Law and Legal
Motherboard – The material value of e-waste alone is worth $62.5 billion, three times more than the annual output of the world’s silver mines and more than the GDP of most countries – “Electronic waste is a growing threat to the environment. Thanks to the low cost of manufacturing, it’s easier than ever for corporations to pump out millions of laptops, smart phones, internet of things devices, and other electronics. Electronics companies want consumers to keep buying new products, and believe repair and reuse hurts their bottom line. Old CRT monitors and televisions fill warehouses across the country, and companies like Apple and Microsoft pay lip service to the problem, but often pursue business practices that make the problem worse. That’s led to a world where people throw away broken devices instead of repairing them, and those discarded iPhones, televisions, and laptops are poisoning the planet. A new initiative combining the efforts of the United Nations and the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development wants to change that…”
Google: “In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.
On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. You can download and save your content, just make sure to do so before April. Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.
The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted. As early as February 4th, you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities or events. See the full FAQ for more details and updates leading up to the shutdown…”
Muckrock – Two terabytes on the 2000-2001 Western Energy Crisis were unpublished by FERC, and not even its custodians know why: “Government investigations into California’s electricity shortage, ultimately determined to be caused by intentional market manipulations and capped retail electricity prices by the now infamous Enron Corporation, resulted in terabytes of information being collected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This included several extremely large databases, some of which had nearly 200 million rows of data, including Enron’s bidding and price processes, their trading and risk management systems, emails, audio recordings, and nearly 100,000 additional documents. That information has quietly disappeared, and not even its custodians seem to know why.
According to FERC’s website, some of the information is maintained by Lockheed Martin, which will provide members of the public with copies of the data “for a fee” if they contact Lockheed Martin via a non-existent e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org…The collection of emails, scanned documents, and transcripts, on the other hand, is hosted by another defense contractor – CACI. Unfortunately, that portion of their site is down. According to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, it’s been down since at least August 2013…”
Slate: “…Like most encyclopedias, Wikipedia typically functions as a launch pad that provides a general overview of a topic and points to further or original sources. But at least one new study suggests that Wikipedia is superior to other medical sources in at least one key respect: short-term knowledge acquisition. That is, when it comes to finding the right answers quickly, Wikipedia seems to lead the pack. This suggests a new way of thinking about the utility of the crowdsourced encyclopedia. Wikipedia delivers value not only by offering massive amounts of information with its nearly 5.8 million English articles so far, but by providing the means for even professional users to quickly identify and retrieve the most relevant information.
The authors of the paper, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in October, devised a “three-arm randomized trial” to test the comparative effects of three resources. 116 first- or second-year medical students in Canada took a multiple-choice medical test similar to the Canadian medical licensing examination. During the test, participants took notes on topics to research. After the test, the students were provided one of three pre-selected resources: Wikipedia, a digital textbook, or UpToDate, a subscription service mostly used by doctors. After the test, participants researched topics and took written notes using their assigned resource. Then the students retook the test using their notes.
If you’re like me, then at this point you’re probably feeling bad for the poor medical students. But at least the trial yielded a meaningful result: Students in the Wikipedia group had significantly better post-test performances on the exam compared to the digital textbook group. The Wikipedia group also outperformed the UpToDate group by a small margin, an impressive result given that UpToDate costs more than $500 annually for a subscription…More than 90 percent of medical students, and 50–70 percent of physicians, use the online encyclopedia as a source for health information…”
Fortune: “The Supreme Court of Illinois on Friday ruled that an amusement park, Six Flags Great America, must pay damages to a boy for collecting his thumbprint without proper consent. The decision in the closely-watched case opens the door for the possibility of huge payouts in related cases against technology companies whose face-scanning policies breached a state law known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act.
In the Six Flags case, a mother named Stacey Rosenbach filed a lawsuit upon learning the amusement park scanned and stored her son’s thumbprint as part of its annual pass program. The case soon became a key test of the law, known as BIPA. The crucial issue is whether a person must show they suffered actual harm when a company collects biometrics without permission, or if it’s enough just to show that the act took place. In a 7-0 ruling, the Illinois court agreed with Rosenbach that the purpose of the law, which provides for a $1,000 to $5,000 penalty, is to deter companies misusing consumers’ biometrics. This meant that Rosenbach’s son counts as an “aggrieved person” in the language of BIPA. This ruling comes as a blow for Google and Facebook, both of which are ensnared in BIPA lawsuits of their own…”
Fortune: “Scribd—a vast digital library of documents, books, magazines, audiobooks, comic books, and more—now counts one million paying subscribers and counting worldwide. The San Francisco-based company launched in 2007 as an open publishing platform, with many early members using the platform as a free method to upload and share documents online. By 2013, Scribd launched its digital subscription reading service, expanding in 2015 to include audiobooks and magazines. In 2018, Scribd introduced an unlimited subscription model, which has since grown the paid base by 40% year-over-year. Scribd also boasts that more people are listening to audiobooks on its platform more than ever before, at 100% increase in audio users over the course of 2018. Scribd has also expanded its digital library and padded its subscription service through bundles and test programs with a variety of other digital publishers, such as The New York Times, Waze Audio Player, and Spotify…”
Knowledge@Wharton: “People use words to communicate what they think, feel and believe. But for social psychologists, words can do far more than convey one’s thoughts and emotions. The right combination of words can boost persuasiveness; it can forecast which ads will prompt people to share them and thus go viral. Exposure to the right kinds of words also can spur behavioral changes; word choices can encourage readers to keep perusing long-form content. Words can even predict how well a business could do. At the second annual Behavioral Insights from Text Conference held recently at Wharton, academics from various disciplines came together to share their research on text analysis using natural language processing and related tools. Several of the studies shared a common trait: persuasiveness. Whether it is prompting someone to adopt a pet, click on an online dating profile, share content on social media or keep reading a long blog, choosing the right words can make one more persuasive.
There are two routes people take to persuade, according to David Markowitz, assistant professor of social media data analytics at the University of Oregon. One is the “central route” where people communicate the main purpose of their appeal. This goes to the heart of the message. For example, when a bank customer applies for a home equity loan, he or she can convey to the lender that the funds will be used for a kitchen remodeling. Here, more information is better. “The more words you actually provide in your piece of text, the more likely that persuasion is going to occur,” Markowitz said. The writing style also has an important impact on persuasion. Text that is written more concretely is more persuasive, he added – that is, using words that can be observed by the senses, such as things, places and people, compared to abstract terms such as justice or peace.
The second route of persuasion is “peripheral.” Words that exist on the sidelines of the central message — such as social references like ‘best friend’ or adding descriptions including color or shape — are peripheral, Markowitz said. Such words are added to the main message usually in the belief that it would boost persuasiveness. Instead, his research showed that it could backfire. “These can actually undermine persuasion,” Markowitz said…”
EU Science Hub: “Data analysis highlights very diverse development patterns and inequalities across cities and world regions. Building on the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), the new database provides more detailed information on the cities’ location and size as well as characteristics such as greenness, night time light emission, population size, the built-up areas exposed to natural hazards, and travel time to the capital city. For several of these attributes, the database contains information recorded over time, dating as far back as 1975.
Responding to a lack of consistent data, or data only limited to large cities, the Urban Centre Database now makes it possible to map, classify and count all human settlements in the world in a standardised way. An analysis of the data reveals very different development patterns in the different parts of the world…”
Computer Business Review: “Seven out of every ten open vulnerabilities observed by customers belongs to just three vendors, Oracle, Microsoft and Adobe. These are the findings of cyber security enterprise Kenna Security in their new report Prioritization to Prediction, which explores how enterprises are dealing with open vulnerabilities. In their report Kenna found that Oracle accounts for 34 percent of the open vulnerabilities that customers have observed, while Microsoft and Adobe both stand at 17 percent. Kenna is quick to point out that the fact these companies are in the top three is not surprising given their extensive foothold within the market. They also found that 40 percent of vulnerabilities discovered in enterprise networks are still, as of today, not patched. While over 75 percent of common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) are left open a year after they have been published. While this can often be explained by the minor nature of some of these flaws, Kenna note that many CVE’s have not been given a risk score.
Kenna Security state that a staggering 544 million exploitable vulnerabilities have been discovered, but this only equates to 5 percent of enterprises vulnerabilities. Ed Bellis CTO at Kenna Security commented in an emailed statement that: “We’ve found that remediating the riskiest vulnerabilities is within reach for many organizations. Despite recent high-profile data breaches, our findings show that enterprises can and should delay efforts to remediate a majority of vulnerabilities, which often number in the millions.”..”
Cisco newsroom: “Organizations worldwide that invested in maturing their data privacy practices are now realizing tangible business benefits from these investments, according to Cisco’s 2019 Data Privacy Benchmark Study. The Study validates the link between good privacy practice and business benefits as respondents report shorter sales delays as well as fewer and less costly data breaches.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which focused on increasing protection for EU residents’ privacy and personal data, became enforceable in May 2018. Organizations worldwide have been working steadily towards getting ready for GDPR. Within Cisco’s 2019 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, 59 percent of organizations reported meeting all or most requirements, 29 percent expect to do so within a year, and 9 percent will take more than a year…”
The Intercept: “Most of the data collected by urban planners is messy, complex, and difficult to represent. It looks nothing like the smooth graphs and clean charts of city life in urban simulator games like “SimCity.” A new initiative from Sidewalk Labs, the city-building subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has set out to change that. The program, known as Replica, offers planning agencies the ability to model an entire city’s patterns of movement. Like “SimCity,” Replica’s “user-friendly” tool deploys statistical simulations to give a comprehensive view of how, when, and where people travel in urban areas. It’s an appealing prospect for planners making critical decisions about transportation and land use. In recent months, transportation authorities in Kansas City, Portland, and the Chicago area have signed up to glean its insights. The only catch: They’re not completely sure where the data is coming from. Typical urban planners rely on processes like surveys and trip counters that are often time-consuming, labor-intensive, and outdated. Replica, instead, uses real-time mobile location data. As Nick Bowden of Sidewalk Labs has explained, “Replica provides a full set of baseline travel measures that are very difficult to gather and maintain today, including the total number of people on a highway or local street network, what mode they’re using (car, transit, bike, or foot), and their trip purpose (commuting to work, going shopping, heading to school).”
To make these measurements, the program gathers and de-identifies the location of cellphone users, which it obtains from unspecified third-party vendors. It then models this anonymized data in simulations — creating a synthetic population that faithfully replicates a city’s real-world patterns but that “obscures the real-world travel habits of individual people,” as Bowden told The Intercept. The program comes at a time of growing unease with how tech companies use and share our personal data — and raises new questions about Google’s encroachment on the physical world…
ProPublica – As it scrambled to compete in the internet world, the once-dominant tech company cut tens of thousands of U.S. workers, hitting its most senior employees hardest and flouting rules against age bias.
“As the world’s dominant technology firm, payrolls at International Business Machines Corp. swelled to nearly a quarter-million U.S. white-collar workers in the 1980s. Its profits helped underwrite a broad agenda of racial equality, equal pay for women and an unbeatable offer of great wages and something close to lifetime employment, all in return for unswerving loyalty But when high tech suddenly started shifting and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn’t have: a large number of experienced and aging U.S. employees. The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would “correct seniority mix.” It slashed IBM’s U.S. workforce by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its estimated total U.S. job cuts during those years. In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees…”
“The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released today by Transparency International reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.
“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.”
The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). To view the results, visit: www.transparency.org/cpi2018“
Administrative Conference of the United States: “…The purpose of this volume is to make government work better, which is the overall mission of the Conference. For agency general counsels, congressional staff, executive officials, and members of the judiciary, this is the place to broaden understanding of how agencies are organized. For those involved in reorganization and reform of administrative agencies, it will be a treasure trove of sources and ideas. It does not answer all questions, of course, but it answers many, including some that readers may not even have been asking. It is the latter kind of answers that often lead reformers to innovative and creative solutions, to “imagine another reality” in Thomas Mann’s words…”
- Author: Jennifer L. Selin and David E. Lewis
- Type: Publication
- Publication Type: Books
- Publication Date: December 20, 2018
- Projects: Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies (Second Edition) – download full text in PDF
Artificial Lawyer – “‘AI’ is an awkward term. Just as ‘technology’ can mean everything from cave persons shaping flints to make spearheads, to the first electric toasters of the early 20th century, to quantum computing today, the term ‘AI’ also has a broad remit. Some flippantly say it means ‘any technology that is new’, others tend to feel it must mean some sort of ‘human-like machine’, and others may think in prosaic terms of ‘a computer that can think’. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really help us in the legal world and the latter two ideas are way too ambitious as definitions compared to what we actually have in the real world of early 2019. Doc review software using natural language processing (NLP) that has been improved with machine learning (ML) is all there is to it. Software, useful software, that’s all it is. Labelling anything ‘legal AI’ is clearly open to interpretation, but, many people who work in this area use the term in confidence and know what they mean. In which case, let’s stick with it.
OK then, but…..what does it mean? To Artificial Lawyer it primarily means using NLP and ML to achieve a cognitive task, such as reading a text, spotting certain semantic features, and then telling the user what it has found. That is it. This core legal AI capability can be harnessed to other software, such as expert systems, for example, (i.e. rules-based logic trees) and workflow automation tools, to become more effective. And, when you start to think through the broader ramifications of software that can read and respond in an automated manner….well….then you start to see that this may be a narrow ‘skill’, but its applicability is very broad – especially in the text-based world of the law…”
Jess Rios – Harvard Law School Library – “Particularly when we talk about large numbers, it can be difficult to fully understand their impact. With an ever-increasing amount of data and information available to us, data visualization is becoming more important to help people truly understand the meaning of the information that is collected. Whether you are teaching in a classroom or presenting in front of clients, the ability to distill and contextualize data is one that will set you apart and the tools in this guide will help you to do just that.
- If you are new to the world of data visualization and want an overview, try Lynda.com’s Data Visualization Fundamentals tutorial.
- Looking for media to use in your visualization? Try the resources on our guide to public domain and Creative Commons media. Do you want to incorporate your data visualization into a presentation? Check out our guide to presentation tools…” [h/t Joe Hodnicki]
Trends Shaping Education 2019 – Centre for Educational Research and Innovation
“Did you ever wonder whether education has a role to play in preparing our societies for an age of artificial intelligence? Or what the impact of climate change might be on our schools, families and communities? Trends Shaping Education examines major economic, political, social and technological trends affecting education. While the trends are robust, the questions raised in this book are suggestive, and aim to inform strategic thinking and stimulate reflection on the challenges facing education – and on how and whether education can influence these trends. This book covers a rich array of topics related to globalisation, democracy, security, ageing and modern cultures. The content for this 2019 edition has been updated and also expanded with a wide range of new indicators. Along with the trends and their relationship to education, the book includes a new section on future’s thinking inspired by foresight methodologies. This book is designed to give policy makers, researchers, educational leaders, administrators and teachers a robust, non specialist source of international comparative trends shaping education, whether in schools, universities or in programmes for older adults. It will also be of interest to students and the wider public, including parents.”
Center for Data Innovation: “Google has released Natural Questions, a dataset of 300,000 questions and human annotated answers to advance natural language understanding in computers. The questions come from anonymized Google search queries with both short and long answers sourced from Wikipedia. Along with the training dataset, Google has released a dataset of 16,000 questions where each question has answers from five different annotators to help researchers test their question and answer systems…”
No more copyright restriction – “Connoisseur’s reference to American English – a dictionary for writers and wordsmiths.” https://www.websters1913.com/
CBSNews.com – “Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles. It’s earned him not only accolades but almost legendary status on the internet. The online encyclopedia now boasts more than 5.7 million articles in English and millions more translated into other languages – all written by online volunteers. Pruitt was named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine in part because one-third of all English language articles on Wikipedia have been edited by Steven. An incredible feat, ignited by a fascination with his own history. Pruitt is deeply obsessed with history, and his love of opera inspired his Wikipedia username: Ser Amantio Di Nicolao, his favorite opera character.
“My first article was about Peter Francisco, who was my great great great great great great grandfather … and if we had an hour I could probably go into the full story,” Pruitt said. “He was a sergeant in arms in the Virginia Senate and there’s kidnapping, potential piracy. If you read the story you would not believe any of it happened.” Still living with his parents in the home he grew up in, Pruitt has always remained true to his interests. “I think for a long time there was an attitude of, ‘That’s nice, dear. The boy’s crazy. I don’t know why he wastes his time, the boy’s crazy,'” Pruitt said of what his parents think of his volunteer gig. That may have changed when Time magazine named him one of the top 25 most influential people on the internet, alongside President Trump, J.K. Rowling and Kim Kardashian West…”