Law and Legal

The most popular course at Yale teaches how to be happy. We took it for you.

The Cut – Read This Story and Get Happier – The most popular course at Yale teaches how to be happy. We took it for you. By Adam Sternbergh Illustrations by Zohar Lazar

“…College students aren’t happy, and neither is anyone else. According to a recent survey by the American College Health Association, 52 percent of students reported feeling hopeless, while 39 percent suffered from such severe depression that they had found it difficult to function at some point during the previous year. At the University of Pennsylvania, there’s even a slang term for the grim mask of discontent that accompanies this condition: “Penn Face.” We could go further and diagnosis a national case of “USA Face,” given that America recently ranked 18th in the U.N.’s “World Happiness Report,” trailing such national bastions of well-being as Finland (No. 1), Canada (No. 7), and Australia (No. 10)…” [Note – researching and publishing BeSpacific makes me happy!]

Categories: Law and Legal

How Amazon Is Using Whole Foods in a Bid for Total Retail Domination

Just a note before the story – if you live in MD, DC, VA, PA – go to MOM’s Organic Market– shop there – I have no affiliation whatsoever with this store – but started buying my food (all organic) from the founder when he launched his business in 1987 – and do so to this day.

And now, on to Fortune: The Seattle giant believes selling you groceries is the key to selling you everything else…The very thing that makes grocery delivery hard—that food goes bad—is the reason it’s so desirable to a company like Amazon. Because cheese grows mold and meat goes rancid and milk sours, consumers can’t hoard it in their cupboards or refrigerators indefinitely as they might toilet paper or laundry detergent. As a result, the average family hits the supermarket at minimum once a week; there’s nothing else you purchase or consume so much or so often. For Amazon, getting in on that frequency is critical to further ingraining itself in our routines and behaviors. “Food is the platform for selling you everything else,” says Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods. “It’s an everyday way into your life. There’s nothing else that happens quite that way.” Amazon’s quest is therefore about much more than just food…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Kissinger opines on AI in The Atlantic

The Atlantic – How the Enlightenment Ends – Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence. Henry A. Kissinger

“…AI research now seeks to bring about a “generally intelligent” AI capable of executing tasks in multiple fields. A growing percentage of human activity will, within a measurable time period, be driven by AI algorithms. But these algorithms, being mathematical interpretations of observed data, do not explain the underlying reality that produces them. Paradoxically, as the world becomes more transparent, it will also become increasingly mysterious. What will distinguish that new world from the one we have known? How will we live in it? How will we manage AI, improve it, or at the very least prevent it from doing harm, culminating in the most ominous concern: that AI, by mastering certain competencies more rapidly and definitively than humans, could over time diminish human competence and the human condition itself as it turns it into data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A simple yet powerful tool to support policy analysis and discovery for better decision-making

“The STIP Compass is an initiative of the European Commission and the OECD to collect together in one place quantitative and qualitative data on national trends in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. The portal supports the continuous monitoring and analysis of countries’ STI policies and aims to become a central platform for policy research and advice supporting government officials, analysts and scholars. Data is freely accessible following the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable). The STIP Compass incorporates more than 500 interactive dashboards and provides a sophisticated search tool with smart filtering that facilitates policy discovery. These interfaces allow users to seamlessly query the database to identify country policies on a wide range of STI policy issues.”

See the infographics | Read more

Categories: Law and Legal

OECD – The Future of Business Survey

The Future of Business Survey is a new source of information on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Launched in February 2016, the monthly survey – a partnership between Facebook, OECD, and The World Bank – provides timely information on how firms with a digital presence assess the current state and future outlook of their business, the main challenges they face and their involvement in international trade.  The OECD participates in the design of the survey, which constitutes an innovative experiment of public-private partnership in data development and collection that contributes to deliver new insights on businesses in the digital economy. The survey currently covers 42 countries in developed and emerging economies, where the reference population are enterprises having a Facebook account.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The irony of #MeToo – change is not evident for so many – on the job

Axios: “It’s not just politics. Tech companies are trying to improve their perpetual gender imbalance, the Financial Times reports, by “training staff in unconscious bias, … insisting that shortlists include women, improving referral incentives, … enhancing maternity rights and showcasing female role models on social media.”

BUT BUT– HuffPo: “Everyone Is Missing A Key Reason The U.S. Birth Rate Is Declining In the U.S., women are essentially punished for having kids.”

Categories: Law and Legal

How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men

The New Yorker – How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men – “The power of Math Men is awesome. Google and Facebook each has a market value exceeding the combined value of the six largest advertising and marketing holding companies. Together, they claim six out of every ten dollars spent on digital advertising, and nine out of ten new digital ad dollars. They have become more dominant in what is estimated to be an up to two-trillion-dollar annual global advertising and marketing business. Facebook alone generates more ad dollars than all of America’s newspapers, and Google has twice the ad revenues of Facebook. In the advertising world, Big Data is the Holy Grail, because it enables marketers to target messages to individuals rather than general groups, creating what’s called addressable advertising. And only the digital giants possess state-of-the-art Big Data. “The game is no longer about sending you a mail order catalogue or even about targeting online advertising,” Shoshana Zuboff, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, wrote on, in 2016. “The game is selling access to the real-time flow of your daily life—your reality—in order to directly influence and modify your behavior for profit.” Success at this “game” flows to those with the “ability to predict the future—specifically the future of behavior,” Zuboff writes. She dubs this “surveillance capitalism.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Commentary – Welcome to the ‘New Dark Age.’

OpenDemocracy – “Data is making us dumber. This seeming paradox has been gaining currency, at least in the tech-saturated Global North. We’re increasingly bombarded with advice on how to manage data overload. The English comedian Dave Gorman summed it up in the tongue-in-cheek title of his recent book: “Too much information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think.” We like to laugh about this stuff. It helps us to cope with the deep human fear that the world has moved beyond our understanding and control. If indeed we’re in a state of hysterical denial, James Bridle wants to give us all a slap in his forthcoming book “New Dark Age: Technology, Knowledge and the End of the Future.” Bridle invites us to engage in a direct confrontation with our decreasing comprehension of the world. Through a wide investigation of diverse fields from aviation to social media, the pharmaceutical industry and climate science, he sets out to show how our data-driven culture is threatening our existence as a species. While we might expect to be offered a route back to knowledge and security, Bridle’s book breaks new ground by proposing that we embrace uncertainty instead. “We have been conditioned to think of the darkness as a place of danger, even of death” he writes, “But the darkness can also be a place of freedom and possibility, even of equality. Uncertainty can be productive, even sublime.” It’s an intriguing and unsettling proposal. As a journalist, technologist, and visual artist, Bridle has employed a multiplicity of strategies for thinking differently about technology. He’s still probably best known for developing what he called the “New Aesthetic” in 2011, now an art meme centred around a tumblr account that captures the physical objects and signs of the digital world like data centres or surveillance drones…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Visualizing the Patterns of Natural Disasters in the United States

Center for Data Innovation: “The New York Times has created several data visualizations that illustrate a pattern of natural disasters occurring in the same locations in the United States. The visualizations use data from the U.S. Small Business Administration to show that areas with 20 percent of the U.S. population have accounted for 90 percent of the monetary damage from natural disasters. For example, maps demonstrate that one town in eastern Kentucky has been hit by nine hurricanes in the last 16 years. The newspaper also shows that ten zip codes near New Orleans have accounted for 11 percent of the financial losses from disasters in the United States.”

Categories: Law and Legal

FBI Requests We All Reboot our Routers – But Will This Be Enough?

The New York Times – F.B.I.’s Urgent Request: Reboot Your Router to Stop Russia-Linked Malware: “Hoping to thwart a sophisticated malware system linked to Russia that has infected hundreds of thousands of internet routers, the F.B.I. has made an urgent request to anybody with one of the devices: Turn it off, and then turn it back on. The malware is capable of blocking web traffic, collecting information that passes through home and office routers, and disabling the devices entirely, the bureau announced on Friday. A global network of hundreds of thousands of routers is already under the control of the Sofacy Group, the Justice Department said last week. That group, which is also known as A.P.T. 28 and Fancy Bear and believed to be directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency, hacked the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to American and European intelligence agencies…”

  • See also additional critical information on this cyber-attack via Symantec [h/t Pete Weiss]: VPNFilter: New Router Malware with Destructive Capabilities: “A new threat which targets a range of routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices is capable of knocking out infected devices by rendering them unusable. The malware, known as VPNFilter, is unlike most other IoT threats because it is capable of maintaining a persistent presence on an infected device, even after a reboot. VPNFilter has a range of capabilities including spying on traffic being routed through the device. Its creators appear to have a particular interest in SCADA industrial control systems, creating a module which specifically intercepts Modbus SCADA communications…To date, VPNFilter is known to be capable of infecting enterprise and small office/home office routers from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link, as well as QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices [note – you no doubt have a router manufactured by one of the aforementioned companies]…”
Categories: Law and Legal

EU Proposes a Total Ban on Plastic Forks and Other Products

Bloomberg: “The European Commission proposed a total ban on some single-use plastic products and measures to drastically cut the consumption of others, in the latest push by the EU to reduce carbon emissions and marine litter threatening its seas. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons, according to the proposal unveiled on Monday and is subject to approval by EU governments and the European Parliament. Member states will also be forced to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by prohibiting their free-of-charge distribution. “Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly,” Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement. “Today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.” The measures come as the EU seeks to seize leadership in creating sustainable goods, a market that is worth 2.5 trillion euros ($2.9 trillion), according to Unilever. With some plastic possibly taking 1,000 years to decompose, the EU proposes for companies to set up re-use systems such as deposit refund schemes to ensure a stable supply of high quality material. Under the commission’s proposal, member states will have to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025. Producers will also be required to chip in the cost of waste management and label how waste will be disposed, “the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products.”..

Categories: Law and Legal

The General Data Protection Regulation: What Does It Mean for Libraries Worldwide?

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) – “The European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect May 25, 2018, and is likely to have a significant impact on the way libraries around the globe manage personal data. To help libraries consider what they need to do in response to the GDPR, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published this issue brief on the topic by Anne T. Gilliland, scholarly communications officer for University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”


Categories: Law and Legal

Smart devices in your home have data that may be used by law enforcement

Your Home is Your…Snitch? When your appliances work as police informants – By Daniel Zwerdling – The Marshall Project Justice Lab column examines the science, social science and technology of criminal justice.

“Police records in Bentonville, Arkansas show that James Bates called 911 on Sunday morning just before Thanksgiving 2015, and reported chilling news: he’d just opened his back door and found one of his buddies floating face down in the hot tub, dead. When police showed up, Bates said he had no idea how it happened. He also said they could search his home, according to police. And they found his house and yard were equipped with smart gadgets that might have served as digital eyes and ears. One was a smart utilities meter, which tracks far more details about water consumption than old-fashioned meters do. Another was an Amazon Echo on the kitchen counter—a smart speaker connected to the voice-controlled digital assistant service called Alexa—as in, “Hey Alexa, play me Drake/book a hotel/call an Uber.” As the police looked around, Bates probably had no inkling that he was entering a national debate: When do police have legal access to the trove of personal information that our smart homes collect? Two developments coming soon could affect the answer. The Supreme Court will rule on a case concerning privacy and digital records, and new regulations in Europe will tighten access to people’s digital information there. Back in Bentonville, police went after data from Bates’ smart home with zeal. A manager at the utilities department told them that Bates’ smart meter showed he’d used far more water between 1–3 a.m. than he’d ever used during the same period before. Police surmised that Bates had hosed the back patio to erase signs of a struggle. They charged him with murder. Prosecutors also ordered Amazon to turn over the recordings that Bates’ digital assistant made before and after he said he found the body. Amazon records your vocal commands, and sometimes background talk, and stores the audio on distant servers. Amazon resisted, the prosecutors started fighting the company in court—and Bates gave up the recordings voluntarily. Prosecutors dropped the case late last year, saying they couldn’t prove he was guilty. Apparently, Alexa still awaits her court debut. But the case gave the nation a glimpse of what’s in store as our homes keep getting smarter: law enforcement will treat your appliances as potential witnesses.

It seems new smart gadgets are introduced every week. There are smart TVs, which suggest the programs they think you’ll like. Smart refrigerators are equipped with interior cameras and UPC scanners that keep track of the items you stock in your refrigerator, and then reorder them as they run out. One brand of smart mattress “tracks over 15 factors about your sleep and health, including deep sleep, heart rate and respiratory rate,” according to its website. “From a law enforcement or intelligence perspective, these are very valuable tools that can let them monitor or listen to individuals,” says Dale Watson, the FBI’s former executive assistant director, now a consultant…

Categories: Law and Legal

Bringing Wikipedia into the Library

American Libraries Magazine – Bringing Wikipedia into the Library – “Wikipedia might seem like a librarian’s nemesis, but the online encyclopedia, its community, and libraries are increasingly working together to provide free and open information to all.”

“Wikipedia contributors and librarians share similar skills: an understanding of quality research materials, an interest in effective citation and attribution, and clear public communication. Wikipedia’s “sum of all human knowledge” mission also aligns with the service-focused goals of librarianship, where patron access to public knowledge drives both activities.A difference between the two communities is their degree of formal responsibility. Librarians are trained professionals working in institutions with public charges to create information access, while Wikipedians are (for the most part) volunteers whose interests align with their hobbies and values. The closeness of their goals, skills, and interests means that finding common ground for collaboration is not only possible but easy. But finding the right people to collaborate with on this broad, and frankly never-ending, mission is an important first step to effective collaboration…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Google News Compares to Twitter, Facebook, and RSS for Your News

Gizmodo: “There’s a new news aggregator in town (well, an old one, revamped). The updated, refreshed, and smarter version of Google News is out now on Android, iOS, and the web, so how does this reimagining of the news stack up against the other ways we usually get our headlines—Facebook, Twitter, and RSS? We’ve been diving deep into the transformed platform to get a better idea…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

You’re Bad at Legal Research, and Your Judge Knows It.

Above the Law – You’re Bad at Legal Research, and Your Judge Knows It: “One reason artificial intelligence is a hot topic in law: When attorneys miss precedents, the stakes are high.

Recent research conducted by Casetext uncovered that judges have a surprisingly consistent opinion of the work they see from us litigators: they believe attorneys miss important cases often, and when they do, it has real consequences in the course of a litigation…

Categories: Law and Legal

Court Rules That Government Officials Who Tweet to the Public Can’t Block Users Who They Disagree With

EFF – Victory For The First Amendment..Lawsuit Against President Trump Brought by Twitter Users He Blocked

“President Donald Trump’s blocking of people on Twitter because they criticize him violates the First Amendment, a federal judge in New York ruled today in a resounding victory for freedom of speech and the public’s right to communicate opposing political views directly to elected officials and government agencies. The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute alleging the president and his communications team violated the First Amendment by blocking seven people from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account because they criticized the president or his policies. The seven individuals include a university professor, a surgeon, a comedy writer, a community organizer, an author, a legal analyst, and a police officer. The plaintiffs were blocked by Trump on Twitter shortly after they posted tweets to the @realDonaldTrump account that were critical. President Trump and the other defendants conceded that they did so because they disliked the viewpoints the plaintiffs expressed in their tweets. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that such viewpoint-based exclusion is “impermissible under the First Amendment.” The ruling is a win for the public’s right to speak out to public officials and engage with other members of the public on social media…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How can journalists stop providing oxygen to trolls and extremists?

Columbia Journalism Review: “Are journalists partly to blame for the rise of the alt-right and the outcome of the 2016 election? A new report from the New York–based research institute Data & Society looks at the ways in which journalists help to popularize extremist views, in some cases accidentally. The paper—written by Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, and entitled “The Oxygen of Amplification”argues that alt-right and other groups were aided and abetted by the media, which helped promote their views and thereby exposed their ideas to new audiences…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

Exposing redirected URLs before you click

John Simek “…Frankly, I’m not a big fan of URL shorteners and an even lesser fan of QR codes. The main problem with shortened URLs is that you don’t really know where you will be redirected to if you click on it. What a great tool for the distribution of malware. There is a solution if you want to take some extra steps. Services exist that will expose the original long URL before you are redirected. Here’s a list of some of those URL expanders.”

Categories: Law and Legal

White Collar Prosecutions Fall to Lowest in 20 Years

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “Current prosecution levels represent the lowest number of white collar prosecutions in more than 20 years. Government case-by-case records, updated through April 2018, indicate a total of 3,249 new white collar crime prosecutions were brought during the first seven months of FY 2018. If this level of activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of prosecutions will be 5,570 for this fiscal year – a decline from last year. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 31.3 percent from the level of 8,108 reported in 2008 and down 40.8 percent from the level of 9,412 reported in 1998. So far during FY 2018, relative to its population size, the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) was the most active federal district. It was followed by the Southern District of Florida (Miami) and the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis). The federal district showing the greatest growth in the rate of white collar prosecutions compared to last year was the Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson).”

Categories: Law and Legal


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