Friday, August 25, 2017

Ties in tightly to my Data Management class.  The US tries to do this one company (one application) at a time. 
Standard Business Reporting: Open Data to Cut Compliance Costs
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“Imagine if U.S. companies’ compliance costs could be reduced, by billions of dollars.  Imagine if this could happen without sacrificing any transparency to investors and governments.  Open data can make that possible.  
This first-ever research report, co-published by the Data Foundation and PwC, explains how Standard Business Reporting (SBR), in which multiple regulatory agencies adopt a common open data structure for the information they collect, reduces costs for both companies and agencies.  SBR programs are in place in the Netherlands, Australia, and elsewhere – but the concept is unknown in the United States. [Unknown to government… Bob]  Our report is intended to introduce SBR to U.S. policymakers and lay the groundwork for future change…  Around the world, governments are choosing to transform their information from disconnected documents into open data.
For our purposes, the term open data refers to information that is made interoperable using standardized definitions and digital formats, and digitally published and freely available for use and reuse by its users…  The key, of course, is interoperability, which allows diverse systems and organizations to exchange and use one another’s data without having to translate it.  For companies as well as agencies, open data offers significant efficiencies by reducing processing time and costs.  
First, if government agencies standardize data fields and formats for the information they collect, rather than expressing that information as unstructured documents, reporting companies’ software can automatically compile and report it, reducing manual labor.  Quality improves; human ‘fat fingering’ is eliminated.  Second, if multiple agencies align their fields and formats with one another by adopting universal standards for overlapping information, companies can submit the same information once, rather than multiple times to each agency.  Meanwhile, open data promises to cut regulatory agencies’ costs and reduce their risks by allowing them to get and use regulatory information more quickly, shortening the processing required for data analysis.  In the United States, for example, simple data matching could have revealed Bernie Madoff’s fraudulent activities before his financial firm collapsed, allowed agencies to quickly gauge the financial industry’s exposure to Lehman Brothers while deciding whether to initiate a bailout, and indicated that the fuel cell manufacturer Solyndra was the riskiest recipient of a federal loan guarantee well before its 2011 bankruptcy – if the relevant information had been available in a consumable format and in a timely manner.  But because Madoff’s securities reports, Lehman’s financial filings, and Solyndra’s energy and securities disclosures were available only as disconnected documents, not open data, these insights would have required expensive, time-consuming, and purpose-built analytics projects.  

Clearly, a well written law is inspirational!  (If they have your permission they can violate your privacy?)  
Hannah M. Arenstam, Frederic T. Knape, Joshua J. Orewiler, and Joseph A. Strubbe of
Vedder Price write:
In the past few weeks, five putative class action lawsuits have been filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq., targeting defendants in the health care, senior living, commercial baking, meat processing and security industries.  These recent suits join previously filed BIPA class actions against day care operators, tanning salons, video game manufacturers, hotel groups and supermarkets as well as much larger entities, including Facebook, Google, Shutterfly, Six Flags and Snapchat.  All of these suits have similar allegations at their core; that defendants utilized employees’, customers’, or other persons’ biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina scans or facial recognition technology, in violation of BIPA’s disclosure and consent requirements.  All seek recovery of BIPA’s statutory liquidated damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation, or $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation, injunctive relief, and recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Read more on National Law Review.

Sort of a “Kill them all and let God sort them out” kind of warrant. 
Government Prevails in Bid for Anti-Trump Website’s Subscriber Data
   A judge in District of Columbia Superior Court on Thursday ordered DreamHost LLC, the host of the website, to comply with a government warrant seeking information about the site’s subscribers.  The government says the site was used to recruit and organize hundreds of people who rioted in the city on Jan. 20, the day President Donald Trump was sworn in, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage over nearly two dozen city blocks.
Chief Judge Robert Morin ruled that DreamHost was obligated to turn over subscriber data, but that prosecutors would have to tell the judge which data it intended to seize. [Couldn’t they specify that in the warrant?  Or do they get to look at everyone and everything and then specify?  Bob]  The judge said he would oversee the use of the data to make sure the government’s seizure was limited to individuals linked to the riots and not people who merely posted messages or communicated with others through the site. 
   Morin denied DreamHost’s request to put his ruling on hold until they could appeal his decision.

(Related).  “We’ll look through all of this data but only use the stuff we need, pinky promise!” 
Verizon reports spike in government requests for cell 'tower dumps'
Government requests for the mass disclosure of every caller who connected to a particular cellphone tower have spiked during the first half of 2017, according to Verizon’s latest transparency report.
Law enforcement seek so-called tower dumps to try to identify a suspect in a crime, compelling tower operators to provide the phone numbers of all devices that connected to a specific tower during a given period of time.
   Verizon has received approximately 8,870 warrants or court orders for cell tower dumps in the first half of this year — a huge increase over 2013, when the government sought only 3,200 dumps across the whole of that year.  In 2016, the total figure was 14,630.  

Probably.  Just like TV harmed my generation.  (Too much talk for me.) 
Radio Atlantic: Are Smartphones Harming Kids?
It's been ten years since the iPhone came out, and now the first generation to grow up with smartphones is coming of age.  Jean Twenge, a psychologist who has studied generational behaviors, has found troubling signals that these devices seem to be taking a visible toll on the mental health of post-Millennials.  In the September 2017 issue of The Atlantic, Twenge shares her findings in a story adapted from her new book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

Data Center economics.  Why would any company build a data center without massive tax incentives?  Governments are trading tax credits (no cash outlay) for future tax income.  Does the math work? 
Why Iowa is giving Apple $208 million for a project that will create 50 full-time jobs
In exchange for nearly $208 million in state and local tax breaks, the technology giant Apple has agreed to build two new data centers on 2,000 acres of Iowa land — a project that would create just 50 permanent jobs. 
   Construction is expected to start this spring in Waukee, and city officials anticipate the process will spark hundreds of construction jobs.  But the buildings, slated to open by 2020, will house more computer servers than humans. 
   Apple, meanwhile, will pour $1.3 billion into building the new properties, which will neighbor corn fields, a cattle farm and chicken pens.  The 50 permanent workers at the data centers will make a minimum of $29.12 per hour, state officials said.
The company will also fork up $100 million to a fund that bolsters Waukee’s economic development.
   Construction on a new center employs an average of 1,688 local workers and generates $9.9 million in revenue for cities and states, the study found.  After that, a typical operation supports 157 local jobs.

Did they not realize that Amazon would try to win?  They had to wait for a specific announcement?  This is what Amazon does, people!
Amazon to cut Whole Foods prices, escalating grocery turf war Inc said it will cut prices on a range of popular goods as it completes its acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc, sending shares of rival grocers tumbling on fears that brutal market share battles will intensify.
  Shares of Kroger Co, the biggest U.S. supermarket operator, closed down 8 percent, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the biggest U.S. food seller, closed down 2 percent.
Amazon also said it will start selling Whole Foods brand products on its website, a move that sent down shares of packaged food sellers including Kellogg Co.
The S&P 500 Food Retail index closed down almost 5 percent as more than $10 billion was wiped off the market value of big food sellers.
   “It does not look like they will go kamikaze on pricing,” said Roger Davidson, president of consulting firm Oakton Advisory Group and a former retail executive.  “They will lower prices on consequential items to drive traffic and sales but not do a whole store price reduction which could really damage gross margin and potentially wipe out operating margin.”
   The planned price cuts would have been a tough sell to Whole Foods’ investors, who had grown used to fat profits from the upscale chain, but are more in line with Amazon’s broader strategy of sacrificing short-term profit for long-term market dominance. 

We can see where this is heading, so why don’t libraries take over journal publication? 
German library consortium advancing dynamic open access plan for scholarly journal articles
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“…Over the past 2 years, more than 150 German libraries, universities, and research institutes have formed a united front trying to force academic publishers into a new way of doing business.  Instead of buying subscriptions to specific journals, consortium members want to pay publishers an annual lump sum that covers publication costs of all papers whose first authors are at German institutions.  Those papers would be freely available around the world; [and easy to access with tools like Google Translate.  Bob] meanwhile, German institutions would receive access to all the publishers’ online content.  Consortia of libraries and universities in the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and the United Kingdom have all pushed for similar agreements, but have had to settle for less than they wanted.  In the Netherlands, for example, Elsevier—the world’s biggest academic publisher—has agreed to make only 30% of Dutch-authored papers freely available by 2018, and only after a significant increase in the annual sum libraries pay…” 

Trying to make sense of Social Media. 
Fresh data shows millennials' favorite apps — and it's bad news for Snapchat
Younger millennials may be spending as much as 40 minutes a day on Snapchat, but fresh data shows the scale of the challenge it faces as it looks to grow its user base amid stiff competition from Facebook. 
Snapchat, despite being high on the cool quotient, features nowhere on the most essential apps for 18- to 34-year-olds, according to comScore's 2017 US Mobile App Report.  Amazon ranks number one, while Facebook (29%) and Instragram (11%) both rank inside the top 10. 

A Big task.  You must automate this process to have any chance of keeping up. 
Facebook shuts down 1 million accounts per day but can't stop all 'threat actors,' security chief says
   Still, the sheer number of interactions among its 2 billion global users means it can't catch all "threat actors," and it sometimes removes text posts and videos that it later finds didn't break Facebook rules, says Alex Stamos.
"When you're dealing with millions and millions of interactions, you can't create these rules and enforce them without (getting some) false positives," Stamos said during an onstage discussion at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday evening.
Stamos blames the pure technical challenges in enforcing the company's rules — rather than the rules themselves — for the threatening and unsafe behavior that sometimes finds its way on to the site.

(Related).  Crackdown does not mean takedown?  “Well just flag the really nasty stuff so you don’t miss it?” 
Google Begins Biggest Crackdown on Extremist YouTube Videos
Starting on Thursday, Google will police YouTube like it never has before, adding warnings and disabling advertising on videos that the company determines crosses its new threshold for offensive content.
YouTube isn’t removing the selected videos, but is instead setting new restrictions on viewing, sharing and making money on them.
   YouTube says it uploads over 400 hours of video a minute.
Videos tagged by its new policy won’t be able to run ads or have comments posted, and won’t appear in any recommended lists on the video site.  A warning screen will also appear before the videos, which will not be able to play when embedded on external websites.  YouTube will let video creators contest the restrictions through an appeals process, a spokeswoman said. 

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men.  Gang aft a-gley.”
The Sinking Of America’s First Combat Sub Was A Mystery For 150 Years — Until Now

My students are having a hard time conceptualizing self-driving cars.  This should freak them out!  (I can’t wait!)
What would happen if we upload our brains to computers?
Meet the "ems" -- machines that emulate human brains and can think, feel and work just like the brains they're copied from.  Futurist and social scientist Robin Hanson describes a possible future when ems take over the global economy, running on superfast computers and copying themselves to multitask, leaving humans with only one choice: to retire, forever.  Glimpse a strange future as Hanson describes what could happen if robots ruled the earth.

I’m encouraging my students to go the other way. 

Might be fun to give my students a project to track how concepts evolve.  
Timeline JS Easy-to-make, beautiful timelines
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KnightLab: “TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines.  Beginners can create a timeline using nothing more than a Google spreadsheet, like the one we used for the Timeline above.  Experts can use their JSON skills to create custom installations, while keeping TimelineJS’s core functionality.”

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