- For Students
Annette Zimmermann is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Values and Public Policy and affiliated with the Center for Information Technology Policy in the Woodrow Wilson School. Her research interests are located at the intersection of contemporary political philosophy, the ethics of risk, and the philosophy of law. At Princeton, she will be focusing on the use of digital technologies in law enforcement and criminal justice: what are the democratic implications when such technologies distribute risks unfairly, unaccountably, and in a way that erodes citizens’ autonomy and privacy rights?
In 2021, state legislative and congressional districts will be redrawn. In most states, elected officials will draw new boundaries and implement them before the public has a chance to understand the maps. Precinct-level geographic election data is a critical tool for determining whether a map is fair or is a partisan gerrymander. Unfortunately, however, there is no consistent format and no central repository for this data. At the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, we are building OpenPrecincts, an open-source collaborative effort to make this data available to the public.
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.
Information may want to be free, but there are a multitude of economic and political forces that aim to control information flows, especially between nation-states. This talk will explore the geopolitics of the gigabyte, or the various ways in which nation-states aim to exert control — via policy, economic tools, discourse, and infrastructure — over transnational information flows. Specific attention will be paid to case studies examining investments in circumvention technology, protections from foreign technology companies, contests over internet governance, and the development of intranet-based systems in order to explore the overlapping complexity of geopolitical competition in this space.
A popular belief is that the process whereby search engines tailor their search results to individual users, so-called personalization, leads to filter bubbles in the sense of ideologically segregated search results that would tend to reinforce the user’s prior view (filter bubble hypothesis). Since filter bubbles are thought to be detrimental to society, there have been calls for further legal regulation of search engines beyond the so-called Right to be Forgotten Act (EU, C-131/12, 2014). However, the scientific evidence for the filter bubble hypothesis is surprisingly limited. Previous studies of personalization in Google have focused on the extent to which different artificially created users get different result lists without taking the content of the webpages whose links are on the lists into account. This paper proposes a methodology that takes content differences between webpages into account drawing also on the activities of real (as opposed to artificial) users. In particular, the method involves studying the extent to which real users with strong opposing views on an issue receive search results that are correlated content-wise with their personal view. We illustrate our methodology at work, but also the non-trivial challenges it faces, by a pilot study of the extent to which Google Search leads to ideological segregation on the issue of man-made climate change. The second, more exploratory, part of the talk is devoted to a discussion of the extent to which filter bubbles if they exist, now or in the future, are detrimental to democracy.