

Via Business Insider:

Good news! Nowadays you don't need a metal detector to find treasure and you don't have to chase wanted criminals to be a bounty hunter. You can hunt rewards comfortably from your computer.

After putting his one and three-year-old boys to bed, 35-year-old Teemu Kääriäinen starts his search for bugs. He’s a father on child care leave during the day time – but at night he’s a hacker.

Kääriäinen has been doing evening time hacking for a year, in a program that awards programmers for finding bugs. After 30 hours of work for the insurance company LähiTapiola he discovered a significant bug. Kääriäinen was rewarded with $18.000. LähiTapiola’s CSO Leo Niemelä officially thanked Kääriäinen on Twitter: “This is Bug Bounty at it’s best. Thank you Teemu!”

On the question as to how there could be such remarkable errors in the system, Leo Niemelä answers to Kauppalehti: “It is humans who build the systems and however much we try, there will always be talented people in the world who can get through and find errors. That's why these type of bounty-programs exist”.

Other companies to use these type of initiatives are Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, according to Helsingin sanomat. Teemu Kääriäinen also hacks for Pay-Pal and says that he will keep hacking despite having a day job now.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Nordics Have The Best Rule Of Law In The World

Via Business Insider:

The Nordic countries have the best justice and integrity in the world. At least according to the World Justice Project's newly released Rule of Law Index 2016. Rule of law is a fundamental condition for liberal democracy.

More than 100.000 households and experts were surveyed to measure rule of law in 113 countries. The index is based on the primary factors of: constraint on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

Denmark turns out to be the best rechtsstaat in the world, followed by Norway, Finland, and finally Sweden.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are Venzuela, Cambodja, Afghanistan, and Egypt.

Here are the top four performers in each of the index's main categories:

Constraints on Government Powers - Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands

Absence of Corruption - Denmark, Singapore, Norway, Finland

Open Government - Norway, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands

Fundamental Rights - Norway, Finland, Denmark, Austria

Order and Security - Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Denmark

Regulatory Enforcement - Singapore, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden

Civil Justice - Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Singapore

Criminal Justice - Finland, Norway, Austria, Singapore

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Simple Psychological Trick Can Jump-Start Relationships And Turn Enemies Into Friends

Via Business Insider:

Sometimes people will dislike each other without really having any reason to do so. And when you're new at a workplace some colleagues take a long time before warming up to you. The good news is that there is a simple physchological trick that can jump-start relationships and turn negative ones around in an instant.

It's as simple as asking for a favor.

Basically, the 'Ben Franklin effect' posits that getting someone to do something for you is a much more effective than trying to win their appreciation by doing something for them. So in frosty relationships, put yourself at the other's mercy by asking for some sort of assistance.

The method was named after the famous American statesman, ambassador to Sweden, author and inventor, Benjamin Franklin, who described it in his autobiography: "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged".

To clarify, here's an anecdote of when Benjamin Franklin used the method to get on the good side of a professional rival who was rather disinclined towards Franklin: "Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favor. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death".

The psychological mechanism behind the effect is called 'cognitive dissonance'.

There are a couple of forces at work when you ask someone for a favor. For one, you're recognizing the other's importance and capabilities and thereby flattering and respecting them. At the same, a request for help or a favor is an act of humility, which effectively sidesteps rivalry.

More importantly, the Ben Franklin effect is also a special case of a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon which describes how humans retroactively change their attitudes so that they are congruent with their actions. If you help someone, your mind will adapt by becoming more inclined towards them so that you can explain the help by the fact that you like them. Similarly, wronging someone will make us more disinclined towards them, to deal with the dissonance between the action and our attitude.

In Benjamin Franklin's example, asking for a favor - which is clever because it is rarely socially feasible to decline doing someone a simple favor - creates cognitive dissonance in his rival because the action of doing Franklin a favor isn't congruent with the attitude of disliking Franklin. To resolve this tension the mind adapts by liking Franklin - then it's a lot easier to explain the favor.

Cognitive dissonance has many other applications.

Premium products are an excellent example of cognitive dissonance at work. In response to regret aversion and in order to explain why one bought something which is more expensive than it merits, the human mind will exaggerate those merits. Most things we make big investments in will therefore seem even better after the fact.

Someone who buys an expensive Tesla, will immediately become a lot more assured of the importance of driving an electric car for the sake of the environment, and will suddenly have no worries about the range of the battery and the prevalence of charging stations. It's not smugness - it's cognitive dissonance.

The same is true for children, for example. Children represent a huge investment in time, money, and self-sacrifice. Cognitive dissonance retroactively inclines the mind to think the investment was well worth it. So we love our children and think they are the best, and don't worry about what life could have been like without them.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Multiple Bomb Threats All Over Denmark

Via Business Insider:

Numerous bomb threats were made in Denmark today causing two airports to close, and two shopping centers to be evacuated along with the Copenhagen Business School campus, Reuters reports.

The threats were made against Roskilde airport and a shopping center outside Roskilde along with the following locations in the Copenhagen area: Copenhagen airport, Copenhagen University, Rigshospitalet, the Fields shopping centrer, Fisketorvet, Frederiksberg Centret, and Copenhagen Business School.

The police explain in a press release that there was reason to believe the threats were hoaxes early on, but that in recognition of the severity of the situation it was still deemed prudent to close the airports and evacuate the shopping centers as a precaution.

The police believe many or all of the threats were made by the same culprit, but the perpetrator has not yet been identified.

Rigspolitiet writes on Twitter that bomb threats have been occuring all over Denmark lately.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hans Rosling Slams The UN's "Post-Fact Era" Practice Of Using "Fourfold Inaccurate" Statistics As The Basis For Aid Distribution

Via Business Insider:

Swedish celebrity statistician Hans Rosling has criticized the UN and policy makers in a new, myth-busting article.

Rosling, who has given TED talks, became an unlikely global phenomenon in recent years and videos of his lectures have chalked up millions of views on Youtube.

His new piece, written with Karolinska University public health assistant professor Helena Nordenstedt for medical journal The Lancet, examined a claim that 60 percent of maternal deaths today come from “humanitarian situations like refugee camps”.

According to Rosling and Nordenstedt, the figure first gained prominence in aid advocacy in late 2015 when the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) cited it, and it has since been quoted in a report by the UN’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health, and even made its way into policy documents.

But after investigation, Rosling and Nordenstedt discovered that the stat, which originated in The Lancet, was based on poorly carried out calculations. According to the writers’ own calculations, it is a “fourfold” inaccuracy.

Nordenstedt told The Local that the continued use of the “60 percent” figure by major organizations could even be considered a lie.

“If it had been two times wrong you could perhaps call it carelessness, but the figure is at least four times too high, and I think that has crossed over into the boundaries of lies, regardless of whether it was negligent or deliberate”, she said.

“The effect is still the same: aid money designed to reduce maternal mortality is wrongly directed to refugee camps and crisis areas instead of the grey, boring, extreme rural poverty in areas in sub-Saharan Africa or in India”.

The article noted it is “surprising” that the inaccurate figure managed to make its way into a highly qualified panel at the UN, and warned that global health has entered a “post-fact era”, “where the labeling of numerators is incorrectly tweaked for advocacy purposes”.

Nordenstedt reiterated that sentiment in her comments to The Local:

“The strange, scary thing is how the figures, just by slipping into The Lancet and being given credibility, then spread and spread because it suits the narrative we see much of today in newspapers around the refugee crisis and migration, and the hope is that through connecting maternal mortality to humanitarian crises it can attract more money”.

Rosling and Nordenstedt’s article concluded that the use of inaccurate numbers in global health advocacy “can misguide where investments are most needed”, and on Friday, the Karolinska assistant professor advised that more fact checking is needed in the area:

“This example shows that there is a need for fact checking within global health to guide the right prioritization. A lot of aid money is going around, and to achieve the best result (in this instance to reduce maternal mortality as effectively as possible) that aid money must be distributed correctly”.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sweden May Be The Best Country To Be A Girl - But 90% Of VC Investments Still Go To Men

Via Business Insider:

This week was International Day of the Girl, and to mark the occasion Save the Children released a report stating that Sweden is the best country to grow up in as a girl. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – with low levels of teenage pregnancies, generous maternity leave and high proportion of female MPs, Sweden ranks consistently high in most gender equality studies. The private sector is also doing well – the number of female business leaders has more than doubled from 17% in 1998 to 37% in 2015.

Things are a bit gloomier in our tech industry.

Half of Sweden’s listed tech companies don’t have a single woman on the board. And while female business owners fail a lot less than their male counterparts, they only received 8% of all Swedish VC last year. And then there’s the female tech entrepreneurs whose businesses don’t get exposure as tech ventures, presumably because they solve what’s perceived to be “soft” issues. As a business developer I’ve seen numerous male VCs reject female tech entrepreneurs on the basis of them not having a tech background, as if that determines a great business idea.

Pretty ironic, considering how tech pioneers pride themselves on being at the forefront of positive change.

For this to be true, the Swedish tech scene needs to adopt a more inclusive language as well as mindset. Our strength does not only lie in our five unicorns, but equally in the tech companies solving issues that are faced by predominantly women. Natural Cycles and Linas Matkasse spring to mind - rarely mentioned as tech startups in media, both use tech to solve everyday issues.

This is not to say all is lost.

There’s a steady increase of girls in Sweden applying to do tech and programming on both college and university levels, incubators such as Minc offer entrepreneurs parental leave as to encourage more mums to explore the entrepreneurial route, and although 90% of all venture capital investments in Sweden still go to men, more than ever before is going to women.

Nevertheless, tech is about power.

And if we only consider tech solutions that have been brought forward by men to be worthy the epithet tech, we’ll inevitably see fewer investments in tech solutions by women, for women, and as a result girls will have fewer role models in tech. Tech is the future, and so are our girls. Excluding one from the other, in rhetoric or otherwise, benefits no one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nordic Startup Organizations Just Started A Joint Fund - To Turn The Region Into "A Global Startup Ecosystem"

Via Business Insider:

As part of the second #NordicMade trip to New York, the delegation of prominent entrepreneurs and central figures within the Nordic startup ecosystems rang the bell to open Nasdaq yesterday morning in New York. In doing so, a new $1.67 million fund for the promotion and support of the Nordic startup ecosystem was inaugurated.

The fund is fittingly called Rising North - the $1.67 million is to be used 'to support the internationalization of the startup ecosystem in the Nordics over the next three years'.

The Nordic region is already known for spewing out successful startups and and a disproportionately large amount of tech unicorns, but with increasing collaboration between the national startup ecosystems the plan is to cement the Nordic region's status as world leading. The Rising North will fund projects that boost the region towards 'a global startup ecosystem'.

“In the Nordics we work hard, we are extremely loyal to our company or our cause and we love technology. It is therefore no surprise that the Nordics have produced a string of very successful technology companies. During the last five years, the Nordics, which account for only 4% of the European population, have produced over 25% of all European exits”, Helga Valfells, CEO of NSA Ventures, Iceland, and Steering Board Member at Rising North said in her keynote speechat the launch.

There is an increasing tendency towards internatinal cooperation on the Nordic startup scene. Slush, the biggest player, notably supports the organization of other events in the region, like Denmark's biggest tech event, the TechBBQ.

Slush is also the main organizer of the #NordicMade trip, but many of the other central organizations for the national startup ecosystems are also on board: Aaltoes and Startup Life from Finland, SUP46 from Sweden, Icelandic Startups from Iceland, #CPHFTW from Denmark, as well as MESH Norway and Startup Norway.

But beyond strengthening ties between those organizing the trip is also an opportunity for eleven entrepreneurs to come to New York and accelerate their businesses by showcasing them to US East Coast venture capitalists and tech media.

All five Nordic countries were represented by the startups: Leadfeeder, PromoRepublic and Solu from Finland, Iris AI and DXTR Tactile from Norway, Corti and Zigna from Denmark, It’s My Styl and Optolexia from Sweden, and Watchbox and Sling from Iceland.