Sunday, 8 January 2012

Objective Proficiency p 100. The Avoid Ghetto App. Extra Listening

Listen to the news report and fill in the gaps with a word or a short phrase.

Microsoft has patented a new app involving 1_____________________________ , which is intended to help 2_____________________________ .

Critics of the new app think that it is nothing 3_____________________________ .

The official name on the patent is 4_____________________________ .

The technology in the patent will take information from maps, weather information, 5_____________________________and 6_____________________________  and then create walking directions.

Sarah Chinn is a(n) 7____________________ professor at Hunter College who wrote a book titled 8_____________________________ of American Racism .

The crime statistics from the FBI for 2010 show that 9___________________________________ more often for violent crimes than any other race.

In current city crime rankings by the CQ Press, the city of 10_______________________________ in the state of 11____________________________ had the highest crime rate.

According to Maurice Garland, many of those offended by the app are 12____________________________ ,  but he believes that the feature is 13_____________________________racist.

But Rob Enderle says that the app is simply aimed at making 14_______________________________.

In the UK, Jeff Gilfelt had developed a similar app that uses government data, but it didn’t generate the 15___________________________________ that Microsoft’s did.


1-  GPS services/technologies

2- pedestrians

3- short of racist

4- pedestrian route production

5- crime statistics

6- demographics

7- English

8- Technology and the Logic

9- whites were arrested

10- Flint

11- Michigan

12- people of color

13- more classist than

14- navigation systems more intelligent/better

15- level of controversy


ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Microsoft is facing criticism for a new app it has patented for GPS services. It has been dubbed the avoid ghetto feature. The technology is meant for pedestrians, to help them avoid bad weather, difficult terrain and what the patent describes as an unsafe neighborhood. As we hear from NPR's Allison Keyes, critics consider the feature nothing short of racist, while others insist it's simply the next step in GPS technology.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: Let's be clear: The word ghetto doesn't appear anywhere in the patent. It's called pedestrian route production. Microsoft declined any comment. The technology in the patent will take information from maps, weather information, crime statistics and demographics, then create directions, quote, "taking the user through neighborhoods with violent crime statistics below a certain threshold." But a slew of headlines included the incendiary avoid ghetto nickname and generated some outrage.

SARAH CHINN: I was pretty appalled.

KEYES: Sarah Chinn is author of "Technology and the Logic of American Racism" and an English professor at Hunter College. Chinn says she understands why people might want such a GPS feature so they'd feel safe, but she says it reinforces assumptions about violent crime that aren't true. Chinn says the nickname the patent has picked up and the news coverage of the technology illustrate the assumption that it will steer you away from neighborhoods where blacks and Latinos live because those are bad neighborhoods.

CHINN: Even that immediate association is itself a symptom of the problem.

KEYES: Chinn says that storyline is so embedded in American society that people make what she calls that jump without even having to explain it.

CHINN: Which is to say we as white middle-class readers will immediately understand, you know, what this is all about.

KEYES: Chinn says we need to be able to distinguish between our prejudices and our assumptions and what's actually true. Though FBI crime stats for 2010 show that whites were arrested more often for violent crimes than any other race, Chinn says...

CHINN: In much of dominant American culture, there's an assumption that criminality and being poor and not white go hand in hand.

KEYES: On the Internet, there have been bitter battles with written comments urging people to, quote, "just stay out of black and Hispanic neighborhoods." Or others describing as racist people who, quote, "naturally associate avoiding crime with avoiding blacks." Of course, some folk, including editor Maurice Garland, poked a little fun at the controversy.

MAURICE GARLAND: I mentioned Flint, Michigan.

KEYES: Garland posted a piece on the African-American website listing places he felt would likely show up as unsafe on the software. Flint had the highest crime rate in current city crime rankings by the CQ Press.

GARLAND: I wouldn't be surprised if the entire city of Flint got a big red dot on the avoid ghetto application.

KEYES: Garland says many of those offended by his posting about the technology were people of color, but he personally thinks the feature is more classist than racist.

GARLAND: I don't think anybody from any particular race is being singled out, I mean, because they are using crime data to come up with these figures. So I mean, you know, if you don't want to end up in those places, I mean, I don't see anything wrong with somebody trying to help you out.

ROB ENDERLE: I think it's something that users of the technology have been asking for some time.

KEYES: Industry analyst Rob Enderle says the GPS feature in the patent has nothing to do with race or income. He says it's about technology doing for us what it's supposed to be doing.

ENDERLE: It's part of an overall effort to make navigation systems more intelligent, so they keep you out of danger whether you're driving or you're on foot.

KEYES: In England two years ago, Jeff Gilfelt created a similar app that also uses government data. He says what's important is how software is developed and the quality of data it uses.

JEFF GILFELT: If it's taking data about, you know, incidents of crime that, you know, directly impact public safety, there should be no racial or economic or class bias there.

KEYES: Gilfelt says his app didn't generate the level of controversy the Microsoft patent has. But there is an app that was created as an answer to his. It's called the Awesome Meter, and its description says it gives hope and security rather than spreading fear and distrust.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

  • Dub somebody+ noun:  to give somebody/something a particular name, often in a humorous or critical way. Apodar. E.g The Belgian actor Jean–Claude Van Damme has been dubbed ‘Muscles from Brussels’.
  • Little/nothing short of something: used when you are saying that something is almost true, or is equal to something, it is the equivalent of, the same as : Equivalente a, igual que, lo mismo que, prácticamente.. etc. E.g. Last year's figures were little short of disastrous. The transformation has been nothing short of a miracle.
  • Threshold: /ˈθreʃhəʊld/ the point just before a new situation, period of life, etc. begins. Umbral. E.g. She felt as though she was on the threshold of a new life.
  • A slew of:  /sluː/ a large number or amount of something. E.g. This year has seen a whole slew of novels set in Hong Kong.
  • Incendiary: /ɪnˈsendiəri/ causing strong feelings or violence. Inflammatory. Que exalta. E.g. incendiary remarks.
  • Outrage: a strong feeling of shock and anger. Indignación. E.g. Environmentalists have expressed outrage at the ruling.
  • Appalled: /əˈpɔːld/ feeling or showing horror or disgust at something unpleasant or wrong.  Horrified. Consternado, horrorizado. E.g. We watched appalled as the child ran in front of the car.
  • Pick up: get, obtain something. E.g. I seem to have picked up a terrible cold from somewhere. I picked up £30 in tips today.
  • Steer (something /somebody) (+ adverb/preposition): to control the direction in which a boat, car, etc. moves. E.g. He steered the boat into the harbour. (Figurative) He took her arm and steered her towards the door.
  • Stats: statistics. A collection of information shown in numbers.
  • Hand in hand: if two things go hand in hand, they are closely connected and one thing causes the other. E.g. Poverty and poor health often go hand in hand.
  • Poke fun at somebody/something: to say unkind things about somebody/something in order to make other people laugh at them. Ridicule. E.g. Her novels poke fun at the upper class.
  • Single somebody/something  out (for something/as somebody/something): to choose somebody/something from a group for special attention. Seleccionar, señalar. E.g. She was singled out for criticism. He was singled out as the outstanding performer of the games.
  • Bias: a strong feeling in favour of or against one group of people, or one side in an argument, often not based on fair judgement.

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