Science and Technology Online Video Lectures

Joseph Stiglitz lecturing at Columbia University: The Great Divide

The annual Linus Pauling Memorial Lectures Series takes place in Portland Oregon (Linus’s home town). The presenters each season address topics ranging over all of the sciences, engineering and related philosophies of science and engineering. the focus has been on leading-edge thinkers.

Click here to go to series of lectures on. YouTube:

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for strong US privacy law, rips “data-industrial complex”

Cook: Tech companies should de-identify customer data or not collect it at all.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on the US government to pass “a comprehensive federal privacy law,” saying that tech companies that collect wide swaths of user data are engaging in surveillance.

Speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels, Cook said that businesses are creating “an enduring digital profile” of each user and that the trade of such data “has exploded into a data-industrial complex.”

“This is surveillance,” Cook said. “And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable.”

Profits over Privacy . . . . full article:

Tech Policy – Facial Recognition

This is how you kick facial recognition out of your town

Bans on the technology have mostly focused on law enforcement, but there’s a growing movement to get it out of school, parks, and private businesses too. In San Francisco, a cop can’t use facial recognition technology on a person arrested. But a landlord can use it on a tenant, and a school district can use it on students. 

This is where we find ourselves, smack in the middle of an era when cameras on the corner can automatically recognize passersby, whether they like it or not. The question of who should be able to use this technology, and who shouldn’t, remains largely unanswered in the US. So far, American backlash against facial recognition has been directed mainly at law enforcement. San Francisco and Oakland, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts, have all banned police from using the technology in the past year because the algorithms aren’t accurate for people of color and women. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has even called for a moratorium on police use.

Private companies and property owners have had no such  . . . . full article at MIT Technology Review

Autodesk Says Construction sites will become automated factories

A new wave of technology is coming out of the world of design software for automated construction and environmental improvements. This is good news for cities where buildings must be built in cramped spaces – buildings can be assembled in modules and brought to constructions sites. But is it also an important consideration regarding jobs and the automation of work. Full story

Is it Time to Outsource Your Passwords to an App?

First, if you are storing passwords in your web browser, stop. Because storing passwords in your browser is a terrible idea! For example, If other people (like the system admin at the office) have access to your computer, they can open Chrome’s settings tab and see all of your passwords in plaintext. 

Wired Magazine suggests: “Your brain has better things to do than store secure passwords. Get a dedicated password manager to keep your login data synced and secure across all devices.

And here are some that are recommended:

Bitwarden is the most transparently secure password manager we tested; it’s built on open source code that’s subject to regular security audits. The app is also free, making it a good choice for the password-manager curious. Advanced users like the ability to study the code, and they can even host Bitwarden on their own server. The free account has no limitations, but premium accounts ($10 a year) offer extras like support for logging in with a YubiKey and advice on strengthening your passwords.

The most user-friendly service of this bunch, 1Password seamlessly integrates with login windows to autofill passwords across all your browsers and apps. This is especially true on iOS, where the procedure is smoother than it is on other platforms. Features like Travel Mode, which automatically deletes sensitive data from devices before you go on a trip, and Watchtower, which identifies weak or reused passwords, help justify the cost: $36 a year for one user, $60 for the whole family. . . . full article

Digital Privacy

Technological progress has created a situation of severe tension and incompatibility between the right to privacy and the extensive data pooling on which the digital economy is based.

In the last decade, both governments and giant corporations have become data miners, collecting information about every aspect of our activities, behavior and lifestyle. New and inexpensive forms of data storage and the internet connectivity revolution — not only in content, but in fact — in just about everything (from smart appliances to nanobots inside people’s bodies) — enable the constant transmission of big data from sensors and data-collection devices to central “brains”; the artificial intelligence revolution has made it possible to analyze the masses of data gathered in this way.

The intensive collection of data and the inherent advantages of the new technology have spawned the cynical idea that privacy is dead, and we might as well just get used to that fact. In what follows, I will describe three aspects of the right to privacy that have become especially relevant in the digital world. I will then demonstrate that not only is privacy still alive and kicking, but also that we should treat it with the respect it deserves as the most important of all human rights in the digital world.

The first perspective on privacy in the digital world is the idea that . . . read full article here

Tech News: French Parliament Approves Digital Sales Tax, U.S. Orders Inquiry

The French parliament has just approved a 3% digital sales tax aimed at closing the loopholes big tech companies use to bring down their tax bills.  

The plan: The tax on sales generated in France will apply to companies with global revenues over €750 million ($849 million) or French revenues over €25 million. It is expected to raise about €500 million a year.

A backlash: Inevitably, most of the companies affected are based in the US. It’s for that reason that the US government has ordered an inquiry into the new tax, with the potential to implement tariffs on French goods in retaliation.

First of many: The low tax yield from wealthy global tech firms is controversial far beyond France. The UK, Spain, Italy, and Austria are considering similar sales taxes, raising the question of how the US will respond if they take effect. Perhaps it might even prompt countries to finally agree on some common tax rules.

source: MIT Technology Review and Wall Street Journal

Congress drops proposal to ban IRS from competing with Turbotax

Tax-prep companies lobbied to ban the IRS from offering a competing service.

Lawmakers are planning to drop a proposal to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from offering a free online tax-filing option, Politico and Pro Publica report. The provision was included in the Taxpayer First Act, which passed the House in April but has not passed the Senate. It was backed by the makers of private tax preparation software, including Intuit (makers of TurboTax) and H&R Block.

The IRS doesn’t currently offer a free online tax filing option. Instead, since 2003 the agency has had a standing deal with companies like Intuit and H&R Block to offer free versions of their products to customers with modest incomes and simple tax situations. In exchange, the IRS promised not to offer an online filing program of its own. Around 70 percent of all tax filers are eligible for the companies’ free versions.

The current arrangement has obvious advantages. Consumers can choose from several different tax-filing programs, all produced at no expense to taxpayers. The problem, critics say, is that hardly anyone is actually using the free private options. Only about 3% of eligible returns have been filed using the services over the last 16 years, according to Pro Publica. That’s partly because many eligible taxpayers don’t know about the program.

The companies have little incentive to publicize the option, and they take every opportunity to upsell customers on paid services that they may not actually need. Recently, Pro Publica even caught Intuit using a robots.txt file to prevent Google from indexing the free version of Turbotax, preventing many eligible users from finding it. (Intuit changed this after the Pro Publica story ran.) full article

Rise of the Augmented Worker

Augmented reality (AR) technology is beginning to change how workers are trained in education, healthcare, entertainment, and gaming. Now it’s entering manufacturing. In the session, The Rise of the Augmented Worker – How Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Manufacturing, Chris Kuntz, VP of marketing at Augmentir explained how training in AR can improve productivity, efficiency, and safety in the manufacturing setting. He also shared insights on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be combined with AR to deliver manufacturing knowledge

Transferring Boomer Knowledge to Millennials

One challenge facing manufacturers is the retirement of Baby Boomer. Those skilled workers are leaving the plants with decades of knowledge. “There is a lot of intelligence and expertise in the aging workforce that is leaving,” said Kuntz. “Companies are trying to figure out how to take that knowledge to new younger workers. Yet there is not a lot of insight into how to capture that knowledge.” click here for full article

Tech Policy Conversation Starter: “I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me”

Richard Stokes is the founder and CEO of Winston Privacy.

It was a little over two years ago that I realized the ad-tech industry had gone too far. I was an executive at a global advertising company, watching a demo from a third-party data provider on how they could help with ad targeting. Their representative brazenly demonstrated how he could pull up his own personal record and share with us his income, his mortgage details, where he worked, what kind of car he drove, which political party he was likely to vote for, and his personal interests (craft beer, of course). It was everything, all in one place. Not to be outdone, another startup projected a map of San Francisco with a red line tracking a real, anonymous person throughout their day. He challenged us to infer what we could about her. She left the house at 7 a.m. Went to Starbucks. Went to a school. Went to a yoga studio. Went back to the school. She was a mother with at least one child, and we knew where she lived. We knew this because this woman’s cell phone was tracking her every move. As does every other cell phone, including the one in your pocket right now.

Advertising had ceased to be about connecting with consumers—it was now about finding novel ways of extracting evermore personal information from computers, phones, and smart homes. [We have] come to accept that our every move is being tracked and used to manipulate what we read, what we buy, how we vote, and how we see the world. By using ‘smart’ devices, we have invited a vast network of big tech companies, advertisers, data brokers, governments, and more into our homes and pockets. These companies have been extracting our personal data without permission and making fortunes with it. And now, with every post, click, and purchase, we have become the product. I didn’t agree to that, and I bet you didn’t either. Full article