Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lawmakers to Wells Fargo CEO: ‘Why shouldn’t you be in jail?’; Washington Post, 9/29/16

Renae Merle, Washington Post; Lawmakers to Wells Fargo CEO: ‘Why shouldn’t you be in jail?’ :
"Some members peppered Stumpf with questions about whether he should be criminally prosecuted.
“Why shouldn’t you be in jail?” asked Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.) “When prosecutors get hold of you, you are going to have a lot of fun.” “Do you think what you did was criminal?” Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) asked. Stumpf responded that he had led the bank with “courage,” but was interrupted again...
“We have a culture based on ethics, and doing what’s right,” Stumpf said to the committee. “I stand with the people who are doing the right thing.”
Several lawmakers noted that despite Stumpf's emphasis on ethics, the bank has been hit with various fines over the past decade, including some linked to the housing crash."

Supreme Court Takes Up Case That Could Affect Redskins Trademark; NPR, 9/29/16

Eyder Peralta, NPR; Supreme Court Takes Up Case That Could Affect Redskins Trademark:
"The Supreme Court has decided to hear a case that might decide whether the government can deny Washington's NFL team a trademark because it has deemed the team name is offensive.
The court granted certiorari on Lee V. Tam. If you remember, The Slants, an Asian-American rock band, sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because it refused to trademark their name saying it proved offensive.
In December of last year, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided that the band's name was private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Red-state newspaper endorsements of Clinton are not as pointless as they look; Washington Post, 9/28/16

Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post; Red-state newspaper endorsements of Clinton are not as pointless as they look:
"Which brings me to the second reason for writing an endorsement editorial — even if it proves ineffectual and even if it deeply angers some readers: Publishing them is the right thing to do.
Editorial boards are mostly made up of thoughtful, smart and well-informed journalists who have had a chance to study and discuss the candidates seriously. In some cases, they have had the chance to meet with them in person. They have a unique and important vantage point.
What’s more, they have a bully pulpit. In a contest this important and this close, they need to use it. They would be walking away from their responsibility if they thought first about making some readers mad enough to cancel, even temporarily.
“We write our editorials based on principle, and sometimes principle comes at a cost,” the Morning News’s Wilson said."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lessons from zombie warfare can help us beat hackers at their own game; Quartz, 9/26/16

Patrick Lin, Quartz; Lessons from zombie warfare can help us beat hackers at their own game:
"The current lack of respect for the power and vulnerabilities of our computing devices has helped create the debate over hacking back and other security issues. To be fair, the internet wasn’t designed for security when it was created decades ago, but only for a small group of researchers who trusted one another. That circle of trust has long been breached. We now need more vigilant and prepared users to help prevent cyberattacks from landing in the first place, making moot the decision to hack back.
Therefore, to truly address cybersecurity, we may need to seriously consider requiring computer users to have special training and licensing, or at the very least to keep up with basic hygiene requirements. Firearms and automobiles also have a high potential for misuse, so they require proper training and licensing. The US Federal Aviation Administration just required aerial drones to be registered, similarly recognizing that drone operation can be both recreational and dangerous.
Perhaps this solution is too radical to work. A new report on the ethics of hacking back, released today (Sept. 26) by the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group based at Cal Poly, explores other possibilities. But a radical change of perspective may be what’s needed to solve such a relentless problem, and the right metaphor may be able to inspire that paradigm shift."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Participate in Banned Books Week with Outspeak; Huffington Post, 9/19/16

Outspeak, Huffington Post; Participate in Banned Books Week with Outspeak:
"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It runs from September 25th to October 1st this year.
We’re encouraging as many people as possible to celebrate the freedom to seek and express ideas that some consider taboo with Banned Books Week. The week aims to bring together the entire book community; librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types, in shared support of the freedom of expression and information.
The week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Banned books are those that have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available.
This continues to happen because people (like you) are speaking up about frequently challenged ideals within the pages of banned books. So speak up and join the effort to erase censorship from our schools, libraries, and governments."

Celebrate — don’t ban — books; Washington Post, 9/25/16

Ellen Ryan, Washington Post; Celebrate — don’t ban — books:
"Banned Books Week starts today. With new books published all the time and human nature being what it is, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the list of banned and challenged books keeps growing...
“Fahrenheit 451”? Irony alert! It’s about censorship of books. All of them. Actually, author Ray Bradbury said it’s about the triumph of broadcast media over literature and sound bites over complex thought. He’d feel horrified but vindicated at the sight of an American family dinner table – assuming he could find one – where everyone’s checking email, sports scores or Pinterest on personal devices...
“Censorship is the enemy of truth, even more than a lie,” says journalist Bill Moyers. “A lie can be exposed; censorship can prevent us from knowing the difference.”"

Wells Fargo Case Prompts Questions Of Corporate Ethics Reform; NPR, 9/24/16

[Podcast] NPR; Wells Fargo Case Prompts Questions Of Corporate Ethics Reform:
"The bank's CEO appeared before a Senate banking committee this week to answer questions about fake accounts created by more than 5,000 of his employees. Scott Simon talks with consultant Dov Seidman."

Teaching business ethics; University World News, 9/23/16

Margaret Andrews, University World News; Teaching business ethics:
"I’m not sure that some of these are universal values, but, nonetheless, both sources point to ambiguity and that ethics is not always dealing with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, but may sometimes be a choice of a lesser of evils, a nuanced decision dealing with trade-offs or viewed as situational. Hence some of the problems we have in teaching ethics – and getting people, ourselves included, acting in an ethical manner...
So how can we improve our students’ ethical decision making? Good question., a not-for-profit organisation housed at New York University, collects and shares research on ethics that hopes to demonstrate that “in the long run, good ethics is good business”.
The research is really interesting and spans a wide variety of topics, including accounting, cheating and honesty, contextual influences, corporate culture, corporate governance, corruption, decision-making, leadership and teaching ethics, among others. The site also offers activities and cases on how to teach ethics, as well as a host of resources in this area.
How does your school teach ethics? What works and what is just wishful thinking? How might we approach the problem differently? How might we better instil ethics in students – and the broader business community?"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

'New York Times' Editor: 'We Owed It To Our Readers' To Call Trump Claims Lies; NPR, 9/22/16

NPR Staff, NPR; 'New York Times' Editor: 'We Owed It To Our Readers' To Call Trump Claims Lies:
"The Times is using that word "lie" often in its coverage of Donald Trump, and Dean Baquet, the paper's executive editor, explains why on NPR's Morning Edition.
Interview Highlights
Has something changed in the way the paper covers and writes about Trump?
Yes, the simple answer is yes. Politicians often exaggerate their records, obfuscate, say they did something great when it wasn't so great. I think in the last few weeks, he's sort of crossed a little bit of a line where he's actually said things – I think the moment for me was the birther story, where he has repeated for years his belief that President Obama was not born in the United States. [Editor's note: On Friday, Trump reversed that claim and said Obama was born in the U.S.] That's not an obfuscation, that's not an exaggeration. I think that was just demonstrably a lie, and I think that lie is not a word that newspapers use comfortably...
NPR has taken a different approach and has not used the word "lie" in its coverage of Trump. In a post Mike Oreskes, NPR senior vice president for news, explains that NPR should give "citizens the information they need to make the choices that democracy asks them to make. We should not be telling you how to think. We should give you the information to decide what you think."...
Has the paper used the word "lie" in reference to Hillary Clinton much?
I don't think Hillary Clinton, to be honest, has crossed the line the way Donald Trump did with the birther issue."

What every New Yorker knows about Donald Trump; Washington Post, 9/21/16

Garrison Keillor, Washington Post; What every New Yorker knows about Donald Trump:
"Trump is a man whom few Republicans would care to invite into their homes. So what’s going on here? An epidemic of hippocampus poisoning from bad enzymes in cheap beers? The man is a fraud, a compulsive liar and a clueless playboy whose presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for the country. If you would make us the laughingstock of the world just to irk your liberal sister-in-law, you are someone who should not be allowed to come within 500 yards of an elementary school.
The success of Trump would show our children the exact value of education, which is: not that much. It would mean that fact-based journalism had very little bearing in America and a Manila-born Ceylonese child could aspire to the highest office in the land. So here’s a dollar in the beggar’s bucket. Good luck to democracy. Hang in there."

Members Of Congress Rip Into Mylan CEO; Huffington Post, 9/21/16

Lauren Weber, Huffington Post; Members Of Congress Rip Into Mylan CEO:
"“To have companies like yours take advantage of the situation, take advantage of these people who are really in need of this medication, I think it speaks to something that we are better than that,” Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said. “How did we get to this point that we have a culture like this in corporate America that wants to stick it to consumers?”...
Cummings emphasized his disgust that pharmaceutical companies would continue to ratchet up drug prices for life-saving medication and said he hoped Bresch would apologize. She did not.
“After Mylan takes our punches, they’ll fly back to their mansions in their private jets and laugh all the way to the bank while our constituents suffer, file for bankruptcy, and watch their children get sicker and die,” Cummings said. “It’s time for Congress to act.”"

Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos; NPR, 9/22/16

Rob Stein, NPR; Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos:
"A scientist in Sweden has started trying to edit the DNA in healthy human embryos, NPR has learned.
The step by the developmental biologist Fredrik Lanner makes him the first researcher known to attempt to modify the genes of healthy human embryos. That has long been considered taboo because of safety and ethical concerns.
Lanner is attempting to edit genes in human embryos to learn more about how the genes regulate early embryonic development. He hopes the work could lead to new ways to treat infertility and prevent miscarriages. He also hopes to help scientists learn more about embryonic stem cells so they can someday use them to treat many diseases.
The fear is that Lanner's work could open the door to others attempting to use genetically modified embryos to make babies."

A Trump presidency would be ethically compromised; Huffington Post, 9/20/16

Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, Huffington Post; A Trump presidency would be ethically compromised:
"As government ethics lawyers who have, respectively, counseled the most recent Republican president and the most recent Democratic one, we have watched Donald Trump’s campaign with increasing concern. We have come to believe a Trump presidency would be ethically compromised for the following reasons...

Wells Fargo CEO Takes Responsibility For ‘All Unethical’ Practices; Reuters via Huffington Post, 9/20/16

Reuters via Huffington Post; Wells Fargo CEO Takes Responsibility For ‘All Unethical’ Practices:
"The chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co on Tuesday apologized for the bank’s opening as many as 2 million bogus customer accounts that could generate fees for the lender.
“I accept full responsibility for all unethical sales practices,” CEO John Stumpf told a congressional panel...
[Ohio. Sen. Sherrod] Brown said employees were caught “forging signatures, and stealing identities, Social Security numbers, and customers’ hard-earned cash, so as to hang on to their low-paying jobs and make money for the high-paying executives at Wells Fargo.”"

‘You should resign': Elizabeth Warren excoriates Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf; Washington Post, 9/20/16

Jena McGregor, Washington Post; ‘You should resign': Elizabeth Warren excoriates Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf:
"In at least a couple of instances, she used the bank's own words against him. She began by reading from the bank's "vision and values statement," which says "we believe in values lived, not phrases memorized," and "if you want to find out how strong a company's ethics are, don't listen to what its people say. Watch what they do."
So, she said, "let's do that," noting Stumpf had repeatedly said "I'm accountable." Then she drilled into questions where he was unable to affirmatively answer that he had resigned, handed back money he'd earned or fired any senior executives."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

British Philosophers Consider the Ethics of a Robotic Future; PC Magazine, 9/20/16

Tom Brant, PC Magazine; British Philosophers Consider the Ethics of a Robotic Future:
"The British Standards Institute (BSI) commissioned a group of scientists, academics, ethicists, and philosophers to provide guidance on potential hazards and protective measures. They presented their guidelines at a robotics conference in Oxford, England last week.
"As far as I know this is the first published standard for the ethical design of robots," professor of robotics at the University of the West of England Alan Winfield told the Guardian...
The EU, which Britain will soon leave, is also working on robot ethics standards. Its provisional code of conduct for robotics engineers and users includes provisions like "robots should act in the best interests of humans" and forbids users from modifying a robot to enable it to function as a weapon."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Redskins, rock band battle government in trademark fight; Washington Post, 9/19/16

Sam Hananel, Washington Post; Redskins, rock band battle government in trademark fight:
"Simon Tam has openly criticized the Washington Redskins team name as a racist slur that demeans Native Americans.
But Tam and his Asian-American rock band, The Slants, find themselves on the same side as the NFL franchise in a First Amendment legal battle over trademark protection for names that some consider offensive. The Supreme Court could decide as early as this month whether to hear the dispute involving the Portland, Oregon-area band. And if the football team has its way, the justices could hear both cases in its new term. At issue is a constitutional challenge to a law barring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from registering trademarks that disparage minority groups. The office denied a trademark to the Slants in 2011 after finding the name disparaged people of Asian descent.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Do no harm, don't discriminate: official guidance issued on robot ethics; Guardian, 9/18/16

Hannah Devlin, Guardian; Do no harm, don't discriminate: official guidance issued on robot ethics: "Isaac Asimov gave us the basic rules of good robot behaviour: don’t harm humans, obey orders and protect yourself. Now the British Standards Institute has issued a more official version aimed at helping designers create ethically sound robots.
The document, BS8611 Robots and robotic devices, is written in the dry language of a health and safety manual, but the undesirable scenarios it highlights could be taken directly from fiction. Robot deception, robot addiction and the possibility of self-learning systems exceeding their remits are all noted as hazards that manufacturers should consider.
Welcoming the guidelines at the Social Robotics and AI conference in Oxford, Alan Winfield, a professor of robotics at the University of the West of England, said they represented “the first step towards embedding ethical values into robotics and AI”.
“As far as I know this is the first published standard for the ethical design of robots,” Winfield said after the event. “It’s a bit more sophisticated than that Asimov’s laws – it basically sets out how to do an ethical risk assessment of a robot.”"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a misunderstood masterpiece; Guardian, 9/18/16

Michael Billington, Guardian; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a misunderstood masterpiece:
"Albee’s protective attitude to his play stemmed in part, I suspect, from the fact that it is widely misunderstood. The searing Mike Nichols 1966 film, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, stamped it in the public mind as a liquor-fuelled marital slugfest. But the play, I am convinced, is as much about the state of the Union as about marriage. Albee was a deeply political writer who once told me he liked plays to be “useful, not merely decorative”. It is also significant that he wrote the play in the early 1960s when America was slowly emerging from the narcoleptic Eisenhower years and when a fragile Cold War peace depended on the balance of terror...
Rumour has it that Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill are to star in a new London production. With America currently engaged in its own form of post-truth politics, now seems the perfect time to revive Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Gaming the system: Another breach shows need for state ethics reform; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/16

Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Gaming the system: Another breach shows need for state ethics reform:
"The state Ethics Commission has ordered a former Game Commission official, William Capouillez, to pay $75,000 for conflicts of interest related to outside employment, highlighting once more the need for comprehensive ethics reform in Harrisburg. Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a package of reforms, and some bills to tighten ethics rules are pending in the Legislature. If there is no movement on an ethics overhaul by the end of the legislative session this year, our state leaders will have failed us once more."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Disqualified";, 9/15/16

Rob Rogers; "Disqualified"

Putin goes full Orwell; Washington Post, 9/14/16

George F. Will, Washington Post; Putin goes full Orwell:
"Modern tyrannies depend on state control of national memories — retroactive truths established by government fiat. Which is why Russia’s Supreme Court recently upheld the conviction of a blogger for violating Article 354.1 of Russia’s criminal code...
The Democratic presidential nominee fundamentally misread Putin’s thugocracy, and her opponent admires the thug because “at least he’s a leader.” As the Russian blogger’s fate demonstrates, Putin practices what Orwell wrote: “ ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ ”
Back in the day, some analysts prophesied a “convergence” between the Soviet Union and the United States, two industrial societies becoming more alike. In our day, there is indeed a growing similarity: In both places, post-factual politics are normal."

Commemorating the Lanham Act’s 70th; Politico, 9/14/16

Li Zhou, Politico; Commemorating the Lanham Act’s 70th:
[Kip Currier: I attended this reception recognizing the 70th year since the signing of the 1946 Lanham Act (the U.S. federal trademark statute). In highlighting the benefits of the trademark system, the speakers raised some powerful points about the impacts of counterfeit goods--such as Sen. Chuck Grassley's example of implantable medical devices--on public health and safety. Earlier in the day, at the "American Bar Association's Intellectual Property Law 4th Annual Trademark Day: Behind the Scenes at the USPTO", a speaker raised the similarly chilling example of counterfeit ball bearings in commercial airplanes. Compelling cases for ensuring product quality and brand authenticity and identification.]
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center will present framed copies of the 70-year-old federal trademark law to the co-chairs of the Congressional Trademark Caucus: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.)."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Candidates urged to lay out ethics commitments; USA Today US edition, 9/14/16

Fredreka Schouten, USA Today US edition; Candidates urged to lay out ethics commitments:
"...[Government-integrity advocates would] like the candidates to detail the ethics policies they would enact if elected."

Patent chief tells lawmakers ‘time and attendance fraud is not tolerated’; New York Times, 9/13/16

Lisa Rein, Washington Post; Patent chief tells lawmakers ‘time and attendance fraud is not tolerated’ :
"U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle K. Lee told lawmakers Tuesday that she and her team “do not tolerate any kind of attendance abuse” and promised that employees who commit fraud are disciplined...
A 15-month analysis by Deputy Inspector General David Smith’s office of thousands of patent examiners’ turnstile badge swipes, computer logins and remote computer connections from their homes to federal systems showed consistent discrepancies between the time employees reported working and the hours they actually put in.
This time and attendance abuse cost the government at least $18.3 million, as employees who review patent applications billed the agency for almost 300,000 hours they never worked, investigators found."

Monday, September 12, 2016

We won't let politically motivated hacks silence us; Guardian, 9/9/16

Chris Stone, Guardian; We won't let politically motivated hacks silence us:
"...[W]e also know why we’ve been attacked: because – like the others in the hackers’ sights – we believe in human rights, democracy and open societies, and we’re willing to act on our principles.
Today’s political hackers remind me of the Watergate burglars, only now they’re breaking into servers instead of offices. Now, as then, the political bosses behind these break-ins hope to use the stolen material to embarrass or discredit their enemies. But the lesson of Watergate is that this tactic can easily boomerang, bolstering the democratic credentials of those attacked, and bringing the real discredit back on the dirty tricksters.
Think of the organizations whose work has been stolen by DC Leaks as a new “Enemies List” – reminiscent of the roster President Nixon maintained of 20 journalists, lawyers, politicians and other public figures whom he reviled. It was certainly dangerous to be among the president’s 20 enemies, but as Nixon’s power waned, being on the list became a badge of honor.
At least a couple of those included later described it as among their greatest achievements. Yes, you had been under surveillance and perhaps worse: maybe your office was burglarized, your phone calls tapped or your career derailed. But inclusion was also a mark of effectiveness: you had been speaking up enough to disturb a president who himself proved to be the true enemy of American democracy.
These recent intrusions, and I expect there will be more, are a symptom of an aggressive assault on democratic principles that is taking place globally. As a private philanthropy, we have the independence to persist. We will learn from DC Leaks and will continue to support open society no matter whose enemies’ lists we land on."

Facebook had no right to edit history; Guardian, 9/9/16

Erna Solberg, Guardian; Facebook had no right to edit history:
"By deleting such iconic pictures that have played a crucial role in transforming world views on the pain and cruelty of war, Facebook is contributing to changing history. I want my children, and other children around the world, to grow up in a society where history is told as it was. In a society where they can grow into mature adults by learning from experiences of past generations, to be better informed citizens of the world. They need to understand what happened both in our darkest moments and our brightest. Today, images are the most powerful and important means of communication, and they must depict reality.
It would be tragic for history, for the truth, to be told in the version that comes from any one corporation’s mouthpiece. This is why I believe it is imperative that such outlets take their responsibility seriously, while exercising such great influence over their users’ access to information. We have today shown that through the power of social media, we can influence social media. Let’s continue to do that. It is after all a platform for and made by the people, where you can’t let machines run your morality."

"Agreeing on One Thing";, 9/11/16

Rob Rogers; "Agreeing on One Thing"

The Strange Case of Off-Patent Drug Price Gougers; Bloomberg, 9/9/16

Justin Fox, Bloomberg; The Strange Case of Off-Patent Drug Price Gougers:
"There’s a conflict at the heart of pharmaceutical pricing in the U.S.: On the one hand, it’s in the public’s interest for pharma companies to get a good return on the huge investments they often make in developing new drugs. On the other, it’s in the public’s interest to be able to afford those drugs.
We try to resolve this by granting companies temporary monopolies (aka patents) on the drugs they develop -- letting them effectively set the price unilaterally -- but then allowing competition from generic substitutes once the patents expire...
What’s going on, basically, is that a new breed of pharmaceutical company has emerged (Valeant is, or at least was, the archetype) that doesn’t develop drugs but identifies business opportunities in existing drugs --many of them with expired patents -- that the previous owners were too lazy or timid or decent to fully exploit. So they acquire them, and jack up the prices."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Gets Better: U.S. Patent and Trademark employees share their stories; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 6/25/15

[Video] U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; It Gets Better: U.S. Patent and Trademark employees share their stories:
[Kip Currier: While prepping for a patent lecture for my Intellectual Property and "Open" Movements course next week, I serendipitously found this inspiring "It Gets Better" video from 2015, featuring USPTO Director Michelle K. Lee and openly LGBT employees in the USPTO.]
"“Do not let the bullies of the world distract you from the commitment to achieve your fullest potential,’ says USPTO Director Michelle K. Lee in this video featuring stories from our employees, “It does get better.”"

The US Copyright Office is the poster child for regulatory capture; Boing Boing, 9/8/16

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; The US Copyright Office is the poster child for regulatory capture:
"Public Knowledge's new report, Captured: Systemic Bias at the US Copyright Office makes a beautifully argued, perfectly enraging case that the US Copyright Office does not serve the public interest, but rather, hands out regulatory favors to the entertainment industry.
Starting from the undeniable evidence that the easiest way to get a senior job at the Copyright Office is to hold a senior job in a giant entertainment company first (and that holding a senior Copyright Office job qualifies you to walk out of the Copyright Office and into a fat private sector gig as an entertainment exec), the report documents the numerous instances in which the Copyright Office has said and done outrageous things, and grossly misinterpreted the law, leading in many cases to being slapped down by the courts."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The case against big data: “It’s like you’re being put into a cult, but you don’t actually believe in it”; Salon, 9/8/16

Scott Timberg, Salon; The case against big data: “It’s like you’re being put into a cult, but you don’t actually believe in it” :
"If you’ve ever suspected there was something baleful about our deep trust in data, but lacked the mathematical skills to figure out exactly what it was, this is the book for you: Cathy O’Neil’s “Weapons of Math Destruction” examines college admissions, criminal justice, hiring, getting credit, and other major categories. The book demonstrates how the biases written into algorithms distort society and people’s lives...
Your book looks at how unjust this all is at the level of education, of voting, of finance, of housing. You conclude by saying that the data isn’t going away, and computers are not going to disappear either. There are not many examples of societies that unplugged or dialed back technologically. So what are you hoping can happen? What do we need to do as a society to, to make this more just, and less unfair and invisible?
Great point, because we now have algorithms that can retroactively infer people’s sexual identity based on their Facebook likes from, you know, 2005. We didn’t have it in 2005. So imagine the kind of data exhaust that we’re generating now could likely display weird health risks. The technology might not be here now but it might be here in five years.
The very first answer is that people need to stop trusting mathematics and they need to stop trusting black box algorithms. They need to start thinking to themselves. You know: Who owns this algorithm? What is their goal and is it aligned with mine? If they’re trying to profit off of me, probably the answer is no.
And then they should be able to demand some kind of consumer, or whatever, Bill of Rights for algorithms.
And that would be: Let me see my score, let me look at the data going into that score, let me contest incorrect data. Let me contest unfair data. You shouldn’t be able to use this data against me just because — going back to the criminal justice system — just because I was born in a high crime neighborhood doesn’t mean I should go to jail longer.
We have examples of rules like this . . . anti-discrimination laws, to various kinds of data privacy laws. They were written, typically, in the ’70s. They need to be updated. And expanded for the age of big data.
And then, so finally I want data scientists themselves to stop hiding behind this facade of objectivity. It’s just … it’s over. The game, the game is up."

Mark Zuckerberg accused of abusing power after row over 'napalm girl' photo; Guardian, 9/8/16

Julia Carrie Wong, Guardian; Mark Zuckerberg accused of abusing power after row over 'napalm girl' photo:
"Norway’s largest newspaper has published a front-page open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, lambasting the company’s decision to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnam war and calling on Zuckerberg to recognize and live up to his role as “the world’s most powerful editor”.
Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief and CEO of Aftenposten, accused Zuckerberg of thoughtlessly “abusing your power” over the social media site that has become a lynchpin of the distribution of news and information around the world, writing, “I am upset, disappointed – well, in fact even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society.”...
“While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others,” a spokesman for Facebook said in response to queries from the Guardian.
“We try to find the right balance between enabling people to express themselves while maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community. Our solutions won’t always be perfect, but we will continue to try to improve our policies and the ways in which we apply them.”"

This employee ID badge monitors and listens to you at work — except in the bathroom; Washington Post, 9/7/16

Thomas Heath, Washington Post; This employee ID badge monitors and listens to you at work — except in the bathroom:
"Those concerned about their privacy might be alarmed by the arrival of such badges. But Humanyze says it doesn’t record the content of what people say, just how they say it. And the boss doesn’t get to look at individuals’ personal data. It is also up to the employee to decide whether they want to participate.
“Those are things we hammer home,” Waber said. “If you don’t give people choice, if you don’t aggregate instead of showing individual data, any benefit would be dwarfed by the negative reaction people will have of you coming in with this very sophisticated sensor.”
He and three fellow scientists, two of whom are MIT graduates and one from Finland, call their technology “people analytics.”"

Why ‘Star Trek’ was so important to Martin Luther King Jr.; Washington Post, 9/8/16

Elahe Izadi, Washington Post; Why ‘Star Trek’ was so important to Martin Luther King Jr. :
"Then, she broke the news to him that she was quitting the show. His smile faded, Nichols recalled later, as he firmly told the actress that she couldn’t leave “Star Trek.”
“He said, ‘Don’t you understand what this man [Roddenberry] has achieved? For the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing and dance, yes, but who can go into space, who can be lawyers and teachers, who can be professors — who are in this day, yet you don’t see it on television until now,'” Nichols recalled in a later interview.
He went on: “Gene Roddenberry has opened a door for the world to see us. If you leave, that door can be closed. Because, you see, your role is not a black role, it’s not a female role. He can fill it with anything, including an alien.”...
Nichols stayed on the show, and said she never regretted that life-altering decision. She went on to help NASA recruit new astronaut candidates, many of whom were women and people of color."

Trade Secret Protection Blocks Sick Samsung Workers From Data; Claims Journal, 8/12/16

Youkyung Lee, Claims Journal; Trade Secret Protection Blocks Sick Samsung Workers From Data:
"An Associated Press investigation has found South Korean authorities have, at Samsung’s request, repeatedly withheld from workers and their bereaved families crucial information about chemicals they were exposed to at its computer chip and liquid crystal display factories. Sick workers are supposed to have access to such data through the government or the courts so they can apply for workers’ compensation from the state. Without it, government officials commonly reject their cases.
The justification for withholding the information? In at least six cases involving 10 workers, it was trade secrets. Court documents and interviews with government officials, workers’ lawyers and their families show Samsung often cites the need to protect trade secrets when it asks government officials not to release such data.
“Our fight is often against trade secrets. Any contents that may not work in Samsung’s favor were deleted as trade secrets,” said Lim Ja-woon, a lawyer who has represented 15 sick Samsung workers."

Report: 'Failure of OPM's leadership' led to historic data breaches; FedScoop, 9/7/16

Chris Bing, FedScoop; Report: 'Failure of OPM's leadership' led to historic data breaches:
"A 2014 data breach at the Office of Personnel Management was the result of failed leadership and consistent cybersecurity ignorance, according to an investigative report released Wednesday by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“The long-standing failure of OPM’s leadership to implement basic cyber hygiene, such as maintaining current authorities to operate and employing strong multi-factor authentication, despite years of warnings from the inspector general, represents a failure of culture and leadership, not technology,” states the report.
By disregarding warnings shared by the inspector general as far back as 2005, former Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour and Director Katherine Archuleta put the personal information of more than 20 million citizens at risk, Oversight chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said during a Wednesday appearance at D.C.-based think tank, the American Enterprise Institute...
"The government of the United States of America has never before been more vulnerable to cyberattacks,” the 241-page report reads."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tell Your University: Don't Sell Patents to Trolls; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 8/17/16

Elliot Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Tell Your University: Don't Sell Patents to Trolls:
"When universities invent, those inventions should benefit everyone. Unfortunately, they sometimes end up in the hands of patent trolls—companies that serve no purpose but to amass patents and demand money from others. When a university sells patents to trolls, it undermines the university’s purpose as a driver of innovation. Those patents become landmines that make innovation more difficult.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the problem of universities selling or licensing patents to trolls. We said that the only way that universities will change their patenting and technology transfer policies is if students, professors, and other members of the university community start demanding it.
It’s time to start making those demands.
We’re launching Reclaim Invention, a new initiative to urge universities to rethink how they use patents. If you think that universities should keep their inventions away from the hands of patent trolls, then use our form to tell them.
EFF is proud to partner with Creative Commons, Engine, Fight for the Future, Knowledge Ecology International, and Public Knowledge on this initiative.
A Simple Promise to Defend Innovation
Central to our initiative is the Public Interest Patent Pledge (PIPP), a pledge we hope to see university leadership sign. The pledge says that before a university sells or licenses a patent, it will first check to make sure that the potential buyer or licensee doesn’t match the profile of a patent troll"

Internet for All; Slate, September 2016

[Podcast] Slate; Internet for All:
"Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a lightning-fast, publicly run broadband network that has attracted a lot of tech talent to the city. But as the city builds an economy around technology, one thing is becoming apparent: There’s a gaping divide between those who are tech-savvy and those who aren’t. In some neighborhoods, as few as 1 in 5 households have an internet connection. Can Chattanooga bridge its digital divide?"

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Campuses Cautiously Train Freshmen Against Subtle Insults; New York Times, 9/6/16

Stephanie Saul, New York Times; Campuses Cautiously Train Freshmen Against Subtle Insults:
"The exchange was included in Ms. Marlowe’s presentation to recently arriving first-year students focusing on subtle “microaggressions,” part of a new campus vocabulary that also includes “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
Microaggressions, Ms. Marlowe said, are comments, snubs or insults that communicate derogatory or negative messages that might not be intended to cause harm but are targeted at people based on their membership in a marginalized group."

A Republican Candidate Said He Hoped I Got Raped; Daily Beast, 9/6/16

[Graphic Language] Olivia Nuzzi, Daily Beast; A Republican Candidate Said He Hoped I Got Raped:
"In an additional statement to The Daily Beast, the West Deptford Executive Board said, “We have been informed he is resigning.” But the fate of political discourse in America is less certain.
News publications (including this one) have made a big show of eliminating comments sections in recent years, arguing, correctly, that they are little more than safe spaces for bullies. But increasingly every other public forum is becoming like that, too.
And in the age of Trump, bullying has been rebranded as telling it like it is.
Using obscene or threatening language is a point of pride, proof that you’re beholden to nothing but the truth. And anyone who can’t handle that? Well, they’re just a politically correct loser."

Political prisoner hit with another Kafkaesque charge for writing NYT piece about harsh repression by U.S. ally Bahrain; Salon, 9/6/16

Ben Norton, Salon; Political prisoner hit with another Kafkaesque charge for writing NYT piece about harsh repression by U.S. ally Bahrain:
"A prominent human rights activist who already faced up to 15 years in prison for Twitter posts has now been hit with another charge after writing publicly about his Kafkaesque case.
Detained Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab published an op-ed in The New York Times on Sunday titled “Letter from a Bahraini Jail” (a play on Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail”)...
The U.S. State Department has publicly called on Bahrain to release Rajab. It also said it has “raised concerns with the government of Bahrain, particularly on this case.” But Rajab argues the U.S. is not doing enough."

Behind the EpiPen controversy are questions about patents granted to drugmaker; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9/4/16

Samantha Liss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Behind the EpiPen controversy are questions about patents granted to drugmaker:
"Drugmaker Mylan NV has received the brunt of criticism for alleged price-gouging on the lifesaving EpiPen, but other factors — and players — contributed to the monopoly it enjoys today, say experts familiar with the drug industry.
First approved in 1987, the EpiPen is protected from competition until 2025 by four patents. Three of those patents were awarded within the last six years."

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hillary Clinton Gets Gored; New York Times, 9/5/16

Paul Krugman, New York Times; Hillary Clinton Gets Gored:
"So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye. If reports about a candidate talk about how something “raises questions,” creates “shadows,” or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrongdoing out of thin air.
And here’s a pro tip: the best ways to judge a candidate’s character are to look at what he or she has actually done, and what policies he or she is proposing. Mr. Trump’s record of bilking students, stiffing contractors and more is a good indicator of how he’d act as president; Mrs. Clinton’s speaking style and body language aren’t. George W. Bush’s policy lies gave me a much better handle on who he was than all the up-close-and-personal reporting of 2000, and the contrast between Mr. Trump’s policy incoherence and Mrs. Clinton’s carefulness speaks volumes today.
In other words, focus on the facts. America and the world can’t afford another election tipped by innuendo."

Yes, the News Can Survive the Newspaper; New York Times, 9/4/16

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times; Yes, the News Can Survive the Newspaper:
"In this case, as the ad dollars that have long financed journalism vaporize into the electronic ether, you don’t know with any certainty that the best services that newspapers have provided — holding public officials to account, rooting out corruption — will live on.
If anything, today’s “efficiencies” may even set readers back by pumping out lowest-common-denominator nonsense or, at worst, disinformation.
Just look at what happened last week after that Goliath of the digital transformation, Facebook, pared back the team of “curators” and copy editors who oversaw the selection process for its “Trending Topics” feed. Instead, it gave more control over to an algorithm...
The Facebook experience wasn’t all that far off from the doomsday scenario John Oliver recently envisioned on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”...
Know-nothing press haters may say that news organizations are going out of business because the public is shunning them, but that’s not the case at all. Through online exposure, newspapers are reaching more people than ever. The problem is how they make money. Circulation for physical newspapers is declining, and so is print advertising; digital ads remain far less profitable. The trick is finding a way to make up the lost revenue."

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; NIH, 2011

NIH; The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee:
The IACUC is responsible for oversight of the animal care and use program and its components as described in the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Policy) and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide). Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer Its oversight functions include an ongoing assessment of animal care and use. IACUC responsibilities include:
Review, at least semiannually, the institution's program for the humane care and use of animals;
Inspect, at least semiannually, the institution's animal facilities (including satellite facilities);
Prepare reports to the Institutional Official (IO) of the IACUC evaluations;
Review animal welfare concerns;
Make recommendations to the IO on any aspect of the animal program, facilities, or personnel training;
Review and approve, those components of PHS conducted or supported activities related to the care and use of animals;
Review and approve, proposed significant changes to the use of animals in ongoing activities; and
Be authorized to suspend an activity involving animals.
[Five People]The IACUC membership must consist of at least 5 members and includes:
one veterinarian with training or experience in laboratory animal science and medicine, who has direct or delegated authority and responsibility for activities involving animals at the institution;
one practicing scientist experienced in research with animals;
one member whose primary concerns are in a nonscientific area (e.g., ethicist, lawyer, member of the clergy); and
one member who is not affiliated with the institution other than as a member of the IACUC."

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS)

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) :
"About AALAS
Mission Statement: AALAS is an association of professionals that advances responsible laboratory animal care and use to benefit people and animals.
The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) is a membership association of professionals employed around the world in academia, government, and private industry who are dedicated to the humane care and treatment of laboratory animals, as well as the quality research that leads to scientific gains that benefit people and animals. AALAS provides educational materials to laboratory animal care professionals and researchers, administers certification programs for laboratory animal technicians and managers, publishes scholarly journals, supports laboratory animal science research, and serves as the premier forum for the exchange of information and expertise in the care and use of laboratory animals.
AALAS Goals can be viewed here.
Core Values Statement
The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science believes that the use of laboratory animals in scientific and medical research is essential to the improvement and protection of the quality of all life. The humane and responsible care of laboratory animals is vital to quality research and, as such, an essential aspect of AALAS endeavors. AALAS is dedicated to building and disseminating a knowledge base in laboratory animal science for the education and training of those who work in this field.
Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics for members of AALAS has been adopted by the Board of Trustees to promote and maintain the highest standards of professional and personal conduct among its members. Adherence to these standards is required for membership in the Association and serves to assure public confidence in the integrity and service of AALAS members."

Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher; New York Times, 9/2/16

John P. Gluck, New York Times; Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher:
"In 1974, a federal commission was formed to develop ethical principles for human research. For nearly four years, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects in Biomedical and Behavioral Research met monthly to develop ethical principles that we rely on for human research. The principles set down in the resulting Belmont Report reflect the moral dimensions of human research that now govern this work. The report revolutionized the understanding of voluntary and informed consent, fair subject recruitment, and the importance of conducting risk-benefit analyses. No such document exists for animal research.
Acknowledging that our serious work as scientists can be a source of pain and distress to sentient, helpless and non-consenting beings can be difficult. The federal government should establish a national commission to develop the principles to guide decisions about the ethics of animal research. We already accept that ethical limits on experiments involving humans are important enough that we are willing to forgo possible breakthroughs. There is no ethical argument that justifies not doing the same for animals."

Top Safety Official Doesn’t Trust Automakers to Teach Ethics to Self-Driving Cars; MIT Technology Review, 9/2/16

Andrew Rosenblum, MIT Technology Review; Top Safety Official Doesn’t Trust Automakers to Teach Ethics to Self-Driving Cars:
"Rapid progress on autonomous driving has led to concerns that future vehicles will have to make ethical choices, for example whether to swerve to avoid a crash if it would cause serious harm to people outside the vehicle.
Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, is one of them. He told MIT Technology Review that federal regulations will be required to set the basic morals of autonomous vehicles, as well as safety standards for how reliable they must be...
Hart also said there would need to be rules for how ethical prerogatives are encoded into software. He gave the example of a self-driving car faced with a decision between a potentially fatal collision with an out-of-control truck or heading up on the sidewalk and hitting pedestrians. “That to me is going to take a federal government response to address,” said Hart. “Those kinds of ethical choices will be inevitable.”
That NHTSA has been evaluating how it will regulate driverless cars for the past eight months, and will release guidance in the near future. The agency hasn't so far discussed ethical concerns about automated driving.
What regulation exists for self-driving cars comes from states such as California, and is targeted at the prototype vehicles being tested by companies such as Alphabet and Uber."

WorkZone: Amping up for hiring season | What do employers look for in an applicant?; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/5/16

Matthew Gutierrez, Pittsbrugh Post-Gazette; WorkZone: Amping up for hiring season | What do employers look for in an applicant? :
"On the verge of peak hiring season, the Post-Gazette spoke with some Pittsburgh employers about what they look for when interviewing job candidates and what separates the top applicants from the rest of the pack...
Studies have shown that many employers value cultural fit more than specific talent and experience.
“Are you a culture fit for the company? Are you ethical? If you don’t meet both of those, you're not hired,” said Sonny Bringol, president of Bridgeville-based Victorian Finance. He added that most of his firm’s problems are culture-related, rarely associated with finance."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Elsevier’s New Patent for Online Peer Review Throws a Scare Into Open-Source Advocates; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/1/16

Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education; Elsevier’s New Patent for Online Peer Review Throws a Scare Into Open-Source Advocates:
"Patents on software can be controversial. And often, so is the company Elsevier, the giant journal publisher. So when word hit the internet starting on Tuesday night that Elsevier had just been awarded a patent for an "online peer-review system and method," reaction from people aligned with the publishing and open-source worlds came swiftly on Twitter and in other online venues, much of it reflecting suspicion about the company’s motives...
The concern revolves around the patent Elsevier received for its five-year-old "article-transfer service," a propriety online system the company uses to manage journal-article submissions and the ensuing peer reviews."

A Silicon Valley Dream Collapses in Allegations of Fraud; New York Times, 8/31/16

Katie Benner, New York Times; A Silicon Valley Dream Collapses in Allegations of Fraud:
"Along with the start-up, Mr. Choi’s personal credibility is on the line. As he built WrkRiot, the entrepreneur said that he graduated from the Stern School of Business at New York University and that he worked at J. P. Morgan for nearly four years as an analyst. N.Y.U. and J. P. Morgan both said they had no record of Mr. Choi. At least one company listed on his LinkedIn profile also could not be found.
Mr. Choi, whose LinkedIn profile has since been wiped clean, did not respond to questions about his résumé. His lawyer, Bernard Fishman, said he was not aware of the allegations against WrkRiot until contacted by The New York Times."