Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now; New York Times, February 18, 2018

, New York Times; Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

"Putin used cyberwarfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Putin —just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.

My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. It’s something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.

But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so na├»ve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.

That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office."

‘I am not a crisis actor’: Florida teens fire back at right-wing conspiracy theorists; Washington Post, February 21, 2018

Travis M. Andrews and Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post; ‘I am not a crisis actor’: Florida teens fire back at right-wing conspiracy theorists

"Former congressman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) on Sunday tweeted a USA Today story about the student organizers helping lead a nationwide student walkout in protest of America’s gun laws, adding the message: “O really? ‘Students’ are planning a nationwide rally? Not left wing gun control activists using 17yr kids in the wake of a horrible tragedy?”

Kingston then appeared on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday and doubled down on his remarks.

“Do we really think — and I say this sincerely — do we really think that 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?” Kingston asked, adding, “They probably do not have the logistical ability to plan a nationwide rally without it being hijacked by groups that already had the preexisting anti-gun agenda.”

The show’s co-host Alisyn Camerota fiercely disagreed.

“I talked to these kids before they knew the body count of how many of their friends had been killed. No one had talked to them yet,” Camerota said. “They hadn’t been indoctrinated by some left-wing group. They were motivated from what they saw and what they endured.”

Brandon Abzug, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior who survived the shooting, then appeared on CNN and said of the former representative’s comments, “I think it’s very despicable. … To say that just because we’re young we can’t make a difference is not right and he should apologize for that.”"

'Access+Ability' exhibit showcases designs for, and by, those with disabilities; CNN, February 21, 2018

Erin Gabriel, CNN; 'Access+Ability' exhibit showcases designs for, and by, those with disabilities

"Eye-catching objects designed for, and by, people with physical and other disabilities are the focus of the current "Access+Ability" exhibition in New York.

More than 70 exhibits, including colorful prosthetic leg covers and jeweled earrings that are also hearing aids, are featured as examples of "inclusive design" at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

"There has been a surge of design with and by people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities," according to the museum's website.

The new exhibit -- like the museum itself -- aims to reflect that trend. "This year Cooper Hewitt embarked on a very ambitious initiative about accessibility, about making our campus, our program, who we are, much more accessible and it seemed like the perfect moment to do the exhibition 'Access + Ability,' " said Cara McCarty, the museum's curatorial director."

Read Ryan Coogler’s Heartfelt Thank You to Black Panther Fans; Comic Book Resources, February 21, 2018

Geoff Miller, Comic Book Resources; Read Ryan Coogler’s Heartfelt Thank You to Black Panther Fans

"Black Panther took the world by storm on its way to a historic opening weekend, and director Ryan Coogler has now shared his heartfelt thoughts on the film’s resounding success.

“I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try,” the filmmaker wrote in a letter posted on Twitter by Marvel Studios. “Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears.”"

6 Core Values and 5 Emotional Intelligence Skills Leading to Sound Ethical Decisions; IPWatchdog, July 6, 2017

Bernard Knight, IPWatchdog; 6 Core Values and 5 Emotional Intelligence Skills Leading to Sound Ethical Decisions

"Ethical conduct is required in all jobs and by all organizations.   It also applies to positions at all levels.   Anyone can disagree with a substantive business or legal decision, but make an ethical mistake and your company, firm or individual career could be in jeopardy.   I explain below some excellent tools to avoid ethical missteps...

This article discusses how you can use core values and emotional intelligence skills to avoid ethical mishaps.   These skills are easy to gain and can save you from an unintended ethical mishap.   For more on the importance of emotional intelligence, see my prior IPWatchdog article."

Patenting the Future of Medicine: The Intersection of Patent Law and Artificial Intelligence in Medicine; Lexology, February 14, 2018

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP - Susan Y. Tull, Lexology; Patenting the Future of Medicine: The Intersection of Patent Law and Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

"Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the world of medicine, and the intellectual property directed to these inventions must keep pace. AI computers are diagnosing medical conditions and disorders at a rate equal to or better than their human peers, all while developing their own software code and algorithms to do so. These recent advances raise issues of patentability, inventorship, and ownership as machine-based learning evolves."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Should Data Scientists Adhere to a Hippocratic Oath?; Wired, February 8, 2018

Tom Simonite, Wired; Should Data Scientists Adhere to a Hippocratic Oath?

"The tech industry is having a moment of reflection. Even Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook are talking openly about the downsides of software and algorithms mediating our lives. And while calls for regulation have been met with increased lobbying to block or shape any rules, some people around the industry are entertaining forms of self regulation. One idea swirling around: Should the programmers and data scientists massaging our data sign a kind of digital Hippocratic oath?

Microsoft released a 151-page book last month on the effects of artificial intelligence on society that argued “it could make sense” to bind coders to a pledge like that taken by physicians to “first do no harm.” In San Francisco Tuesday, dozens of data scientists from tech companies, governments, and nonprofits gathered to start drafting an ethics code for their profession."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Trump’s ‘Best People’ and Their Dubious Ethics; New York Times, February 18, 2018

Editorial Board, New York Times; Trump’s ‘Best People’ and Their Dubious Ethics

"Perhaps we should not be surprised by these ethical lapses, given that the president himself has little interest in ethical niceties. He has refused to disclose his tax returns or divest businesses that may create conflicts of interest between Mr. Trump the executive and Mr. Trump the president. And he has given his daughter and son-in-law, who have no government experience, plum White House jobs.

Here are some of the recent scandals in Trumpland that deserve greater public scrutiny, or even congressional hearings and investigations."

AI ‘gaydar’ could compromise LGBTQ people’s privacy — and safety; Washington Post, February 19, 2018

JD Schramm, Washington Post; AI ‘gaydar’ could compromise LGBTQ people’s privacy — and safety

"The advances in AI and machine learning make it increasingly difficult to hide such intimate traits as sexual orientation, political and religious affiliations, and even intelligence level. The post-privacy future Kosinski examines in his research is upon us. Never has the work of eliminating discrimination been so urgent."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

More than 40 percent of Trump’s first Cabinet-level picks have faced ethical or other controversies; Washington Post, February 16, 2018

Aaron Blake, Washington Post; More than 40 percent of Trump’s first Cabinet-level picks have faced ethical or other controversies

"President Trump came to Washington promising to “drain the swamp.” But after less than 13 months, more than 40 percent of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies. The list has grown quickly in recent weeks.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt are that latest to have their questionable travel practices probed. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that an inspector general's report determined Shulkin and top aides misled ethics officials about expenses for a controversial 10-day European trip Shulkin took with his wife. The Post also reported Sunday that Pruitt has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on first-class travel; since then his agency has said it obtained a waiver for him to fly first-class for security reasons.

The two of them join three other Cabinet-level officials who have faced ethical questions over their travels."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The disinformation factory threatening national security; Washington Post, February 16, 2018

David Von Drehle, Washington Post; The disinformation factory threatening national security

"“Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it,” wrote Jonathan Swift more than 300 years ago. What would he have said in the age of Twitter?

A sobering paper published in the winter edition of Strategic Studies Quarterly — the strategy journal of the U.S. Air Force — explains how propagandists manipulate social media in their cyberwars against the United States. Hostile forces, employing automated bots, leverage the blind spots and biases of unwitting Americans to help them send falsehoods flying to spread division and demoralization.

Figuring out how to fight back, in a free society of open communication, is the most urgent national security challenge we face. Friday’s indictments by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of a Russian trolling operation is a welcome sign that we are joining the battle. But so far, we are losing. And should we fail, the future will belong to authoritarian states that protect their virtual borders by controlling Internet access."

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Bad Parent Caucus; New York Times, February 15, 2018

Timothy Egan, New York Times; The Bad Parent Caucus

"Let me try another take for you bad parents in office. Pretend you live in a pleasant, well-protected community of like-minded people, and you’re in charge. O.K., you don’t have to pretend. And let’s say there was a natural gas leak every three days in one of the homes in that community, a leak that killed entire families.

Your response would be to pray and do nothing. Or to pray and talk about everything except the gas leak. Or to pray and say you’re powerless to act because the gas company owns you. The response of those suffering would be to take control and kick you out. That’s what we have to do, and will, next November."

Congress is worried about AI bias and diversity; Quartz, February 15, 2018

Dave Gershgorn, Quartz; Congress is worried about AI bias and diversity

"Recent research from the MIT Media Lab maintains that facial recognition is still significantly worse for people of color, however.
“This is not a small thing,” Isbell said of his experience. “It can be quite subtle, and you can go years and years and decades without even understanding you are injecting these kinds of biases, just in the questions that you’re asking, the data you’re given, and the problems you’re trying to solve.”
In his opening statement, Isbell talked about biased data in artificial intelligence systems today, including predictive policing and biased algorithms used in predicting recidivism rates.
“It does not take much imagination to see how being from a heavily policed area raises the chances of being arrested again, being convicted again, and in aggregate leads to even more policing of the same areas, creating a feedback loop,” he said. “One can imagine similar issues with determining it for a job, or credit-worthiness, or even face recognition and automated driving.”"

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Digital divide persists with online portals for cancer patients; Reuters, February 14, 2018

Lisa Rapaport, Reuters; Digital divide persists with online portals for cancer patients

"“Internet access is not uniform across populations,” said senior study author Dr. David Gerber, a researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“There exists a `digital divide,’ with certain groups having lower access to broadband Internet than others,” Gerber said by email.

The sheer volume of information in recent years may be overwhelming patients and discouraging them from using these portals, Gerber said."

America’s Real Digital Divide; New York Times, February 11, 2018

Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Times; America’s Real Digital Divide

"A group of former Facebook and Google employees last week began a campaign to change the tech companies they had a hand in creating. The initiative, called Truth About Tech, aims to push these companies to make their products less addictive for children — and it’s a good start.

But there’s more to the problem. If you think middle-class children are being harmed by too much screen time, just consider how much greater the damage is to minority and disadvantaged kids, who spend much more time in front of screens."

Research: A Strong Privacy Policy Can Save Your Company Millions; Harvard Business Review, February 15, 2018

  • Kelly D. Martin and 
  • Abhishek Borah and 
  • Robert W. Palmatier
  • Harvard Business Review; Research: A Strong Privacy Policy Can Save Your Company Millions

    "Our research shows that data breaches sometimes harm a firm’s close rivals (due to spillover effects), but sometimes help them (due to competitive effects). What is more, we found that a good corporate privacy policy can shield firms from the financial harm posed by a data breach — by offering customers transparency and control over their personal information — while a flawed policy can exacerbate the problems caused by a breach. Together, this evidence is the first to show that a firm’s close rivals are directly, financially affected by its data breach and also to offer actionable solutions that could save some companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Our research shows that sometimes a breach creates spillover, where investors perceive a guilt-by-association effect that harms the breached firm’s close rivals."

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    Trump’s budget eliminates NEA, public TV and other cultural agencies. Again.; Washington Post, February 12, 2018

    Peggy McGlone, Washington Post; Trump’s budget eliminates NEA, public TV and other cultural agencies. Again.

    "In a repeat of last year, the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2019 calls for eliminating four federal cultural agencies in a move that would save almost $1 billion from a $4.4 trillion spending plan.

    Trump’s proposal calls for drastically reducing the funding to begin closing the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The four agencies would share $109 million in 2019, a overall cut of $917 million.

    Congress rejected a nearly identical plan from the Trump administration last year...

    In a statement, IMLS director Kathryn K. Matthews said her agency is the primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries.

    “Without IMLS funding for museums and libraries, it would be more difficult for many people to gain access to the internet, continue their education, learn critical research skills, and find employment,” Matthews said.

    Laura Lott, president and chief executive of the American Alliance of Museums, blasted the “continued threats” to the cultural agencies that support the work of her membership.""

    Monday, February 12, 2018

    Universities Rush to Roll Out Computer Science Ethics Courses; New York Times, February 12, 2018

    Natasha Singer, New York Times; Universities Rush to Roll Out Computer Science Ethics Courses

    "The medical profession has an ethic: First, do no harm.

    Silicon Valley has an ethos: Build it first and ask for forgiveness later.

    Now, in the wake of fake news and other troubles at tech companies, universities that helped produce some of Silicon Valley’s top technologists are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science...

    “Stanford absolutely has a responsibility to play a leadership role in integrating these perspectives, but so does Carnegie Mellon and Caltech and Berkeley and M.I.T.,” said Jeremy Weinstein, a Stanford political science professor and co-developer of the ethics course. “The set of institutions that are generating the next generation of leaders in the technology sector have all got to get on this train.”"

    Sunday, February 11, 2018

    Artist Says Kendrick Lamar Video for ‘Black Panther’ Song Stole Her Work; New York Times, February 11, 2018

    Robin Pogrebin, New York Times; Artist Says Kendrick Lamar Video for ‘Black Panther’ Song Stole Her Work

    "On Saturday, Christopher Robinson, a lawyer for the artist Lina Iris Viktor, sent a letter to Mr. Lamar’s mentor and label head, Anthony Tiffith at Top Dawg Entertainment, alleging a copyright violation of the 24-karat gold, patterned artworks in her series of paintings “Constellations.” Ms. Viktor had been contacted twice by the film’s creators for permission to feature her work, the letter says, but she decided not to participate.

    “The infringement of Ms. Viktor’s rights is willful and egregious,” the letter says, adding that the artist is willing “to discuss a resolution of all her claims, consisting at a minimum of a public apology for the unauthorized use and a license fee.”

    In a telephone interview, Ms. Viktor said, “Why would they do this? It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence — that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists.”"

    Aetna customers get $17 million in HIV privacy settlement; CNN, January 17, 2018

    Jacqueline Howard, CNN; Aetna customers get $17 million in HIV privacy settlement

    "After thousands of customers' HIV statuses were revealed in mailings last year, a federal class-action lawsuit against health care company Aetna has reached a $17 million settlement...

    It will also provide customers an opportunity to seek additional payments for out-of-pocket expenses or emotional distress damages, said Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which filed the lawsuit along with the Legal Action Center and Berger & Montague P.C.

    "In addition to the financial compensation, Aetna has created what it's calling a 'best practices' document, and it's about following appropriate protocols for sharing protected health information ... with the goal of preventing this type of event from ever occurring again," Goldfein said.

    "This is, as far as we can tell, the largest data breach involving HIV-related privacy.""

    Computational Propaganda: Bots, Targeting And The Future; NPR, February 9, 2018

    Adam Frank, NPR; Computational Propaganda: Bots, Targeting And The Future

    "Combine the superfast calculational capacities of Big Compute with the oceans of specific personal information comprising Big Data — and the fertile ground for computational propaganda emerges. That's how the small AI programs called bots can be unleashed into cyberspace to target and deliver misinformation exactly to the people who will be most vulnerable to it. These messages can be refined over and over again based on how well they perform (again in terms of clicks, likes and so on). Worst of all, all this can be done semiautonomously, allowing the targeted propaganda (like fake news stories or faked images) to spread like viruses through communities most vulnerable to their misinformation.

    As someone who has worked at the hairy edges of computational science my entire career I am, frankly, terrified by the possibilities of computational propaganda. My fear comes exactly because I have seen how rapidly the power and the capacities of digital technologies have grown. From my perspective, no matter what your political inclinations may be, if you value a healthy functioning democracy, then something needs to be done to get ahead of computational propaganda's curve."

    Publisher Rushing Comey Book on ‘Ethical Leadership’ to Print; LifeZette, February 10, 2018

    Mark TapscottLifeZette; Publisher Rushing Comey Book on ‘Ethical Leadership’ to Print

    "James Comey’s forthcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty,” is being rushed to bookstores two weeks earlier than previously planned. The publisher wants to take advantage of what the Associated Press describes as the “intense scrutiny” currently directed at the former FBI chief.

    The book will examine “what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader,” according to publisher Flatiron Books."

    Sexual harassment is about power. Why not fight it as we do bullying?; Guardian, February 10, 2018

    Claire Potter, Guardian; Sexual harassment is about power. Why not fight it as we do bullying?

    "As management professionals know, enabling a bully damages a work culture. As the Stanford business professor Robert Sutton points out in his book The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (2010), one organization calculated that in one year it had paid over $160,000 in costs associated with a workplace bully. This cost did not include the “suffering and heartache, so much time wasted by talented people”, and the “emotional and physical toll on witnesses and bystanders”.


    The company decided to deduct the money lost from the bully’s violent behaviors from his compensation, shifting some of the consequences of the anti-social, violent behavior back on to the bully. Notably, this is very different from strategies that shielded Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and other media figures, in which the corporation made a continuing investment in the bully by paying complainants off, disposing of them, and hiring new employees.
    Perhaps a more important outcome of fining the bully is to shift the stigma to the bully...
    Many victims report intense fear as they try to process an encounter in the moment, a fear that is so intense it results in a feeling frozen, paralyzed, or leaving their own bodies...
    Investing in the health of the many rather than knuckling under to the most powerful among us is not only the key to ending sexual harassment, it charts a clear path to a workplace that says no to bullying."

    SCIENCE’S PIRATE QUEEN; The Verge, February 8, 2018

     The Verge; SCIENCE’S PIRATE QUEEN

    "The legal campaigns against Sci-Hub have — through the Streisand effect — made the site more well-known than most mainstay repositories, and Elbakyan more famous than legal Open Access champions like Suber. The threat posed by ACS’s injunction against Sci-Hub has increased support for the site from web activists organizations such as the EFF, which considesr the site “a symptom of a serious problem: people who can’t afford expensive journal subscriptions, and who don’t have institutional access to academic databases, are unable to use cutting-edge scientific research.”

    The effort may backfire. It does nothing to address disappointment scientists feel about how paywalls hide their work. Meanwhile, Sci-Hub has been making waves that might carry it further to a wider swath of both the public and the scientific community. And though Elbakyan might be sailing in dangerous waters, what’s to stop idealistic scientists who are frustrated with the big publishers from handing over their login credentials to Sci-Hub’s pirate queen?"

    They Are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet; National Geographic, February 2018

    Robert Draper, National Geographic; They Are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet

    "University of Texas American studies professor Randolph Lewis writes in his new book, Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America, “Surveillance is often exhausting to those who really feel its undertow: it overwhelms with its constant badgering, its omnipresent mysteries, its endless tabulations of movements, purchases, potentialities.”

    The desire for privacy, Acquisti says, “is a universal trait among humans, across cultures and across time. You find evidence of it in ancient Rome, ancient Greece, in the Bible, in the Quran. What’s worrisome is that if all of us at an individual level suffer from the loss of privacy, society as a whole may realize its value only after we’ve lost it for good.”

    Is a looming state of Orwellian bleakness already a fait accompli? Or is there a more hopeful outlook, one in which a world under watch in many ways might be better off? Consider the 463 infrared camera traps the World Wildlife Fund uses in China to monitor the movements of the threatened giant panda. Or the thermal imaging devices that rangers deploy at night to detect poachers in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. Or the sound-activated underwater camera system developed by UC San Diego researchers that tracks the nearly extinct vaquita porpoise in the Sea of Cortez. Or the “forest watcher” cameras installed to help protect the shrinking timberlands of Sri Lanka."

    With Closed-Circuit TV, Satellites And Phones, Millions Of Cameras Are Watching; Fresh Air, NPR, February 8, 2018

    Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR; With Closed-Circuit TV, Satellites And Phones, Millions Of Cameras Are Watching

    ""Journalist Robert Draper writes in National Geographic that the proliferation of cameras focused on the public has led "to the point where we're expecting to be voyeur and exhibitionist 24/7."
    "TERRY GROSS, HOST:
    This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest Robert Draper says one of the greatest threats to our democracy is gerrymandering, in which the party in power in a state redraws the map of election districts to give the advantage to that party's candidates. Since districts are redrawn only every 10 years following the census, gerrymandering can almost guarantee that the majority party will stay in power. There are a couple of gerrymandering cases currently before the Supreme Court. Draper has reported on gerrymandering, and we'll talk about that a little later.
    First, we're going to talk about his new article "They Are Watching You - And Everything Else On The Planet" published in this month's National Geographic. It's about state-of-the-art surveillance from closed-circuit TV to drones and satellites and the questions these surveillance technologies raise about privacy. As part of his research, he spent time in surveillance control rooms in London. And he went to a tech company in San Francisco whose mission is to image the entire Earth every day. Draper is a contributing writer for National Geographic and a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine.
    Robert Draper, welcome back to FRESH AIR. So let's start with surveillance. Why did you choose England as the place to report on surveillance?"

    Saturday, February 10, 2018

    Cloudflare Terminates Service to 'The Pirate Bay of Science'; MotherBoard, February 9, 2018

    Rebecca Flowers, MotherBoard; Cloudflare Terminates Service to 'The Pirate Bay of Science'

    "On February 3, the Twitter account for Sci-Hub tweeted a screenshot of an alleged email from Cloudflare, the content delivery network provider for Sci-Hub (which acts as an intermediary between the user and website host), informing Sci-Hub that its service would be terminated in 24 hours. At the time of writing, the main Sci-Hub domain is inaccessible on the web, but the mirror sites mentioned in the screenshotted email from Cloudflare are still active.

    Cloudflare’s termination of service is due to a court injunction against Sci-Hub, a Cloudflare spokesperson told me over the phone. That order was handed down by a federal judge in November when the American Chemical Society, another academic publisher, won $4.8 million in damages against Sci-Hub. The decision also included an injunction requiring search engines and internet service providers to block Sci-Hub, a digital blockade unusual for the US."

    Thursday, February 8, 2018

    The least connected people in America; Politico, February 7, 2018

    Margaret Harding McGill, Politico; The least connected people in America

    [Kip Currier: A must-read primer on the State of the Digital and Tech Divides in America AND a compelling call for long-promised, long-overdue action on Broadband Internet access for all Americans.]

    "As broadband internet becomes more and more important in the U.S. — the way Americans do everything from apply for jobs to chatting with their relatives to watching TV — one gap has become more glaring: the difference between those who have broadband and those who don't. An estimated 24 million people, about 8 percent of Americans, still have no home access to high-speed internet service, defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a download speed of 25 megabits per second. (That's what the FCC says allows telecommuting or streaming high-definition video.) The overwhelming majority of those people live in rural areas, like farms or in big, poorly served areas like this one.

    The shorthand for fixing this problem is “closing the digital divide," and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says it's his top priority. But it has been a high-priority problem for years and remained persistently out of reach for reasons rooted in the structure of our telecommunications system itself. Internet access in the U.S. depends almost entirely on private companies; unlike other crucial services like postal delivery or electric power, it isn't considered the government's job, and isn't regulated as a public utility. But the limits of that system have become painfully apparent: Companies can't make money by running expensive wires to few customers, and a complex tangle of incentives offered by the government hasn't solved the problem in towns like Orofino.

    Nowhere is the lack of broadband access more acute than in places like this: Rural Indian reservations have lower rates of coverage than anywhere else in the nation. About 35 percent of Americans living in tribal lands lack broadband access, according to the most recent report by the FCC. In Idaho, the FCC estimates that 83 percent of the tribal population lacks broadband, making the Nez Perce tribe among the least-connected groups in the country."

    In Theory: Feminist thinkers challenge ‘traditional ethics’; Burbank Leader via Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2018

    Burbank Leader via Los Angeles Times; In Theory: Feminist thinkers challenge ‘traditional ethics’

    "Ideas largely introduced by feminist thinker Carol Gilligan in her 1982 book "In A Different Voice" contend that feminine "ethics of care" stress "caring" as opposed to the more theoretically masculine "ethics of justice," which stress "duty" as a moral view.

    The notes for a philosophy course at Texas A&M posit that "Doing one's moral duty ... does not mean that we should ignore the circumstances, people or future interpersonal impact of our judgments."

    One might recognize this philosophy in marchers calling for "dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect."

    Q. Are the "traditional ethics" of Western Civilization essentially male? Do ethical differences between sexes exist, and if so, what accounts for them?"

    Trump stunned ethics experts with his surprising, 'excellent choice' to lead the government office that's been a huge thorn in his side; Business Insider, February 8, 2018

    Allan Smith, Business Insider; Trump stunned ethics experts with his surprising, 'excellent choice' to lead the government office that's been a huge thorn in his side

    "Ethics experts were over the moon with President Donald Trump's selection to lead the Office of Government Ethics, Emory Rounds.

    That includes two high-profile ethicists who have been among the most prominent critics of Trump: Walter Shaub, the former head of OGE who resigned before completing his term, and Richard Painter, top ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush who has repeatedly clashed with the White House."

    Is tech dividing America?; Politico, February 7, 2018

    Nancy Scola, Politico; Is tech dividing America?

    "Economists broadly agree that technology will continue to be an engine of economic growth. But it also will upend old certainties about who benefits. Already, we can see a growing inequality gap, with winners and losers by region and workplace. The next wave of changes, handled badly, could make this gap even more extreme.

    MIT researcher David Autor has been at the center of that conversation for two decades now. One of the world’s premier labor economists, Autor has helped drive a reconsideration of how Americans are really coping with the changes transforming their workplaces. And he's trying to take the conversation beyond the ivory tower: His 2016 TED talk about the surprising impact of automation, “Why Are There Still So Many Jobs?” has been viewed more than 1.3 million times."

    GRAPHIC: America's digital divide, in 2 maps; Politico, February 7, 2018

    John Hendel and Tucker Doherty, Politico; GRAPHIC: America's digital divide, in 2 maps

    [Kip Currier: Very timely data and information visualization, via these 2/7/18 Politico maps, for exploring thorny issues of Digital Divides and Access to Information in my Information Ethics class today.]

    "The divide between America's haves and have nots is increasingly marked by technology. A broadband connection is a portal to jobs, to education, to consumer goods, to information and to other people. Yet huge swaths of the United States are still unconnected, particularly in rural areas. Some areas lack access to an internet connection at all. Others have service creaky to let a student take an online course, or an adult working from home to join a videoconference.

    The two maps below illustrate both problems..."

    Monday, February 5, 2018

    Ethics training reminds White House staff not to use encrypted messages for government business; Washington Post, February 5, 2018

    Carol D. LeonnigJosh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Washington Post; Ethics training reminds White House staff not to use encrypted messages for government business

    "White House lawyers have been reminding President Trump’s staff not to use encrypted messaging apps for official government business as the administration seeks to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating federal records laws.

    The warnings were issued during mandatory ethics training sessions held for White House personnel in the past several weeks. During the hour-long briefings, deputy counsel Stefan C. Passantino told staffers to use only White House email for work communications and not any unofficial platforms such as smartphone apps, texts and private emails, according to several people in attendance.

    Using such messaging services for official government business could violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires that nearly all official White House correspondence be preserved."

    It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets; New York Times, February 4, 2018

    David Leonhardt, New York Times; It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets

    "The whole bizarre situation is a reminder of why trust matters so much to a well-functioning society. The best solution, of course, would be based not on some Transportation Department regulation but on simple trust. People who really needed service animals could then bring on them planes without having to carry documents.

    Maybe a trust-based system will return at some point. But it won’t return automatically. When trust breaks down and small bits of dishonesty become normal, people need to make a conscious effort to restore basic decency."

    Sunday, February 4, 2018

    My Pacemaker Is Tracking Me From Inside My Body; The Atlantic, January 27, 2018

    Neta Alexander, The Atlantic; My Pacemaker Is Tracking Me From Inside My Body: Cloud-connected medical devices save lives, but also raise questions about privacy, security, and oversight. An Object Lesson.

    [Kip Currier: Not an overstatement to say that this 1/27/18 first-person piece in The Atlantic is a profoundly thought-provoking, unsettling case study at the intersection of personal health data, privacy, digital networked technologies, and cybersecurity.]

    "The idea of a battery-equipped, internet-connected device living forever inside my chest both terrifies and fascinates me. When people say, “I’ll die if I lose my iPhone,” they never mean it literally. But I really might die without this smart gadget. I’m also at risk in other ways. A wireless pacemaker can be hacked, or, as recently happened in Ohio, become legal evidence that incriminates its user.

    There is a crucial difference between my device and more ubiquitous digital technologies: I never made the choice to implant the pacemaker in my body. I’m grateful to the hardworking doctors who minimized my pain and helped me get better. At the same time, the device they installed raises questions that now haunt me. It’s not clear who might have access to data about my pulse, my health, and possibly my whereabouts—data generated by a device inside me."





    What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State; New York Times, February 3, 2018

    James A. Millward, New York Times; What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State

    "Will the big-data police state engulf the rest of China? The rest of the world?

    As China’s profile grows on the international stage, everyone would do well to ask if what happens in Xinjiang will stay in Xinjiang."

    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone; The Atlantic, February 2, 2018


    The Atlantic; China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone

    [Kip Currier: This Atlantic article brings to mind the Black Mirror Bryce Dallas Howard-helmed episode "Nosedive"--in which social media-dependent social-climbing-Americans are ranked from 1 (not good) to 5 (cream of the crop). The difference: China's real life "good citizen score" surveillance system is way scarier than the one imagined in Nosedive; and is more like the "Under His Eye" dystopia of The Handmaid's Tale Gilead authoritarian state.]

    "[China] is racing to become the first to implement a pervasive system of algorithmic surveillance. Harnessing advances in artificial intelligence and data mining and storage to construct detailed profiles on all citizens, China’s communist party-state is developing a “citizen score” to incentivize “good” behavior. A vast accompanying network of surveillance cameras will constantly monitor citizens’ movements, purportedly to reduce crime and terrorism. While the expanding Orwellian eye may improve “public safety,” it poses a chilling new threat to civil liberties in a country that already has one of the most oppressive and controlling governments in the world.

    China’s evolving algorithmic surveillance system will rely on the security organs of the communist party-state to filter, collect, and analyze staggering volumes of data flowing across the internet. Justifying controls in the name of national security and social stability, China originally planned to develop what it called a “Golden Shield” surveillance system allowing easy access to local, national, and regional records on each citizen. This ambitious project has so far been mostly confined to a content-filtering Great Firewall, which prohibits foreign internet sites including Google, Facebook, and The New York Times. According to Freedom House, China’s level of internet freedom is already the worst on the planet. Now, the Communist Party of China is finally building the extensive, multilevel data-gathering system it has dreamed of for decades."