The summer before my senior year in college I talked my way into an unpaid internship on Capitol Hill. I was able to have this stimulating, resume- and network-enhancing experience because my parents could afford to keep me clothed, housed and fed In in the nation’s capital for 10 weeks.
That’s an advantage not available to lower-income students, even those who’ve gone attending an outstanding high school like those run by charter operator KIPP. A handful of KIPP seniors are about to get a shot at the financial flexibility to build their networks in college, to breathe a bit easier about making ends meet while they pursue their careers.
The program is called the Dave Goldberg Scholarship Program, and it is being funded by the foundation started by Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband and the namesake for the initiative, would have turned 50 today. Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer and bestselling author on women’s empowerment and dealing with grief, is one of best known business executives in the country. Her late husband was one of the best liked—and best connected—executives in Silicon Valley. He was a humble, intelligent, smiling force for good in a community more often known for cut-throat competitiveness than lending a helping hand.
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What makes the program so cool is that it will activate Goldberg’s network, even though he has been gone for a little over two years now. About 4,600 high school seniors associated with KIPP will be eligible to apply to become a “Goldie Scholar.” Each of the 15 winners—Sandberg has committed to fund the program for five years—will receive an annual stipend of $15,000, will be paired with a mentor (a group initially made up of Goldberg’s many accomplished friends), and will be plugged into a network of “connectors” who will help them find internships and jobs. (I was a friend of Goldberg’s and more than once a beneficiary of his network; I have volunteered to be a connector.)
KIPP is a natural choice for Sandberg’s philanthropy. Its CEO, Richard Barth, was a Harvard classmate of Goldberg’s. “We’re all trying to figure out how to make sure this amazing country remains this amazing country and that where you’re born need not dictate where you end up,” says Barth. The program is something those who loved Goldberg most are confident would have excited him. “Connecting people was just a pleasure for Dave,” says his brother Rob, CEO of the L.A.-based digital entertainment studio Fresno.
As a more careful observer of the tech scene than education policy, I was curious to know what KIPP stands for. The 23-year-old organization’s name comes from the expression Knowledge is Power. The creation of the Goldie Scholars program is an acknowledgment that knowledge isn’t enough. The adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters,” may be curtly incomplete. But Dave Goldberg was a guy who knew a lot, cared a lot, and knew a lot of people. This program is a fitting legacy for him.
Cryptofraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission cracked down on a couple of sort-of initial coin offerings, or ICOs. REcoin was advertised as “The First Ever Cryptocurrency Backed by Real Estate,” while DRC, or Diamond Reserve Club, claimed to be backed by investments in diamonds. Only one problem, according to the SEC: neither scheme had “any real operations” and the digital coins they issued “don’t really exist.”
Moar data. The U.S. government made four times as many national-security related data requests from Apple in the first half of the year as the same period of 2016. Apple said it had received between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests affecting between 9,000 and 9,249 users. On a related note, the FBI won’t have to reveal who helped unlock that iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, a federal judge ruled.
Boardroom drama. You’re the new CEO of a company valued at some $60 billion. Suddenly, the prior, deposed CEO appoints two brand new members to the board of directors and you had no idea. Welcome to Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi. In a letter to employees, Khosrowshahi called he move by Travis Kalanick to appoint former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain “disappointing” and “highly unusual.” Not coincidentally, Uber’s board votes Tuesday on governance reforms to limit Kalanick’s power, Bloomberg reports.
Streaming killers. Fresh off its successful IPO, Roku debuted upgrades to its top-selling line of Internet video set top boxes. Looking to crush Apple’s new $180 Apple TV, the new devices range from the $30 Roku Express up to the $100 Roku Ultra. The top end mode got a $30 price cut and can play 4K HDR video at 60 frames per second.
On a lighter note. Check out Group of White Men in Patagonia Vests Confused for VC Fund, Raise $500 Million (and do note the “satire” tag).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
You have probably never heard of Geoffrey Hinton, but the pioneering computer scientist is considered the father of “deep learning,” the artificial intelligence technique behind speech recognition, image recognition and just about every other popular usage right now. James Somers profiles Hinton for MIT Technology Review, asking the question whether the 1980s foundational work of the scientist who has been compared to Albert Einstein is enough to keep the field moving ahead. “Is AI Riding a One-trick Pony,” Somers asks.
When you boil it down, AI today is deep learning, and deep learning is backprop—which is amazing, considering that backprop is more than 30 years old. It’s worth understanding how that happened—how a technique could lie in wait for so long and then cause such an explosion—because once you understand the story of backprop, you’ll start to understand the current moment in AI, and in particular the fact that maybe we’re not actually at the beginning of a revolution. Maybe we’re at the end of one.
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