Law and Legal
“Much of the current discussion on automation is of the “robots-killing-jobs” variety. This alarmism is unsurprising. After all, most research to this point has focused on the introduction of robots into manufacturing, or on computer algorithms that automate routine tasks. These are changes that have replaced, and will continue to replace, jobs that many workers, families and communities have historically depended on.
But if history is any guide, the . As Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo (2019) suggest [in the paper Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor], the future of work and the workforce will depend on the balance between labor replacing technologies – those that supplant human brawn or rote repetition – and, in their language, labor reinstating technologies, that generate new tasks at which humans have a comparative advantage…”
“Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “”The Immigration Court backlog continues to rise. As of February 28, 2019, . This is an increase of over three hundred thousand (313,396) pending cases over the backlog at the end of January 2017 when President Trump took office. This figure does not include the over three hundred thousand previously completed cases that EOIR placed back on the “”pending”” rolls that have not yet been put onto the active docket.
Recent family arrivals now represent just 4 percent of the current court’s backlog. Since September 2018 when tracking of family units began, about one out of every four newly initiated filings recorded by the Immigration Court have been designated by DHS as “”family unit”” cases. The actual number of families involved were less than half this since each parent and each child are counted as separate “”court cases”” even though many are likely to be heard together and resolved as one consolidated family unit. There has been no systematic accounting of how many cases involving families arriving at the border will involve Immigration Court proceedings in their resolution. Families arriving at the border do not automatically have the right to file for asylum in Immigration Court. Thus far, the number of families apprehended by the Border Patrol or detained at ports of entry dwarf the actual number of these cases that have made their way to Immigration Court.”
- #NewFilters to manage the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing – Report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Inquiry: “Managing the Impact of Social Media on Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing”
Google DeepMind: “Navigating through unstructured environments is a basic capability of intelligent creatures, and thus is of fundamental interest in the study and development of artificial intelligence. Long-range navigation is a complex cognitive task that relies on developing an internal representation of space, grounded by recognisable landmarks and robust visual processing, that can simultaneously support continuous self-localisation (“I am here”) and a representation of the goal (“I am going there”). Building upon recent research that applies deep reinforcement learning to maze navigation problems, we present an end-to-end deep reinforcement learning approach that can be applied on a city scale. Recognising that successful navigation relies on integration of general policies with locale-specific knowledge, we propose a dual pathway architecture that allows locale-specific features to be encapsulated, while still enabling transfer to multiple cities.
- We present an interactive navigation environment that uses Google Street View for its photographic content and worldwide coverage, and demonstrate that our learning method allows agents to learn to navigate multiple cities and to traverse to target destinations that may be kilometres away.
- In addition to our NeurIPS 2018 paper and supplemental material, you can download the 644 lat/long locations of the landmarks used for goal representation, manually picked across London, New York City and Paris and stored as a tab-separated file…”
Center for Data Innovation: “The Financial Times has released a free data visualization tool called FastCharts to help people make professional charts with their data in less than a minute. Users can paste in their data in CSV or TSV format and the tool will automatically create an area, bar, column, or line chart with labels and a title. Once the tool creates a chart, users can customize their chart through actions such as highlighting specific data on the chart or changing the scale.”
- “Semantic Scholar helps researchers find better academic publications faster. Our engine analyzes publications and extracts important features using machine learning techniques. The resulting influential citations, images and key phrases allow our engine to “cut through the clutter” and give you results that are more relevant and impactful to your work…
- Semantic Scholar is committed to supporting high-impact research and engineering by providing universities and organizations access to our data. Please visit http://labs.semanticscholar.org/corpus/ to find data to support your research. We request that any published research that makes use of this data cites the paper provided.
- We have millions of articles in our index and continually add more. We use a variety of carefully tuned mechanisms to make sure we only index high-quality publications. If a valuable publication appears to be missing from our index please send us a publicly accessible link where we can access the publication in PDF form. Please note, we are unable to add papers from social sites like ResearchGate and Google Scholar at this time…”
Futurism – Reassuringly, Futurism articles registered as being written by humans. “Last month, developers from OpenAI announced that they had built a text generating algorithm called GPT-2 that they said was too dangerous to release into the world, since it could be used to pollute the web with endless bot-written material. But now, a team of scientists from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab and Harvard University built an algorithm called GLTR that determines how likely it is that any particular passage of text was written by a tool like GPT-2 — an intriguing escalation in the battle against spam.
When OpenAI unveiled GPT-2, they showed how it could be used to write fictitious-yet-convincing news articles by sharing one that the algorithm had written about scientists who discovered unicorns. GLTR uses the exact same models to read the final output and predict whether it was written by a human or GPT-2. Just like GPT-2 writes sentences by predicting which words ought to follow each other, GLTR determines whether a sentence uses the word that the fake news-writing bot would have selected…The IBM, MIT, and Harvard scientists behind the project built a website that lets people test GLTR for themselves. The tool highlights words in different colors based on how likely they are to have been written by an algorithm like GPT-2 — green means the sentence matches GPT-2, and shades of yellow, red, and especially purple indicate that a human probably wrote them…”
“The American Economic Association is today releasing results from a survey of current and former members about the professional climate in economics, conducted under the auspices of the AEA’s recently created standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Professional Conduct (CEDPC). For the Committee’s summary report of the survey results, see here. As the deadline for submitting replies to the survey (February 28) has just passed, the report being released today consists primarily of simple tabulations of the responses. A more extensive report including statistical analyses, analysis of open-ended survey questions, and some comparisons with results of other surveys will be made available in early summer 2019.
Although a full analysis of the survey results remains to be done, it is evident from the findings released today that many members of the profession have suffered harassment and discrimination during their careers, including both overt acts of abuse and more subtle forms of marginalization. This is unacceptable. Excluding or marginalizing people based on their gender, race, or other personal characteristics is not only deeply unfair to those who are excluded, it damages the field as a whole by limiting the diversity of perspectives and dissuading talented people from becoming economists. It is striking that, in an era when women and members of under-represented minority groups have entered so-called STEM fields at increasing rates, the low rates of participation and advancement of women and minorities in economics have changed little in recent decades….”
The New York Times – These married architects are democratizing the 3-D printing process, using materials destined for the trash heap — like curry powder and coffee grounds — in place of drywall and foam. “On a bone-chilling day here with the winter rains pelting down, the architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello retreated to their cozy 3-D printed cabin in the backyard. A wall of moist succulents on the facade was springing to luxuriant life, embedded in rosette-patterned tiles 3-D printed from chardonnay grape skins, sawdust and cement. Raindrops pitter-pattered across 3-D-fabricated ceramic shingles. Inside, a translucent bioplastic wall with cloudlike swirls — yes, also 3-D printed — changed colors on demand as Mr. Rael, with a clicker, shifted the hues from pink to green to purple, bathing the interior in otherworldly light.
It was just another weekend for the couple, 3-D printing pioneers who have developed novel techniques for sustainable building, often using low-cost waste materials like mud, dirt, nutshells, coffee grounds, and other discards that are “essentially free,” Ms. San Fratello said. Along the way, they have made 3-D printing cheaper and more accessible, often relying on lightweight printers to fabricate architectural components that can be assembled into large structures. These include the “Cabin of Curiosities” prototype in their backyard…”
Politico “…the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed a claim brought by surviving family members of the Sandy Hook massacre against the manufacturers, distributors and direct sellers of the weapon to move forward toward trial. Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC, has monumental implications not only for the surviving families, but potentially for the entire gun industry.
The Connecticut court’s 4-3 decision in favor of the plaintiffs offers a blueprint for overcoming a federal law that offers sweeping protection for the gun industry. In 2005, Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), an unprecedented decree that swamps state tort law and rules out most claims that might otherwise be brought against gun manufacturers and retailers. The law was enacted in response to then-recent judicial developments. A few courts had allowed cities to sue gun sellers under a theory of public nuisance, the core of which was that the defendants had pumped guns into the city through aggressive and misleading marketing, and had then increased the danger by irresponsible sales to unqualified buyers. Other courts were also beginning to allow victims’ tort claims against gun sellers to move forward….”
Motherboard: “Elsevier, the company behind scientific journals such as The Lancet, left a server open to the public internet, exposing user email addresses and passwords. The impacted users include people from universities and educational institutions from across the world. It’s not entirely clear how long the server was exposed or how many accounts were impacted, but it provided a rolling list of passwords as well as password reset links when a user requested to change their login credentials.Advertisement
“Most users are .edu [educational institute] accounts, either students or teachers,” Mossab Hussein, chief security officer at cybersecurity company SpiderSilk who found the issue, told Motherboard in an online chat. “They could be using the same password for their emails, iCloud, etc.”
Elsevier is controversial, after acquiring a number of platforms that distributed academic material for free. Profit-driven Elsevier’s legal threats against other sites that openly host millions of scientific papers have forced them to go into the digital underground, and distribute their material with the protection of the Tor anonymity network. Some universities have boycotted Elsevier….”
[Dow Jones/WSJ paywall] via Morningstar: “Federal prosecutors and Department of Transportation officials are scrutinizing the development of Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX jetliners, according to people familiar with the matter, unusual inquiries that come amid probes of regulators’ safety approvals of the new plane. A grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 to at least one person involved in the 737 MAX’s development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other messages, one of these people said. The subpoena, with a prosecutor from the Justice Department’s criminal division listed as a contact, sought documents to be handed over later this month. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Justice Department’s probe is related to scrutiny of the Federal Aviation Administration by the DOT inspector general’s office, reported earlier Sunday by The Wall Street Journal and that focuses on a safety system that has been implicated in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people, according to a government official briefed on its status. Aviation authorities are looking into whether the anti-stall system may have played a role in last week’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board.
The subpoena was sent a day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash a week ago. Representatives of the DOT’s inspector general and the Justice Department declined to comment. The inspector general’s inquiry focuses on ensuring relevant documents and computer files are retained, according to the government official familiar with the matter…”
Vulture: “There are now an estimated 660,000 podcasts in production (that’s a real number, not some comically inflated figure I invented to communicate “a lot”), offering up roughly 28 million individual episodes for your listening enjoyment (again, a real number; yes, someone counted). The first two seasons of the most popular podcast of all time, Serial, have been downloaded 340 million times. In podcast lore, the form was born in 2004, when the MTV VJ Adam Curry and the software developer Dave Winer distributed their shows Daily Source Code and Morning Coffee Notes via RSS feed. Or maybe it was really born in 2005, when the New Oxford American Dictionary declared podcast the Word of the Year. Or maybe it was born in 2009, when abrasive stand-up Marc Maron started his podcast, on which he interviews fellow comedians and other celebrities in his California garage, debuting a disarmingly intimate and bracing style that culminated in a conversation with Louis C.K., named by Slate four years later as the best podcast episode of all time. Or maybe it was born in 2015, when people realized that Joe Rogan, a former sitcom star and MMA enthusiast, had a podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, which started, in his description, as “sitting in front of laptops bullshitting” and was now being listened to by 11 million people every week. Or maybe podcasts were born way back in 1938, when Orson Welles proved that a seductive voice could convince you of anything, even the impending arrival of aliens. Or maybe they weren’t born until February of this year, when the music-streaming company Spotify bought the podcast-production company Gimlet Media for a reported $230 million, enough money that even the most skeptical observers had to acknowledge that targeted nuggets of radio on demand might be the future of media and not just a quaint variation on its past…” [This article appears in the March 18, 2019, issue of New York Magazine.]
Slate – Our research shows that any one of us might end up helping the facial recognition industry, perhaps during moments of extraordinary vulnerability. “If you thought IBM using “quietly scraped” Flickr images to train facial recognition systems was bad, it gets worse. Our research, which will be reviewed for publication this summer, indicates that the U.S. government, researchers, and corporations have used images of immigrants, abused children, and dead people to test their facial recognition systems, all without consent. The very group the U.S. government has tasked with regulating the facial recognition industry is perhaps the worst offender when it comes to using images sourced without the knowledge of the people in the photographs. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, maintains the Facial Recognition Verification Testing program, the gold standard test for facial recognition technology. This program helps software companies, researchers, and designers evaluate the accuracy of their facial recognition programs by running their software through a series of challenges against large groups of images (data sets) that contain faces from various angles and in various lighting conditions. NIST has multiple data sets, each with a name identifying its provenance, so that tests can include people of various ages and in different settings…”
Paul M. Bisca, To End Poverty, Think Like a Spy, Brookings (March 11, 2019) – “To better manage the unknown, development professionals might want to take a leaf from the intelligence community book and draw inspiration from how spies try to predict the future. Reduced to its simplest terms, the CIA defines intelligence as “knowledge and foreknowledge of the world around us—the prelude to decisions by policymakers.” Other definitions emphasize the collection, processing, integration, analysis, and interpretation of available information from closed and open sources. Development practitioners are not spies, nor should they aspire to be. Further, the idea that project managers and economists should behave like spies is bound to raise eyebrows for professionals driven by the quest for sustainability and equity. Yet, the methodology of intelligence is well-suited to paint in our minds the interplay of actions, information, and analysis needed to navigate the complex, uncertain, and downright dangerous environments where extreme poverty stubbornly persists. This approach is not about acting like James Bond, but rather about thinking like him.”
Sokol, D. Daniel, Rethinking the Efficiency of the Common Law (February 3, 2019). Notre Dame Law Review, forthcoming 2020; University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 19-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3328025 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3328025
“This Article shows how Posner and other scholars who claimed that common law was efficient misunderstood the structure of common law. If common law was more efficient, there would have been a noticeable push across most, if not all, doctrines to greater efficiency. This has not been the case. Rather, common law, better recast as a “platform,” could, under a certain set of parameters, lead to efficient outcomes. Next, the Article’s analysis suggests that while not every judge thinks about efficiency in decision-making, there must be some architectural or governance feature pushing in the direction of efficiency — which exists in some areas of law and not in others. This Article explains two-sided markets, or platforms, generally and applies the modular open-source platform model to judge made law. In doing so, it explores concepts that impact the efficiency of such platforms — platform governance, modularity, and fragmentation. Then, the Article applies the understanding of platforms to several areas of law that might be understood as more prone to economic analysis because the issues addressed in law tend to be more “economic,” such as torts, bankruptcy, patents, and corporations. In these areas, no combination of platform architecture and modularity has allowed for the development of more efficient legal rules as a general matter. Finally, this Article studies antitrust law as the one area of law that suggests that the efficiency of common law is possible and the causal mechanism of necessary conditions that needs to be met. Antitrust law is different than other areas of law because of a singular goal, an architectural governance based on a single federal court (the Supreme Court) with few substantive legislative changes for the past 100 years, which provides for coherent governance of the platform. The Article concludes by discussing the implications of an efficient platform design for other areas of law.”
Lifehacker: “Because it’s 2019, and livestreaming has had five years or so to really build up into a mainstream activity that people actually do, this means that horrific acts of violence and terror around the world have a greater-than-zero chance of having some video component attached to them. After all, now that plenty of people have the equivalent of a 4K video camera in their pockets, it’s just that easy to shoot and share anything—even the very worst things—with the world. While the various social media services are doing everything they can to remove the video of [the March 15, 2019] horrific shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, there are just as many people dedicating their day (it seems) to getting the video as much traction as possible. Because, again, that’s the kind of world we live in…”
The Recorder (Law.com / paywall] via free access on Yahoo} “Are rules that guard against forged or tampered evidence enough to prevent deepfake videos from making their way into court cases? …If you follow technology, it’s likely you’re in a panic over deepfakes—altered videos that employ artificial intelligence and are nearly impossible to detect. Or else you’re over it already. For lawyers, a better course may lie somewhere in between. We asked Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, to explain (sans the alarmist rhetoric) why deepfakes should probably be on your radar….”
openculture.com – “If you know nothing else about medieval European illuminated manuscripts, you surely know the Book of Kells. “One of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures” comments Medievalists.net, “it is set apart from other manuscripts of the same period by the quality of its artwork and the sheer number of illustrations that run throughout the 680 pages of the book.” The work not only attracts scholars, but almost a million visitors to Dublin every year. “You simply can’t travel to the capital of Ireland,” writes Book Riot’s Erika Harlitz-Kern, “without the Book of Kells being mentioned. And rightfully so.”…its exquisite illuminations mark it as a ceremonial object, and its “intricacies,” argue Trinity College Dublin professors Rachel Moss and Fáinche Ryan, “lead the mind along pathways of the imagination…. You haven’t been to Ireland unless you’ve seen the Book of Kells.” This may be so, but thankfully, in our digital age, you need not go to Dublin to see this fabulous historical artifact, or a digitization of it at least, entirely viewable at the online collections of the Trinity College Library. The pages, originally captured in 1990, “have recently been rescanned,” Trinity College Library writes, using state of the art imaging technology. These new digital images offer the most accurate high resolution images to date, providing an experience second only to viewing the book in person.”…
FINRA Investor Education Foundation: – “A significant part of financial capability is the ability to make ends meet through adequate savings. Having resources for immediate medical needs is also an important component. In the U.S., 18% of individuals reported that over the past year, their household spent more than their income (not including the purchase of a new home, car or other big investment), while 21% of individuals reported having medical bills that are past due. Individuals who are not balancing monthly income and expenses are not saving and thus may find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Overdue medical debt can further compound a household’s ability to meet monthly financial obligations. For data in graphs on Making Ends Meet, click here“