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“This fall, law firms who subscribe to a handful of BNA reporters and electronic newsletters are receiving a surprise: renewal proposals with unexpected price increases. This comes on the heels of the discontinuance of key products these firms rely on. Early reports from law firm information professionals are describing the proposed price at a substantial 30 percent, 40 percent, or even 50 percent. To justify the upcharges, BBNA clients are being forced into unplanned upgrades with either full or limited BLAW access…”
Moral Machine – “From self-driving cars on public roads to self-piloting reusable rockets landing on self-sailing ships, machine intelligence is supporting or entirely taking over ever more complex human activities at an ever increasing pace. The greater autonomy given machine intelligence in these roles can result in situations where they have to make autonomous choices involving human life and limb. This calls for not just a clearer understanding of how humans make such choices, but also a clearer understanding of how humans perceive machine intelligence making such choices. Recent scientific studies on machine ethics have raised awareness about the topic in the media and public discourse.
This website aims to take the discussion further, by providing a platform for 1) building a crowd-sourced picture of human opinion on how machines should make decisions when faced with moral dilemmas, and 2) crowd-sourcing assembly and discussion of potential scenarios of moral consequence…”
Motherboard – How to check if your Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other accounts have been hacked. “Hackers routinely target high profile victims like politicians or wealthy cryptocurrency investors. But you could become a target too. Maybe an abusive former partner wants to stalk you, or a run-of-the-mill cybercriminal wants to get into your bank account. If you think you have been targeted, or worse, hacked, how can you even tell if someone got hold of your account? That’s actually a really hard question to answer, as different online services offer different types of data, and it’s usually not that easy to find. In this small guide, we’ll teach you the basic steps you can take to see if there’s any trace of an intrusion in your online accounts, such as Gmail, Microsoft’s email, Facebook, and Twitter. A word of caution: sometimes, you won’t be able to get a definitive answer on whether there’s been a breach. If you think there was, we suggest talking to a professional, such as your local IT store employee, or Access Now’s digital security helpline. Also, this guide only covers breaches of online services, if a hacker has broken into your computer, all these services could be compromised and the techniques described here wouldn’t necessarily help you detect that kind of breach…”
“Americans express broad concerns over the fairness and effectiveness of computer programs making important decisions in people’s lives. Algorithms are all around us, utilizing massive stores of data and complex analytics to make decisions with often significant impacts on humans. They recommend books and movies for us to read and watch, surface news stories they think we might find relevant, estimate the likelihood that a tumor is cancerous and predict whether someone might be a criminal or a worthwhile credit risk. But despite the growing presence of algorithms in many aspects of daily life, a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the public is frequently skeptical of these tools when used in various real-life situations. This skepticism spans several dimensions. At a broad level, 58% of Americans feel that computer programs will always reflect some level of human bias – although 40% think these programs can be designed in a way that is bias-free. And in various contexts, the public worries that these tools might violate privacy, fail to capture the nuance of complex situations, or simply put the people they are evaluating in an unfair situation. Public perceptions of algorithmic decision-making are also often highly contextual. The survey shows that otherwise similar technologies can be viewed with support or suspicion depending on the circumstances or on the tasks they are assigned to do…”
“The Transportation Research Board [TRB] has released a prepublication version of Critical Issues in Transportation 2018. In this report, which is updated periodically by the TRB Executive Committee, a series of challenging questions are posed to explore issues and opportunities that may arise 10 to 20 years into the future. These questions, 63 in all, have been organized into 12 topic areas and provide a way to frame future areas of research, policy analysis, and debate. Critical issues identified in this report deserve attention because of transportation’s central role in serving individuals and society. This document serves to sharpen society’s collective understanding of transportation and its ramifications, while informing decisions by individual citizens and officials in both the public and private sectors. The issues have been identified and documented from a U.S. perspective, and are also common across developed nations.”
MIT Technology Review – Is this AI? We drew you a flowchart to work it out. “The definition of artificial intelligence is constantly evolving, and the term often gets mangled, so we are here to help.”
MIT Technology Review – What is machine learning? “We drew you another flowchart – It pretty much runs the world.” [h/t to Firefox and to Mary Whisner – both of whom made the same suggestions to me!]
AP – “…The goal, experts say, should be to help kids learn to manage their own time as they get older and to stay physically active and socially connected as much offline as on. But parents in many American households are finding the power struggles — tantrums, withdrawal and, in some cases, even school and discipline problems — difficult, especially as more kids get access to screens at younger and younger ages…”
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It is years ahead of the United States in replacing paper money with smartphone payments, turning tech giants into vital gatekeepers of the consumer economy. And it is host to a supernova of creative expression — in short videos, podcasts, blogs and streaming TV — that ought to dispel any notions of Chinese culture as drearily conformist. All this, on a patch of cyberspace that is walled off from Facebook and Google, policed by tens of thousands of censors and subject to strict controls on how data is collected, stored and shared. China’s leaders like the internet they have created. And now, they want to direct the nation’s talent and tech acumen toward an even loftier end: building an innovation-driven economy, one that produces world-leading companies…”
The Atlantic – Law and medicine still rely on the device. Maybe they shouldn’t. An Object Lesson.
“…Fax, once at the forefront of communications technologies but now in deep decline, has persisted in many industries. Law-enforcement agencies remain heavily reliant on fax for routine operations, such as bail postings and return of public-records requests. Health care, too, runs largely on fax. Despite attempts to replace it, a mix of regulatory confusion, digital-security concerns, and stubbornness has kept fax machines droning around the world… Doctors rely heavily on faxes in both routine and high-stakes situations. According to Vox, one industry analyst estimates that 75 percent all of all medical communications still happen by fax. Occasionally, news outlets describe this phenomenon, mostly as human-interest stories: “Medical Students Flummoxed by Fax Machines” or “Med Students Are Puzzled When Forced to Use This Ancient Technology.” Despite confusion and frustration, though, the business of faxing continues on. Part of this has to do with an interpretation of a clause in HIPAA, a U.S. health-privacy law, which requires health providers to take reasonable steps to safeguard patient information. Because this rule explicitly mentions fax and not email, some providers interpret the law to mean that records must go by fax.
That habit dies hard. A start-up called PatientBank, which allowed users to share and receive medical records digitally, shut down in January, partly because weaning hospitals from fax proved too difficult. Paul Fletcher-Hill, a PatientBank co-founder, told me that one reason hospitals cited for their continued dependency was security: Many believed that hacking computer systems were easier to hack than fax machines—and that computer hacks were more damaging…”
ProPublica: “…Across [Baltimore] country, dozens of law enforcement agencies are making it appear as though they have solved a significant share of their rape cases when they simply have closed them, according to an investigation by Newsy, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica based on data from more than 60 police agencies nationwide. They are able to declare cases resolved through what’s known as exceptional clearance. Federal guidelines allow police to use the classification when they have enough evidence to make an arrest and know who and where the suspect is, but can’t make an arrest for reasons outside their control. Although criminal justice experts say the designation is supposed to be used sparingly, our data analysis shows that many departments rely heavily on exceptional clearance, which can make it appear that they are better at solving rape cases than they actually are. Because exceptional clearance data is not readily accessible to the public, we read through hundreds of police reports and sent more than 100 public records requests to the largest law enforcement agencies in the country. We analyzed data for more than 70,000 rape cases, providing an unprecedented look at how America’s police close them.
Nearly half of the law enforcement agencies that provided records cleared more rapes through exceptional means than by actually arresting a suspect in 2016, the data analysis shows. The Baltimore County Police Department, for example, reported to the public that it cleared 70 percent of its rape cases in 2016, nearly twice the national average. In reality, the department made arrests about 30 percent of the time, according to its internal data. The rest were exceptionally cleared…”
A court ruled that judges can be Facebook friends with lawyers because those are not real friendships
Quartz: “Florida’s Supreme Court has ruled on something that most social media users already know: Facebook friendships are not real. Specifically, the court said in a Nov. 15 opinion that a Facebook friendship between a judge and an attorney does not mean the judge is too biased to preside over that attorney’s case. Ruling on an appeal in a case where one side argued a trial court judge should be disqualified because of a Facebook friendship, the court added that even traditional, IRL friendship wouldn’t necessarily be disqualifying, because the nature of friendship is “indeterminate.”
The ruling includes some philosophical musings on the meaning of friendship. For chief justice Charles Canady, who writes for the majority, a real friend, “is a person attached to another person by feelings of affection or esteem.” Meanwhile, a Facebook friend is a “person digitally connected to another person by virtue of their Facebook ‘friendship.’” And a Facebook friendship, he says, “does not objectively signal the existence of the affection and esteem involved in a traditional ‘friendship.’”…
Opinion Video Series | Operation Infektion By Adam B. Ellick and Adam Westbrook The New York Times, November 12, 2018
WATCH: This is a three-part film series. Scroll down at this link and click to play any episode…
“Russia’s meddling in the United States’ elections is not a hoax. It’s the culmination of Moscow’s decades-long campaign to tear the West apart. “Operation InfeKtion” reveals the ways in which one of the Soviets’ central tactics — the promulgation of lies about America — continues today, from Pizzagate to George Soros conspiracies. Meet the KGB spies who conceived this virus and the American truth squads who tried — and are still trying — to fight it. Countries from Pakistan to Brazil are now debating reality, and in Vladimir Putin’s greatest triumph, Americans are using Russia’s playbook against one another without the faintest clue…”
The Guardian – Search engine is lobbying hard to stop proposed tax, aimed at compensating news publishers – “Google’s top news executive has refused to rule out shutting down Google News in EU countries, as the search engine faces a battle with Brussels over plans to charge a “link tax” for using news stories. Richard Gingras, the search engine’s vice-president of news, said while “it’s not desirable to shut down services” the company was deeply concerned about the current proposals, which are designed to compensate struggling news publishers if snippets of their articles appear in search results. He told the Guardian that the future of Google News could depend on whether the EU was willing to alter the phrasing of the legislation. “We can’t make a decision until we see the final language,” he said. He pointed out the last time a government attempted to charge Google for links, in 2014 in Spain, the company responded by shutting down Google News in the country. Spain passed a law requiring aggregation sites to pay for news links, in a bid to prop up struggling print news outlets. Google responded by closing the service for Spanish consumers, which he said prompted a fall in traffic to Spanish news websites…”
Fortune: “Amazon is finally offering a simple way for its cloud services customers to lock down data stored at its Simple Storage Service (S3) with one fell swoop. This change should help companies in the Fortune 500 and mom-and-pops down the street avoid embarrassing breaches of data. Customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) routinely leave private files available for public consumption. That’s led to routine, sometimes costly situations for companies that find hackers or security researchers have retrieved customer information, databases containing user passwords, or even proprietary company secrets. That includes the global consulting and management firm Accenture, which in October 2017 left four of its S3 storage areas, known as “buckets,” open to public examination and download. Over 137 gigabytes of data could have been retrieved, including 40,000 unencrypted passwords. Accenture’s cloud platform, hosted on Amazon’s services, include 92 of the Fortune Global 100 and three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500. A security researcher discovered the public data and informed Accenture…”
The New Yorker – In our frenetic age, audio narratives offer a rare opportunity for slow immersion. But this intimacy can become manipulative. By Rebecca Mead: “…Eighty-odd years after [Walter Benjamin, the German philosopher and cultural critic, published an essay titled “The Storyteller”], we are living in a new golden age of it, in the form of the podcast: on-demand audio that a listener can download and play while commuting or exercising or, given the right equipment, showering. A recent study conducted by Edison Research found that nearly a quarter of Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month…Beyond the top of the charts, there are half a million other podcasts available, fashioned for every conceivable interest or taste. If a person wants to know more about Walter Benjamin, she can listen to an episode of “Thinking Allowed,” a BBC Radio 4 show in which Laurie Taylor, a British sociologist, renders Benjamin’s work in plainspoken language; or download the National Gallery of Art’s podcast, in which the Princeton art historian Hal Foster delivers a Mellon lecture about him; or find the Clocktower podcast, dedicated to preserving archival audio, which offers recordings of several radio scripts, for children, that Benjamin wrote in the nineteen-thirties; or search out an episode of “Giving the Mic to the Wrong Person,” a left-leaning podcast, hosted by Jeremy Salmon, that features an off-the-cuff roundtable about Benjamin—“he’s one of the Frankfurt School guys, from what I understand”—in the context of contemporary politics and culture…
Podcasting is a peculiarly intimate medium. Usually transmitted through headphones to a solitary listener, or played over the car stereo during a commute, an audio narrative can be immersive in a way that a radio playing in the background in a kitchen rarely is. Podcasts are designed to take up time, rather than to be checked, scanned, and rushed through: they are for those moments when you can’t be scrolling on your phone…”
Oxford University Press Blog: “Through the power of precedent, international incidents involving the use of force help to clarify the meaning and interpretation of jus ad bellum, the corpus of rules arising from international custom and the United Nations Charter that govern the use of force. UN Charter Article 2(4) forbids states from using force in their international relations. Exceptions to this prohibition are acts taken in self-defence under UN Charter Article 51 or under the auspices of a UN Security Council authorization to use force under Article 42. States can also consent that another state use force in its territory, for example to combat rebel or terrorist actors. In certain cases, state practice gives rise to new interpretations of existing rules or novel exceptions emerge. Through the study of precedents scholars often consider whether or not there has been a shift in the legal landscape. To give but a few illustrations, commentators have questioned if States take measures of self-defence under Article 51 to protect nationals abroad (a justification that has been invoked at various moments, for instance by Russia in the context of the crisis in Georgia in 2008), if a right to humanitarian intervention has emerged (a discussion triggered by the Kosovo crisis in 1999), or if self-defence under Article 51 can be invoked against non-state actors (a topical debate in the post 9/11 era). Consequently, depending on the precedent’s facts and the arguments invoked by the main protagonists different legal issues can be triggered…”
“The City of Philadelphia has released a dataset of 3.7 million records detailing all property transactions that occurred in the city over the past twenty years. The dataset includes information such as properties’ market values, mortgages, and deeds. Prior to the dataset’s release, Philadelphia residents often had to visit City Hall to learn about property transactions, making it difficult for them to accurately assess property values.”
“Real Estate Transfers – This dataset is a summary of Real Estate Transfer Tax documents. This table contains both raw source data as well as calculated and geocoded/data fields. Document type, grantor, and grantee information is presented by address for each transaction.”
Axios Poll – Does social media do more to help or hurt democracy and free speech? “Silicon Valley has a big and growing problem: Americans have rising concerns with its most popular products and a growing majority wants big social media companies regulated, according to new poll conducted by Survey Monkey for “Axios on HBO.”
Why it matters: The public is more aware than ever of some of the negative consequences of the technologies that have changed their lives, which makes Silicon Valley and social media ripe political and regulatory targets.
Between the lines: This is a rare topic uniting Republicans, Democrats and Independents…”
ZDNet – “Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports, and studies about how second-hand devices that have been put up for sale still contained information from previous owners, exposing those individuals to scams, blackmailing, or identity theft. This week, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has published an official advisory with instructions and recommendations for properly deleting data from electronic devices that a user wishes to dispose of in one form or another. These instructions are universal and can be applied to computers, smartphones, tablets, cameras, media players, external storage devices, and even gaming consoles. Many of these recommendations are also common knowledge for IT industry veterans, but the guide was also written with non-technical users in mind. So let’s take a deep dive into the proper device sanitization procedures…”