Law and Legal
“The Library of Congress’s collection of telephone directories represents the following states and localities: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the city of Chicago. The dates of the directories span most of the 20th century. The Library’s United States telephone directory collection consists of 8,327 digitized reels of microfilm; of these, about 3,500 are presented in this collection. The remainder of the collection may be requested from the Microform Reader Services (LJ 139).”
This report from The Brookings Institution’s Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology (AIET) Initiative is part of “AI and Bias,” a series that explores ways to mitigate possible biases and create a pathway toward greater fairness in AI and emerging technologies.
“When it comes to gender stereotypes in occupational roles, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to either mitigate historical bias or heighten it. In the case of the Word2vec model, AI appears to do both. Word2vec is a publicly available algorithmic model built on millions of words scraped from online Google News articles, which computer scientists commonly use to analyze word associations. In 2016, Microsoft and Boston University researchers revealed that the model picked up gender stereotypes existing in online news sources—and furthermore, that these biased word associations were overwhelmingly job related. Upon discovering this problem, the researchers neutralized the biased word correlations in their specific algorithm, writing that “in a small way debiased word embeddings can hopefully contribute to reducing gender bias in society.” Their study draws attention to a broader issue with artificial intelligence: Because algorithms often emulate the training datasets that they are built upon, biased input datasets could generate flawed outputs. Because many contemporary employers utilize predictive algorithms to scan resumes, direct targeted advertising, or even conduct face- or voice-recognition-based interviews, it is crucial to consider whether popular hiring tools might be susceptible to the same cultural biases that the researchers discovered in Word2vec…”
WSJ.com [paywall]: “Prominent figures from Jacob Gottlieb to Betsy DeVos got help from a reputation management firm that can bury image-sensitive Google results by placing flattering content on websites that masquerade as news outlets..Jacob Gottlieb was considering raising money for a hedge fund. One problem: His last one had collapsed in a scandal. While Mr. Gottlieb wasn’t accused of wrongdoing, Googling his name prominently surfaced news articles chronicling the demise of Visium Asset Management LP, which once managed $8 billion. The results also included articles about his top portfolio manager, who died by suicide days after he was indicted for insider trading in 2016, and Mr. Gottlieb’s former brother-in-law, an employee of Visium who was convicted of securities fraud. Searches also found coverage of Mr. Gottlieb’s messy divorce in New York’s tabloids. Jacob Gottlieb, who was considering raising money for a hedge fund, hired Status Labs, a company specializing in so-called reputation management. So last year Mr. Gottlieb hired Status Labs, an Austin, Texas-based company specializing in so-called reputation management. Its tactic: a favorable news blitz to eclipse the negative stories.
Afterward, articles about him began to appear on websites that are designed to look like independent news outlets but are not. Most contained flattering information about Mr. Gottlieb, praising his investment acumen and philanthropy, and came up high in recent Google searches. Google featured some of the articles on Google News. His online makeover shows the steps some executives and public figures are taking to influence what comes up on the world’s top search engine. It also illustrates that despite Google’s promises to police misinformation, sites can still masquerade as news outlets and avoid Google’s detection…
Android Authority – “Microsoft hasn’t had the best reputation when it comes to web browsers. For the past half-decade, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge have played second fiddle to Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, often serving no other purpose than to install these rival browsers. In a bid to win back some share of the browser market, Microsoft is remaking Edge based on Chromium. Chromium is an open-source browser project, or web rendering engine if you prefer, started by Google that developers can build upon to create more fully-fledged browsers. Google Chrome, Opera, and Amazon Silk are just a few examples of browsers built on Chromium. With Microsoft also moving over to the popular open-source project, Firefox now stands out as the last major option not built around Google’s vision for the web. Microsoft Edge Chromium is still in beta, but I’ve been trial running it as my primary PC browser for a couple of weeks now. Microsoft’s Android version of Edge is also built on Chromium, and you can sync bookmarks and other information across both platforms. As a long-time Google Chrome user and frequent dabbler in Firefox, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my time with Chromium-ified Microsoft Edge. In fact, it’s quite likely that Edge will become my default browser upon final release…”
Five Books – Best Books of 2019 – “Every year, we approach experts and ask them to recommend the best books that have been published in their field that year. Below you’ll find all our best books of 2019 reading lists as they are published on Five Books. (Our best books of 2018 and 2017 lists are also still available: those books are also well worth reading!). For subjects like philosophy, history, economics, and science these book recommendations have been specifically made for Five Books. For broad subjects like nonfiction and fiction, where there are so many books and topics it’s impossible for any individual to make a call on what the best books are, we tend to interview the chair of distinguished prizes, as they have systematically gone through all the books published that year to choose the very best. Either way, we can guarantee one thing: all the books below are very, very good books…”
Barbara Levergood. Data Services Librarian, Bowdoin College is the author of a comprehensive, detailed and timely LibGuide resource – Congressional Documents: Impeachment – A selection of materials about and documenting the major events in the impeachment (House) and trial (Senate) of a U.S. President. She calls out this specific reference – The oath before the trial of the impeachment of Clinton: Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 145 (1999), Part 1, Senate, Page 274
…The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Will you place your left hand on the Bible, and raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United
States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?
The CHIEF JUSTICE. I do.
At this time I will administer the oath to all Senators in the Chamber in conformance with Article I, section 3, clause 6, of the Constitution and the Senate’s impeachment rules. Will all Senators now stand and raise your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?
The New York Times – The Great Recycling Con – The greatest trick corporations ever played was making us think we could recycle their products. “In the Video Op-Ed, we debunk a recycling myth that has lulled us into guilt-free consumption for decades.This holiday season, the United States Postal Service expects to ship almost one billion packages — cardboard boxes full of electronics and fabric and plastic galore. And the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generate 25 percent more waste in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than during the rest of the year, an additional one million tons per week. But hey, most of it is recyclable, right? Well, not really…”
Quartz – Yes, There’s Microplastic in the Snow: “This is the year we found microplastic in the snow. Although microplastics have been popping up everywhere from the waters of Antarctica to our table salt, the idea that it could blow in the wind or fall as precipitation back down to Earth is extremely new. The main mode of microplastic transport, as far as we knew as recently as last year, was water. It had already shown up in drinking water a few years prior. But microplastic in snow suggests something different: Microplastics carried by wind, and settling out of the air along with the frosty flakes. Some of the first studies on wind transport appeared just this year; in April, a team of researchers from France and Scotland announced that they’d found microplastics in the Pyrenees, blown in on the wind from as far away as Barcelona. And then, a few months later, scientists found it in the snow. In August, researchers published a paper finding microplastic in the snow of the Swiss Alps, as well as from the Arctic, likely transported by wind. This week, at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting, researchers from the Desert Research Institute Reno presented their findings—they found microplastic in snow in the Sierra Nevadas of California…”
“Our annual Outsiders of the Year list honors the most influential people changing our outdoor world. For 2019, our staff and contributors nominated an original list of 81 candidates, then got busy whittling them down to a select few. The U.S. women’s national soccer team handily won the top spot, not only bringing home their second consecutive World Cup victory, but fighting a battle for gender equality at the same time. Others making the final cut include the teenage leader of a global climate movement; a mountain biker who’s breaking America’s long dry spell on the World Cup circuit; a Nepali climber who’s shattering a mountaineering speed record, and many more. Here are the athletes, entrepreneurs, activists, and creatives who blew up the status quo in 2019…”
Via Mary Whisner – The webinar’s recording will be posted on the Section on Balance in Legal Education site.
The speaker was Heidi E. Ramos-Zimmerman, who wrote The Need to Revisit Legal Education in an Era of Increased Diagnoses of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity and Autism Spectrum Disorders, 123 Dick. L. Rev. 113 (2018), https://ideas.dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/dlr/vol123/iss1/4/
You might be interested in: Stephanie Francis Ward, For Lawyers with Autism, the Work Often Pairs up with Things They Do Well, ABA J. (April 22, 2019, 6:30 AM CDT), http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/for-lawyers-with-autism-the-work-often-pairs-up-with-things-they-do-well (profiling three young attorneys with ASD)…”
Erichson, Howard M., What is the Difference between a Conclusion and a Fact? (August 1, 2019). Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 41, 2019, Forthcoming; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3439489. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439489 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3439489
“In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, building on Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, the Supreme Court instructed district courts to treat a complaint’s conclusions differently from allegations of fact. Facts, but not conclusions, are assumed true for purposes of a motion to dismiss. The Court did little to help judges or lawyers understand the elusive distinction, and, indeed, obscured the distinction with its language. The Court said it was distinguishing “legal conclusions” from factual allegations. The application in Twombly and Iqbal, however, shows that the relevant distinction is not between law and fact, but rather between different types of factual assertions. This essay, written for a symposium on the tenth anniversary of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, explores the definitional problem with the conclusion-fact distinction and examines how district courts have applied the distinction in recent cases.”
Artificial Lawyer – “Despite the much discussed theory that as more tech enters the legal profession the number of lawyers will decline, there is no evidence for that – yet. In fact, the most recent data shows that, in a market such as the UK – which is well-known for tech adoption – the number of lawyers continues to climb at a healthy rate. In a new report by TheCityUK on the current state of the legal sector, the data shows that the number of lawyers in the UK is steadily expanding – despite the Baby Boom era lawyers now heading for retirement…”
Amy Brady – Chicago Review of Books – “This year has been the best in recent memory for nature writing. There were so many great nature books out this year that I broke up my annual round-up of favorites into four separate lists. You can read the first three here , here, and here. Below is list number four, featuring fantastic new books that hit shelves between October and December. Read them all to feel closer to — and learn more about — the natural world…”
PRNewswire – “IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) tech experts unveil their annual predictions for the future of tech, presenting what they believe will be the most widely adopted technology trends in 2020. Six of the top 12 technology predictions have been developed into peer-reviewed articles published in Computer magazine’s December issue, covering topics that include cognitive robotics, practical drone delivery, and digital twins. The tech future forecast by the world’s premier organization of computer professionals consistently ranks as one of its most anticipated announcements. [Note – scroll down through the newswire release to read The top 12 technology trends predicted to reach adoption in 2020 – including Legal related implications to reflect security and privacy.]
Bloomberg – “Big tech companies like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, long seen as some of the world’s most desirable workplaces offering countless perks and employee benefits, are losing some of their shine. The Silicon Valley companies dropped out of the Top 10 “best places to work” in the U.S., according to Glassdoor’s annual rankings released Tuesday. HubSpot Inc., a cloud-computing software company, grabbed the No. 1 ranking while tech firms DocuSign Inc. and Ultimate Software were three and eight, respectively. Facebook, which has been rated as the “best place to work” three times in the past 10 years, was ranked 23rd. It’s the social-media company’s lowest position since it first made the list in 2011 as the top-rated workplace. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, was ranked seventh last year. Google, voted “best place to work” in 2015 and a Top-10 finisher the previous eight years, came in at No. 11 on Glassdoor’s list. Apple Inc., once a consistent Top-25 finisher, was ranked 84th. Amazon Inc., which has never been known for a positive internal culture, failed to make the list for the 12th straight year. Microsoft Corp. was one of the lone big technology companies to jump in the rankings. The Redmond, Washington-based software company moved to No. 21 from 34 a year ago. A few technology companies made the list for the first time, including SurveyMonkey at No. 33, Dell Technologies Inc. at No. 67 and Slack Technologies Inc. at No. 69…”
TIME Person of the Year: “Greta Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.” In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year…”
Vox – But can we protect them? “Dozens of countries have extraordinary tropical forests, but three stand out: Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries not only have the largest areas of tropical forest within their borders; they also have the highest rates of deforestation. We traveled to protected areas deep inside these countries to learn the superpowers of three tree species that play an unusually important part in staving off environmental disaster, not just locally, but globally. These trees play many ecological roles, but most impressive is how they produce rainfall, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and support hundreds of other species. If these ecosystems collapse, the climate effects are likely to be irreversible. And so what happens to these forests truly affects all life on Earth. This is the story of three trees at the center of our climate crisis that provide big benefits to you, me, and the world. Meet the trees, get to know their superpowers, and learn how scientists are trying to protect them…” [this article is beautifully conceived, illustrated and informative – please read and support the protection and planting of these trees..]
The New York Times – “So much of the year’s news played out in the streets. Week after week, protesters poured onto the wide boulevards of Hong Kong, where the photographer Lam Yik Fei seemed to be everywhere. Brexit drew tens of thousands into the streets of London. A subway fare increase was the final spark that led to protests in Santiago, Chile, and people heaved makeshift bombs along a bridge linking Venezuela and Colombia. The tumult of mass gatherings produced some of the year’s most powerful pictures. But a quiet image of two people stood out as perhaps the saddest: Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez lay with his arm limply draped over his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, their lifeless bodies locked together on the banks of the Rio Grande, where they drowned trying to cross from Mexico into the United States.
Every year the photo editors of The New York Times cull through 365 days of photographs in an attempt to recapture and visually distill the year. The result is this collection of images, a visual chronicle of violence, political power struggles, climate catastrophes, mass shootings and a few poignant scenes of everyday life. Some stories were obvious in their photographic power. The wildfires that erupted across California seemed urgent and frightening. Blazes destroyed large parts of the Amazon rainforest. And the entire roof of the 850-year-old Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire, and came perilously close to bringing down the medieval structure. By comparison, Washington’s power struggles mostly eluded the camera. The intrigue that may lead to the impeachment of an American president — the biggest domestic story of this year and probably the next — took place over secret phone calls and behind the closed doors of the Oval Office. Nonetheless, our photographers Doug Mills, Erin Schaff and Damon Winter made subtle and telling images of a process often obscured by political maneuvering and stagecraft…”
The New York Times – “George J. Laurer, whose design of the ubiquitous vertically striped bar code sped supermarket checkout lines, parcel deliveries and assembly lines and even transformed human beings, including airline passengers and hospital patients, into traceable inventory items, died on Dec. 5 at his home in Wendell, N.C., near Raleigh. He was 94…The Universal Product Code made its official debut in 1974 when a scanner registered 67 cents for a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. (The package of gum is now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.) “It was cheap and it was needed,” Mr. Laurer told The New York Times in 2009. “And it is reliable.” The concept that replaced price tags and revolutionized commerce had evolved over several decades, the result of fluky coincidences and the expertise of several collaborators…The bar code sped checkout lines by some 40 percent, eliminated labor-intensive placement of price tags on every product, and resulted in fewer register errors and more efficient inventory controls. But Mr. Laurer often said that he was amazed at how omnipresent it became…”
FastCompany – The future of Google is post-phone, post-Internet, ambient computing all around you. “…The news of today is that Google is repositioning an open source technology it developed called Flutter to have a bigger scope. It’s a software development kit that allows designers to build an app UI just once, and then use that UI on platforms like Android, iOS, or the web without needing to rebuild it or recode it. Flutter allows rich, animated interfaces to be transferred between devices—which has led a million developers to adopt it since 2018. If you’ve played the New York Times crossword puzzle on a phone, or tried Realtor.com’s app, you’ve experienced Flutter without even realizing it…”