Tuesday, May 02, 2017
…and all I asked was, “Will AI replace lawyers?”
Sent to Prison by a Software Program’s Secret Algorithms
When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. visited Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute last month, he was asked a startling question, one with overtones of science fiction.
“Can you foresee a day,” asked Shirley Ann Jackson, president of the college in upstate New York, “when smart machines, driven with artificial intelligences, will assist with courtroom fact-finding or, more controversially even, judicial decision-making?”
The chief justice’s answer was more surprising than the question. “It’s a day that’s here,” he said, “and it’s putting a significant strain on how the judiciary goes about doing things.”
He may have been thinking about the case of a Wisconsin man, Eric L. Loomis, who was sentenced to six years in prison based in part on a private company’s proprietary software. Mr. Loomis says his right to due process was violated by a judge’s consideration of a report generated by the software’s secret algorithm, one Mr. Loomis was unable to inspect or challenge.
Most government statistics are for increasing the budget, not for communicating facts or measuring performance.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recently told an audience that terrorism is “as threatening today” as it was on 9/11. As evidence, he used the oft-repeated statistic that the FBI has active terrorism investigations in all 50 states. This claim has fueled public fear of terrorism because, by and large, the public believes that the FBI must have a reasonable factual basis to open an investigation. It does not. Instead, the standards for opening FBI inquiries are so unreasonably low that directors of the FBI have been reluctant to clearly articulate them in public.
Any SciFi fan would tell you, Artificial Intelligence may be better than Presidential Intelligence.
Lessons From Isaac Asimov's Multivac
It isn’t too late to stop technologies from further destabilizing fragile democratic institutions.
In his 1955 short story Franchise, Isaac Asimov imagined how American democracy might be radically transformed by the digital age. In the story, set in 2008, Americans’ political will is exercised not by individual citizens who stand in line to vote, but by a massive supercomputer—the Multivac—that processes an ocean of public data with inscrutable algorithms to reliably predict the outcome of this messy, partisan, costly, and all-too-corruptible process.
Might be an interesting project for my Software Architecture class.
Building a Better American Voting SystemThe voting process in the United States has come into question in the last couple of decades. It started during the 2000 election of George W. Bush, when a hanging chad on a paper ballot prompted speculation about tampering. Rumors of tampering in other elections have cast doubt over the security and effectiveness of voting technology, which is why innovation in the system is more important than ever. A new report by the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative looks at the state of the business of voting. Wharton operations, information and decisions professor Lorin Hitt, who led the research, joined doctoral student Matthew Caulfield to discuss the report on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)
A question for my students. Should the US crackdown on cash?
Could India’s Cash Blitz Kill Off Cards, ATMs?
Following India’s crackdown on cash, millions of residents who have never even used a credit card are leapfrogging into mobile payments, finding phone apps more accessible than plastic.
The value of mobile money transactions has more than doubled since the nullification of 86% of India’s cash in circulation in November, while those made with credit and debit cards has fallen, and check purchases have barely budged.
SoftBank Said in Talks to Invest $1.4 Billion in India's Paytm
SoftBank Group Corp. is in talks to invest about $1.4 billion in India’s One97 Communications Ltd. in a deal that would value the owner of the country’s largest digital-payments provider at about $7 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Perspective. Can you do this online?
Amid Brick-and-Mortar Travails, a Tipping Point for Amazon in Apparel
… This year, Amazon will surpass Macy’s, which last year announced it would shut 100 stores, to become the largest seller of apparel in America, by several analysts’ estimates.
It is looking at ways to keep expanding, too. Amazon is exploring the possibility of selling custom-fit clothing, tailored to the more precise measurements of customers, and it has considered acquiring clothing manufacturers to further expand its presence in the category.
If there are tipping points in retail — moments when shopping behavior swings decisively in one direction — there’s a strong case to be made that apparel is reaching one now, with broad implications for jobs, malls and shopping districts.
Amusement, British style.
The BBC has been England’s (and the world’s) most reliable source of news for longer than any of us have been alive. One of the reasons it has stayed at the top is how the BBC updates itself over the ages. For the internet age, it dove into the world of interactive content.
It’s a stunning series of experiments. The idea is to take data and present it to people in entertaining new ways, such that they are interacting with it. From knowing your body better to interactive chemistry experiments, you’ll see it all here.
Maybe for history, perhaps for amusement, or to scare future generations?
Trump Administration TV News Archives
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 1, 2017
Internet Archives – “The Trump Administration Archive [currently hosting over 1,000 items] collects TV news shows containing debates, speeches, rallies, and other broadcasts related to the Trump Administration. This evolving non-commercial, searchable collection is designed to preserve the historical record for posterity. The project is a work in progress, with improvements planned for expanding collection and making searching more efficient.”