- Our Work
Civil liberties activist Timothy Edgar describes how he tried to make a difference by going inside America’s growing surveillance state as an intelligence official in his new book, Beyond Snowden. Edgar explains how Snowden’s leaks of top secret documents led to reforms that made the NSA more transparent, more accountable, more protective of privacy—and, contrary to conventional wisdom, actually strengthened the NSA by making it more effective. While the reforms implemented by the Obama administration were a good first step, much more needs to be done to prevent abuse. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 prompted fears among both civil libertarians and intelligence officials that a new president would abuse his national security powers. The United States leads the world in mass surveillance. In Beyond Snowden, Edgar explains how the United States can lead the world in surveillance reform.
On January 17 Microsoft released a new book, The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and its role in society, available for free at news.microsoft.com/futurecomputed. Technology has fundamentally changed the way we consume news, plan our day, communicate, shop and interact with our family, friends and colleagues. Our world today was the stuff of science fiction only 20 years ago. What will our world look like in 2038? AI will enable breakthroughs in healthcare, agriculture, education, transportation and more. It’s already doing so in impressive ways. New technology also inevitably raises complex questions and broad societal concerns. As we look to a future powered by a partnership between computers and humans, it’s important that we address these challenges head on. How do we ensure that AI is designed and used responsibly? How do we establish ethical principles to protect people? How should we govern its use? And how will AI impact employment and jobs? What jobs will AI eliminate? What jobs will it create? How will work evolve? What strategies should be employed to ensure best outcomes?
Consumer advocate, Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad, and his team at the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) in the last few years have conducted cutting edge analysis of privacy policies, combined with data and security analysis of apps and connected products, exposing malpractice and achieving some global changes with companies such as Apple, Tinder, Runkeeper and others. More recently, the NCC published a report on how tech companies use dark patterns to discourage us from exercising our right to privacy, focusing mainly on Facebook and Google. Finn is coming to Princeton to present some of their most recent work – and to discuss how to best fix these clear breaches of law and minimum standards.
Gerrymandering, which occurs in district-based legislative systems, is defined as the drawing of boundaries to protect or target an individual or a group. In the United States, partisan gerrymandering has distorted representation to all-time modern highs. Data analysis and computing, which powered the original offenses, can also be harnessed for diagnosis and prevention. Diagnosis, which can help state and federal courts, can be as simple as a t-test, or as complex as the automated exploration of billions of plans. Prevention requires the ability to draw plans and predict their consequences. With the right open data and software, reformers and interested citizens can get involved in the redistricting process. This talk will describe the road to reform from a data-analytic perspective, and ask how data science can help terminate gerrymandering.
Nearly 40,000 people are killed in the U.S. every year in motor vehicle crashes. Experts estimate that more than 90% of motor vehicle crashes involve human error, and the theory is that by replacing human drivers with automation, this tragic human toll will largely be eliminated. While this theory is overly simplistic, automation can potentially save tens of thousands of lives a year.
There are many lessons that can and should be applied to autonomous vehicles (AVs) that have been learned from decades of automation in aviation. Moreover, because automation on our streets and highways will be far more challenging than automation in aviation, there are several automation issues that the AV industry will face that have not already been encountered in aviation.