Current Berkman People and Projects

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

July 21, 2017

Center for Research on Computation and Society (Harvard SEAS)
Cynthia Dwork
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Affiliated Faculty at Harvard Law School

Cynthia Dwork, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering, Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe

Read more about Cynthia Dwork
dwork

by Gabriella Fee at July 21, 2017 07:41 PM

Berkman Center front page
MACHINE INTELLIGENCE:

Subtitle

metaLAB AI Art Exhibition, Lightbox Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Teaser

metaLAB exhibits five new artistic projects playfully and critically engaging different aspects of Artificial Intelligence at Harvard Art Museum's Lightbox Gallery from August 8-13, 2017

Event Date

Aug 8 2017 10:00am to Aug 13 2017 5:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

What can we learn by critically evaluating how we interact with, tell stories about, and project logic, intelligence, and sentience onto systems and machines? AI in Art & Design is focused on making expressive works that deal with the cultural and social dimensions of artificial intelligence. The goal is to provoke meaningful reflection in a variety of arenas, including in areas of privacy, human agency, philosophy, and moral responsibility.

From August 8-13, at Harvard Art Museum's Lightbox Gallery, metaLAB will be exhibiting five new artistic projects playfully and critically engaging different aspects of Artificial Intelligence.

There will be four gallery talks, and a launch event on Monday August 7th at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

For more information, visit the metaLAB website, or email snewman@metalab.harvard.edu



Nobody’s Listening video still, 2017

Nobody’s Listening
Sarah Newman & Rachel Kalmar
Video installation with sound
2017

Tuesday, August 8, 10 am-5 pm
Gallery talk 3 pm

Nobody's Listening is an artistic multimedia piece that draws on a database of secrets collected through interactive art installations over the past year. The work expresses human secrets through overlapping computer voices and a visual projection. Why do we trust our phones and computers? Where does the physical self end and the digital self begin? The playful installation explores our intimate but dubious relationship to machines, and reflects back our own humanness.
 


Turing’s Mill video still, 2017

Turing's Mill
Matthew Battles
Multi-channel video installation
2017

Wednesday, August 9, 10 am-5 pm
Gallery talk 3 pm

Technologies are emerging that prompt a new public dialogue around the nature of cognition, consciousness, and the self. And yet questions underpinning this dialogue have fascinated philosophers throughout history. Is the mind a machine, like a mill or mechanical calculator; or is it spirit or essence, something made of colorless, massless, motionless stuff, transcendent and eternal? Can machines think—and have they been thinking all along? A multi-channel video installation, Turing's Mill is a kind of dossier of evidence for addressing these questions, gathered from found footage, new imagery, and the history of technology.
 

 

Sherlock
Jonathan Sun
Interactive chatbot
2017

Thursday, August 10, 10 am-5 pm
Chatbots are curious, sometimes helpful, and sometimes mystifying “creatures.” The subject of this installation is a chatbot named Sherlock, touted to be among the most advanced, intelligent AIs on the planet. So why would it want to talk to humans? This interactive installation will invite visitors to chat with Sherlock, a chatbot unlike one they’ve ever met.

Color Rx
Maia Leandra
Interactive Installation with color prescriptions
2017

Friday, August 11, 10-4 pm
Gallery talk 3 pm

Color is ephemeral and complex. Its history, its substance, and its context link inextricably to our perceptions and experience. Color Rx uses a computer algorithm to diagnose a viewer’s subjective inputs and “prescribe a color” in response. The piece is grounded in questions about trust in or benefit from “smart” systems, often in contexts where the algorithms are opaque -- even when the output is very concrete (and in this case, colorful). In what ways is this system smart? Is it also intuitive, or even wise?  The installation contends with the meaning we ascribe to perceptions and experiences, especially when such experiences are designed for individual consumption. While many algorithmic forms of diagnosis can be shallow, the benefits can be deep. Drawing on historical information from the Forbes Pigment Collection, citations to scholarly texts, and the artist’s personal store of knowledge and intuition in the field, this piece explores the line between belief and truth, projection and reality, color and illusion.

 


AI Senses video still, 2017

AI Senses
Kim Albrecht
Sensors, software, computer, screen
2017

Saturday/Sunday, Aug 12-13, 10 am-5 pm
Gallery talk Saturday, Aug 12, 3 pm

In current times, “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” are buzzwords. But they are more than that—they influence our behaviors and understandings of the technologies they describe and the world they make. A lack of understanding of how these systems operate on their own terms is dangerous. How can we live and interact with this alien species, which we set forth into the world, if we know it through interfaces constructed to make the machine feel closer to the world we already know? This project visualizes sensor data that our cell phones and personal computers collect and digest on our behalf, to help us understand how these machines experience the world.

by djones at July 21, 2017 02:48 PM

July 20, 2017

Ethan Zuckerman
Defining(?) Disobedience

Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, is fond of saying that you don’t win a Nobel Prize by following the rules.

Until Joi, Reid Hoffman and I started working to craft the Media Lab’s $250,000 Disobedience Award, I hadn’t realized that Joi was speaking literally as well as figuratively. Joi’s quip refers to Dr. Jerome Friedman, the MIT physicist who shared the 1990 Nobel Prize in physics for discovering that protons had an internal structure, which confirmed the existence of quarks. Friedman defied his advisor’s instructions and continued collecting data from the Stanford Linear Accelerator. As it turns out, the data he’d disobediently collected was what led to his key discovery.

Productive disobedience of the sort that yielded Dr. Friedman’s Nobel is not always easy to find. In Japan, where Joi has lived most of his life, it can be a challenge for people who’ve been taught to comply and obey throughout their academic and professional careers to break away from the expected path. In Silicon Valley, where disruption of existing business models is practiced almost as a religion, it can be difficult to find disobedient minds who consider the deep social consequences of their disruptions.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, encouraged Joi to explore the idea of a Disobedience Award, providing $250,000 to fund an award for responsible, ethical disobedience. Given the opportunity, we knew we’d have a wealth of candidates. What we didn’t realize was how challenging it would be to define responsible and ethical disobedience, and to select a winner for whom the award would be both an appropriate recognition of their work and financial fuel for increased impact.

(Please see Joi and my essay on the Media Lab site about the inaugural Disobedience award winners.)

The Disobedience Award is inspired in part by the MacArthur “genius” grant, which sometimes recognizes a lifetime of achievement, but more often identifies relatively obscure scholars, artists and innovators whose work has the potential to transform the world. We decided to aim in a similar direction: we would accept both expected and unexpected nominees, and one criterion for selection would be whether the recognition our award might confer could transform someone’s life and work. This meant we were looking for people whose disobedience and resistance was ongoing, not purely something in their past.

Unlike the MacArthur grant, where the nomination and selection process is shrouded in secrecy, we wanted to make our process as transparent as possible. In addition to posting a call for nominees, we added a nominator prize, inviting whoever nominated the winner to join us at the Media Lab for the award ceremony. Recognizing the power of networks, our colleague Iyad Rahwan, suggested we use a tactic he’d used to help win DARPA’s Red Balloon challenge — award the nominator of the nominator as well. We encouraged anyone in the world to nominate either a candidate or someone they thought would have great ideas for candidates. We then contacted the nominators and invited them to submit their ideas.

The result? More than 7800 nominations from all over the world, and a major challenge for the selection committee. As the nominations came in, Joi and I recruited a team of twelve judges —
Farai Chideya, George Church, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Jesse Dylan, Jerome Friedman, Marshall Ganz, Andrew “bunnie” Huang, Alaa Murabit, Jamila Raqib, Maria Zuber, and ourselves — all with expertise in areas such as activism, journalism, science and the arts where we expected the most submissions. Our judges are distinguished, smart and very busy; people unlikely to have time to read 7800 applications. So our Disobedience Award team took on the challenge of weeding out duplicates and identifying the strongest 220 candidates.

Joi and I each pledged to read all 220 dossiers the team prepared, but we opened the process to as many of the selection committee as were able to participate. We held each finalist up to our mission to recognize a living person or group who is, or has been, engaged in acts of responsible, principled, ethical disobedience in pursuit of the public good. Not only did this focus the deliberations; it also gave us flexibility and helped us to address concerns in a free and frank way.

Cross-checking our lists, we identified seven finalists who’d been flagged by multiple judges. While there’s a great deal of refinement we hope to do before repeating this process next year, we all agreed we had a very strong set of final nominees for this inaugural award.

Before listing those finalists, it’s worth mentioning who was nominated and didn’t make it to our list. Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were both nominated dozens of times, and Snowden himself spoke via video link at the conference where we announced the Disobedience Award last year. While no one questioned the impact of their disobedience or the risks each took, none of us felt that the recognition we could add would increase their fame or infamy.

Aaron Swartz was also nominated many times. Joi and I both knew Aaron and hosted a memorial at the Media Lab for him shortly after his death. While an award in Aaron’s memory would have been fitting recognition of Aaron’s principled and disobedient activism, we felt it was important that the award go to a recipient who could leverage both the award and its visibility to advance the issues they work on. While we chose not to award him the award posthumously, I can report that Aaron was very much on my mind as we chose honorees.

Our judges researched and wrote up “cases” for why they believed the seven finalists should receive the award. The best of these cases included arguments both for and against making the award, exploring the question of whose acts best exemplified pro-social disobedience.

Ultimately, we chose two winners of the Disobedience Award — people whose work reflects the hopes that led to the award in the first place: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and medical school professor, and Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor, who first brought attention to the Flint water crisis. Their work combined activist energies with scientific research and made visible a public health crisis involving thousands. Their work has led to criminal involuntary manslaughter charges against Michigan public officials and has placed the issue of urban water quality — and urban infrastructure — at the center of American public debate.

We had not initially intended to offer honorable mention prizes, but our finalists were so strong, we asked Reid to offer additional funding. We were then able to award $10,000 each to James Hansen, an environmental science professor and advocate for intervention to combat climate change; The Water Protectors of Standing Rock, an historic gathering of tribes, allies, and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline; and
Freedom University Georgia, a project to provide free college classes to undocumented students in Georgia who are charged out-of-state tuition to attend state schools.

***

The debates about who deserved recognition and who the committee did not agree to honor help illustrate how complex the concept of disobedience actually is.

Dr. Hansen’s nomination sparked debate about whether the award was exclusively for those in the midst of their life’s work, or whether it could honor a career well spent. At 76 years old, Hansen is widely recognized as a pioneer of climate change research. But he is less known than non-scholars who’ve worked on raising climate awareness. As well, he embodies disobedience within an institution. Hansen did much of his work while employed by NASA, facing substantial pushback as he made bold, data-backed predictions about climate change. So, to highlight those within powerful institutions standing up for what’s right in defiance of pressure, the committee decided it was important to honor his many contributions.

The Water Protectors of Standing Rock raised a set of issues we simply hadn’t considered: How do you properly honor a movement? This is a collaboration of Native Americans who organized a prayer camp to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline: Phyllis Young, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Jasilyn Charger, and Joseph White Eyes. Their efforts, supported by Sioux and Lakota elders, were joined by thousands of veterans, activists, and others. The Standing Rock nominations—as well as dozens for individuals and groups connected to Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives, and for LGBTQ activists—reminded us that disobedience can be a team sport, that we can stand up as a group to pressure that might crush us as individuals.

Freedom University Georgia, which offers free classes on Sundays, was founded by professors at the University of Georgia who were outraged that undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition to attend state schools. Students in the program have gone on to universities in other states where laws are more flexible and just. In honoring Freedom University and its founders—Professors Betina Kaplan, Lorgia García Peña, Pamela Voekel, and Bethany Moreton—we hope to learn from their model and to challenge ourselves about how best to consider similar programs in our communities.

Perhaps most important is understanding the complexities involved in why we chose not to honor the remaining three finalists.

Alexandra Elbakyan is a Kazakhstani graduate student who has deeply challenged the scholarly publishing industry by using academic credentials to “unlock” millions of copyrighted research papers. Depending on who you ask, she is either bravely challenging a model of scientific publishing that leaves millions of researchers in poor countries without access to scholarship, or she’s irresponsibly destroying a critical component of academic research without considering the consequences. Our debate opened questions about why defiance is appropriate. Most of the committee was sympathetic to the aims of SciHub, but less so to the Library Genesis (LibGen), a subsequent project that has sought to open up a wider range of books as part of a broader attempt to make information free. Many committee members felt that Elbakyan had identified a situation worthy of defiance in the world of making research papers available to international scholars, but weren’t willing to accept the idea that making all books free was a worthy goal.

While we tried to build a diverse, international group of judges, our finalists were primarily people who work on issues well known and understood within the US. We had many nominees who, like Rafael Marques de Morais, do risky and important work in closed societies around the globe. I consider it a shortcoming of our process that we didn’t work harder to honor nominees working on issues our committee didn’t understand as well as issues like climate change or undocumented people. On the other hand, we had a rich discussion of the dangers of recognizing that some disobedience is more “comfortable” for the committee than others — one committee member made the argument that we wouldn’t want to honor Ai Wei Wei, because it’s easy and popular for a mostly American committee to show opposition to censorship and control of speech in China. Understanding how to honor and showcase disobedience in countries we know less about than the US or China will be an ongoing question for us as we revise and improve our process.

No issue challenged our committee as much as the question of honoring Omar Barghouti and the BDS movement. Those who favored recognizing his activism noted that BDS is the main non-violent movement to end Israeli occupation of Palestine, with the goal of creating a democratic Palestinian state, and is having great success putting pressure on the Israeli government. Given the apparent intractability of the Israel/Palestine situation, BDS offers hope that an international campaign like the one that challenged apartheid in South Africa could lead to change in Israel. Those who opposed honoring BDS pointed primarily to one of the most controversial aspects of the campaign: a cultural and academic boycott of Israeli artists, writers and scholars. For many members of the committee, an academic boycott was simply a non-starter — the free flow of ideas across borders is a fundamental principle of academia, and the idea of excluding Israeli academics instead of interacting with them was unacceptable.

Our award winners reflect the hopes that led to the award in the first place. Doctors Hanna-Attisha and Edwards are scientists who became activists, using rigorous research to investigate the concerns of citizens in Flint, Michigan and unravel a mystery that many in positions of power would have preferred to keep under wraps. Both faced harassment and ridicule for their work and risked academic sanction for defying conventions of peer review, as they sought to bring attention to Flint’s water crisis before more people were affected. Their work shows that science and scholarship are as powerful tools for social change as art and protest.

As the first Disobedience Award, this year’s committee recognizes that we must refine our process, but we are proud of the results. Our discussions sparked deep conversation and — at times — disagreement on how best to organize and award such a public prize. But seldom are we given the opportunity at this scale to witness and congratulate such selflessness and dedication. It was a hopeful experience, one that challenges us, especially those in academia, to use our powers for good.

by Ethan at July 20, 2017 11:02 PM

David Weinberger
I didn’t like the new Planet of the Apes movie. [No spoilers.]

War for Planet of the Apes has 95% positive ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the cited reviews are effusive. For example, Charles Taylor at Newsweek calls it “a consistently intelligent, morally thoughtful and often beautiful picture.”

I’d rephrase that a bit. I think it was a dumb, predictable, boring movie with a couple of nice landscape shots. We went to see it on one of our few movie nights out because we’d enjoyed the first two in this series.

If WARPA weren’t about apes but was instead about the actual human ism‘s it intends to get us to see from the Other’s perspective — racism, colonialism, militarism — we’d view it as embarrassingly trite and shallow. Casting apes as the victims doesn’t make it any less so.

It doesn’t help that while the facial animations are incredible, the ape bodies look like pretty good animations of people wearing ape suits. Plus, I have to say that these apes’ lack of genitalia or assholes diminishes the vividness of the premise of the movie: the apes we’ve treated as an inferior species are deserving of respect and dignity. Instead, we get damn, dirty hairy aliens.

But most of all, there isn’t a cliche the movie doesn’t miss. If you’re sitting in your seat thinking that the next obvious thing to happen is X, then X will happen. Guaranteed. The only surprises are the plot holes, of which there are many.

The music is bad in itself and is used as a cudgel. They might as well have skipped the music and just put in subtitles like “Feel sorrow here.”

Full marks to Andy Serkis and the motion capture crew. As others have suggested, he deserves his Special Achievement Oscar already. Well, he deserved it for Lord of the Rings, but his work in this movie is absolutely its highlight. Steve Zahn also has a good turn as the comic relief. But poor Woody Harrelson is stuck with ridiculous lines and a clumsy narrative attempt to give his character some depth. His best moment is when he shaves his head in one of the movie’s embarrassing flags that it thinks it’s on a par with films like Apocalypse Now.

Also, this movie is no fun. It’s grim. It’s boring. It’s unfair to the humans.

That last point is not a political complaint because lord knows we deserve all the monkey feces thrown at us. It’s instead a complaint about the shallowness of the movie-making.

Overall, I’d give a 95% chance of disappointing you.

The post I didn’t like the new Planet of the Apes movie. [No spoilers.] appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at July 20, 2017 01:18 PM

Benjamin Mako Hill
Testing Our Theories About “Eternal September”
Graph of subscribers and moderators over time in /r/NoSleep. The image is taken from our 2016 CHI paper.

Last year at CHI 2016, my research group published a qualitative study examining the effects of a large influx of newcomers to the /r/nosleep online community in Reddit. Our study began with the observation that most research on sustained waves of newcomers focuses on the destructive effect of newcomers and frequently invokes Usenet’s infamous “Eternal September.” Our qualitative study argued that the /r/nosleep community managed its surge of newcomers gracefully through strategic preparation by moderators, technological systems to reign in on norm violations, and a shared sense of protecting the community’s immersive environment among participants.

We are thrilled that, less a year after the publication of our study, Zhiyuan “Jerry” Lin and a group of researchers at Stanford have published a quantitative test of our study’s findings! Lin analyzed 45 million comments and upvote patterns from 10 Reddit communities that a massive inundation of newcomers like the one we studied on /r/nosleep. Lin’s group found that these communities retained their quality despite a slight dip in its initial growth period.

Our team discussed doing a quantitative study like Lin’s at some length and our paper ends with a lament that our findings merely reflected, “propositions for testing in future work.” Lin’s study provides exactly such a test! Lin et al.’s results suggest that our qualitative findings generalize and that sustained influx of newcomers need not doom a community to a descent into an “Eternal September.” Through strong moderation and the use of a voting system, the subreddits analyzed by Lin appear to retain their identities despite the surge of new users.

There are always limits to research projects work—quantitative and qualitative. We think the Lin’s paper compliments ours beautifully, we are excited that Lin built on our work, and we’re thrilled that our propositions seem to have held up!

This blog post was written with Charlie Kiene. Our paper about /r/nosleep, written with Charlie Kiene and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, was published in the Proceedings of CHI 2016 and is released as open access. Lin’s paper was published in the Proceedings of ICWSM 2017 and is also available online.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at July 20, 2017 12:12 AM

July 18, 2017

David Weinberger
America's default philosophy

John McCumber — a grad school colleague with whom I have alas not kept up — has posted at Aeon an insightful historical argument that America’s default philosophy came about because of a need to justify censoring American communist professorss (resulting in a naive scientism) and a need to have a positive alternative to Marxism (resulting in the adoption of rational choice theory).

That compressed summary does not do justice to the article’s grounding in the political events of the 1950s nor to how well-written and readable it is.

The post America's default philosophy appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at July 18, 2017 02:39 PM

July 17, 2017

Justin Reich
Design Thinking for Reinvigorating Schools
High performing schools and successful students just don't happen, they are built by design.

by Justin Reich at July 17, 2017 11:25 PM

Harry Lewis
Further comments on the social club policy
FAS has set up a website for faculty to post comments about the policy. (Actually, the report, which links to the site, says "faculty and students," but students tell me they can't log into it.) Here is the comment I just posted there.

---------------

This drastic recommendation is the product of anecdote and generalization, rather than data and analysis. The anecdotes are largely about men’s clubs, and though the report doesn’t mention it, most of the students affected by the policy would be women. Rather than targeting the malefactors and placing them in statistical context, the report uses dramatic stories to justify moves against clubs that have done nothing wrong. It is as though an attack by somebody’s Rottweiler was justification enough for taking away other people’s service dogs, St. Bernards, and poodles.

The use of “exclusivity” to consign all the women’s clubs to the same fate as the most drunken of the men’s final clubs seems almost certainly designed to meet the President’s condition of not inviting a lawsuit—which recent Crimson reporting suggests may happen anyway. Women members will testify that these organizations have grown for reasons that have nothing to do with the drunken parties that happen at some male final clubs; alumnae have told me that the support they received from other members was not just enjoyable, but essential to their success at Harvard. The report offers no evidence that getting into one of the women’s organizations is particularly competitive, relative to the psychic rewards of membership (it is probably less stressful than repeatedly being “lotteried by application” out of limited-enrollment FAS courses). The report’s vague call for “increased efforts to foster other social opportunities for students” sounds a good deal like a recommendation to “repeal now and replace later.” Of course, the argument that women’s organizations are “discriminatory” is irrefutable—but also entirely abstract: no evidence is offered that men have ever wanted to join them.

But these are practical details. Even if we were to conclude that the clubs “should” not exist, and that our students and alumnae are exaggerating their importance, the whole idea of punishing students for joining private, off-campus organizations—for peaceably assembling, as the Bill of Rights puts it—is deeply wrong.

It is true that the rights enumerated in the First Amendment are dangerous to established order. As Americans, we can ridicule our president, and can gather peaceably together in groups that cause the authorities to suspect that we are up to no good. It took supreme confidence on the part of the Founders to build into the Constitution the assurance that the government would not interfere with these activities. It might watch us closely and stand ready to respond when we break a law, but Congress could not make the speech or assembly itself unlawful. The reason these things are allowed, even when they are considered obnoxious or worse by prevailing social standards, is that the Founders understood that society is not static, and they had confidence that an enlightened if not always harmonious society will in the long run be better off, that social progress will occur, if people are allowed to speak and assemble peaceably even for reasons the authorities find offensive.

Harvard is a private institution and is under no legal obligation to follow the principles that apply right outside Harvard Yard. On the other hand, we should consider ourselves to be, if anything, more enlightened than the average place in America, more capable of governance through the rule of reason. This absolute ban—modeled on a policy for rural institutions where fraternities were residential and the entire social structure was drastically different—projects a lack of confidence that students should be allowed the same freedoms that the Constitution guarantees to all citizens. It is as though we don’t think that appeals to facts and reason will work with our students, and therefore there is no other way to proceed except by making a rule and then enforcing it with discipline. Yes, something must be done, but it is simply not true that everything else has been tried. For example, as I testified to the committee, the College has never tried (that I am aware) even the simplest of campaigns: to tell students not to join or go to the worst of the clubs, and why, and to explain the same forcefully to the parents of incoming freshmen. My own freshman advisees last year, who entered the College when it was at peak alarm about the ills of USGSOs, reported that no one had said a word to them about this subject in any orientation, proctor meeting, or written communication.

We are an educational institution. We teach students in everything we do. If we can teach students to guard themselves against infectious diseases without quarantining them, we can get them to stay away from those clubs where we have good reasons to think they should not go. Let’s give our students, and ourselves, more credit than to say that the only possible response is an outright ban, which to be effective would have to be enforced by some system of tips from informants, surveillance of off-campus restaurants where suspiciously regular dinner meetings might be taking place, and Ad Board punishments.

To proudly adopt a ban would be to teach by example that when a national leader attacks the free press or peaceful protests, he may be responding quite appropriately to the irksome downsides of citizens’ exercise of their civil liberties. Just because the rest of the world is finding authoritarianism more congenial than personal freedom, that doesn’t mean Harvard has to follow suit.



by Harry Lewis (noreply@blogger.com) at July 17, 2017 06:41 PM

David Weinberger
The Internet is also a thing

A list I am on is counseling that a particular writer not to be taken in by a tour of a data center or network operations center. These tours are typically given by PR guides and can leave the impression that the Internet is a set of writes owned by a corporation.

I certainly agree with both concerns. But, having been a Rube on a Tour more than once, I think technologists who are deep into protocol issues may underestimate how shocking it is to most people that the Internet is also a physical thing. Yes, I understand that the Internet is a set of protocols, etc., and I understand that that is usually what we need to communicate to people in order to counter the truly pernicious belief that Comcast et al. own the Internet. But the Internet is also, as instantiated, a set of coiled wires and massive industrial installations. Seeing the blinking lights on a bank of routers and being told by the PR Tour Guide that those signify packets going somewhere is, well, thrilling.

Every Internet user understands that there is a physical side of the Net. But seeing it in person is awesome and inspiring. That’s why Shuli Hallak‘s photos in Invisible Networks are so impressive.

It is tremendously important both conceptually and politically to understand that the Net is fundamentally not a thing and is not owned by anyone. But seeing in person the magnitude of the effort and the magnificence of the hardware engineering also teaches an important lesson: the Internet is not magic. At least not entirely.

The post The Internet is also a thing appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at July 17, 2017 04:30 PM

July 15, 2017

Jeffrey Schnapp
Intelligence on the Move

For several decades philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and education theorists have contested once prevalent accounts of human intelligence as a single, unified or monolithic thing, arguing instead for plural models that accommodate some degree of multiplicity in thinking/learning/knowing modes. The result has been controversy, particularly between advocates (like Howard Gardner) of expanded definitions of intelligence and those who propose instead more restrictive, measurable definitions that push various skill sets outside the bounds of “intelligence” proper. As its critics are wont to point out, the argument for multiplicity has less than rock solid empirical support. It’s hard not to sympathize, however, with its willingness to grapple with more fluid, less formal, agile modes of mental performance; with forms of reasoning that, for instance, that conjoin the mind with the hand, the realm of contemplative intellection with that of the bodily-kinesthetic.

One such realm is the world of sports and, in particular, motorsports, where cogitation takes place under extreme spatio-temporal constraints and where dislocations between simultaneous acts of perception (I’m looking up the track 300 meters at an upcoming turn) and moments of execution (I’m running line x through the prior turn right here and now) are the norm. I’ve ruminated a bit about these sorts of pressure-cooker situations in various writings: in “Three Pieces of Asphalt,” (Grey Room 11, [spring 2003]: 1-23); in a pseudonymously authored essay by a certain Pierre Niox–love it when the essay gets cited since Niox is the protagonist of a 1941 novel by Paul Morand–; but also, more recently, in FuturPiaggio – Six Italian Lessons on Mobility and Modern Life, where the intertwining of vehicles and minds in motion is a recurrent theme.

Here’s one snippet from the essay that forms the book’s backbone:

Quickness is never absolute whether on a motorcycle as technically refined as an Aprilia or on another vehicle: all the more so when it comes to negotiating off-road terrain and asphalt twisties (not straight-line speed). Nor can quickness be reduced to abstract indicators such as traction, acceleration, or horsepower. Rather, velocity is a situated kind of performance, dependent upon complex interactions between the technical characteristics of a vehicle, pilot inputs (no two riders are exactly alike), and environmental factors such as the roadway surface, the geometries of the circuit, temperature, and weather. The management of high speed is an asocial, if not antisocial act. Less about adrenaline than on-the-fly calculation skills, it demands self-absorption and an intensely located form of human intelligence that is unlike the impish playfulness of operating a Vespa.

In the case of racing, what would ordinarily be threatening to one’s sense of bodily integrity must become as routine as a nod of the head. There is no such thing as looking too far down a race track, just as there’s no such thing as too much feel for the immediacy of the roadway. To race means to live a split consciousness between the here and now of performance, the onrushing future within the racer’s immediate field of perception, and cognitive processing of the constantly shifting, turbulent realities of competition itself. To neglect the first would be to give up the ability to adapt to the road’s real-time inputs. To neglect the second would be to sharply limit one’s navigational choices. To neglect the third would be to ride without strategic smarts: to forget to take defensive lines, to assume uncalculated risks, to chew through tires in haphazard fashion.

The argument of an essay on mobility and modern life is one thing. But I would be remiss if I didn’t note that, in addition to being a compelling physical object animated by the graphic intelligence of its art director (Daniele Ledda) and of the multiple generations of engineers, artists, and designers whose work it documents, FuturPiaggio is also a book that is conceptually consonant with questions of thinking under pressure, of seeing things before they can be fully “seen,” and of meshings of tunnel-like narrowness of focus and the distracted scanning of a fast-paced, rapidly shifting context. By design, it invites an act of reading that is plural, interleaving long forms with short forms, image assemblages with text, surface inscriptions with depths variously exposed as a function of the transparency of the paper and opacity of the chosen inks. There’s no single or simple line of reading through the stratigraphy of over- and under-printed texts, images, ghosted transparencies, fold-ins and fold-outs, and seams. Sometimes it’s the typography that takes the lead; sometimes it’s gridded arrays of archival photographs. Timelines of the major units that make up the Piaggio Group unfold on the literal fold of the book’s French-fold pages and require a 90 degree rotation in the axis of reading. There are poster-sized foldouts that also read vertically. The volume is in animated by an overall formal coherence, a unified circuit, but also local structures that come and go. In short, there’s work to do and discoveries to be made in the process of moving back and forth between FuturPiaggio‘s bolts on the front and the nuts and cotter pins the hold together the bundle from the back. Here’s a sampling of some of the layers in the mix.

 

The chapter leads of the six-part essay.

 

The section headings. These are layered with the main titles printed up front; the wallpapers underprinted either on versos or the next recto.

 

Two foldouts from a total of seven.

 

Two “snapshots”; (note the chronologies running along the folds between pages, the reading of which demands that the reader flatten out the fold).

 

An anthropology of the Vespa.

/>

 

An entomology of the Vespa or the kickstarter as evolving limb.

 

The layout of the dictionary (where images from the archive are keyed to over one hundred playful definitions of Piaggio-generated and -related keywords).

Finally, for the impatient among you: go ahead and speed read 200 outward-facing pages + 200 inward-facing pages in a less than a minute (but practice this at least two to three thousand times if you wish to sharpen your speed reading skills):

by jeffrey at July 15, 2017 05:43 PM

July 14, 2017

Miriam Meckel
Inszenierung der Zerstörung

Die Gewalt bei G20 ist mit nichts zu rechtfertigen. Sie gehört geahndet. Mehr gibt es dazu nicht zu sagen. Oder doch?

Wer einmal live erleben wollte, wie sich Bürgerkrieg anfühlt, wurde am Wochenende in Hamburg gut bedient. Und darum ging es den menschlichen Steinschleudern und Brandbeschleunigern.

Kapitalismuskritik? Lächerlich. Da wird ein Apple-Store geplündert, und die Randalierer verticken die iPhones auf Ebay. Wie hieß es auf der linksradikalen Website Indymedia am 29. Juni 2016: „Wir träumen nicht, das Bestehende zu verändern, uns genügt, wenn wir es brennen sehen.“ Gewalt um der Zerstörung willen. Von politischen Konzepten hat sich dieser „Widerstand“ seit Langem verabschiedet. Es geht nicht um Weltverbesserung, sondern um Zerstörung und deren Inszenierung.

Und dabei haben die Randalierer mit manch einem G20-Gast etwas gemein. Die Show, die der türkische Präsident Erdogan, der russische Präsident Putin und US-Präsident Trump in Hamburg abgezogen haben, spottet einem modernen politischen Selbstverständnis. Protzerei, Machtgehabe und unerträglicher Narzissmus prägten das Bild. Der türkische Präsident kassiert mal eben in einer letzten Pressekonferenz den hart errungenen Minimalkompromiss beim Klimaschutz, den er zuvor selbst unterzeichnet hat.

Wladimir Putin räumt nach einem Geheimtreffen mit Donald Trump locker die Vermutung ab, Russland habe die amerikanischen Wahlen zu manipulieren versucht, derweil zeitgleich in den USA neue Belege fürs Gegenteil auftauchen. Und Donald Trump? Der mäandert durch diesen Gipfel wie eine mit Helium gefüllte Persiflage von Ludwig XIV. Zu den Errungenschaften des Gipfels fällt diesem Mann im Nachgang nichts ein. Stattdessen twittert er ein schlecht zusammengehacktes Video mit Bildern, auf denen immer nur einer zu sehen ist: er selbst.

Das ist übelste Form der Symbolpolitik. Sie steht dafür, wie Politik sich wandelt in ihrem Selbstverständnis. Weg von Modernität, Offenheit und Marktorientierung, hin zu Nepotismus, politischem Durchgriff und Protektionismus. Inszenierung um der Zerstörung willen.

Auf der Strecke bleibt, was die Bundesregierung in langfristigem Bemühen als zivilgesellschaftlichen Begleitprozess der G20 organisiert hat. Europas Idee vom politischen und wirtschaftlichen Multilateralismus wird zum Sidekick für die große Show der neuen Nationalisten degradiert. Und dafür bietet die G20-Inszenierung leider auch noch die richtige Bühne. Damit muss nun Schluss sein. Wer als Staatschef, wie der chinesische Präsident, nicht ohne eine 1000-Mann-Delegation verhandeln kann, soll zu Hause bleiben.

Vielleicht muss sich die Politik an der Stelle mal die Wirtschaft zum Vorbild nehmen: Die großen Deals entstehen nie aus großer Inszenierung, sondern durch lange, dezente, bilaterale Verhandlungen auf höchster Ebene. G20 als Prozess hat Sinn. Die Bilder eines inhaltlich mageren Gipfels haben Hunderte Millionen gekostet. Sie zeigen die neue Normalität: Stein um Stein auf der Straße. Zahn um Zahn am Verhandlungstisch.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at July 14, 2017 12:17 PM

July 13, 2017

Eszter Hargittai
Science-a-thon 2017

Today is the first-ever Science-a-thon! Started by my graduate school pal Tracey Holloway, it’s a day to raise awareness of and funds for science. I copy her description here:

From Tracey Holloway:

Hi All –

You’ve probably heard about the study that over 80% of American’s can’t accurately name a living scientist — and my guess is that the numbers are similar when asking “what do scientists actually do?” Of course, we do lots of things – work in labs, go out in the field, teach classes, program computers – but the public doesn’t get to see this.

As a large-scale public outreach initiative, and the first major fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), we’re launching Science-A-Thon. … an international “day of science” where participants share 12 photos over 12 hours of their day. From morning coffee through the ups and downs of a day in the life of a scientists (any scientist, any field of STEM, students, professionals – all are welcome).

We already have 100 scientists signed on – lots of earth scientists of course, but also cancer biologists, computer scientists, and more. Men and women, from 10 different countries so far. We’d love to have you! Just go to scienceathon.org/how to sign up. (And you’ll get a great “I love science” t-shirt)

If you’re not up for showcasing your own day, you can support ESWN and Science-A-Thon by sponsoring your favorite scientists (like me!)

You can donate here, if you are so inclined, any amount is appreciated.

Even if you’re not interested in donating to the cause, I highly recommend checking out the #scienceathon hashtag on Twitter as it’s a great way to get a sense of what a scientist’s day looks like.

Below are my twelve images of the day.

Image 1/12

This is the main University of Zurich building that I passed with the tram this morning on my way to my office. (For those who’ve been reading CT for a while, yes, this is a change, I moved institutions and countries last year.)

Image 2/12

More here

Image 3/12


The occasional break is necessary to stay productive. My preferred quick distraction is Ingress. Fortunately, my office sits on a portal (or if I’m lucky, three) so it’s an easy quick break before diving back into work. (For those who speak Pokemon Go better, that translates to two Pokestops.)

Image 4/12

Research is rarely a solitary activity. Here I am meeting with one of my postdocs, Amanda Hunsaker, about researching older adults and Internet use. The beautiful plant in the corner is courtesy of a UZH program that includes someone coming and watering/dusting off/taking care of this marvel.

Image 5/12

I find that a good desktop setup is important for staying on task, this works well for me.

Image 6/12

Lots of research happens through group meetings, this one an advisory board meeting conference call for an important CDC-supported project.

Image 7/12

Touching base with my other postdoc, Marina Micheli, in preparation for a longer meeting tomorrow.

Image 8/12

Went for a walk in the office neighborhood. This piece is next to my building. From one side, it looks like an abandoned log, from the other you realize it’s public art. I’m not sure I would have ever noticed it were it not for the fact that it is a portal in Ingress.

Image 9/12

Science requires training future generations of researchers. Teaching courses, mentoring through research, and in this case grading their papers are ways I contribute to the cause.

Image 10/12

I’m old school when it comes to reading books, paper copies please.

Image 11/12

On my way home, I stopped at one of Zurich’s 1,200 fountains. That is, in fact, the number of fountains in the city. There are many that are quite beautiful. Zurich has the most fountains of any city in the world.

Image 12/12

As my last picture of the day, I share with you a picture of my screen with one of my Instagram accounts, the one with one sky photo a day. I started this photo project over a year ago (I’m on day 452 to be precise). Every day I take a photo of the sky. The sky can be so beautiful and so different. I thought it was worth a moment to pause and take it in every day.

by eszter at July 13, 2017 09:20 PM

Berkman Center front page
Berkman Klein Center Announces 2017-2018 Community

Teaser

We are thrilled to announce the people who will join our community at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University as fellows, faculty associates, and affiliates for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today announced the incoming and returning fellows, faculty associates, affiliates, and directors who together will form the core of the Center’s networked community in the 2017-2018 academic year.

The community contributes to the Center's mission of addressing issues at the intersection of technology and society, with a focus on the design and use of digital technologies for the social good. To name just a few examples, research foci include the use of algorithms in criminal justice; the way digital, political, and institutional forces influence popular concepts of race and gender; how digital technologies can be better deployed to confront public health emergencies; and how trauma and grief are expressed on social media in the context of urban violent crime. Members of the Center’s community pursue a wide range of research methods, networking efforts, and educational activities, as well as coding, prototyping, and building.

“This exceptional group reflects our broad reach and core focus on exploring important Internet issues in a global, intersectional context,” says the Center’s Executive Director and Professor of Practice Urs Gasser. “To bring such talented, inquisitive, and creative minds together in the pursuit of dialogue across disciplines, regions, and backgrounds, and to see their collaborations converted into new understandings, research, and tools in the service of the public interest is a true privilege.”

The coming academic year will include increased joint efforts with MIT to explore the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies, an extension of core questions that have long motivated the Berkman Klein Center’s research. “We live in a world of tightly coupled and rapidly evolving autonomous systems that advise us or act without any advice at all,” says Berkman Klein Center co-founder Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and professor of computer science at Harvard University. “Thinking through how these global systems affect us, and how they might be deployed in the spirit of the public interest while, like the Internet, largely in private hands, draws upon and calls us to new work across many people in the humanities, engineering, law, and social science -- and industry.”

The class of fellows will primarily work in Cambridge, Massachusetts, alongside Berkman Klein faculty, students, and staff, as a vibrant community of research and practice.

Honoring the networked ethos at the heart of the Center, faculty associates and affiliates from institutions the world over will actively participate as well. These relationships, as well as the countless fruitful engagements with alumni, partners, interns, and other colleagues, are fundamental to the Berkman Klein Center’s work and identity, and serve to increase the capacity of the field and generate opportunities for lasting impact.

The Berkman Klein fellowship program aims to “create a protocol, a culture, a spirit that puts the emphasis on being open, being kind, being good listeners, being engaged, being willing to learn from one another.” We are excited to start this next year together with the following people who will continue our work as a community in this light.

Joining the community in 2017-2018 as Berkman Klein fellows:

Doaa Abu-Elyounes is an S.J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, where she researches the effect of artificial intelligence algorithms on the criminal justice system. She will focus on algorithmic accountability and governance of AI in criminal justice.
website

Pritha Chatterjee is a public health journalist and a recent graduate of the Masters in Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She will work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on health communication as a route to trigger behavioral change in public health policy.
website twitter

 

Joanne K. Cheung, an artist and designer studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, will focus her research at the Berkman Klein Center on building better civic spaces. She seeks to examine the features of places that support public assembly, how these spaces are used and regulated, and how we can design civic spaces where everyone realizes a gain by participating.
website twitter

 

Emily Dreyfuss, a journalist at Wired, will study how the internet and social media change the way culture is formed and history is written, and the role journalism should play in verifying and creating that record. Emily is the 2017-2018 Nieman-Berkman Klein Fellow in Journalism Innovation.
website twitter

 

Jenn Halen is a political scientist and a former National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow whose research broadly focuses on the ways that new and emerging technologies influence, and are influenced by, politics. She will study the complex social and political implications of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence, especially as it relates to issues of governance.
website twitter

 

Chien-Kuan Ho is a prosecutor in the Taichung District Prosecutors Office of the Ministry of Justice in Taiwan. He will research the guidance for prosecutors regarding discovery practices in criminal cases, and how to gather evidence in the digital world.

 

Nathan Kaiser, a lawyer practicing with the firm Eiger in Greater China, has a keen interest in the convergence and friction between technology and law, as well as politics. Among others, he will examine artificial intelligence, data protection, and blockchain efforts, from an Asian and Chinese legal perspective.
website twitter

 

Emad Khazraee is a sociotechnical information scientist and an Assistant Professor in the school of information at Kent State University. While at the Berkman Klein Center, he will work on his book project on the evolution of digital repertoires of collective action, and he will continue to study the relationship between digital technologies, new media, and social change.
website twitter

 

Jenny Korn is an activist of color for social justice and scholar of race, gender, and media with academic training in communication, sociology, theater, public policy, and gender studies from Princeton, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will examine identity and representation through online and in-person discourses, focusing on how popular concepts of race and gender are influenced by digital interactions, political protest, and institutional kyriarchy.
website twitter

 

Yvonne MacPherson is the U.S. Director of BBC Media Action. At the Berkman Klein Center, she will examine a host of digital solutions used to respond to global health emergencies and focus on understanding the impact these solutions have on human behavior and social norms.
twitter

 

Mary Minow is a lawyer, librarian, and current consultant to the American Library Association on Fake News. She plans to work on a library-based approach to help users of social media identify and check out questionable news content.
twitter

 

Sunoo Park is a Ph.D. candidate in computer science (cryptography) at MIT. She is interested in privacy (in all its polysemous glory) and in understanding the ways that hiding information can influence the incentives and behavior of participants in systems.
website

 

Desmond Patton is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Columbia University and Director of the SAFElab. While at the Berkman Klein Center, he will write manuscripts that examine the link between social media communication, grief, trauma, and gang violence among youth in Chicago.
website twitter

 

Kathy Pham is a high-energy computer scientist and cancer patient sidekick, most recently on the founding product and engineering team of the United States Digital Service, and on the advisory boards of the Anita Borg Institute and the "Make the Breast Pump Not Suck" research effort. She will explore artificial intelligence with an emphasis on healthcare.
website twitter

 

Keith Porcaro is the CTO / General Counsel at SIMLab, and Principal at Digital Public. He will research legal structures for governing digital assets, and continue his work building and studying participation in complex systems.
website twitter

 

Jie Qi is co-founder of Chibitronics, which produces friendly toolkits that blend electronics and programming with paper craft. She will explore open license approaches to invention, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship.
website twitter

 

Suchana Seth, a data scientist, will continue her work on operationalizing ethical machine learning and artificial intelligence in the industry.
website twitter

 

Luke Stark, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at Dartmouth College, will unpack the connections between the design of digital interfaces and personal privacy preferences in an era of social media increasingly focused on emotional expression and analysis.
website twitter

 

Soroush Vosoughi is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Laboratory for Social Machines at MIT, having received his Ph.D. from the same lab. His background is in machine learning, natural language processing, and network science, and he will focus his research on the spread of false information on social networks.
website twitter

 

j. Wahutu is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is affiliated with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at UMN. While at the Berkman Klein Center, he will work on revising his dissertation among other projects related at the intersection of surveillance, sovereignty, and media representations of genocide and mass atrocity in Africa.
twitter

 

Joining the Berkman Klein Center’s Board of Directors, as previously announced:

Professor Ruth Okediji, who was the Heiken Visiting Professor in Patent Law at Harvard Law School in 2015-2016, is an expert in innovation policy, intellectual property, and economic development in the context of international institutions and public international law. Her scholarship has influenced intellectual property law and policies throughout Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. She also serves on the boards of Creative Commons and IP-Watch.
Professor Margo Seltzer is an accomplished computer scientist and software entrepreneur, was co-founder and CTO of Sleepycat Software, the makers of Berkeley DB, and is an Architect for Oracle Corporation. Among her many professional affiliations, Professor Seltzer serves on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies. She has long been a Berkman Klein Center collaborator and in addition to her Directorship will spend the 2017-2018 academic year as a Faculty Fellow on sabbatical at the Center.
Professor Rebecca Tushnet is a leading First Amendment scholar who focuses on copyright, trademark, and false advertising law. In her spare time she is a member of the legal team of the Organization for Transformative Works, which advocates for the rights of remixers and makers of fanworks.

Joining as faculty associates:

Jonathan Albright, Sandra Braman, Nick Couldry, Phillipa Gill, Carla Reyes, Gabe Teninbaum, Kristjan Vassil, and Arun Vishwanath

Joining as affiliates:

David Arney, Victoria Baranetsky, Seth Berman, Bao Kham Chau, John Collins, Jonathan Donner, Joan Donovan, Danit Gal, Saba Ghole, Dipayan Ghosh, Daniel Greene, Andrew Gruen, Mary Jo Kaplan, Vasilis Kostakis, Joanne McNeil, Tracy Mitrano, John Nay, Kathryn Peters, Alvand Salehi, Boaz Sender, Ashley Stelfox, Berk Ustun, and Stephen Walter

 

The Berkman Klein Center remains proud of and grateful to the following returning community members who will retain affiliations in the coming year.

Returning as fellows:

Chinmayi Arun, Sandra Cortesi, Jack Cushman, Kate Darling, John DeLong, Juan Ortiz Freuler, Ashveena Gajeelee, Mary Gray, Ben Green, Natalie Gyenes, Malavika Jayaram, Rey Junco, Rachel Kalmar, Mason Kortz, Rosemary Leith, Andres Lombana, Patrick Murck, Sarah Newman, John Palfrey, Leah Plunkett, Hal Roberts, Bruce Schneier, Dave Talbot, and Alexandra Wood

Returning as faculty associates:

Ifeoma Ajunwa, Virgilio Almeida, Meryl Alper, Susan Benesch, Fernando Bermejo, Lionel Brossi, Herbert Burkert, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Tressie McMillan Cottom, David Cox, Primavera De Filippi, Juan Carlos de Martin, Jens Drolshammer, Niva Elkin-Koren, Christian Fieseler, Mayo Fuster Morell, Christoph Graber, Kishonna Gray, Shane Greenstein, Eldar Haber, Samer Hassan, Jerome Hergueux, Benjamin Mako Hill, Joichi Ito, Dariusz Jemielniak, Beth Kolko, Harry Lewis, David Malan, Catharina Maracke, James Mickens, Justin Reich, Colin Rhinesmith, Nagla Rizk, Cynthia Rudin, Benjamin Sachs, Brittany Seymour, Aaron Shaw, Clay Shirky, Alexander Trechsel, Lokman Tsui, Zeynep Tufekci, Effy Vayena, and Dorothy Zinberg

Returning as affiliates:

Kendra Albert, Ellery Biddle, Doreen Bogdan, Catherine Bracy, Scott Bradner, Amy Brand, Ken Carson, Amber Case, Yasodara Cordova, Kate Coyer, Nighat Dad, Shannon Dosemagen, Andy Ellis, Bruce Etling, Mailyn Fidler, Camille Francois, Nathan Freitas, Mariel Garcia Montes, Asme Gizaw, Jason Griffey, Elizabeth Hansen, Felipe Heusser, Dean Jansen, Amy Johnson, Jonas Kaiser, Adi Kamdar, Simindokht Kargar, Yarden Katz, John Kelly, Danil Kerimi, SJ Klein, Kate Krontiris, Amanda Lenhart, Greg Leppert, Mary Madden, An (Xiao) Mina, Grace Mutung'u, Helmi Noman, Paulo Rogerio Nunes, Crystal Nwaneri, Matt Olsen, Matthew Pearl, Grif Peterson, Karin Pettersson, Nani Jansen Reventlow, Andy Sellars, Ben Sobel, Gosia Stergios, Anke Sterzing, John Stubbs, Jonathan Sun, Shailin Thomas, Micky Tripathi, Paola Villarreal, Kevin Wallen, Waide Warner, Sara Marie Watson, Sarah West, and Meng Weng Wong

Returning as the Fellows Advisory Board:

Judith Donath, Eszter Hargittai, Colin Maclay, Wendy Seltzer, Jake Shapiro, David Weinberger, and Ethan Zuckerman

About the Berkman Klein Center

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at cyber.harvard.edu.

by djones at July 13, 2017 04:00 PM

Harry Lewis
The new policy about social clubs
The report of the committee chaired by Professor Clark and Dean Khurana has now been posted. Harvard Magazine has a good summary, including a link to the report: Harvard Committee Recommends Banning Clubs. The Boston Globe also has a story, in which I am quoted: Harvard panel recommends barring students from final clubs. Here is the full text of what I sent the reporter:
The recommendation manages to put Harvard in a position that combines arrogance with insecurity. The University would suspend ordinary freedom of association rights so that Harvard can pick which off-campus clubs students can join. And at the same time the report displays a lack of confidence in Harvard's mission to educate students to make choices for themselves. Instead Harvard would do the easy thing: make a law and punish the nonconformists. This is not the way to prepare the citizens of a free society. 
It contains one particularly significant sentence: “The President will make the final decision.” So we have a committee, hand-picked by the dean, declaring that the matter is not under Faculty jurisdiction. I don’t know how the Faculty will react to the policy itself — I would like to think they would not support it — but I would be very surprised if they would agree that this matter is not within their authority to decide.
There is a great deal more to be said about this. The same rhetorical devices are being used as in the past: Some clubs are bad, so we must ban all clubs. We'll have to figure out later how to replace the positive roles some clubs play in the lives of some students, once we have killed them off. No data (read Professor Haig's minority opinion at the end). No acknowledgment that most of the groups and students affected are not the final clubs and their members.

I think the most interesting question may prove to be the constitutional issue suggested in the second part of my statement to the Globe. The report assigns responsibility for enforcing the policy to the Administrative Board. The Administrative Board administers the policies for undergraduate affairs adopted by the Faculty, which draws its authority over undergraduate affairs from the Fifth and Twelfth Statutes. The report says that no special oaths will be needed because the policy will be incorporated into the Handbook. But nothing gets incorporated into the Handbook by presidential fiat. The Faculty votes the Handbook every year, and votes major changes to it individually before the Handbook as a whole gets voted at the end of the academic year. It simply makes no sense to say that the President will decide this and then it will go into the Handbook, unless the fundamental principle of faculty governance over undergraduate affairs has been altered in the Statutes. "The President will decide" and "it will go in the Handbook and be enforced by the Administrative Board, whether the Faculty like it or not" are inconsistent statements, unless the Statutes have changed.

by Harry Lewis (noreply@blogger.com) at July 13, 2017 05:00 AM

July 12, 2017

Justin Reich
From "EduSpeak" to a Language of Pedagogy
To better define learning, we need to stop using "EduSpeak" and return to the theoretical language of pedagogy.

by Beth Holland at July 12, 2017 04:06 PM

David Weinberger
Net neutrality still matters. A lot.

Net neutrality regulates the organizations that provide access to the Internet — to our Internet — to make sure that they do not play favorites.

Net neutrality is not a layer on top of the Internet. It is not a regulation place on the Internet. It is the Internet, as Doc Searls and I explained way back when in a post called World of Ends.

Tell the FCC that this matters to you.

The post Net neutrality still matters. A lot. appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at July 12, 2017 01:13 PM

July 11, 2017

Berkman Center front page
On the Biomedical Elite: Inequality and Stasis in Scientific Knowledge Production

Teaser

In this report, we examine the relationship between commonly used metrics and funding levels for investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health, the largest public funder of biomedical research in the United States, in the years 1985-2015. We find that funding inequality has been rising since 1985, with a small segment of investigators and institutes getting an increasing proportion of funds, and that investigators who start in the top funding ranks tend to stay there (which results in stasis, or lack of mobility).

Publication Date

11 Jul 2017

Thumbnail Image: 
By Yarden Katz and Ulrich Matter
 
Researchers and research institutes are increasingly being evaluated using metrics (from bibliometrics to patent counts), which are core instruments of a longstanding effort to quantify scientific productivity and worth. In this report, we examine the relationship between commonly used metrics and funding levels for investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health, the largest public funder of biomedical research in the United States, in the years 1985-2015. We find that funding inequality has been rising since 1985, with a small segment of investigators and institutes getting an increasing proportion of funds, and that investigators who start in the top funding ranks tend to stay there (which results in stasis, or lack of mobility). Furthermore, funding levels are a strong quantitative predictor of the interrelated set of metrics frequently used by economists and policy makers to evaluate scientific research. Our results suggest that the widespread system of metrics favors a minority of elite, highly funded researchers and institutes. Current attempts to "optimize'' science are inextricably linked to the concentration of funds in the biomedical research system and are likely to further reduce diversity in the research community.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by gweber at July 11, 2017 07:01 PM

July 10, 2017

Berkman Center front page
The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund Commits $7.6 Million to Support the Development of AI in the Public Interest

Teaser

With the Berkman Klein Center and  MIT Media Lab as academic anchor institutions, the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund announced today funding for nine organizations to amplify the voice of civil society in shaping the evolution of AI, bolstering efforts to promote the development of ethical, accountable systems that advance the public interest.

With the Berkman Klein Center and  MIT Media Lab as academic anchor institutions, the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund today announced funding for nine organizations to amplify the voice of civil society in shaping the evolution of AI, bolstering efforts to promote the development of ethical, accountable systems that advance the public interest. Launched in January 2017 with $27 million contributed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Jim Pallotta, the Fund has committed an initial $7.6 million in grants for new and ongoing initiatives.

The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab received $5.9 million, which will enable work in three initial core areas: media and information quality; social and criminal justice; and autonomous vehicles. Additional projects and activities will address common challenges across these core areas such as the global governance of AI and the ways in which the use of AI may reinforce existing biases, particularly against underserved and underrepresented populations.

“We are deeply grateful for the generous support by the Ethics and Governance of AI Fund, which takes our productive collaboration with the MIT Media Lab to the next level and enables us to build new bridges between the worlds of engineering and computer science, public policy and law, and social science as applied to autonomous systems ” said Urs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman Klein Center and Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. “I’m also very excited about the Fund’s commitment towards supporting a broader global conversation around AI, bringing perspectives and voices from other parts of the world to our open and collaborative effort.”

For more information on this initial round of funding, read the full Fund press release.  We invite you to learn more about the Berkman Klein Center’s AI ethics and governance activities on our updated project page.

by gweber at July 10, 2017 01:46 PM

July 07, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Professors Nesson, Zittrain Seek Executive Assistant

We are searching for a “rock star” executive assistant who possesses initiative, judgment, good cheer, and the highest integrity. He or she will provide stability and organization in a hectic and sometimes chaotic team-based office environment. A strong work ethic, tenacity, and the desire to work in a teaching- and learning-based institution will prove invaluable.

This EA relishes the opportunity to oversee and manage the academic lives of two full-time Harvard Law School professors and Center co-directors. Professor Charles Nesson requires a high competency when it comes to course planning, scheduling, and online services such as course websites and lodging legal filings, as well as the ability to think laterally when solving problems, with a willingness to take broad ideas and pare them down to manageable action items. Professor Jonathan Zittrain requires an intense ability to focus on calendaring and scheduling mindful of a variety of people and priorities; a willingness to multitask and add, drop, or reorganize priorities at a moment’s notice; and openness to changing or rethinking existing practices.

Professor Nesson and Zittrain’s work with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society adds an extra layer of responsibilities to a typical EA role, including some scheduling of events and meetings at BKC, as well as working with BKC staff to coordinate projects, papers, and directors’ meetings. Professor Zittrain is also the director of the Harvard Law School Library, which requires working directly with Library staff, including its Innovation Lab, on projects, papers, and initiatives, and ensuring timely follow-up in all interactions.

A successful candidate will be committed to supporting Professors Nesson and Zittrain, as well as Harvard as a whole, in achieving academic success; all the while honing his or her own administrative skills and developing into a supportive leader within the office and the University.

Applications open on July 24th - stay tuned for details!

by djones at July 07, 2017 05:50 PM

Miriam Meckel
Die ökonomisch Überflüssigen

Die Union verspricht Vollbeschäftigung. Sie ignoriert die Revolution der Arbeit. Die Folgen sind absehbar.

Es gab noch einen biblischen Hoffnungsschimmer: Die Letzten werden die Ersten sein, heißt es doch im Neuen Testament. Wir wissen nicht, ob Matthäus diesen Satz auch für Wahlprogramme tauglich befunden hätte.

Das nun endlich auch von CDU/CSU vorgelegte enthält leider keine Überraschungen, keine außergewöhnlichen Ideen. Es ist die Ausgeburt soliden Handwerks im Schnitzen alten Holzes. Auch wenn ein Berg sehr lange kreißt, gebiert er eben doch nur eine Maus.

Das freilich sieht bei den anderen Parteien ganz ähnlich aus und müsste daher kaum gesondert erwähnt werden, setzte das Programm der Unionsparteien nicht in einem seiner drei Schwerpunkte auf einen wohl bekannten Begriff: die Vollbeschäftigung.

An der sind wir in Deutschland nach gängiger Zählung mit 5,5 Prozent Arbeitslosenquote schon recht nahe dran. Vollbeschäftigung als politischer Selbstläufer also, wenn die wirtschaftliche Lage so bleibt, wie sie ist? Träumt weiter. Nach einer kürzlich veröffentlichten Studie des McKinsey Global Institute lässt sich die Hälfte aller mit insgesamt 16 Billionen Dollar bezahlten Arbeit in der globalen Wirtschaft durch bereits verfügbare Technologien ersetzen. Die meisten Jobs, wie wir sie heute kennen, werden in den nächsten Jahren verschwinden. Dafür werden viele neue, andere entstehen.

Die Übergangsphase zwischen dem Arbeitsmarkt von heute und morgen aber wird hart werden. Nicht jeder Taxifahrer kann Programmierer, nicht jede Versicherungsangestellte Designerin neuer Computerspiele werden. Die Hälfte der arbeitenden Bevölkerung, deren Jobs von Maschinen und Software billiger und besser gemacht werden können, wird zum Digitalprekariat – „wirtschaftlich überflüssige Menschen“, wie der israelische Historiker Yuval Noah Harari sie nennt. Sie sind nicht nur arbeitslos, sondern nicht mehr kompatibel mit den Anforderungen der digitalen Wirtschaft.

Das wird die größte globale Arbeitsmarktumwälzung seit der industriellen Revolution. Wir können dann schon über Halbbeschäftigung froh sein. Man braucht nicht allzu viel Fantasie, um sich vorzustellen, welche Folgen das hat. Nicht dazugehören zu können macht einsam und aggressiv. Anfällig auch für die Vorbeter der einfachen Wahrheiten und Lösungen. Was sollen diese Menschen tun, wenn keine Arbeit mehr für sie da ist? Und woher nehmen sie ihr Selbstwertgefühl, das in unserer Gesellschaft ganz wesentlich von der eigenen Arbeit gespeist wird?

Wie dieser Übergang gemeistert und sozial abgefedert werden kann, das müssten die beiden ehemaligen Volksparteien zum Thema machen. Zum Beispiel durch eine Unternehmenssteuerreform, die radikal entbürokratisiert und entlastet, und alle Maßnahmen, die in die Aus- und Weiterbildung der Belegschaft gehen. Stattdessen betet man lieber das Goldene Kalb der Vollbeschäftigung an. Das wird sich rächen. Die Umkehr des Matthäus-Satzes lautet: Die Letzten werden die Letzten sein.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at July 07, 2017 12:07 PM

July 05, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Global Data Flows and the Implications for Health Access in Developing Countries

Subtitle

featuring HLS Professor Mark Wu

Teaser

What types of policies concerning cross-border data flows should developing countries be adopting and advocating to safeguard their interests, particularly with respect to health care?

Event Date

Jul 24 2017 12:00pm to Jul 24 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Monday, July 24, 2017
12:00pm – 1:30pm

Harvard Global Health Institute Conference Room
42 Church St. Cambridge, MA 02138
RSVP required

Global Access in Action: Conversations in Global Health, Innovation, & the Digital World

This event is being sponsored by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Governments around the world are increasingly regulating the flow of cross-border data on the basis of privacy, security, and other public interest concerns. These policies take on a variety of forms, such as data localization requirements and obligations for service providers to make data available to law enforcement authorities under certain circumstances. What types of policies concerning cross-border data flows should developing countries be adopting and advocating to safeguard their interests, particularly with respect to health care? Join us for an open discussion.

About Global Access in Action
Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations.

About the GAiA Brown Bag Series
The GAiA brown bag series, "Conversations in Global Health, Innovation & the Digital World," is a collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute to facilitate discussion among researchers, scholars, practitioners, and others engaged in the development of legal and policy frameworks that govern innovation and global commercialization of medicines. The next brown bag event will be July 31st, and will feature GAiA Affiliate John Stubbs discussing Trump's America First Trade Agenda: What It Means for Access to Medicines.

About Mark Wu
Mark Wu is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a Director of the Berkman Klein Center. His work focuses on international trade and international intellectual property matters.

Prior to joining HLS the faculty in 2010, Mark Wu was an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School and a law clerk to Judge Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has served as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he led negotiations on the IP chapters of various free trade agreements. In addition, he worked as an engagement manager for McKinsey & Co., as an economist and operations officer for the World Bank in China, and as an economist for the United Nations Development Programme in Namibia.

by djones at July 05, 2017 07:59 PM

danah boyd
Tech Culture Can Change

We need: Recognition, Repentance, Respect, and Reparation.

To be honest, what surprises me most about the current conversation about the inhospitable nature of tech for women is that people are surprised. To say that discrimination, harassment, and sexual innuendos are an open secret is an understatement. I don’t know a woman in tech who doesn’t have war stories. Yet, for whatever reason, we are now in a moment where people are paying attention. And for that, I am grateful.

Like many women in tech, I’ve developed strategies for coping. I’ve had to in order to stay in the field. I’ve tried to be “one of the guys,” pretending to blend into the background as sexist speech was jockeyed about in the hopes that I could just fit in. I’ve tried to be the kid sister, the freaky weirdo, the asexual geek, etc. I’ve even tried to use my sexuality to my advantage in the hopes that maybe I could recover some of the lost opportunity that I faced by being a woman. It took me years to realize that none of these strategies would make me feel like I belonged. Many even made me feel worse.

For years, I included Ani DiFranco lyrics in every snippet of code I wrote, as well as my signature. I’ve maintained a lyrics site since I was 18 because her words give me strength for coping with the onslaught of commentary and gross behavior. “Self-preservation is a full-time occupation.” I can’t tell you how often I’ve sat in a car during a conference or after a meeting singing along off-key at full volume with tears streaming down my face, just trying to keep my head together.

What’s at stake is not about a few bad actors. There’s also a range of behaviors getting lumped together, resulting in folks asking if inescapable sexual overtures are really that bad compared to assault. That’s an unproductive conversation because the fundamental problem is the normalization of atrocious behavior that makes room for a wide range of inappropriate actions. Fundamentally, the problem with systemic sexism is that it’s not the individual people who are the problem. It’s the culture. And navigating the culture is exhausting and disheartening. It’s the collection of particles of sand that quickly becomes a mountain that threatens to bury you.

It’s having to constantly stomach sexist comments with a smile, having to work twice as hard to be heard in a meeting, having to respond to people who ask if you’re on the panel because they needed a woman. It’s about going to conferences where deals are made in the sauna but being told that you have to go to the sauna with “the wives” (a pejoratively constructed use of the word). It’s about people assuming you’re sleeping with whoever said something nice about you. It’s being told “you’re kinda smart for a chick” when you volunteer to help a founder. It’s knowing that you’ll receive sexualized threats for commenting on certain topics as a blogger. It’s giving a talk at a conference and being objectified by the audience. It’s building whisper campaigns among women to indicate which guys to avoid. It’s using Dodgeball/Foursquare to know which parties not to attend based on who has checked in. It’s losing friends because you won’t work with a founder who you watched molest a woman at a party (and then watching Justin Timberlake portray that founder’s behavior as entertainment).

Lots of people in tech have said completely inappropriate things to women. I also recognize that many of those guys are trying to fit into the sexist norms of tech too, trying to replicate the culture that they see around them because they too are struggling for status. But that’s the problem. Once guys receive power and status within the sector, they don’t drop their inappropriate language. They don’t change their behavior or call out others on how insidious it is. They let the same dynamics fester as though it’s just part of the hazing ritual.

For women who succeed in tech, the barrage of sexism remains. It just changes shape as we get older.

On Friday night, after reading the NYTimes article on tech industry harassment, I was deeply sad. Not because the stories were shocking — frankly, those incidents are minor compared to some of what I’ve seen. I was upset because stories like this typically polarize and prompt efforts to focus on individuals rather than the culture. There’s an assumption that these are one-off incidents. They’re not.

I appreciate that Dave and Chris owned up to their role in contributing to a hostile culture. I know that it’s painful to hear that something you said or did hurt someone else when you didn’t intend that to be the case. I hope that they’re going through a tremendous amount of soul-searching and self-reflection. I appreciate Chris’ willingness to take to Medium to effectively say “I screwed up.” Ideally, they will both come out of this willing to make amends and right their wrongs.

Unfortunately, most people don’t actually respond productively when they’re called out. Shaming can often backfire.

One of the reasons that most people don’t speak up is that it’s far more common for guys who are called out on their misdeeds to respond the way that Marc Canter appeared to do, by justifying his behavior and demonizing the woman who accused him of sexualizing her. Given my own experiences with his sexist commentary, I decided to tweet out in solidarity by publicly sharing how he repeatedly asked me for a threesome with his wife early on in my career. At the time, I was young and I was genuinely scared of him; I spent a lot of time and emotional energy avoiding him, and struggled with how to navigate him at various conferences. I wasn’t the only one who faced his lewd comments, often framed as being sex-positive even when they were an abuse of power. My guess is that Marc has no idea how many women he’s made feel uncomfortable, ashamed, and scared. The question is whether or not he will admit that to himself, let alone to others.

I’m not interested in calling people out for sadistic pleasure. I want to see the change that most women in tech long for. At its core, the tech industry is idealistic and dreamy, imagining innovations that could change the world. Yet, when it comes to self-reflexivity, tech is just as regressive as many other male-dominated sectors. Still, I fully admit that I hold it to a higher standard in no small part because of the widespread commitment in tech to change the world for the better, however flawed that fantastical idealism is.

Given this, what I want from men in tech boils down to four Rs: Recognition. Repentance. Respect. Reparation.

Recognition. I want to see everyone — men and women — recognize how contributing to a culture of sexism takes us down an unhealthy path, not only making tech inhospitable for women but also undermining the quality of innovation and enabling the creation of tech that does societal harm. I want men in particular to reflect on how the small things that they do and say that they self-narrate as part of the game can do real and lasting harm, regardless of what they intended or what status level they have within the sector. I want those who witness the misdeeds of others to understand that they’re contributing to the problem.

Repentance. I want guys in tech — and especially those founders and funders who hold the keys to others’ opportunity — to take a moment and think about those that they’ve hurt in their path to success and actively, intentionally, and voluntarily apologize and ask for forgiveness. I want them to reach out to someone they said something inappropriate to, someone whose life they made difficult and say “I’m sorry.”

Respect. I want to see a culture of respect actively nurtured and encouraged alongside a culture of competition. Respect requires acknowledging others’ struggles, appreciating each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and helping each other through hard times. Many of the old-timers in tech are nervous that tech culture is being subsumed by financialization. Part of resisting this transformation is putting respect front and center. Long-term success requires thinking holistically about society, not just focusing on current capitalization.

Reparation. Every guy out there who wants to see tech thrive owes it to the field to actively seek out and mentor, support, fund, open doors for, and otherwise empower women and people of color. No excuses, no self-justifications, no sexualized bullshit. Just behavior change. Plain and simple. If our sector is about placing bets, let’s bet on a better world. And let’s solve for social equity.

I have a lot of respect for the women who are telling their stories, but we owe it to them to listen to the culture that they’re describing. Sadly, there are so many more stories that are not yet told. I realize that these stories are more powerful when people are named. My only hope is that those who are risking the backlash to name names will not suffer for doing so. Ideally, those who are named will not try to self-justify but acknowledge and accept that they’ve caused pain. I strongly believe that changing the norms is the only path forward. So while I want to see people held accountable, I especially want to see the industry work towards encouraging and supporting behavior change. At the end of the day, we will not solve the systemic culture of sexism by trying to weed out bad people, but we can work towards rendering bad behavior permanently unacceptable.

by zephoria at July 05, 2017 07:55 PM

Berkman Center front page
Trump's ‘America First’ Trade Agenda: What It Means for Access to Medicines

Subtitle

Featuring GAiA Affiliate John Stubbs

Teaser

US foreign policy regulates, incentivizes and subsidizes access to medicines for patients around the world, from intellectual property protection and market access commitments in trade agreements to assistance programs like PEPFAR. What existing policies is President Trump likely to change, what new policies will his administration introduce, and how will these changes affect global health outcomes?

Event Date

Jul 31 2017 12:00pm to Jul 31 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

 

Monday July 31st, 2017
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

Harvard Global Health Institute Conference Room
42 Church St. Cambridge, MA 02138
RSVP Required

US foreign policy regulates, incentivizes and subsidizes access to medicines for patients around the world, from intellectual property protection and market access commitments in trade agreements to assistance programs like PEPFAR. What existing policies is President Trump likely to change, what new policies will his administration introduce, and how will these changes affect global health outcomes?

About Global Access in Action
Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations.

About the GAiA Brown Bag Series
The GAiA brown bag series, "Conversations in Global Health, Innovation & the Digital World," is a collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute to facilitate discussion among researchers, scholars, practitioners, and others engaged in the development of legal and policy frameworks that govern innovation and global commercialization of medicines.

About John Stubbs
A former staffer with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), John Stubbs is a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society where he is researching transparency and international trade agreements.

From 2001-2007 John served three consecutive USTRs to advance US objectives among foreign and domestic constituencies. John created numerous initiatives to increase stakeholder participation in trade policy development, including the first online access ramp for US private sector advisors to view classified materials. During John’s time at USTR, the United States successfully launched the Doha Development Agenda at the WTO and approved Free Trade Agreements with 13 countries.

In 2007 John founded Romulus Global Issues Management, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm that helps executives navigate cross-border issues related to crisis, transition or growth. In particular, John’s work focuses on technology transfer, adoption and uptake in emerging markets. Romulus consultants have worked in more than 80 countries and clients include multinational corporations, startups and non-governmental organizations.

John has played a role in creating several new ventures. He founded the Global Innovation Forum and led the organization from 2009-2014. In 2008 John helped launch Farmstead Wines, a boutique importer of sustainably produced wines, and in 2011 he co-founded ecommerce company The Daily Hookup, Inc.

John received his BA in economics from George Washington University where he was President of GW’s policy debate team. He is a board member of the National Foreign Trade Council Foundation, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Krewe of Bacchus in New Orleans, Louisiana.

by djones at July 05, 2017 07:51 PM

July 04, 2017

ProjectVRM
Paying for media with #customertech

doc013b

What we have today with giant silos dominating everything is what Hugh Macleod and I many years ago together called an egology. Hugh illustrated one this way:

doc012cropped

Here’s what’s going to happen when the whole cryptocurrency / ICO / token / blockchain / distributed ledger / distributed-everything finishes going down: We will each have far more command of what and how we pay for everything, how we remember what we paid, how we run our personal and social lives online, and how we control our relationships in an open marketplace no longer dominated by giant corporate silos and fiat currencies.

That’s my bet, anyway. Because I see the pendulum swinging away from platforms, and up the stack to new protocols. Union Square Ventures illustrates it this way:

web-blockchain

That was a few months back. I was at a talk Nick Grossman gave a few days ago, and I believe he didn’t have Blockchain above the second image. But you get the point: thick protocols, thin applications.

I see this happening with IPFS, with the Bitcoin and Etherium protocols, with JLINC and other efforts.

The res

 

by Doc Searls at July 04, 2017 01:35 AM

June 30, 2017

MediaBerkman
Jonny Sun and Jonathan Zittrain on Joke Tweets, Memes, and Being an Alien Online
Join Jonny Sun, the author of the popular Twitter account @jonnysun, for a conversation in celebration of his new book “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by jomny sun (the aliebn). This debut illustrated book is the unforgettable story of a lost, lonely, and confused alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the creatures of Earth. Constructed from many of Jonny’s re-contextualized tweets, the book is also a creative thesis on the narrative formats of social media, and a defense of the humanity-fulfilling aspects of social media born out of his experiences on Twitter. About Jonny Jonathan Sun is the author behind @jonnysun. When he isn’t tweeting, he is an architect, designer, engineer, artist, playwright and comedy writer. His work across multiple disciplines broadly addresses narratives of human experience. As a playwright, Jonathan’s work has been performed at the Yale School of Drama, and in Toronto at Hart House Theater and Factory Theater. As an artist and illustrator, his work has been exhibited at MIT, Yale, New Haven ArtSpace, and the University of Toronto. His work has been appeared on NPR, Buzzfeed, Playboy, GQ, and McSweeney’s. In his other life, he is a doctoral student at MIT and Berkman Klein fellow at Harvard. About Jonathan Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education. For more on this discussion visit: https://cyber.harvard.edu/events/2017/06/Sun

by the Berkman Klein Center at June 30, 2017 03:41 PM

David Weinberger
Hallucinating, not lying?

If we listen to what Donald Trump is telling us in plain and strong language, we should conclude that he is suffering from hallucinations — hallucinations of women bleeding.

Twice now he has claimed that blood was pouring out of women he feels were antagonistic of him: Megyn Kelly and Mika Brzezinski. We all saw that Kelly in fact was not bleeding. Brzezinski flat out denies her face was bleeding and says there are photos to prove it.

Then there’s this new story about Trump telling twenty Congressmen about seeing blood coming out of Brzezinski’s eyes and ears on another occasion.

These comments are so weird that the best explanation the media has put forward is that they are metaphors that illuminate Trump’s dark, dark reaction to being challenged by strong women.

But I think we should seriously consider that he was not talking metaphorically. He saw blood coming out of their faces.

At least the question needs to be asked of him. And then we need to re-read the 25th Amendment.

The post Hallucinating, not lying? appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at June 30, 2017 02:18 PM

Miriam Meckel
Ehe eine alleine ist

Mit der Öffnung zur Ehe für alle rettet Angela Merkel ihre Koalitionsoptionen. Ihre Nein-Stimme zeigt: Für gesellschaftliche Modernisierung steht diese Kanzlerin nicht.

Kosten: keine. So steht es lapidar unter Abschnitt D des neuen Gesetzes „zur Einführung des Rechts auf Eheschließung für Personen gleichen Geschlechts“. Das ist eine recht eindimensionale Betrachtung der Dinge. Tatsächlich kostet es kein Geld, Paragraf 1353 des Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuches zu ändern. Aber jenseits des administrativen Aufwands hat das Gezerre um die Ehe für alle sehr viel gekostet.

Seit fast zwei Jahren liegt der Gesetzesentwurf vor, den Union und SPD wegen des Widerstands der Union im Rechtsausschuss exakt 30 Mal blockiert haben. Es blieben noch verfassungsrechtliche Fragen offen, so die Begründung der Union. Die einzig wesentliche lautet: Warum haben die Unionsparteien so lange an der rechtlichen, ökonomischen und sozialen Diskriminierung von homosexuellen Partnerschaften festgehalten, während die Bevölkerung längst mit großer Mehrheit die Ehe für alle unterstützt.

Der Prozess kratzt an der Glaubwürdigkeit der Bundeskanzlerin. Angela Merkel hatte den politischen Schleudergang dieser Woche am Montagabend bei einem Talk der „Brigitte“ in Gang gesetzt, als sie mit verquasten Sätzen von einem „einschneidenden Erlebnis“ erzählte. Das dreht sich um zwei Frauen, die mehrere Pflegekinder großziehen. Warum dieser Heureka-Moment jetzt zustande kam, bleibt unklar.

Merkel hat über Jahre mit einem schwulen Vizekanzler regiert, von dessen Mann sie wie selbstverständlich als dessen Mann sprach. Will man nicht davon ausgehen, dass die persönlichen Erfahrungen der Kanzlerin jeweils unmittelbar nach dem Geschehen wieder der Amnesie anheimfallen, gab es genug einschneidende Erlebnisse mit homosexuellen Menschen, die sie als Regierungspartner, Parteimitglieder und Berater um sich hat. Von denen hat ihr sicher mal jemand gesagt, wie es sich anfühlt, aufgrund des eigenen Lebens und Liebens rechtlich schlechter gestellt zu werden.

Das einschneidende Erlebnis führte nun also dazu, dass die Entscheidung über die Ehe für alle zur „Gewissensentscheidung“ wird. Damit ist sie neben der Präimplantationsdiagnostik und der Sterbehilfe in guter Gesellschaft. Das Gewissen wird zum Verladebahnhof für den Tauschhandel zwischen Machtpolitik und gesellschaftlicher Wirklichkeit. Das hat das Gewissen nicht verdient.

Eine sehr einfache und ehrliche Erklärung für den gesellschaftspolitischen Fukushima-Moment der Kanzlerin liegt in den Koalitionsaussichten für die nächste Regierungsperiode. Nachdem außer der AfD alle anderen möglichen Koalitionspartner die Ehe für alle zur Koalitionsbedingung ausgerufen hatten, sah Merkel sich politisch isoliert. Mithilfe des Gewissens anderer hat sie sich Luft verschafft. Das ist machtpolitisch vielleicht geschickt. Gesellschaftspolitisch wüsste man von der deutschen Kanzlerin immer noch gerne, wie sie selbst die Sache sieht. Das sagt sie aber nicht. Parteipolitisch sind ihr die Kosten dafür wahrscheinlich zu hoch.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at June 30, 2017 10:50 AM

June 28, 2017

Berkman Center front page
The Shifting Landscape of Global Internet Censorship

An Uptake in Communications Encryption Is Tempered by Increasing Pressure on Major Platform Providers; Governments Expand Content Restriction Tactics

Teaser

Documenting the practice of Internet censorship around the world through empirical testing in 45 countries of the availability of 2,046 of the world’s most-trafficked and influential websites, plus additional country-specific websites.

Author(s)

Thumbnail Image: 

This study, conducted by the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, documents the practice of Internet censorship around the world through empirical testing in 45 countries of the availability of 2,046 of the world’s most-trafficked and influential websites, plus additional country-specific websites. The study finds evidence of filtering in 26 countries across four broad content themes: political, social, topics related to conflict and security, and Internet tools (a term that includes censorship circumvention tools as well as social media platforms). The majority of countries that censor content do so across all four themes, although the depth of the filtering varies.

The study confirms that 40 percent of these 2,046 websites can only be reached by an encrypted connection. While some sites can be reached by either HTTP or HTTPS, total encrypted traffic to the 2,046 sites has more than doubled to 31 percent in 2017 from 13 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, and partly in response to the protections afforded by encryption, activists in particular and web users in general around the world are increasingly relying on major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Wikipedia.

These trends have created challenges for state Internet censors operating filters at national network levels. When an entire website is encrypted, it is not easy to detect and selectively block a particular article on Wikipedia or a particular dissident’s social media profile. Unless a platform agrees to remove content, a country must either block the whole site, or allow everything through. The study finds that the increasing adoption of HTTPS has reduced the blocking of communications in some cases and has led to broader crackdowns in others.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by djones at June 28, 2017 08:28 PM

David Weinberger
Re-reading Hornblower

I read all of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series when I was in high school.

I’m on a week of vacation — i.e., a nicer place to work — and have been re-reading them.

Why isn’t everyone re-reading them? They’re wonderful. Most of the seafaring descriptions are opaque to me, but it doesn’t matter. The stories are character-based and Forester is great at expressing personality succinctly, as well as taking us deep into Hornblower’s character over the course of the books. Besides, all the talk of binneys ’round the blaggard binge don’t get in the way of understanding the action

Some prefer Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin “Master and Commander” series. They are wrong. I believe the Internet when it says O’Brian’s battles are more realistic because they’re based on actual events. I don’t care. I do care, however, about O’Brian’s clumsy construction of his main characters. I can sense the author trying to inflate them into three dimensions. Then they’re given implausible roles and actions.

Of course you may disagree with me entirely about that. But here’s the killer for me: O’Brian relies on long pages of back-and-forth dialogue…while not telling you who’s talking. I don’t like having to count back by twos to find the original speaker. All I need is an occasional, “‘Me, neither,’ said Jack.” Is that asking too much?

Anyway, take a look at Hornblower and the Atropos to see if you’re going to like the series. That begins with a few chapters of Hornblower arranging the logistics for the flotilla portion of Lord Nelson’s funeral. If you find yourself as engrossed in chapters about logistics as I did, you’re probably hooked forever.

The post Re-reading Hornblower appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at June 28, 2017 05:56 PM

June 27, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Subtitle

Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective and Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society welcome author Cathy O'Neil

Teaser

Please join us for a timely discussion of the role of data science in public life. All are welcome at this free event open to the public!

Event Date

Jul 11 2017 12:00pm to Jul 11 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective​
New England Research and Development Center
1 Memorial Drive
1st Floor/Horace Mann
Cambridge, MA 02142​

More information and REGISTER HERE
Arrive early for a seat/grab lunch, served at 11:30AM​

Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective and Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society welcome author Cathy O'Neil to NERD. O'Neil will read from her award-winning book, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (2016). The reading will be followed by an informal mixer for MSR, NERD, Garage and BKC interns.

Please join us for a timely discussion of the role of data science in public life. All are welcome at this free event open to the public!

About Cathy O'Neil

Cathy O’Neil earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was a postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then switched over to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left finance in 2011 and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks. She wrote Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg View and wrote the book Weapons of Math Destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. She recently founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company.

About Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective

Over the last decade, social media has become a vital tool for our engagement with the people who matter to us, the work we do, and with the wider public world. From email to Facebook, mobile phones to Twitter, people now use a vast array of social technologies as part of their everyday lives and practices. Our primary purpose is to provide a rich contextual understanding of the social and cultural dynamics that underpin these social media technologies.

Our research collective brings together social scientists and humanists from anthropology, communication, economics, information, law, media studies, women’s studies, science & technology studies, and sociology. Through a variety of methodological and theoretical lenses, we provide insight into how social media is reconfiguring sociality, labor, ethics, and the public realm. Much of our work centers on emergent Web 2.0 technologies, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. but we also look to situate these new forms in the longer history of information and communication.

 

by candersen at June 27, 2017 06:49 PM

AI and the Law: Setting the Stage

Teaser

We as a society are only beginning to understand the ethical, legal, and regulatory challenges associated with AI, as well as develop appropriate governance models and responses.

Thumbnail Image: 

Urs Gasser shares some initial thoughts regarding the role of law in the age of AI:

While there is reasonable hope that superhuman killer robots won’t catch us anytime soon, narrower types of AI-based technologies have started changing our daily lives: AI applications are rolled out at an accelerated pace in schools, homes, and hospitals, with digital leaders such as high tech, telecom, and financial services among the early adopters. AI promises enormous benefits for the social good and can improve human well-being, safety, and productivity, as anecdotal evidence suggests. But it also poses significant risks for workers, developers, firms, and governments alike, and we as a society are only beginning to understand the ethical, legal, and regulatory challenges associated with AI, as well as develop appropriate governance models and responses.

Read Urs Gasser's Medium post

by djones at June 27, 2017 04:39 PM

MediaBerkman
Tressie McMillan Cottom on the Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy
More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges. In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there. With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society. About Tressie Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center. She is co-editor of two volumes on technological change, inequality and institutions: "Digital Sociologies" (2016, UK Bristol Policy Press) and "For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education" (2017, Palgrave MacMillan). Her book "Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy" (2017, The New Press) has received national and international acclaim. Professor Cottom serves on dozens of academic and philanthropic boards and publishes widely on issues of inequality, work, higher education and technology. You can read more at www.tressiemc.com. Find out more about this event here: https://cyber.harvard.edu/events/2017/06/Cottom

by the Berkman Klein Center at June 27, 2017 04:14 PM

Benjamin Mako Hill
Learning to Code in One’s Own Language

I recently published a paper with Sayamindu Dasgupta that provides evidence in support of the idea that kids can learn to code more quickly when they are programming in their own language.

Millions of young people from around the world are learning to code. Often, during their learning experiences, these youth are using visual block-based programming languages like Scratch, App Inventor, and Code.org Studio. In block-based programming languages, coders manipulate visual, snap-together blocks that represent code constructs instead of textual symbols and commands that are found in more traditional programming languages.

The textual symbols used in nearly all non-block-based programming languages are drawn from English—consider “if” statements and “for” loops for common examples. Keywords in block-based languages, on the other hand, are often translated into different human languages. For example, depending on the language preference of the user, an identical set of computing instructions in Scratch can be represented in many different human languages:

Examples of a short piece of Scratch code shown in four different human languages: English, Italian, Norwegian Bokmål, and German.

Although my research with Sayamindu Dasgupta focuses on learning, both Sayamindu and I worked on local language technologies before coming back to academia. As a result, we were both interested in how the increasing translation of programming languages might be making it easier for non-English speaking kids to learn to code.

After all, a large body of education research has shown that early-stage education is more effective when instruction is in the language that the learner speaks at home. Based on this research, we hypothesized that children learning to code with block-based programming languages translated to their mother-tongues will have better learning outcomes than children using the blocks in English.

We sought to test this hypothesis in Scratch, an informal learning community built around a block-based programming language. We were helped by the fact that Scratch is translated into many languages and has a large number of learners from around the world.

To measure learning, we built on some of our our own previous work and looked at learners’ cumulative block repertoires—similar to a code vocabulary. By observing a learner’s cumulative block repertoire over time, we can measure how quickly their code vocabulary is growing.

Using this data, we compared the rate of growth of cumulative block repertoire between learners from non-English speaking countries using Scratch in English to learners from the same countries using Scratch in their local language. To identify non-English speakers, we considered Scratch users who reported themselves as coming from five primarily non-English speaking countries: Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Germany, and Norway. We chose these five countries because they each have one very widely spoken language that is not English and because Scratch is almost fully translated into that language.

Even after controlling for a number of factors like social engagement on the Scratch website, user productivity, and time spent on projects, we found that learners from these countries who use Scratch in their local language have a higher rate of cumulative block repertoire growth than their counterparts using Scratch in English. This faster growth was despite having a lower initial block repertoire. The graph below visualizes our results for two “prototypical” learners who start with the same initial block repertoire: one learner who uses the English interface, and a second learner who uses their native language.

Summary of the results of our model for two prototypical individuals.

Our results are in line with what theories of education have to say about learning in one’s own language. Our findings also represent good news for designers of block-based programming languages who have spent considerable amounts of effort in making their programming languages translatable. It’s also good news for the volunteers who have spent many hours translating blocks and user interfaces.

Although we find support for our hypothesis, we should stress that our findings are both limited and incomplete. For example, because we focus on estimating the differences between Scratch learners, our comparisons are between kids who all managed to successfully use Scratch. Before Scratch was translated, kids with little working knowledge of English or the Latin script might not have been able to use Scratch at all. Because of translation, many of these children are now able to learn to code.


This blog post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project with Sayamindu Dasgupta. Sayamindu also published a very similar version of the blog post in several places. Our paper is open access and you can read it here. The paper was published in the proceedings of the ACM Learning @ Scale Conference. We also recently gave a talk about this work at the International Communication Association’s annual conference. We received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Nathan TeBlunthuis at the University of Washington. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 27, 2017 01:15 AM

June 26, 2017

Justin Reich
To Make Summer School More Successful, Communicate With Parents
Increasing the summer opportunities available to students from low-income families is a crucial step in reducing the achievement gap, and recent research shows that engaging families during these summer programs will make them even more effective.

by Beth Holland at June 26, 2017 09:57 PM

June 23, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

Subtitle

with the author, Berkman Klein Center Faculty Associate Tressie McMillan Cottom

Teaser

A former insider discloses the story behind for-profit schools to explain the exorbitant price tags, the questionable credentials, and the lose-lose options for Americans seeking a better life.

Event Date

Jun 23 2017 12:00pm to Jun 23 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Friday, June 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

This event is being co-sponsored by the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges.

In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there.

With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America.

Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.

About Tressie

Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center. She is co-editor of two volumes on technological change, inequality and institutions: "Digital Sociologies" (2016, UK Bristol Policy Press) and "For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education" (2017, Palgrave MacMillan). Her book "Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy" (2017, The New Press) has received national and international acclaim. Professor Cottom serves on dozens of academic and philanthropic boards and publishes widely on issues of inequality, work, higher education and technology. You can read more at www.tressiemc.com. 

Links

Download original audio and video from this event.

Subscribe to the Berkman Klein events podcast to have audio from all our events delivered straight to you!

by candersen at June 23, 2017 04:00 PM

Global AI Dialogue Series

Subtitle

A platform for researchers, officials, and executives with strategic, policy, business or technology responsibilities to share, shape, and develop insights into AI from an ethics and governance perspective.

Thumbnail Image: 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) transforms the way we live and work, shaping our ability to understand and maximize the social and economic opportunities enabled by technology on a global scale.

Context

Artificial Intelligence has evolved from an academic research project to a force that is shaping and transforming industries, societies, and the lives of individuals with unprecedented opportunities for development and growth. But the speed of AI development and the uncertainty that accompanies its uses also provoke questions related to fundamental values such as autonomy, agency, and accountability. In parallel, the knowledge gap between the small group of AI experts and the large population affected by these “black box” technologies is widening and creating misconceptions regarding AI that might hinder its adoption.

Mission

The Berkman Klein Center, in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and other collaborators, is bringing together a global community to provide leadership, define the agenda, and drive change in emerging areas of AI ethics and governance research and practice. The research agenda is updated and shared regularly and includes themes from related initiatives, projects, etc.

As part of the larger initiative, the Global AI Dialogue Series is a platform for researchers, officials, and executives with strategic, policy, business or technology responsibilities to share, shape, and develop insights into AI from an ethics and governance perspective. Designed as a global, open, inclusive, and evidence-based dialogue aimed at identifying opportunities as well as challenges related to AI that need to be addressed from an international perspective, the Series seeks to inform decision-makers about the rapidly evolving global AI agenda and bolster the use of AI for the societal good. In parallel, the Series builds an institutional knowledge base, fostering human capacity, and strengthening interfaces with industry and policy-makers at an international scale.

Vision

Leveraging insights from dealing with disruptive technologies, the Global AI Dialogue Series will identify core issues that need to be addressed from a global perspective in order to harness the full benefits of AI while also addressing its challenges. It will explore the suitability of ethics and governance models from the Internet realm and other areas when applied to AI. The knowledge created through a series of working meetings in Asia, Europe, and the US and relevant research input by Berkman Klein will result in a roadmap that informs decision-makers in the private and public sectors, and promotes the use of AI technology for the social good on a global scale.

Initial questions for exploration in the working meetings include:

  • Given the cross-border impact of AI and related technologies, what are the key challenges and opportunities from an ethical and governance perspective?
  • What issues should be addressed transnationally, which one need to be prioritized?
  • What are appropriate and workable governance mechanisms that can operate at a global scale?

The vision is based on three pillars:

Shaping the Agenda: The Global AI Dialogue Series is a key in providing input and accessing the insights generated by our activities. The members will recommend areas to be explored, case studies to be conducted, new pilot projects to be ignited, etc.

Research and Insight: The members will help shaping the research agenda into social, economic and technological issues that are transforming the AI landscape, and will develop a deeper understanding of how AI is influencing their sectors.

Interaction and Impact: Identifying relevant global and regional issues through meetings with government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations. Engaging with renowned experts enables personal and organizational learning, drives the impact and stimulates change at the global, regional and industry levels.

Agenda

The community continues to shape the activities essential to the long-term health and stability of AI enabled economies and societies. In this context, the initial priority areas to be address include the following:

Policy Updates: Explore and inform frameworks that emerge around the world both in the private and public sectors to address governance and ethical issues related to AI.

Education and Skills: Examine and shape AI education and skills development initiatives that are essential to enable the work force to fill the gap created by technology.

Harnessing AI’s Potential:Engage with initiatives that seeks to capitalize technologies potential to benefit society, including:

  • AI Challenges Map examines trends and developments, and assesses the impact on industries, the enterprise, and society from an ethics and governance perspective.
  • AI Inclusion Lab project examines innovations and coordination initiatives, policy and the regulatory environment, partnerships aimed at optimizing AI application for societal benefits.
  • AI for Boards project increases awareness of senior leaders at the oversight board and executive level about changes AI is bringing to their enterprises.
  • AI Challenges Forum builds on the recommendations for public-private partnerships to further develop pragmatic guidance on AI projects. 


Tentative Key Dates in 2017

June

Seoul (June 23) in collaboration with the K Governance and Media Lab and the Digital Asia Hub (DAH)

September

Turin (September 30) in collaboration with the Nexa Center at the Politecnico di Torino; official G7 side meeting

October

IMF/WB meeting in DC (TBC)

December

California in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF)

Contact

For more information, contact Urs Gasser (ugasser@law.harvard.edu) or visit the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence page

by djones at June 23, 2017 02:46 PM

Miriam Meckel
Amazon: das Unternehmen für alles

Die Chefs der IT-Konzerne haben sich wieder bei US-Präsident Trump getroffen, um ihm bei der Digitalisierung zu helfen. Derweil schreiben sie längst auch in der realen Welt die Geschichte des Wettbewerbs neu.

Gerade mal einen Monat ist es her, dass ein amerikanisches Wirtschaftsmagazin eine Warnung an Amazon-Chef Jeff Bezos aussendete: „Sie sind hinter dir her, Bezos“, schrieb die „Bloomberg Businessweek“ auf ihrem Titel und meinte den größten US-Einzelhändler Walmart, der mit einem neuen Plan zum Angriff auf Amazon blase. Inzwischen hat Amazon zum Angriff auf Walmart geblasen. Für 13,7 Milliarden Dollar will es den weltweit größten Biohändler Whole Foods übernehmen – ein nächster Schritt, Walmart das Leben schwerer und Amazon zum Unternehmen für alles zu machen.

Das ist ein kluger strategischer Schachzug von Jeff Bezos, den ein Bieterwettbewerb vielleicht noch erschweren mag. Kartellrechtlich dürfte die Sache glattlaufen. Amazon ist im Lebensmittelhandel bislang der David mit 0,2 Prozent Marktanteil für seinen Lieferservice Fresh, Walmart mit 15 Prozent Marktanteil der Goliath. Das ist so die Sicht, die man auf die Sache hat, wenn man die tradierten Kategorien des Kartell- und Wettbewerbsrechts anwendet. Und da liegt das Problem. Die erfassen nämlich längst nicht mehr, was hier geschieht.

Wettbewerb heißt für den Kunden: bessere Leistungen, neue Produkte, niedrigere Preise. Kann das auch in diesem Fall funktionieren? Amazon wäre mit dem eigenen Lebensmittelvertrieb Fresh vermutlich sehr lange in den roten Zahlen stecken geblieben, denn es ist mühsam und teuer, frische Ware für den Versand vorzuhalten. Mit dem geplanten Deal bekommt Amazon Zugriff auf Hunderte von Whole-Foods-Filialen, erwirbt also auf einen Schlag einen gut strukturierten Vertrieb und einen eingebauten Großkunden. Whole Foods braucht kontinuierlich frische Ware. Die wird der Biohändler künftig ganz sicher von Amazon beziehen.

Es wird damit für Amazon vielfach leichter, sein Einzelhandelsgeschäft auszubauen. Das wächst auf solidem Fundament und in einem Tempo, bei dem bestehende Konkurrenten oder Marktneulinge es schwer haben. Das Unternehmen ist rege dabei, sich selbst, seine Produkte und die Märkte, für die sie gemacht werden, immer wieder neu zu erfinden, stationäres und Onlinegeschäft zu integrieren.

Doch Innovation gibt’s nur so lange, wie monopolartige Strukturen nicht zur inneren Lähmung führen. Und auch wenn Amazon sich nach der Übernahme des Onlineschuhhändlers Zappos zunächst selbst Konkurrenz gemacht hat, bleibt es eine Frage von Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung, ob die Kunden bei den Preisen dauerhaft von der Übernahme profitieren können.

Der Deal setzt auf die erste Silbe in Whole Foods. Whole heißt ganzheitlich, und das beschreibt ziemlich genau die Strategie von Amazon, dem Unternehmen, das früher einmal ein Onlinehändler war. Amazon will sich in Zukunft von jeder denkbaren ökonomischen Transaktion eine Scheibe abschneiden. Aus Amazon Web Services (AWS) wird dann ganz schnell Amazon World Services.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at June 23, 2017 09:56 AM

June 20, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Join Our 2018 AI Assembly Cohort!

Subtitle

At the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab

Teaser

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab seek technologists with diverse skill sets to confront the concrete and constantly emerging problems related to artificial intelligence and governance

Thumbnail Image: 

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab are excited to announce the launch of the 2018 Assembly program, a program that brings together 15 to 20 participants from various backgrounds to collaborate on one or more projects that address a specific tech problem.

After a successful run of the Assembly pilot program in 2017, which focused on digital security, the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab have combined forces, as part of our larger Ethics and Governance in Artificial Intelligence Initiative, to support a second iteration of the program with a new challenge; this year’s topic will be artificial intelligence and governance.  

We are looking for applicants with experience in one or more of the following areas who also have an interest in artificial intelligence and governance issues: 

  • Applied Machine Learning & Data Scientists
  • App Developers
  • Program and Product Managers
  • UX/UI Designers
  • Communications Strategists and PR experts

This is a unique opportunity for participants to learn, connect, and collaborate with other skilled developers and tech professionals across industries and backgrounds, to step back from day-to-day goals, and to explore novel solutions to difficult problems at the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab.

Visit the Assembly site for more details and to apply!

Applications are now open and will be accepted until Friday, July 31, 2017 at 11:59PM ET.

 

by djones at June 20, 2017 05:00 PM

June 19, 2017

Justin Reich
The Power of Paradigms to Transform Education
Paradigms can serve as a catalyst for change with educational technology or become an anchor preventing the spread of new ideas.

by Beth Holland at June 19, 2017 12:04 PM

June 18, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Jonny Sun and Jonathan Zittrain in conversation

Subtitle

Author of the Book “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by jomny sun (the aliebn)

Teaser

Join Jonny Sun, the author of the popular Twitter account @jonnysun, for a conversation in celebration of his new book “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by jomny sun (the aliebn).

Event Date

Jun 28 2017 12:00pm to Jun 28 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
 

Join Jonny Sun, the author of the popular Twitter account @jonnysun, for a conversation in celebration of his new book “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by jomny sun (the aliebn). This debut illustrated book is the unforgettable story of a lost, lonely, and confused alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the creatures of Earth. Constructed from many of Jonny’s re-contextualized tweets, the book is also a creative thesis on the narrative formats of social media, and a defense of the humanity-fulfilling aspects of social media born out of his experiences on Twitter. 

About Jonny

Jonathan Sun is the author behind @jonnysun. When he isn’t tweeting, he is an architect, designer, engineer, artist, playwright and comedy writer. His work across multiple disciplines broadly addresses narratives of human experience. As a playwright, Jonathan’s work has been performed at the Yale School of Drama, and in Toronto at Hart House Theater and Factory Theater. As an artist and illustrator, his work has been exhibited at MIT, Yale, New Haven ArtSpace, and the University of Toronto. His work has been appeared on NPR, Buzzfeed, Playboy, GQ, and McSweeney’s. In his other life, he is a doctoral student at MIT and Berkman Klein fellow at Harvard.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.  His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.

Download original audio and video from this event.

Subscribe to the Berkman Klein events podcast to have audio from all our events delivered straight to you!

by candersen at June 18, 2017 04:00 PM

Benjamin Mako Hill
The Community Data Science Collective Dataverse

I’m pleased to announce the Community Data Science Collective Dataverse. Our dataverse is an archival repository for datasets created by the Community Data Science Collective. The dataverse won’t replace work that collective members have been doing for years to document and distribute data from our research. What we hope it will do is get our data — like our published manuscripts — into the hands of folks in the “forever” business.

Over the past few years, the Community Data Science Collective has published several papers where an important part of the contribution is a dataset. These include:

Recently, we’ve also begun producing replication datasets to go alongside our empirical papers. So far, this includes:

In the case of each of the first groups of papers where the dataset was a part of the contribution, we uploaded code and data to a website we’ve created. Of course, even if we do a wonderful job of keeping these websites maintained over time, eventually, our research group will cease to exist. When that happens, the data will eventually disappear as well.

The text of our papers will be maintained long after we’re gone in the journal or conference proceedings’ publisher’s archival storage and in our universities’ institutional archives. But what about the data? Since the data is a core part — perhaps the core part — of the contribution of these papers, the data should be archived permanently as well.

Toward that end, our group has created a dataverse. Our dataverse is a repository within the Harvard Dataverse where we have been uploading archival copies of datasets over the last six months. All five of the papers described above are uploaded already. The Scratch dataset, due to access control restrictions, isn’t listed on the main page but it’s online on the site. Moving forward, we’ll be populating this new datasets we create as well as replication datasets for our future empirical papers. We’re currently preparing several more.

The primary point of the CDSC Dataverse is not to provide you with way to get our data although you’re certainly welcome to use it that way and it might help make some of it more discoverable. The websites we’ve created (like for the ones for redirects and for page protection) will continue to exist and be maintained. The Dataverse is insurance for if, and when, those websites go down to ensure that our data will still be accessible.


This post was also published on the Community Data Science Collective blog.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 18, 2017 02:35 AM

June 16, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach

Subtitle

Featuring GAiA Co-Founder Quentin Palfrey

Teaser

Global Access in Action: Conversations in Global Health, Innovation, & the Digital World

Parent Event

Global Access in Action

Event Date

Jun 26 2017 12:00pm to Jun 26 2017 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Monday, June 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Global Health Institute
42 Church Street, Cambridge MA

 

Global Access in Action: Conversations in Global Health, Innovation, & the Digital World

On Monday, the 26th, GAiA hosted its second ‘Conversation on Global Health, Innovation,  and the Digital World’. GAiA Co-director Quentin Palfrey presented on practical strategies to expand global access to medicines and promote research and development for diseases that primarily affect the world’s most under-resourced populations. He outlined three major obstacles that Global Access in Action seeks to address: the access to medicines gap, market exclusivity, and the polarization and paralysis of global collaborative research. Palfrey argues that employing strategies such as differential pricing, non-exclusive licensing agreements, and patent pooling can combat these problems and create scenarios which benefit all stakeholders. These win-win-win scenarios increase access to life-saving medicines for low-income individuals, allow humanitarian entities to make a greater impact with limited budgets, and allow pharmaceutical companies to greatly increase access to medicines with the potential to break even or make a modest profit.

Palfrey’s talk inspired discussion on intra-country differential pricing strategies, lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic about global collaborative research, and alternative incentive mechanisms for the development of drugs for diseases that primarily affect low-income populations. Please see the full-length recording of the event for more details.

_______________________________________
Pharma companies can increase access to medicines and spur new R&D by replicating industry best practices, Harvard team argues in new paper
 
For release: June 6, 2017
Cambridge, MA - In a newly-published paper in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Quentin Palfrey highlights practical strategies for how pharmaceutical companies can have a profound impact on humanitarian outcomes without undermining profitability of their ventures. The paper, entitled Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach, was produced in connection with the Global Access in Action project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.
“By adopting sensible approaches that have been used successfully by other companies, pharmaceutical firms can increase access to medicines, conduct critical research and development, and continue to be profitable,” Palfrey argues. “Under some circumstances, there are win-win approaches that can help the world’s poorest afford lifesaving medicines, allow philanthropic funders to have greater impact with limited budgets, and allow pharmaceutical programs to run corporate social responsibility programs that cost less – or even make a profit – while increasing impact,” says Palfrey.
The paper argues that pharmaceutical companies should consider expanding three approaches to increasing access to lifesaving medicines for the poor and incentivizing R&D into diseases that primarily affect the global poor. First, the paper explores non-exclusive voluntary licensing partnerships between branded and generic companies as a strategy for distributing lifesaving drugs in the world’s poorest markets. Second, the paper considers various pricing strategies and argues that intra-country price discrimination – charging different prices for similar products targeted at different populations in the same market – can be an effective way of distributing lifesaving drugs to poor communities in countries that have both rich and poor populations. Finally, the paper encourages private firms to take further steps to share the fruits of their research with research collaboratives that seek to develop cures for diseases that primarily affect poor populations, and for which there is often insufficient research funding.
 
About the Author
Quentin Palfrey is co-Director of the Global Access in Action project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, as well as the Executive Director of J-PAL North America, an anti-poverty research center at MIT. A lawyer by training, Palfrey served as Senior Advisor for Jobs & Competitiveness in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy during President Obama’s first term, where he played a key role in the launch of the Patents for Humanity program and was the lead White House advisor on the America Invents Act, a major piece of patent reform legislation that was signed into law in 2011.
About the Global Access in Action Project
Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations. Global Access in Action is led by Palfrey along with Professors William Fisher and Mark Wu of Harvard Law School.
About the GAiA Brown Bag Series
The GAiA brown bag series, "Conversations in Global Health, Innovation & the Digital World," is a collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute which will facilitate discussion among researchers, scholars, practitioners, and others engaged in the development of legal and policy frameworks that govern innovation and global commercialization of medicines.

by candersen at June 16, 2017 01:00 PM

Miriam Meckel
Innovations-Jetlag

Apple verliert an der Börse. Ein kleiner Absturz oder ein erstes Anzeichen für einen gefährlichen Innovations-Jetlag?

Es mag ein Zufall gewesen sein. Just am Tag des Kursabsturzes veröffentlichte die Investmentbank Goldman Sachs einen kritischen Bericht über die fünf großen US-Techunternehmen (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet). Aber an Zufälle glaubt man an den Finanzmärkten selten. In dem Bericht stehen ein paar dezidierte Warnungen: Überbewertet und unbeweglich seien die Techgiganten, sie ähnelten inzwischen Versorgungsunternehmen.

Versorgungsunternehmen sind sexy wie Bügelbretter und noch weit weniger beweglich. Der Begriff ist also eine Ohrfeige für die Techbranche, die sich noch immer als Vorreiterin bei allem Fortschritt sieht. Und die Goldman-Analyse gibt Hinweise darauf, dass längst nicht alle Unternehmen gut genug auf die bevorstehende tief greifende nächste Transformation durch künstliche Intelligenz (KI) oder Machine Learning eingerichtet sind.

Nirgendwo ist Geschwindigkeit bedeutsamer als im Techsektor. Wer als Erster den Markt besetzt und die Kunden mit den eigenen Produkten vertraut macht, hat gute Chancen. Apple läuft hinterher. Das Unternehmen hat zu lange auf die Kraft des Bestehenden und die Faszination schöner Geräte gesetzt. In Zukunft entscheidet ein unsichtbarer Wettbewerbsvorteil über Geschäftsmodell und Marktpotenzial: das Sammeln von Daten und ihre Analyse.

Apple hat auf seiner Entwicklerkonferenz soeben wieder wenig Neues präsentiert. Klar, das Unternehmen bietet nun auch einen sprachgesteuerten intelligenten Lautsprecher an, aber den hat Amazon schon lange im Programm. Klar, das iPhone ist noch immer Umsatzbringer Nummer eins, aber 2016 gingen die Verkaufszahlen zum ersten Mal im Jahresvergleich zurück – ein Zeichen für Marktsättigung. Das iPhone wird nicht reichen, um die Zukunft zu gewinnen. Innovation verzweifelt gesucht …

Um den Innovations-Jetlag aufzuholen, müsste Apple eine radikale Wende vollziehen: weg vom Designfokus, hin zu echter Forschung. Auf den internationalen Konferenzen trifft man viele Forscherinnen und Forscher anderer Techunternehmen. Apple glänzte bislang durch Abwesenheit. Unter Tim Cook hat sich Apple auf den Datenschutz konzentriert und als Anti-Google positioniert. Das ist super für die iPhone-Kunden, aber steht leider konträr zu den Erfordernissen der KI-Zeit. Datensammeln ist da die Voraussetzung von allem.

Im vergangenen Jahr hat Apple begonnen, auch die Daten für Machine Learning konsequent zu verschlüsseln. Das könnte ein Wettbewerbsvorteil der Zukunft sein, wenn es dem Konzern gelänge, den Ansatz weiterzuentwickeln und gleichzeitig die vergangenen Versäumnisse aufzuholen. Im Moment ähnelt das Unternehmen eher dem griechischen Läufer Achill, der sich ein Wettrennen mit einer Schildkröte liefert. Sosehr er sich bemüht, er wird ihren Vorsprung nicht einholen. Der Vorsprung wird unendlich kleiner, aber bleibt. Die Schildkröte mag auch unbeweglich sein, aber sie ist früher gestartet.

wiwo.de

by Miriam Meckel at June 16, 2017 10:02 AM

June 15, 2017

Berkman Center front page
Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach

Teaser

Pharma companies can increase access to medicines and spur new R&D by replicating industry best practices, Harvard team argues in new paper

Thumbnail Image: 

Cambridge, MA - In a newly-published paper in the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Quentin Palfrey highlights practical strategies for how pharmaceutical companies can have a profound impact on humanitarian outcomes without undermining profitability of their ventures. The paper, entitled Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach, was produced in connection with the Global Access in Action project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.

“By adopting sensible approaches that have been used successfully by other companies, pharmaceutical firms can increase access to medicines, conduct critical research and development, and continue to be profitable,” Palfrey argues. “Under some circumstances, there are win-win approaches that can help the world’s poorest afford lifesaving medicines, allow philanthropic funders to have greater impact with limited budgets, and allow pharmaceutical programs to run corporate social responsibility programs that cost less – or even make a profit – while increasing impact,” says Palfrey.

The paper argues that pharmaceutical companies should consider expanding three approaches to increasing access to lifesaving medicines for the poor and incentivizing R&D into diseases that primarily affect the global poor. First, the paper explores non-exclusive voluntary licensing partnerships between branded and generic companies as a strategy for distributing lifesaving drugs in the world’s poorest markets. Second, the paper considers various pricing strategies and argues that intra-country price discrimination – charging different prices for similar products targeted at different populations in the same market – can be an effective way of distributing lifesaving drugs to poor communities in countries that have both rich and poor populations. Finally, the paper encourages private firms to take further steps to share the fruits of their research with research collaboratives that seek to develop cures for diseases that primarily affect poor populations, and for which there is often insufficient research funding.

“Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach”,Quentin A. Palfrey, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Volume XXIV, Issue 2. Winter 2017.

About the Author

Quentin Palfrey is co-Director of the Global Access in Action project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, as well as the Executive Director of J-PAL North America, an anti-poverty research center at MIT. A lawyer by training, Palfrey served as Senior Advisor for Jobs & Competitiveness in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy during President Obama’s first term, where he played a key role in the launch of the Patents for Humanity program and was the lead White House advisor on the America Invents Act, a major piece of patent reform legislation that was signed into law in 2011.

About the Global Access in Action Project

Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations. Global Access in Action is led by Palfrey along with Professors William Fisher and Mark Wu of Harvard Law School.

About the GAiA Brown Bag Series

The GAiA brown bag series, "Conversations in Global Health, Innovation & the Digital World," is a collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute which will facilitate discussion among researchers, scholars, practitioners, and others engaged in the development of legal and policy frameworks that govern innovation and global commercialization of medicines.

About the Berkman Klein Center

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at www.cyber.harvard.edu.

by djones at June 15, 2017 04:17 PM

Seeking a Project Coordinator to advance efforts on the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence at the Berkman Klein Center

Teaser

Seeking a project coordinator to play a central role in building and enhancing research efforts in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and related technologies

Thumbnail Image: 

Please note that applications for this full-time position must be submitted through the Harvard Human Resources website, and will not be collected directly through the Berkman Klein Center.

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks a project coordinator to perform diverse activities associated with our work on artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and related technologies. They will join the Berkman Klein Center’s world-class community of scholars and digital architects, and work in close collaboration with Berkman Klein faculty, staff, and fellows to advance a range of interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research related to the study and development of Internet & Society.

Working alongside the Center’s growing team of project managers and project coordinators, the project coordinator will be tasked with: integrating the efforts of multiple team members, including editing written materials to establish common voice; coordinating research activities; communicating with external partners; monitoring overall timelines and outputs including project and grant deliverables, events, and grant reports; and doing research and writing, including outputs such as blog posts, grant proposals, memos, newsletters, and reports.

Additionally, the coordinator will interface with the administrative and communications teams on relevant aspects of the projects; help to organize events; maintain online project management tools; and oversee web presence. The project coordinator will help to guide the work of interns and research assistants.

Based on the fast-paced and changing needs of the Center, the project coordinator may be called upon for other tasks at short notice. Occasional evening and weekend work will be required. Travel opportunities may arise.

The right candidate will thrive in a committed, collaborative, and tight-knit community that encourages creativity, supports deep inquiry, values novel approaches to solving problems, strives for transparency, continually builds upon best-practices and lessons learned, and supports its community members’ independent and collective goals.

As with all Berkman Klein appointments, this is a June 30, 2018 term-limited position; continuation anticipated but contingent upon funding and business needs.

Basic Qualifications

College degree preferred or an equivalent of education plus relevant experience in an office environment.
 

Additional Qualifications

Solid writing, editing and proofreading skills along with strong written and oral communications skills. The flexibility to work independently and also within teams is critical.  Knowledge of current Internet issues.  

Bachelor’s degree preferred, advanced degree in fields such as social science, media studies, communications, data science, library and information science, anthropology (ethnography), or law is helpful. Experience doing substantive and organizational work for non-governmental or academic organizations strongly preferred. Prior research on Internet related issues is preferred. Progressive research skills required, including proficient knowledge of research tools, both Internet- and non-Internet based. Candidate must pay great attention to detail and be highly organized. Ability to work under tight deadlines a must. Solid writing, editing and proofreading skills required. Fluency in Internet research and publishing tools are highly desirable. Candidate would thrive in dynamic, entrepreneurial, self-motivated environment.
 

 

To apply for the AI Project Coordinator position visit the Harvard HR site

 

About the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative

Artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, fueled by the collection of big data and deep learning systems, are quickly changing how we live and work, from the news stories we see, to the loans for which we qualify, to the jobs we perform. Because of this pervasive impact, it is imperative that AI research and development be shaped by a broad range of voices—not only by engineers and corporations—but also social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, faith leaders, economists, lawyers, and policymakers.
To address this challenge, several foundations and funders recently announced the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which will support interdisciplinary research to ensure that AI develops in a way that is ethical, accountable, and advances the public interest. The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab will act as anchor academic institutions for this fund and develop a range of activities, research, tools, and prototypes aimed at bridging the gap between disciplines and connecting human values with technical capabilities. They will work together to strengthen existing and form new interdisciplinary human networks and institutional collaborations, and serve as a collaborative platform where stakeholders working across disciplines, sectors, and geographies can meet, engage, learn, and share.
CC-licensed image courtesy of Brickset

by djones at June 15, 2017 01:00 PM

June 14, 2017

Benjamin Mako Hill
Children’s Perspectives on Critical Data Literacies

Last week, we presented a new paper that describes how children are thinking through some of the implications of new forms of data collection and analysis. The presentation was given at the ACM CHI conference in Denver last week and the paper is open access and online.

Over the last couple years, we’ve worked on a large project to support children in doing — and not just learning about — data science. We built a system, Scratch Community Blocks, that allows the 18 million users of the Scratch online community to write their own computer programs — in Scratch of course — to analyze data about their own learning and social interactions. An example of one of those programs to find how many of one’s follower in Scratch are not from the United States is shown below.

Last year, we deployed Scratch Community Blocks to 2,500 active Scratch users who, over a period of several months, used the system to create more than 1,600 projects.

As children used the system, Samantha Hautea, a student in UW’s Communication Leadership program, led a group of us in an online ethnography. We visited the projects children were creating and sharing. We followed the forums where users discussed the blocks. We read comment threads left on projects. We combined Samantha’s detailed field notes with the text of comments and forum posts, with ethnographic interviews of several users, and with notes from two in-person workshops. We used a technique called grounded theory to analyze these data.

What we found surprised us. We expected children to reflect on being challenged by — and hopefully overcoming — the technical parts of doing data science. Although we certainly saw this happen, what emerged much more strongly from our analysis was detailed discussion among children about the social implications of data collection and analysis.

In our analysis, we grouped children’s comments into five major themes that represented what we called “critical data literacies.” These literacies reflect things that children felt were important implications of social media data collection and analysis.

First, children reflected on the way that programmatic access to data — even data that was technically public — introduced privacy concerns. One user described the ability to analyze data as, “creepy”, but at the same time, “very cool.” Children expressed concern that programmatic access to data could lead to “stalking“ and suggested that the system should ask for permission.

Second, children recognized that data analysis requires skepticism and interpretation. For example, Scratch Community Blocks introduced a bug where the block that returned data about followers included users with disabled accounts. One user, in an interview described to us how he managed to figure out the inconsistency:

At one point the follower blocks, it said I have slightly more followers than I do. And, that was kind of confusing when I was trying to make the project. […] I pulled up a second [browser] tab and compared the [data from Scratch Community Blocks and the data in my profile].

Third, children discussed the hidden assumptions and decisions that drive the construction of metrics. For example, the number of views received for each project in Scratch is counted using an algorithm that tries to minimize the impact of gaming the system (similar to, for example, Youtube). As children started to build programs with data, they started to uncover and speculate about the decisions behind metrics. For example, they guessed that the view count might only include “unique” views and that view counts may include users who do not have accounts on the website.

Fourth, children building projects with Scratch Community Blocks realized that an algorithm driven by social data may cause certain users to be excluded. For example, a 13-year-old expressed concern that the system could be used to exclude users with few social connections saying:

I love these new Scratch Blocks! However I did notice that they could be used to exclude new Scratchers or Scratchers with not a lot of followers by using a code: like this:
when flag clicked
if then user’s followers < 300
stop all.
I do not think this a big problem as it would be easy to remove this code but I did just want to bring this to your attention in case this not what you would want the blocks to be used for.

Fifth, children were concerned about the possibility that measurement might distort the Scratch community’s values. While giving feedback on the new system, a user expressed concern that by making it easier to measure and compare followers, the system could elevate popularity over creativity, collaboration, and respect as a marker of success in Scratch.

I think this was a great idea! I am just a bit worried that people will make these projects and take it the wrong way, saying that followers are the most important thing in on Scratch.

Kids’ conversations around Scratch Community Blocks are good news for educators who are starting to think about how to engage young learners in thinking critically about the implications of data. Although no kid using Scratch Community Blocks discussed each of the five literacies described above, the themes reflect starting points for educators designing ways to engage kids in thinking critically about data.

Our work shows that if children are given opportunities to actively engage and build with social and behavioral data, they might not only learn how to do data analysis, but also reflect on its implications.

This blog-post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project by Samantha Hautea, Sayamindu Dasgupta, and Benjamin Mako Hill. We have also received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Hal Abelson from MIT CSAIL. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 14, 2017 05:46 PM

The Wikipedia Adventure

I recently finished a paper that presents a novel social computing system called the Wikipedia Adventure. The system was a gamified tutorial for new Wikipedia editors. Working with the tutorial creators, we conducted both a survey of its users and a randomized field experiment testing its effectiveness in encouraging subsequent contributions. We found that although users loved it, it did not affect subsequent participation rates.

Start screen for the Wikipedia Adventure.

A major concern that many online communities face is how to attract and retain new contributors. Despite it’s success, Wikipedia is no different. In fact, researchers have shown that after experiencing a massive initial surge in activity, the number of active editors on Wikipedia has been in slow decline since 2007.

The number of active, registered editors (≥5 edits per month) to Wikipedia over time. From Halfaker, Geiger, and Morgan 2012.

Research has attributed a large part of this decline to the hostile environment that newcomers experience when begin contributing. New editors often attempt to make contributions which are subsequently reverted by more experienced editors for not following Wikipedia’s increasingly long list of rules and guidelines for effective participation.

This problem has led many researchers and Wikipedians to wonder how to more effectively onboard newcomers to the community. How do you ensure that new editors Wikipedia quickly gain the knowledge they need in order to make contributions that are in line with community norms?

To this end, Jake Orlowitz and Jonathan Morgan from the Wikimedia Foundation worked with a team of Wikipedians to create a structured, interactive tutorial called The Wikipedia Adventure. The idea behind this system was that new editors would be invited to use it shortly after creating a new account on Wikipedia, and it would provide a step-by-step overview of the basics of editing.

The Wikipedia Adventure was designed to address issues that new editors frequently encountered while learning how to contribute to Wikipedia. It is structured into different ‘missions’ that guide users through various aspects of participation on Wikipedia, including how to communicate with other editors, how to cite sources, and how to ensure that edits present a neutral point of view. The sequence of the missions gives newbies an overview of what they need to know instead of having to figure everything out themselves. Additionally, the theme and tone of the tutorial sought to engage new users, rather than just redirecting them to the troves of policy pages.

Those who play the tutorial receive automated badges on their user page for every mission they complete. This signals to veteran editors that the user is acting in good-faith by attempting to learn the norms of Wikipedia.

An example of a badge that a user receives after demonstrating the skills to communicate with other users on Wikipedia.

Once the system was built, we were interested in knowing whether people enjoyed using it and found it helpful. So we conducted a survey asking editors who played the Wikipedia Adventure a number of questions about its design and educational effectiveness. Overall, we found that users had a very favorable opinion of the system and found it useful.

Survey responses about how users felt about TWA.
Survey responses about what users learned through TWA.

We were heartened by these results. We’d sought to build an orientation system that was engaging and educational, and our survey responses suggested that we succeeded on that front. This led us to ask the question – could an intervention like the Wikipedia Adventure help reverse the trend of a declining editor base on Wikipedia? In particular, would exposing new editors to the Wikipedia Adventure lead them to make more contributions to the community?

To find out, we conducted a field experiment on a population of new editors on Wikipedia. We identified 1,967 newly created accounts that passed a basic test of making good-faith edits. We then randomly invited 1,751 of these users via their talk page to play the Wikipedia Adventure. The rest were sent no invitation. Out of those who were invited, 386 completed at least some portion of the tutorial.

We were interested in knowing whether those we invited to play the tutorial (our treatment group) and those we didn’t (our control group) contributed differently in the first six months after they created accounts on Wikipedia. Specifically, we wanted to know whether there was a difference in the total number of edits they made to Wikipedia, the number of edits they made to talk pages, and the average quality of their edits as measured by content persistence.

We conducted two kinds of analyses on our dataset. First, we estimated the effect of inviting users to play the Wikipedia Adventure on our three outcomes of interest. Second, we estimated the effect of playing the Wikipedia Adventure, conditional on having been invited to do so, on those same outcomes.

To our surprise, we found that in both cases there were no significant effects on any of the outcomes of interest. Being invited to play the Wikipedia Adventure therefore had no effect on new users’ volume of participation either on Wikipedia in general, or on talk pages specifically, nor did it have any effect on the average quality of edits made by the users in our study. Despite the very positive feedback that the system received in the survey evaluation stage, it did not produce a significant change in newcomer contribution behavior. We concluded that the system by itself could not reverse the trend of newcomer attrition on Wikipedia.

Why would a system that was received so positively ultimately produce no aggregate effect on newcomer participation? We’ve identified a few possible reasons. One is that perhaps a tutorial by itself would not be sufficient to counter hostile behavior that newcomers might experience from experienced editors. Indeed, the friendly, welcoming tone of the Wikipedia Adventure might contrast with strongly worded messages that new editors receive from veteran editors or bots. Another explanation might be that users enjoyed playing the Wikipedia Adventure, but did not enjoy editing Wikipedia. After all, the two activities draw on different kinds of motivations. Finally, the system required new users to choose to play the tutorial. Maybe people who chose to play would have gone on to edit in similar ways without the tutorial.

Ultimately, this work shows us the importance of testing systems outside of lab studies. The Wikipedia Adventure was built by community members to address known gaps in the onboarding process, and our survey showed that users responded well to its design.

While it would have been easy to declare victory at that stage, the field deployment study painted a different picture. Systems like the Wikipedia Adventure may inform the design of future orientation systems. That said, more profound changes to the interface or modes of interaction between editors might also be needed to increase contributions from newcomers.

This blog post, and the open access paper that it describes, is a collaborative project with Sneha Narayan, Jake OrlowitzJonathan Morgan, and Aaron Shaw. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation (grants IIS-1617129 and IIS-1617468), Northwestern University, and the University of Washington. We also published all the data and code necessary to reproduce our analysis in a repository in the Harvard Dataverse. Sneha posted the material in this blog post over on the Community Data Science Collective Blog.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 14, 2017 05:45 PM

Surviving an “Eternal September:” How an Online Community Managed a Surge of Newcomers

Attracting newcomers is among the most widely studied problems in online community research. However, with all the attention paid to challenge of getting new users, much less research has studied the flip side of that coin: large influxes of newcomers can pose major problems as well!

The most widely known example of problems caused by an influx of newcomers into an online community occurred in Usenet. Every September, new university students connecting to the Internet for the first time would wreak havoc in the Usenet discussion forums. When AOL connected its users to the Usenet in 1994, it disrupted the community for so long that it became widely known as “The September that never ended”.

Our study considered a similar influx in NoSleep—an online community within Reddit where writers share original horror stories and readers comment and vote on them. With strict rules requiring that all members of the community suspend disbelief, NoSleep thrives off the fact that readers experience an immersive storytelling environment. Breaking the rules is as easy as questioning the truth of someone’s story. Socializing newcomers represents a major challenge for NoSleep.

Number of subscribers and moderators on /r/NoSleep over time.

On May 7th, 2014, NoSleep became a “default subreddit”—i.e., every new user to Reddit automatically joined NoSleep. After gradually accumulating roughly 240,000 members from 2010 to 2014, the NoSleep community grew to over 2 million subscribers in a year. That said, NoSleep appeared to largely hold things together. This reflects the major question that motivated our study: How did NoSleep withstand such a massive influx of newcomers without enduring their own Eternal September?

To answer this question, we interviewed a number of NoSleep participants, writers, moderators, and admins. After transcribing, coding, and analyzing the results, we proposed that NoSleep survived because of three inter-connected systems that helped protect the community’s norms and overall immersive environment.

First, there was a strong and organized team of moderators who enforced the rules no matter what. They recruited new moderators knowing the community’s population was going to surge. They utilized a private subreddit for NoSleep’s staff. They were able to socialize and educate new moderators effectively. Although issuing sanctions against community members was often difficult, our interviewees explained that NoSleep’s moderators were deeply committed and largely uncompromising.

That commitment resonates within the second system that protected NoSleep: regulation by normal community members. From our interviews, we found that the participants felt a shared sense of community that motivated them both to socialize newcomers themselves as well as to report inappropriate comments and downvote people who violate the community’s norms.

Finally, we found that the technological systems protected the community as well. For instance, post-throttling was instituted to limit the frequency at which a writer could post their stories. Additionally, Reddit’s “Automoderator”, a programmable AI bot, was used to issue sanctions against obvious norm violators while running in the background. Participants also pointed to the tools available to them—the report feature and voting system in particular—to explain how easy it was for them to report and regulate the community’s disruptors.

This blog post was written with Charlie Kiene. The paper and work this post describes is collaborative work with Charlie Kiene and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. The paper was published in the Proceedings of CHI 2016 and is released as open access so anyone can read the entire paper here. A version of this post was published on the Community Data Science Collective blog.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 14, 2017 05:44 PM

New Dataset: Five Years of Longitudinal Data from Scratch

Scratch is a block-based programming language created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group (LLK) at the MIT Media Lab. Scratch gives kids the power to use programming to create their own interactive animations and computer games. Since 2007, the online community that allows Scratch programmers to share, remix, and socialize around their projects has drawn more than 16 million users who have shared nearly 20 million projects and more than 100 million comments. It is one of the most popular ways for kids to learn programming and among the larger online communities for kids in general.

Front page of the Scratch online community (https://scratch.mit.edu) during the period covered by the dataset.

Since 2010, I have published a series of papers using quantitative data collected from the database behind the Scratch online community. As the source of data for many of my first quantitative and data scientific papers, it’s not a major exaggeration to say that I have built my academic career on the dataset.

I was able to do this work because I happened to be doing my masters in a research group that shared a physical space (“The Cube”) with LLK and because I was friends with Andrés Monroy-Hernández, who started in my masters cohort at the Media Lab. A year or so after we met, Andrés conceived of the Scratch online community and created the first version for his masters thesis project. Because I was at MIT and because I knew the right people, I was able to get added to the IRB protocols and jump through the hoops necessary to get access to the database.

Over the years, Andrés and I have heard over and over, in conversation and in reviews of our papers, that we were privileged to have access to such a rich dataset. More than three years ago, Andrés and I began trying to figure out how we might broaden this access. Andrés had the idea of taking advantage of the launch of Scratch 2.0 in 2013 to focus on trying to release the first five years of Scratch 1.x online community data (March 2007 through March 2012) — most of the period that the codebase he had written ran the site.

After more work than I have put into any single research paper or project, Andrés and I have published a data descriptor in Nature’s new journal Scientific Data. This means that the data is now accessible to other researchers. The data includes five years of detailed longitudinal data organized in 32 tables with information drawn from more than 1 million Scratch users, nearly 2 million Scratch projects, more than 10 million comments, more than 30 million visits to Scratch projects, and much more. The dataset includes metadata on user behavior as well the full source code for every project. Alongside the data is the source code for all of the software that ran the website and that users used to create the projects as well as the code used to produce the dataset we’ve released.

Releasing the dataset was a complicated process. First, we had navigate important ethical concerns about the the impact that a release of any data might have on Scratch’s users. Toward that end, we worked closely with the Scratch team and the the ethics board at MIT to design a protocol for the release that balanced these risks with the benefit of a release. The most important features of our approach in this regard is that the dataset we’re releasing is limited to only public data. Although the data is public, we understand that computational access to data is different in important ways to access via a browser or API. As a result, we’re requiring anybody interested in the data to tell us who they are and agree to a detailed usage agreement. The Scratch team will vet these applicants. Although we’re worried that this creates a barrier to access, we think this approach strikes a reasonable balance.

Beyond the the social and ethical issues, creating the dataset was an enormous task. Andrés and I spent Sunday afternoons over much of the last three years going column-by-column through the MySQL database that ran Scratch. We looked through the source code and the version control system to figure out how the data was created. We spent an enormous amount of time trying to figure out which columns and rows were public. Most of our work went into creating detailed codebooks and documentation that we hope makes the process of using this data much easier for others (the data descriptor is just a brief overview of what’s available). Serializing some of the larger tables took days of computer time.

In this process, we had a huge amount of help from many others including an enormous amount of time and support from Mitch Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Sayamindu Dasgupta, and Benjamin Berg at MIT as well as from many other on the Scratch Team. We also had an enormous amount of feedback from a group of a couple dozen researchers who tested the release as well as others who helped us work through through the technical, social, and ethical challenges. The National Science Foundation funded both my work on the project and the creation of Scratch itself.

Because access to data has been limited, there has been less research on Scratch than the importance of the system warrants. We hope our work will change this. We can imagine studies using the dataset by scholars in communication, computer science, education, sociology, network science, and beyond. We’re hoping that by opening up this dataset to others, scholars with different interests, different questions, and in different fields can benefit in the way that Andrés and I have. I suspect that there are other careers waiting to be made with this dataset and I’m excited by the prospect of watching those careers develop.

You can find out more about the dataset, and how to apply for access, by reading the data descriptor on Nature’s website.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at June 14, 2017 05:44 PM

June 13, 2017

David Weinberger
Top 2 Beatles songs

About a week ago, out of the blue I blurted out to my family what the two best Beatles songs are. I pronounced this with a seriousness befitting the topic, and with a confidence born of the fact that it’s a ridiculous question and it doesn’t matter anyway.

Vulture just published a complete ranking of all Beatles songs.

Nailed it.

Their #1 selection is an obvious contender. #2 is controversial and probably intentionally so. But, obviously, I think it’s a good choice.

If you want to see what they chose, click here: #1. Day in the Life #2 Strawberry Fields

By the way, the Vulture write-ups of each of the songs are good. At least the ones I read were. If you’re into this, the best book I’ve read is Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head, which has an essay on each recording with comments about the social and personal context of the song and a learned explanation of the music. Astounding book.

The post Top 2 Beatles songs appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at June 13, 2017 11:16 AM

June 12, 2017

Justin Reich
A Multicultural Perspective on Technology in Schools
What if, instead of thinking about technology as an add-on, or instructional tool, or device to facilitate student learning, we thought of it as a driver of school culture?

by Beth Holland at June 12, 2017 11:09 PM

ProjectVRM
Actual chat with an Internet Disservice Provider

customerdisservice

After failing to get a useful answer from Verizon about FiOS availabilty at a Manhattan address (via http://fios.verizon.com/fios-coverage.ht…), I engaged the site’s chat agent system, and had this dialog:

Jessica: Hi! I am a Verizon specialist, can I help you today?

You: I am trying to help a friend moving into ______ in New York City. The Web interface here gives a choice of three addresses, two of which are that address, but it doesn’t seem to work. She wants to know if the Gigabit deal — internet only (she doesn’t watch TV or want a phone) — is available there.
Jessica: By chatting with us, you grant us permission to review your services during the chat to offer the best value. Refusing to chat will not affect your current services. It is your right and our duty to protect your account information. For quality, we may monitor and/or review this chat.

You: sure.
Jessica: Hey there! My name is Jessica. Happy to help!

Jessica: Thank you for considering Verizon services. I would be glad to assist you with Verizon services.

You: Did you see my question?
Jessica: Thank you for sharing the address, please allow me a moment to check this for you.

Jessica: Yes, please allow me a moment to check this for you.

Jessica: I appreciate your patience.

Jessica: Do you live in the apartment?

You: No. I am looking for a friend who is moving into that building.
You: I had FiOS where I used to live near Boston and was pleased with it.
Jessica: Thank you for your consideration.

Jessica: The address where your friend will be moving require to enter the apartment number.

You: hang on
Jessica: Sure, take your time.

You: 5B
You: When we are done I
Jessica: Thank you, one more moment please.

You: would also like you to check my building as well.
Jessica: Sure, allow me a moment.

Jessica: I appreciate your patience.

Jessica: I’m extremely sorry to share this, currently at your friend’s location we don’t have Fios services.

You: Okay. How about _________ ?
You: Still there?
Jessica: Yes, I’m checking for this.

Jessica: Please stay connected.

Jessica has left the chat
You are being transferred, please hold…
You are now chatting with LOUIS
LOUIS: Good morning. I’ll be happy to assist you today. May I start by asking for your name, the phone number we are going to be working with today, and your account pin please?

You: I want to know if FiOS is available at _________.
You: __________. It is not a landline and I do not have an account.
LOUIS: Hello. You’ve reached our Verizon Wireless chat services. I don’t have an option to check on our Fios services for your area. You are able to contact our Fios sister company at the number 1-800-483-3000

You: this makes no sense. I was transfered to you by Jessica in FiOS.
LOUIS: Looks like Jessica is one of our chat agents, but we are with Verizon Wireless. Fios is our sister company, which is a different entity than us

You: Well, send some feedback to whoever or whatever is in charge. Not sure what the problem is, but it’s a fail in this round. Best to you. I now your job isn’t easy.
LOUIS: I do apologize about this, I will certainly relay this feedback on this matter. Here is a link to Verizon Communications for your residential services:https://www.verizon.com/support/residential/contact-us/index.htm

You: Thanks.
LOUIS: I want to thank you for chatting with me today. Hope you have a great day! You can find answers to additional questions at vzw.com/support. Please click on the “X” or “End Chat” button to end this chat.

You: Thanks agin.

The only way to fix this, as we’ve said here countless times, is from the customer’s side. Meanwhile, please dig Despair.com, source of the image above. For so many companies, it remains too true.

by Doc Searls at June 12, 2017 04:23 PM

Feeds In This Planet