- Our Work
Suppose we want to score contributions of information to a platform and thus promote effort amongst participants, but have no easy way to verify the quality of information. Responses may be subjective, or simply too costly to verify; e.g., what emotion do you feel watching video content, is a restaurant good for a family, what grade does a student deserve for an essay, should a paper be accepted to a conference, is a social media story real or fake? Peer…
Internet surveillance for national-security purposes is largely regulated by two legal authorities. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) largely regulates surveillance on US territory, while Executive Order (EO) 12333 largely regulates surveillance abroad. Surveillance programs conducted under FISA are subject to legal restrictions imposed by Congress and the courts, while surveillance programs under EO 12333 are conducted solely under the authority of the President.
The talk considers that possibility that the legal protections built into in FISA can be circumvented by exploiting the Internet’s routing protocols. Specifically, we consider the possibility that routing hijacks can be used to deliberately divert American traffic abroad, where it can be collected under EO 12333. We analyze the lawfulness of using routing hijacks to circumvent FISA, and discuss how several newly-developed secure routing protocols might (or might not) prevent these hijacks. We conclude with a policy recommendation: Congress should expand FISA to cover the surveillance of any and all Internet traffic collected abroad.
Today, in many advanced information societies, asking whether one is online or offline has become meaningless. Imagine being asked whether you are online by someone who is talking to you through your smart phone, which is linked up to your car sound system through Bluetooth, while you are driving following the instructions of a GPS, which is also downloading information about traffic in real-time. The truth is that we are neither online nor offline but onlife, that is, we increasingly live in that special space that is both analog and digital, both online and offline. An analogy may help. Imagine someone asking whether the water is sweet or salty in the estuary where the river meets the sea. That someone has not understood the special nature of the place. Our information society is that place. And our technologies are perfectly evolved to take advantage of it, like mangroves growing in brackish water. In the mangrove society, all relevant (and sometimes the only) data available are machine-readable, and decisions as well as actions may be taken automatically, through sensors, actuators, and applications that can execute commands and output the corresponding procedures, from alerting or scanning a patient, to buying or selling some bonds. The consequences of such radical transformation are many, but one is particularly significant and rich in consequences: what is the human project we should pursue in designing the mangrove society? This is the question I shall discuss in the talk, in view of exploring a possible answer.
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?