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Thursday, October 19 2017

  • 11:52am

    For those interested in AI and algorithms, AI now has just published an excellent report as an outcome of their symposium. See attached - recommendations 1, 7, and 9 are perhaps areas we could work on.

     Recommendations from the Report

    These​ ​recommendations​ ​reflect​ ​the​ ​views​ ​and​ ​research​ ​of​ ​the​​ ​​AI​ ​Now​ ​Institute​ ​at​ ​New​ ​York
    University.​ ​We​ ​thank​ ​the​ ​experts​ ​who​ ​contributed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​AI​ ​Now​ ​2017​ ​Symposium​ ​and
    Workshop​​ ​for​ ​informing​ ​these​ ​perspectives,​ ​and​ ​our​ ​research​ ​team​ ​for​ ​helping​ ​shape​ ​the​​ ​AI
    Now​ ​2017​ ​Report.

    1. Core​ ​public​ ​agencies,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​those​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​criminal​ ​justice,​ ​healthcare,
    welfare,​ ​and​ ​education​ ​(e.g​ ​“high​ ​stakes”​ ​domains)​ ​should​ ​no​ ​longer​ ​use​ ​“black​ ​box”
    AI​ ​and​ ​algorithmic​ ​systems.​​ ​This​ ​includes​ ​the​ ​unreviewed​ ​or​ ​unvalidated​ ​use​ ​of
    pre-trained​ ​models,​ ​AI​ ​systems​ ​licensed​ ​from​ ​third​ ​party​ ​vendors,​ ​and​ ​algorithmic
    processes​ ​created​ ​in-house.​ ​The​ ​use​ ​of​ ​such​ ​systems​ ​by​ ​public​ ​agencies​ ​raises​ ​serious
    due​ ​process​ ​concerns,​ ​and​ ​at​ ​a​ ​minimum​ ​they​ ​should​ ​be​ ​available​ ​for​ ​public​ ​auditing,
    testing,​ ​and​ ​review,​ ​and​ ​subject​ ​to​ ​accountability​ ​standards.

    2. Before​ ​releasing​ ​an​ ​AI​ ​system,​ ​companies​ ​should​ ​run​ ​rigorous​ ​pre-release​ ​trials​ ​to
    ensure​ ​that​ ​they​ ​will​ ​not​ ​amplify​ ​biases​ ​and​ ​errors​ ​​​due​ ​to​ ​any​ ​issues​ ​with​ ​the​ ​training
    data,​ ​algorithms,​ ​or​ ​other​ ​elements​ ​of​ ​system​ ​design.​ ​​As​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​rapidly​ ​changing​ ​field,
    the​ ​methods​ ​and​ ​assumptions​ ​by​ ​which​ ​such​ ​testing​ ​is​ ​conducted,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​the
    results,​ ​should​ ​be​ ​openly​ ​documented​ ​and​ ​publicly​ ​available,​ ​with​ ​clear​ ​versioning​ ​to
    accommodate​ ​updates​ ​and​ ​new​ ​findings.

    3. After​ ​releasing​ ​an​ ​AI​ ​system,​ ​companies​ ​should​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​monitor​ ​its​ ​use​ ​across
    different​ ​contexts​ ​and​ ​communities.​​ ​The​ ​methods​ ​and​ ​outcomes​ ​of​ ​monitoring​ ​should
    be​ ​defined​ ​through​ ​open,​ ​academically​ ​rigorous​ ​processes,​ ​and​ ​should​ ​be​ ​accountable
    to​ ​the​ ​public.​ ​Particularly​ ​in​ ​high​ ​stakes​ ​decision-making​ ​contexts,​ ​the​ ​views​ ​and
    experiences​ ​of​ ​traditionally​ ​marginalized​ ​communities​ ​should​ ​be​ ​prioritized.

    4. More​ ​research​ ​and​ ​policy​ ​making​ ​is​ ​needed​ ​on​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​AI​ ​systems​ ​in​ ​workplace
    management​ ​and​ ​monitoring,​ ​including​ ​hiring​ ​and​ ​HR.​ ​​This​ ​research​ ​will​ ​complement
    the​ ​existing​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​worker​ ​replacement​ ​via​ ​automation.​ ​Specific​ ​attention​ ​should​ ​be
    given​ ​to​ ​...

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Wednesday, October 18 2017

  • 5:49pm

    Sabeel Rahman writes in the Boston Review on 'Monopoly Men' and the platform power of data giants.

    The danger of the “platform power” accumulated by Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter arises from their ability to control the foundational infrastructure of our economic, informational, and political life. Even if they didn’t spend a dime on lobbying or influencing elected officials, this power would still pose a grave threat to democracy and economic opportunity. The fact that these companies provide enormously popular and useful goods and services is indisputable—but also beside the point. The central issue here is not simply the value for the consumer. Instead it is vast,unaccountable private power over the foundations of contemporary society and politics. In a word, the central issue is democracy.

    He goes on to argue that there are lessons to be learnt from regulating public utility companies and basic infrastructure: anti-trust laws, federal oversight of net neutrality, or publicly run alternatives to private infrastructure (kind of like this platform!).

    For me personally, one niggling question that keeps coming back is whether there lessons to be learnt from the regulation of other sectors with an enormous consolidation of power - such as, say, the agrifood business.

  • 5:29pm

    In “The Open Society and its Enemies” Popper[1] states that the change of the closed (tribal) society into the open society can be described as one of the more far reaching revolutions of human kind. It started with the change towards agricultural settlement and development of fenced villages, castles, and walled cities (security by perimeters); followed by the industrial revolution and strong urbanization which led to open urban environments and distributed physical security; now we are making another large step forward towards global interaction, open worldwide trade, global communication and data sharing, and with it open data, open innovation and the need for a new generation of cyber security at local and global levels.

    However, is this a transition process with a steady-state ending or an ongoing search for balance between on one side the individual with its need for privacy and freedom, and on the other side the societal limits that enable these individuals living together? Is the struggle of individuals to live in closed protected communities gone with globalization? The contrary might be true seeing the fierce opposition of large groups in society against immigration, flaring up of racism and discrimination against other cultures, as well as emergence and fast growth of populist parties with slogans like “My people first and above all else”. 

    When I started as Head of Unit in Trust and Security of the EC ICT programme, I used to start many of my presentations with the change in physical security when we moved from security by castles and walled cities in the middle ages, to the open urban metropole environment now. Physical security and safety is now in the first place an activity of the individual, in combination with societal law enforcement and nation state protection by the national army and security institutions. We lock our doors while we know that a professional robber can break the lock relatively easy. We use a dog, video camera’s etc. to scare off the criminal with the deterrent that he will be caught by law enforcement. And we build armies to protects the state against its enemies. And in an ideal democratic open society we do so in an accountable, fair and transparent way to ensure that the individual can justifiably trust the power institutions to work in his/her interest. Of course, we still must accept that there will remain substantial natural and man-made risks in life within and at local, societal and global level. The latter is often forgotten or deliberately hidden in our western social security societies.

    I used “security from the castle to the open metropole” as a metaphor for the evolution of cyber security: from closed perimeter-based systems to the open global Internet, to show what direction could be used to restore the security balance in digital society. Again, measures must be taken at societal, state and...

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  • 3:43pm

    For those who may be recently joining us or who missed it the first time round, I'd like to remind you that the 2013 DigEnlight Yearbook was on 'the Value of Personal Data', a topic which is only becoming even more important as we run up to May!

    There are several chapters of the book which are freely accessible, including:

    Foreword by Robert Madelin

    Introduction by Mireille Hildebrandt, Kieron O’Hara, Michael Waidner
    Chapter I - Die Aufklärung in the Age of Philosophical Engineering, Bernard Stiegler (translation Daniel Ross)
    Chapter 16: Personal Data Management – A Structured Discussion, Jacques Bus, Carolyn Nguyen
    Afterword by Kim Cameron

    These can be downloaded from this page.

  • 3:29pm

    The value of personal data has traditionally been understood in ethical terms as a safeguard for personality rights such as human dignity and privacy. However, we have entered an era where personal data are mined, traded and monetized in the process of creating added value - often in terms of free services including effi cient search, support for social networking and personalized communications. This volume investigates whether the economic value of personal data can be realized without compromising privacy, fairness and contextual integrity. It brings scholars and scientists from the disciplines of computer science, law and social science together with policymakers, engineers and entrepreneurs with practical experience of implementing personal data management. The resulting collection will be of interest to anyone concerned about privacy in our digital age, especially those working in the fi eld of personal information management, whether academics, policymakers, or those working in the private sector.


    The book can be ordered via IOS Press here.

    free chapters

    Several of the sections of the book are freely accessible - see links below.


    Foreword by Robert Madelin

    Introduction by Mireille Hildebrandt, Kieron O’Hara, Michael Waidner



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  • 3:23pm

    This first Yearbook gives an excellent impression of the broad spectrum DEF covers and a view on its multi-disciplinarity. The 18th century enlightenment period gave birth to a self-conscious sense of power and responsibility among people in Europe – together with a few important links to Ben Franklin’s United States – and this proved to be one of the major revolutionary events of the modern era. It can be argued that the World Wide Web, emblematic of our Digital era, embodies the basic Enlightenment ideals of Diderot’s original emblem. At this moment, two decades after the emergence of the Web, we can see changes in our social lives that were impossible to foresee 20 years ago. We have practically unlimited access to information, new attractive ways of social communication and a wealth of new services. But on the downside we see worries about security, privacy and access.

    To stimulate the debate and develop policy recommendations for our digital future, the DIGITAL ENLIGHTENMENT FORUM Asbl was established in 2011. On the occasion of its first international FORUM 2012, which took place in Luxembourg's Abbaye de Neumünster, it published the Digital Enlightenment Yearbook 2012 with a selection of papers addressing many aspects of the digital future.

    What's in the book

    Scientists from technology, law and social sciences as well as policy-makers give an excellent insight in the their views on the many problems of digitisation in society. To give you a flavour, we mention some quotes below.

    'As access to the Internet provides new capabilities that become constitutive of human thought and social life, we conclude that urgent action is needed in promotion and defense of the Internet and the Web.’ Sir Tim Berners Lee and Harry Halpin

    'The most revolutionary change in the draft Data Protection Regulation is not the right to be forgotten or the right to data portability but the right to be informed about the potential consequences of being profiled.’ Mireille Hildebrandt

    'It is essential that personal data and their market value appear on the radar screen of European legislators and supervisors in the areas of competition policies and consumer protection policies.Sophie In’t Veld

    'The Enlightenment thinkers were enlisted to show how issues of trustworthiness were dealt with in earlier times – the connections between people, in terms both of basic hard-wired attitudes and of institutional connections, which enable people to cooperate and interact without exposing themselves to too much risk. This was the key property of the public space that emerged in the 18th century, and is also a key desideratum of the World...

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  • 3:07pm

    The focus of the 2014 DigEnlight yearbook is on the relationship of individual with their networks, and explores "Social networks and social machines, surveillance and empowerment". In what is now the well-established tradition of the yearbook, different stakeholders in society and various disciplinary communities (technology, law, philosophy, sociology, economics, policymaking) bring their very different opinions and perspectives to bear on this topic.

    The book is divided into four parts: the individual as data manager; the individual, society and the market; big data and open data; and new approaches. These are bookendedby a Prologue and an Epilogue, which provide illuminating perspectives on the discussion in between. The division of the book is not definitive; it suggests one narrative, but others are clearly possible.

    The 2014 Digital Enlightenment Yearbook gathers together the science, law and politics of the digital environment in order to help us reformulate and address the timely and pressing questions which this new environment raises. We are all of us affected by digital technology, and the subjects covered here are consequently of importance to us all.

    Order the book

    The book can be ordered via IOS Press here. Associate members can also request a hardcopy, so long as stocks last.

  • 3:00pm