From The Editor


 “When it comes to understanding what makes people tick — and get sick — medical science has long assumed that the bigger the sample of human subjects, the better. But new research suggests this big-data approach may be wildly off the mark.”

The above quote comes from a  June 19, 2018 ScienceDaily article by University of California – Berkeley, which advises “If you want to know what individuals feel or how they become sick, you have to conduct research on individuals, not on groups”.   The article warns that “the consequences of continuing to rely on group data in the medical, social and behavioral sciences include misdiagnoses, prescribing the wrong treatments and generally perpetuating scientific theory and experimentation that is not properly calibrated to the differences between individuals,” However, the study lead author is upbeat about big data, noting that “modern technologies allow us to collect many observations per person relatively easily, and modern computing makes the analysis of these data possible in ways that were not possible in the past.” See below, Everything big data claims to know about you could be wrong.

We have had recent warnings that AI applications can cause a wide range of harms due to biased algorithms. Now it appears we are more exposed to developer misbehavior than to faulty algorithms.

“It’s really sort of hilariously simple. If you’ve got a piece of text that you need to be aligned to the right, the way that you align a piece of text to the right is you put a bunch of spaces to the left of that piece of text. Uh, and that act is called “left-padding.” Um, and that’s all that left-pad does”

So why, on March 22nd 2016, did left-pad became  the most important program in the world? And why in 2018 are we seeing problems caused by “The sudden departure of a developer from GitHub, along with the Go code packages he maintained”?  See below, Algorithm, Schmalgorithm: Developer Tantrums May Be A Bigger Threat .

“this report makes a mistake that is unfortunately common in the debate on the future of work. The proposed “solutions” fixate on increasing the supply of talented young people, when the problem is a lack of demand.”

Yes, the debate on job creation still rages and a new report adds fuel to the flame. The above quote  is from June 21, 2018 article in The Conversation  which takes issue with a report from the Foundation for Young Australians. The author notes that Even if we overhaul our post-secondary education systems – and we should – there is no guarantee that they will offer immediate solutions to the problems facing young workers. On the other hand, there is a great opportunity to redirect young job seekers towards the existing skills and occupational shortages in the labour market.” The article gives a range of job creation initiatives which are being explored  in Australia and overseas. See below, Why we don’t need to prepare young people for the ‘future of work’.

Gonski 2.0 urges us to get our children back to basics through the “three Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic. For educators, there is now a greater need for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) concepts to integrate with the arts (STEAM) across the wider curriculum.”

This quote is from a June 11, 2018 Explainer in The Conversation. The authors are from separate branches of science, technology and arts at 3 Australian Universities. They use links, diagrams and a video clip from movie Black Panther,  to illustrate how “STEAM education in schools provides students with the opportunity to learn creatively, using 21st century skills such as problem solving.” The Explainer gives global examples of practical applications of STEAM.  See below, Explainer: what’s the difference between STEM and STEAM?


Current Issue

Articles in the current Issue cover:

Everything big data claims to know about you could be wrong

For example, a group analysis of people with depression found that they worry a great deal. But when the same analysis was applied to each individual in that group, researchers discovered wide variations that ranged from zero worrying to agonizing well above the group average.”

Algorithm, Schmalgorithm: Developer Tantrums May Be A Bigger Threat

The blog points out the dangers of allowing reuse of abandoned names, including an interesting reference to Russian tweeting in Twitter accounts abandoned by the US government. 

Why we don’t need to prepare young people for the ‘future of work’.

“If only 50 jobs are available for every 100 young workers in our economy, increasing their skill level doesn’t make all 100 young workers any more likely to get a job.”

Explainer: what’s the difference between STEM and STEAM?

“There’s also the US’ – a weblog of open source creative STEAM experiences, and OfficeMax in collaboration with Cool Australia, which launched a new national initiative to help educators integrate STEAM learning into Australian primary and secondary schools last month. ”


QESP Blog 

Redactio ad absurdum?

Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) requests to the Australian Public Service are often heavily redacted but a recent US blog suggests their redactions are even worse. This tongue in cheek post by Kathryn Rubino, an editor at Above the Law, shows that comic book characters have privacy rights too. See When In Doubt Redact It All — FBI Gets Redaction Happy With FOIA Request



Consensus Continued Recognition for 20 Years

Date: Wednesday 25th July 2018
Location: PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Celebrating 20 years of operation, Consensus ( was started in 1999 and runs a series of Awards Programs that identify the most innovative technology designed and developed in Australia (and some in New Zealand). Over 1000 evaluations of innovation have been conducted by more than 160 independent Judges since the Awards were started. Independent analysis of the Winners of the Awards shows that 9 out of 10 of the Winners of Consensus Awards have gone on to perform exceptionally well internationally. The same research showed that across the board, the companies have enjoyed over 1300% increase in sales or value since they have won Awards.

Based upon these achievements, Consensus can truly claim to be the World’s Most Successful Awards Program. The Hon Zed Seselja MP, Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs & Innovation will present the 2018 Consensus Awards at a Gala Dinner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the evening of Wednesday 25th July 2018. For further information:



Yes, we are still planning ACOSM18 as a QESP/ACS event. The plan is for an evening event, 5.30 for 6.00, keynote, 2 speakers and  Forum till 7.30, drinks & fingerfood till  8.00. Further details to be provided in the July 2018 Newsletter.



Quote of the Day

“Wherever you are, design your life. Live the values of your generation. Your network is your filter.” – Don Tapscott (opinion leader, author of the Grown Up Digital and The Digital Economy)

Quote from Yesteryear

“Everything you say is boring and incomprehensible,” she said, “but that alone doesn’t make it true.”  – Franz Kafka, from “Description of a Struggle” (1912)


Ted Smillie

QESP Chair