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Daily Archives: June 18, 2020

The Bigot in the Machine: Bias in Algorithmic Systems

The New York Technical Services Librarians, an organization that has been active since 1923 – imagine all that has happened in tech services since 1923! – invited me to give a talk about bias in algorithms. They quickly got a recording up on their site and I am, more slowly, providing the transcript. Thanks for the invite and all the tech support, NYTSL.

The Bigot in the Machine: Bias in Algorithmic Systems Abstract: We are living in an “age of algorithms.” Vast quantities of information are collected, sorted, shared, combined, and acted on by proprietary black boxes. These systems use machine learning to build models and make predictions from data sets that may be out of date, incomplete, and biased. We will explore the ways bias creeps into information systems, take a look at how “big data,” artificial intelligence and machine learning often amplify bias unwittingly, and consider how these systems can be deliberately exploited by actors for whom bias is a feature, not a bug. Finally, we’ll discuss ways we can work with our communities to create a more fair and just information environment. I want to talk about what we mean by “the age of algorithms,” and about how bias creeps into or is purposefully designed into algorithmic systems using examples in public health surveillance and in law enforcement. We’ll talk about how racists exploit the affordances of these systems to pollute our information environment. Finally, because I want to be hopeful, we’ll talk about some of the ways people are apply anti-racism to address the bigot in the machine and what we can do as librarians…”

Massive spying on users of Google’s Chrome shows new security weakness

Reuters: “A newly discovered spyware effort attacked users through 32 million downloads of extensions to Google’s market-leading Chrome web browser, researchers at Awake Security told Reuters, highlighting the tech industry’s failure to protect browsers as they are used more for email, payroll and other sensitive functions.  Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said it removed more than… Continue Reading

Make a COVID-19 Backup Plan Before You Return to the Office

Lifehacker – “After months of working from home and only from home, you might be excited by the prospect of going back to your office. Shared microwaves! Water-cooler chit-chat! Conference room reservations running over! All inconveniences of the past, but novelties of the new normal. But although some offices are starting to open, coronavirus cases… Continue Reading

How Social Media Has Changed Civil Rights Protests

The New York Times – Social media allows us “to see a reality that has been entirely visible to some people and invisible to others – “…Omar Wasow, a professor at Princeton University and co-founder of the pioneering social network, said social media was helping publicize police brutality and galvanizing public support for protesters’… Continue Reading

Mourning the Letters That Will No Longer Be Written, and Remembering the Great Ones That Were

The New York Times Critics Notebook, Dwight Garner – “Before the telephone wounded them and email administered the death blow, handwritten letters were useful: They let you know who the crazies were. A lunatic’s barbed wire script would lurch in circles across the page, like a fly with a missing wing. No longer. On Twitter… Continue Reading

COVID-19 and the Banking Industry: Risks and Policy Responses

CRS report via LC – COVID-19 and the Banking Industry: Risks and Policy Responses June 18, 2020: “The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused widespread economic disruption. Millions of businesses were forced to shut down and unemployment soared. The weakened economic conditions are likely to have implications for the financial system, including for banks… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules Title VII Bars Discrimination AgainstGay and Transgender Employees: Potential Implications

CRS report via LC – Supreme Court Rules Title VII Bars Discrimination Against Gay and Transgender Employees: Potential Implications, June 17 2020: “On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a decision in a series of cases brought by gay and transgender workers alleging that their employers violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act… Continue Reading

The Privilege Implications of Using Online Collaboration Tools

Law360: “In February, the world as we knew it was a very different place. The stock market was posting historic highs, unemployment was at record lows, and American businesses were thriving like never before. Since that time, however, the COVID-19 health crisis has claimed the lives of more than 1 million people living around the… Continue Reading

Police Officers Rarely Charged for Excessive Use of Force in Federal Court

“Despite growing popular unrest and media attention in recent years over excessive use of force by police officers, the latest available case-by-case data show that federal prosecutors rarely bring relevant criminal charges known as “deprivation of rights under the color of law” (18 U.S.C. 242) against law enforcement. In the first seven months of FY 2020, federal… Continue Reading