Monday, February 24, 2014

Is this just a betrayal of privacy or a “breach” by the UK Government? Can it be long before the US follows the UK's lead?
If this is true, then heads need to roll. And the sooner, the better.
Laura Donnelly reports:
The medical records of every NHS hospital patient in the country have been sold for insurance purposes, The Telegraph can reveal.
The disclosure comes days after controversial plans to extract patient data from GP files were put on hold, amid concerns over the scheme.
Those in charge of the programme have repeatedly insisted that it will be illegal for information extracted from GP files to be sold to insurers, who might seek to target customers or put up their prices.
However, a report by a major UK insurance society discloses that it was able to obtain 13 years of hospital data – covering 47 million patients – in order to help companies “refine” their premiums.
As a result they recommended an increase in the costs of policies for thousands of customers last year. The report by the Staple Inn Actuarial Society – a major organisation for UK insurers – details how it was able to use NHS data covering all hospital in-patient stays between 1997 and 2010 to track the medical histories of patients, identified by date of birth and postcode.
SOURCE: The Telegraph.
Keep in mind that the anonymization or pseudoanonymization promised by the government for care data supposedly would not use date of birth and postcode, which are two of the three pieces that increase the risk of identifying or re-identifying patients. So why were all these data given to insurers with such information reportedly included? Precisely so they could identify and track individual cases. Did the patients know and consent to their information being shared this way? Did they know and consent to their information being used to increase their premiums?
The SIAS paper can be found here (pdf, download link)

The world changes. We don't need teach cursive, since “everyone” uses a keyboard to “text” their “friends.” Now it is too difficult to “text” so we need technology that lets us “talk” to “friends.” If keyboards killed off the handwriting industry (quill pens and elegant note paper) will speech apps kill the keyboard and perhaps phone companies?
Messaging Giant WhatsApp, Now With 465M Users, Will Add Voice Services In Q2 Of This Year
Today Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp — acquired by Facebook last week for $19 billion — delivered another news bomb on top of last week’s milestone: he announced that the messaging giant is finally moving into voice — a move announced at MWC, the conference for mobile carriers that apps like WhatsApp are squarely disrupting.
The move will put WhatsApp — and by default Facebook — more squarely in competition against the likes of KakaoTalk, Line, BBM and other messaging apps that also offer voice services.

Interesting. Suggests the Law School isn't too interested in things like Constitutional Law, even if that seems to be one path to the presidency. (Maybe these are the “Let's make lots of money” courses?)
What Courses Should Law Students Take? Harvard’s Largest Employers Weigh In
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 23, 2014
Coates, IV, John C. and Fried, Jesse M. and Spier, Kathryn E., What Courses Should Law Students Take? Harvard’s Largest Employers Weigh In (February 17, 2014). Available at SSRN:
“We report the results of an online survey, conducted on behalf of Harvard Law School, of 124 practicing attorneys at major law firms. The survey had two main objectives:
(1) to assist students in selecting courses by providing them with data about the relative importance of courses; and
(2) to provide faculty with information about how to improve the curriculum and best advise students.
The most salient result is that students were strongly advised to study accounting and financial statement analysis, as well as corporate finance. These subject areas were viewed as particularly valuable, not only for corporate/transactional lawyers, but also for litigators. Intriguingly, non-traditional courses and skills, such as business strategy and teamwork, are seen as more important than many traditional courses and skills.”

Perspective. This is how the Philippines sees it. I really like the graphics that accompany this article. Makes it easy to see who was “for” and who “against.”
How the Supreme Court voted on the Cybercrime Law
The Supreme Court ruling on the validity of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10175) will be studied as a landmark case dealing with modern everyday information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet, cellular phones, and social media.
The 50-page majority opinion – or ponencia – was penned by SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who is set to retire this year on May 22. Five justices, including the chief justice, were in the minority who disagreed with some legal points in Abad’s ponencia – in particular, the treatment of cyberlibel, cybersex, and unsolicited commercial communications or “spam.”

Perspective, that's why they hired Kurzweil – he's got one. Is Google trying to catch up to IBM's Watson? Extend the self-driving car technology to Drones? Replace teachers?
Ray Kurzweil changing the landscape of Google with new focus on robotics
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 23, 2014
Guardian: “Ray Kurzweil…believes that we can live for ever and that computers will gain what looks like a lot like consciousness in a little over a decade is now Google’s director of engineering. The announcement of this, last year, was extraordinary enough. To people who work with tech or who are interested in tech and who are familiar with the idea that Kurzweil has popularised of “the singularity” – the moment in the future when men and machines will supposedly converge – and know him as either a brilliant maverick and visionary futurist, or a narcissistic crackpot obsessed with longevity, this was headline news in itself. But it’s what came next that puts this into context. It’s since been revealed that Google has gone on an unprecedented shopping spree and is in the throes of assembling what looks like the greatest artificial intelligence laboratory on Earth; a laboratory designed to feast upon a resource of a kind that the world has never seen before: truly massive data. Our data. From the minutiae of our lives. Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an “undisclosed” but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m. And those are just the big deals. It also bought Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Redwood Robotics and Schaft, and another AI startup, DNNresearch. It hired Geoff Hinton, a British computer scientist who’s probably the world’s leading expert on neural networks. And it has embarked upon what one DeepMind investor told the technology publication Re/code two weeks ago was “a Manhattan project of AI”. If artificial intelligence was really possible, and if anybody could do it, he said, “this will be the team”. The future, in ways we can’t even begin to imagine, will be Google’s.”

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