CLBR #171: Big Data and the Black Box Society with Frank Pasquale

CLBR #171: Big Data and the Black Box Society with Frank Pasquale

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Featured Segment: Frank Pasquale on the Black Box Society

Every day, corporations are connecting the dots about our personal behavior—silently scrutinizing clues left behind by our work habits and Internet use. The data compiled and portraits created are incredibly detailed, to the point of being invasive. But who connects the dots about what firms are doing with this information? The Black Box Society argues that we all need to be able to do so—and to set limits on how big data affects our lives.

Hidden algorithms can make (or ruin) reputations, decide the destiny of entrepreneurs, or even devastate an entire economy. Shrouded in secrecy and complexity, decisions at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms were long assumed to be neutral and technical. But leaks, whistleblowers, and legal disputes have shed new light on automated judgment. Self-serving and reckless behavior is surprisingly common, and easy to hide in code protected by legal and real secrecy. Even after billions of dollars of fines have been levied, underfunded regulators may have only scratched the surface of this troubling behavior.

Maryland Carey Law Professor Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in. Demanding transparency is only the first step. An intelligible society would assure that key decisions of its most important firms are fair, nondiscriminatory, and open to criticism. Silicon Valley and Wall Street need to accept as much accountability as they impose on other.

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  1. White House Big Data Report Says No Online Price Discrimination Occurring  . . . . Yet.
  2. Clickbooth Invalidates Essociate Patent
  3. 4th Circuit Shuts Down Professional Spam Plaintiffs
  4. iowa Prosecutor Moves to Disqualify RipOffReport Counsel Due to Bribes
  5. US Falls to #49 on World Press Freedom Index

Shout Outs and Commemorations

1943 – Leaders of White Rose Arrested

White Rose was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor.  On this day in 1943 their leaders were arrested and would later be beheaded.  The group released leaflets such as the quote below and were dramatized in the film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.

Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes– crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure– reach the light of day?

2001 – FBI Double Agent Robert Hanssen arrested thanks to work of Eric O’Neill.

NBA To Celebrate Chinese New Year With Special Uniforms

Courageous Finish to Austin Marathon

From NPR:

After showing herself to be in the elite class of female runners at the Austin Marathon, Kenyan Hyvon Ngetich hit the wall — hard. She didn’t win, despite leading for most of the day. But the way Ngetich finished the race is being celebrated, because she did it by crawling, refusing to quit.

Her fortitude paid off: Even though she crept to the finish line, Ngetich finished third, with a time of 3:04:02.68

Happy 81st Birthday to Yoko Ono


. . . and Hang in There Boston