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Facebook Helps Give Hacking a Good Name Again

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Programming 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Ira Winkler writes that whenever he sees another "cyberchallenge" getting play in the press, he think our priorities are screwed up. "People seem to think that organizing teams of people to hack into systems is a way to bring together the best computer talent to square off against each other," writes Winkler. "I look at it as a waste of that talent." That's why Winkler supports Facebook's latest Hacker Cup which has become one of the few tests of creative computer talent. Facebook is using the original definition of "hacker," referring not to someone who breaks into computer systems, but rather to an individual who "enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities." Facebooks's contest consists of successive sets of increasingly difficult algorithmic problems. Scoring will be based on how accurately and quickly the programmers complete the puzzles. Last year's contest featured challenges such as determining the optimum number of shield generators and warriors one should acquire for the Facebook game Starcraft II and calculating the best race car driving strategy given a variable number of opponents, race track curves and likelihood of crashing. "Meanwhile, the media effectively lionize groups like Anonymous by breathlessly reporting on their latest hacks," writes Winkler. "What we really should be doing is not to reward a handful of students to find problems, but to train all students, and inevitably the profession, to integrate security into their efforts from the start.""

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