Current Berkman People and Projects

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

May 25, 2016

Bruce Schneier
Should You Be Allowed to Prevent Drones from Flying Over Your Property?

Good debate in the Wall Street Journal. This isn't an obvious one; there are good arguments on both sides.

by Bruce Schneier at May 25, 2016 10:58 AM

May 24, 2016

Bruce Schneier
GCHQ Discloses Two OS X Vulnerabilities to Apple

This is good news:

Communications and Electronics Security Group (CESG), the information security arm of GCHQ, was credited with the discovery of two vulnerabilities that were patched by Apple last week.

The flaws could allow hackers to corrupt memory and cause a denial of service through a crafted app or execute arbitrary code in a privileged context.

The memory handling vulnerabilities (CVE-2016-1822 and CVE-2016-1829) affect OS X El Capitan v10.11 and later operating systems, according to Apple's 2016-003 security update. The memory corruption vulnerabilities allowed hackers to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.

There's still a lot that needs to be said about this equities process.

by Bruce Schneier at May 24, 2016 07:12 PM

Justin Reich
Filling the Gap Between "Ed" and "Tech"
Educators and edtech companies need to foster a more robust and collaborative relationship in order to further innovate classrooms and schools.

by Beth Holland at May 24, 2016 05:00 PM

Berkman Center front page
Are We Shifting to a New Post-Capitalist Value Regime?


with Michel Bauwens, Founder & Director of the P2P Foundation


Every 500 years or so, European civilization and now world civilization, has been rocked by fundamental shifts in its value regime, in which the rules of the game for acquiring wealth and livelihoods have dramatically changed. What would be the conditions for the new regime to become autonomous and even dominant, and what are the signs of it happening?

Parent Event

Berkman Luncheon Series

Event Date

May 24 2016 12:00pm to May 24 2016 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
23 Everett Street, Second Floor, Cambridge, MA

Every 500 years or so, European civilization and now world civilization, has been rocked by fundamental shifts in its value regime, in which the rules of the game for acquiring wealth and livelihoods have dramatically changed. Following Benkler's seminal Wealth of Networks, which first identifies peer production, the P2P Foundation has collated a vast amount of empirical evidence of newly emerging value practices, which exist in a uneasy relationship with the dominant political economy, and of which some authors claim, like Jeremy Rifkin and Paul Mason, that it augurs a fundamental shift. What would be the conditions for this new regime to become autonomous and even dominant, and what are the signs of it happening? As context, we will be using the Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks framework of David Ronfeldt, the Relational Grammar of Alan Page Fiske, and the evolution of modes of exchange as described by Kojin Karatini in The Structure of World History. We will argue that there is consistent evidence that the structural crises of the dominant political economy is leading to responses that are prefigurative of a new value regime, of which the seed forms can be clearly discerned.

About Michel

Michel Bauwens is the founder and director of the P2P Foundation and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of peer production, governance, and property. Bauwens travels extensively giving workshops and lectures on P2P and the Commons as emergent paradigms and the opportunities they present to move towards a post-capitalist world.

In the first semester of 2014, Bauwens was research director of the which produced the first integrated Commons Transition Plan for the government of Ecuador, in order to create policies for a 'social knowledge economy'.

In January 2015 was launched. Commons Transition builds on the work of the FLOK Society and features newly revised and updated, non-region specific versions of these policy documents. Commons Transition aims toward a society of the Commons that would enable a more egalitarian, just, and environmentally stable world.

He is a founding member of the Commons Strategies Group, with Silke Helfrich and David Bollier, who have organised major global conferences on the commons and economics.

His recent book 'Save the world - Towards a Post Capitalist Society with P2P' is based on a series of interviews with Jean Lievens, originally published in Dutch in 2014 it has since been translated and published in French with an English language publication expected in the near future

In more academic work Michel co-authored with Vasilis Kostakis ‘Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy’ published by Palgrave Pivot in 2014.

He has also writen for Al Jazeera and Open Democracy. He is listed at #82, on the Post Growth Institute (En)Rich list.

Michel currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand.


by candersen at May 24, 2016 05:00 PM

Bruce Schneier
Google Moving Forward on Automatic Logins

Google is trying to bring this to Android developers by the end of the year:

Today, secure logins -- like those used by banks or in the enterprise environment -- often require more than just a username and password. They tend to also require the entry of a unique PIN, which is generally sent to your phone via SMS or emailed. This is commonly referred to as two-factor authentication, as it combines something you know (your password) with something you have in your possession, like your phone.

With Project Abacus, users would instead unlock devices or sign into applications based on a cumulative "Trust Score." This score would be calculated using a variety of factors, including your typing patterns, current location, speed and voice patterns, facial recognition, and other things.

Basically, the system replaces traditional authentication -- something you know, have, or are -- with surveillance. So maybe this is a good idea, and maybe it isn't. The devil is in the details.

EDITED TO ADD: It's being called creepy. But, as we've repeatedly learned, creepy is subjective. What's creepy now is perfectly normal two years later.

by Bruce Schneier at May 24, 2016 01:35 PM

May 23, 2016

Bruce Schneier
State of Online Tracking

Really interesting research: "Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis," by Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan:

Abstract: We present the largest and most detailed measurement of online tracking conducted to date, based on a crawl of the top 1 million websites. We make 15 types of measurements on each site, including stateful (cookie-based) and stateless (fingerprinting-based) tracking, the effect of browser privacy tools, and the exchange of tracking data between different sites ("cookie syncing"). Our findings include multiple sophisticated fingerprinting techniques never before measured in the wild.

This measurement is made possible by our web privacy measurement tool, OpenWPM, which uses an automated version of a full-fledged consumer browser. It supports parallelism for speed and scale, automatic recovery from failures of the underlying browser, and comprehensive browser instrumentation. OpenWPM is open-source1 and has already been used as the basis of seven published studies on web privacy and security.

Summary in this blog post.

by Bruce Schneier at May 23, 2016 10:33 AM

May 21, 2016

Center for Research on Computation and Society (Harvard SEAS)
Postdoctoral fellow Babis Tsourakakis joins Boston University Faculty
May 21, 2016

CRCS Postdoctoral Fellow Charalampos "Babis" Tsourakakis has accepted a position as a faculty member at Boston University. Dr. Tsourakakis will begin in fall 2016. Congratulations and good luck to Babis!

by kmavon at May 21, 2016 09:10 PM

Babis Tsourakakis' paper, "Scalable Betweenness Centrality Maximization via Sampling" has been accepted to SIGKDD Conference
May 21, 2016

Postdoctoral Fellow Charalampos "Babis" Tsourakakis' paper, "Scalable Betweenness Centrality Maximization via Sampling" has been accepted to the 22nd ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, to be held August 13-17 in San Fransisco, California.

by kmavon at May 21, 2016 09:04 PM

metaLAB (at) Harvard
Your Story Has Touched My Heart


For the last year, metaLAB artist-in-residence Sarah Newman and I have been exploring the American Professional Photographers Collection, a remarkable—and largely hidden—collection of images in the Harvard Art Museums. The collection contains the work of journeyman and master photographers, artisans who worked in their communities to document the hopes and fears of their neighbors and clients. Encompassing weddings and house fires, grand openings and crime scenes, funerals and parades, this body of work reflects nearly a century of American prosperity, turmoil, and transformation. And throughout, the collection has surprised us with its strangeness and intimacy.


With some twenty thousand images dating from the 1890s to the 1970s, the collection defies the embrace of a single narrative or explanatory gesture. In its archival richness, its documentary idiosyncrasy and depth, it resists categorization. We see strange hints of wonder and worry, of joy and abjection, of collective struggle and piercing individuality.


With generous help from the Harvard Art Museums, and in collaboration with our metaLAB colleagues (Jessica Yurkofsky, Cris Magliozzi, Marshall Lambert, and Krystelle Denis), we’ve created a multimedia appropriation piece in response to the material. Entitled Your Story Has Touched My Heart, the resulting video and computational installation will be exhibited in the Museums’ Lightbox Gallery from May 23 to June 6.


In an event on May 25th at 3 pm, we’ll screen the work in the Museums’ Menschel Lecture Hall, and discuss the collection with art historian Kate Palmer Albers and Bobbie Norfleet, the sociologist, photographer, and former professor who developed the collection for Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. We’re excited to show Your Story Has Touched My Heart to friends, colleagues, and museum visitors, and to share the richness and wonder of this amazing collection. Full details on the project, the opening event, and a series of associated gallery talks, are available here.
Images courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums.

by Matthew Battles at May 21, 2016 04:32 AM

May 20, 2016

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Kite

Video. Plus an octopus kite, with another squid kite in the background.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

by Bruce Schneier at May 20, 2016 09:20 PM

Detecting Explosives

Really interesting article on the difficulties involved with explosive detection at airport security checkpoints.

Abstract: The mid-air bombing of a Somali passenger jet in February was a wake-up call for security agencies and those working in the field of explosive detection. It was also a reminder that terrorist groups from Yemen to Syria to East Africa continue to explore innovative ways to get bombs onto passenger jets by trying to beat detection systems or recruit insiders. The layered state-of-the-art detection systems that are now in place at most airports in the developed world make it very hard for terrorists to sneak bombs onto planes, but the international aviation sector remains vulnerable because many airports in the developing world either have not deployed these technologies or have not provided rigorous training for operators. Technologies and security measures will need to improve to stay one step ahead of innovative terrorists. Given the pattern of recent Islamic State attacks, there is a strong argument for extending state-of-the-art explosive detection systems beyond the aviation sector to locations such as sports arenas and music venues.

I disagree with his conclusions -- the last sentence above -- but the technical information on explosives detection technology is really interesting.

by Bruce Schneier at May 20, 2016 07:06 PM

May 19, 2016

John Palfrey
Search for a President of the Boston Public Library

Since September of 2015, we’ve been in the midst of a search to find a new President of the Boston Public Library.  The BPL is an amazing institution on many levels.  Part of the greatness of the BPL derives from its history: it is the first free municipal library in the world, the first to create neighborhood branches, the initial home of the Digital Public Library of America (a personal favorite!), and so forth.  Part of its greatness lies in its promise, as yet untapped — all those terrific things that the team at the library will get done in the future, building upon its storied past and extraordinary collections and buildings.  The person who will become the next President of the Boston Public Library, succeeding Amy E. Ryan (whom I much admire), will take on an important, challenging, exciting role in our city and in the world of libraries and information.

As the chair of the search process, I have led a talented and diverse group of volunteers who care about Boston and its libraries in their work since the Fall.  Our charge has been to reach out to the world at large about the BPL and its promise, to consider a broad range of candidates, and to bring between 2 and 4 candidates forward to the Trustees for their consideration.  In a formal sense, the Trustees make this appointment.  The Mayor’s office is also involved in the process, as the successful candidate will become a member of the Mayor’s senior team.  The final presentations and the Board of Trustee’s selection are planned for Saturday, May 21.

I have been planning a blog post about the search process up to this point, since I have now formally handed things over to Robert Gallery, chair of the Board of Trustees at the BPL.  Incidentally, I recently received an email from Nancy R. Browne, Interim Chief of Technical and Digital Services Boston Public Library, in which she asked two great questions that I will use as the jumping off point for my post.  Ms. Browne wrote:

This has been a long and a careful search process, and you deserve a great deal of credit for involving staff and the public as you have done and continue to do. I have two general questions for the Committee on the “process” of the presidential search:

1. In the interests of a very transparent and open process, will the methods and process by which with the “assistance of the executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, the committee narrowed down the expansive field of candidates to three very qualified candidates” be made public?

Sure!  Some of what I write here has been communicated through several means, such as updates on the web and via the press and the listening sessions, but a response here in this blog post might bring it all together.

We started with a fairly long listening tour.  The idea has been to “measure twice, cut once.”  We have heard from hundreds of people who care about the BPL: staff and patrons chief among the informants, but also people who work in City Hall, the Trustees, donors, and people who just care about libraries at large.  These listening sessions were the basis for a position description, which we posted online and sent out widely.  This part of the process ran from roughly November through February.

The early outreach to candidates and much logistical support has been provided by Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm with lots of experience in hiring non-profit leaders, including of big public libraries.  The team from Spencer Stuart contacted hundreds of people on our behalf, both as informants who suggested candidates and gave reaction to the position description and also as candidates.  As the search committee chair, I also talked to many, many people about their interest in the job.  A relatively small number of people “applied” for the job in the sense of sending in an unsolicited CV for the position, to which we have been equally open.  This part of the process ran for much of February and March and into early April.

From that pool in the hundreds, we as a Search Committee talked in depth about roughly two dozen strong candidates.  This small number of candidates had phone interviews and some back and forth with either me or the Spencer Stuart team.  From this group, the search committee chose a yet smaller group for face-to-face interviews in Boston.  (All but one of these face-to-face interviews with the committee were in person; one was over teleconference, at the request of the candidate.)  After a few days of these face-to-face interviews, the committee had a final session (in late April) at which we took votes on the candidates to be brought forward to the Trustees for consideration.

In between the end of the Search Committee meetings and the public Trustee meetings with the three finalists (set for the morning of Saturday, 5/21, at the BPL), Spencer Stuart has been responsible for referencing for the candidates.  The candidates have also had further conversations with me, Spencer Stuart, and others in recent weeks as they have considered whether to become “public” as candidates, which we have required in order to become finalists for the job.  We are confident that these three finalists, whose names were announced by the BPL today, all could do the job extremely well.  It is now up to the Trustees to make a final decision from among these outstanding candidates.

2. What is the weight of the final 75 minute interview in determining your choice of the successful, most qualified candidate? This seems like a very short interview for such an important and pivotal position. If all the preliminary procedures that have led up to these brief public interviews could be disclosed in a detailed summary, we might have greater understanding and confidence in the process.”

I hope that the notes above help in this respect to describe the intensive work over the Fall, Winter and early Spring to get to this point with these strong candidates.  The role of these 75-minute public interviews is to inform the final selection, by the Trustees, among these highly qualified candidates. Ideally, these final presentations will give the Trustees a sense of how these finalist candidates would perform in the public-facing aspects of the job, which is a crucial element of success for such a position.

I send out special thanks to all the members of the Search Committee; all those who participated in the Listening Sessions; and to Debbie Kirrane at the BPL (who coordinated the search on behalf of the BPL) and Molly Murphy (who served as liaison to Boston City Hall).  The team overall has been highly collaborative and has worked very hard.

I hope that many citizens of Boston will come out to the Commonwealth Salon in the BPL’s Central Library in Copley Square on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., for the final phase of this important search.

by jgpalfrey at May 19, 2016 06:52 PM

SJ Klein
Cop dines with homeless mother of four, gets kudos. Her plight is ignored.

Recent news blurbs across our fair state, applaud a state trooper for “sharing lunch with a homeless mother of four”.  (Headline language).

This was noticed and photographed by a passerby; the trooper then identified by the state police and posted to their online webpage praising him for his good deed; a CBS affiliate spent hours tracking down both the photographer and the woman for a video interview.  They got quotes from her about: being a ‘homeless panhandler’, his common decency, and her surprise.  She was described by her motherhood, her panhandling, and being down on her luck.

And that’s it!  Nothing thoughtful about why this young mother is homeless in Fall River, or what will become of her family.  No opportunities to reach out and fix a tragedy. She clearly needs more than one good meal and healthcare, but the outpouring of interest in the viral photo is entirely directed towards how and whether to applaud the police officer [who, quite decently, refused to be interviewed], how this reflects on police officers everywhere, how this perhaps restores faith in humanity.

by metasj at May 19, 2016 06:48 PM

David Weinberger
Working in a co-working space

I’m in Talent Garden‘s largest branch, which is also its headquarters, in Milan. It’s a ridiculously large co-working space for startups, with an emphasis on openness. I’m enjoying sitting at a table with a few other people, none of whom I know and all of whom are speaking Italian.

I like co-working spaces enough that if I were looking for a place to work outside of my house, I’d consider joining one. It’s that or the local library. It depends on whether you find being around the young and the digital to be distracting, energizing, or both.

I find it energizing. Nevertheless, the segregation of the young from the old is a cultural and business loss.

talent garden open work space

Talent Garden ameliorates this by renting space to a handful of established companies (IBM, Cisco, and a bank, here in Milan) to provide mentoring, and so the old companies can get behind startups they find interesting. It’s a good model, although since I’m just here for the afternoon, I don’t know how much actual mingling occurs. Still, it’s a good idea.

I also like that Talent Garden explicitly tries to build community among its users. Not waving-in-the-hall community, but a community of shared space, shared events, and shared ideas. The American co-working space I’m most familiar with has public areas but assumes startups want to work in rooms with closed, solid doors. An open floor plan helps a startup culture to grow, which is perhaps more needed in Italy than in the US. Nevertheless, you can’t have too much community. Well, you can, but that’s easier to remediate than its opposite. (For a US shared space dedicated to building community, check out the treasured Civic Hall in NYC.)

(Note: Unlike the co-working space I’m most familiar with, TG does not provide a free, well-stocked kitchen. Just as well. Free kitchens cause my metabolism to think its faster than it is.)



I’m in Italy to participate in an Aspen Institute event in Venice over the weekend (poor poor me). I stopped in Milan to give a talk, which I internally have titled “Is the Internet Disappointed in Us?” It’s actually a monolog — no slides, no notes — about why my cohort thought the success of the Internet was inevitable, and why I am still optimistic about the Net. If you’re interested in having me in to speak with your group, let me know. Yeah, a plug.

And while I’m plugging, here’s some disclosure: Talent Garden is the venue for this talk, but no one is paying me for it.

The post Working in a co-working space appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at May 19, 2016 02:44 PM

Announcing: RadioPublic

PRX is proud to announce a new partnership: the formation of a hybrid enterprise called RadioPublicRadioPublic-Red

The company is focused on truly re-inventing radio, and bringing listeners and creators closer together. Its first task is to build a mobile listening platform that makes listening to podcasts as simple as radio. RadioPublic is aiming to create a new listening experience, featuring content discovery, exclusive offers, and fan engagement.

PRX has been working on podcasts for over a decade, sFullSizeRender-14o the hybrid mobile enterprise seemed like a natural fit for us. In fact, we inherited our conference table from
the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, where podcasting itself was invented. Over the years, we’ve been at the center of the podcasting wave, having built the first public radio mobile app, the Public Media Platform, and This American Life app. These were early experiments that gave us insight and prepared us for this moment. Kerri and Jake have spent the last year on this path towards RadioPublic, and are beyond excited to finally get it out the door.

807A9985-2Jake Shapiro, founding chief executive of PRX, will lead the new venture as CEO. Kerri Hoffman, who has also been with PRX since its start, will become PRX’s CEO

RadioPublic: when you listen, everyone benefits.

Learn more at and in the official press release below.

PRX Forms RadioPublic, a Mobile Listening Company, with Investment from The New York Times, Project11, McClatchy, Knight Enterprise Fund, American Public Media, and Homebrew

Jake Shapiro to Lead RadioPublic as CEO; Kerri Hoffman Becomes CEO of PRX.  

Cambridge, MA  (May 19, 2016) PRX, the award-winning public media company, announced today it has formed RadioPublic, a new company building a mobile listening platform for on-demand radio and podcasts. A Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), RadioPublic has secured funding from leading investors, including Project11, The New York Times, Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund, UP2398, American Public Media, McClatchy and Homebrew. Jake Shapiro, founding chief executive of PRX, will lead the new venture as CEO. Kerri Hoffman, who has also been with PRX since its start, will become PRX’s CEO.

Built on PRX’s decade of leadership, trusted producer relationships, and its reach of over 15 million monthly listeners across platforms, RadioPublic is partnering with PRX to create a new listening experience, featuring content discovery, exclusive offers, and fan engagement. When it launches later this year, RadioPublic listeners will have access to top podcasts as well as PRX’s full catalog, including The Moth Radio Hour, 99% Invisible, Reveal, the Radiotopia podcast network, and the Remix story channel. RadioPublic will also integrate with PRX’s dynamic ad product, Dovetail, which powers Serial and other signature shows. As a hybrid enterprise, RadioPublic and PRX share founding values of public service and openness, and will collaborate on technology, data, and revenue models.

“We are at a clear inflection point in the shift to on-demand radio through mobile devices and the connected car and home,” said RadioPublic CEO Jake Shapiro. “PRX has been public media’s engine for talent and technology from podcasting’s earliest days, and now together we’re rethinking radio and transforming the way listeners connect with the shows they love. ”

With Jake Shapiro’s transition to CEO of RadioPublic, Kerri Hoffman will take the reins as CEO of PRX. Kerri will continue to be a fierce champion of new voices, new formats and new business models. She played a key role in the building and evolution of PRX, and headed up the launch of Radiotopia. Hoffman is a proven advocate for a strong and vital public media service, and diversity in the industry. Under her direction, more than 50% of all Radiotopia shows are female produced, engineered and hosted.

“PRX has advanced programming, talent development, and technical platforms,” said Kerri Hoffman. “We proactively solve problems producers face, which has led to the strategic formation of RadioPublic. We’ve been simultaneously pioneering new services and strengthening others to help producers and stations grow audience and revenue.”

RadioPublic is entering the fast growing market for on-demand audio, podcasts, and spoken word content. The audience for podcasts has grown 23% in the last year, to over 57 million monthly listeners in the U.S.

“Podcasting is poised to be the foundation for a major shift in listener attention as the radio ecosystem becomes increasingly digital and on-demand,” said Bob Mason, managing partner at Project11 and founding CTO at Brightcove. “We’re excited by RadioPublic’s ability to be a transformative force, shifting an industry and creating aligned values between listeners and producers.”


About PRX: PRX is shaping the future of public media content, talent and technology. PRX is a leading creator and distributor, connecting audio producers with their most engaged, supportive audiences across broadcast, web and mobile. A fierce champion of new voices, new formats, and new business models, PRX advocates for the entrepreneurial producer. PRX is an award-winning media company, reaching millions of listeners worldwide. For over a dozen years, PRX has operated public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of shows including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, and Reveal. Named one of Fast Company’s ‘Ten Most Innovative Companies in Media’ of 2015, the company pioneered new approaches to talent and technology, built the first public radio mobile app and the Public Media Platform, and co-founded the media startup accelerator Matter Ventures. Follow us on Twitter at @prx.

About RadioPublic: RadioPublic is a mobile listening platform for on-demand radio and podcasts founded by PRX. RadioPublic creates a new listening experience, featuring content discovery, exclusive offers, and improved fan engagement. As a Public Benefit Corporation, RadioPublic shares public media’s educational, artistic, and journalistic mission, and the democratic values of open access to information. Learn more at, and @radiopublic.

The post Announcing: RadioPublic appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at May 19, 2016 12:49 PM

Bruce Schneier
Identifying People from Their Metadata

Jonathan Mayer, Patrick Mutchler, and John C. Mitchell, "Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata":

Abstract: Since 2013, a stream of disclosures has prompted reconsideration of surveillance law and policy. One of the most controversial principles, both in the United States and abroad, is that communications metadata receives substantially less protection than communications content. Several nations currently collect telephone metadata in bulk, including on their own citizens. In this paper, we attempt to shed light on the privacy properties of telephone metadata. Using a crowdsourcing methodology, we demonstrate that telephone metadata is densely interconnected, can trivially be reidentified, and can be used to draw sensitive inferences.

New research, but not a new result. There have been several similar studies over the years. This one uses only anonymized call and SMS metadata to identify people who volunteered for the study.

Four assorted news articles.

by Bruce Schneier at May 19, 2016 11:10 AM

May 18, 2016

On Dovetail: PRX’s Ad Insertion Product

PRX Dovetail Logo

Dovetail is an audio publishing system built from the ground up to serve leading podcasts. PRX, the award-winning pioneer of new talent and technologies for the podcast industry, built Dovetail for producers to increase revenue and options for podcast sponsorship. Originally created for the Radiotopia network and PRX shows, such as The Moth and Reveal, Dovetail was successfully used to serve ads in the second season of Serial, the fastest growing podcast of all time.

With Dovetail, previously static ads can be scheduled and prioritized, capped and balanced, paired or separated. The rules consider a listener’s location, time, and device as well as if the requested episode is old or new, part of a network, or tagged for special handling, all providing maximum flexibility in controlling the ad experience.

To handle massive scale and complex ad serving, Dovetail relies on best-in-class content serving and traffic systems, integrated into a leading-edge media server to address some of the most pressing problems facing podcast producers and sponsors: dynamically delivering ads, and real-time reporting.

Podcasts have proven to be a successful medium for advertisers. They are selected media – chosen explicitly by the listener, making fan loyalty and engagement extraordinary. 

“On Serial Season Two, we had so many campaigns governed by different variables date, impression goal, episode, etc. coupled with a very high rate of downloads, that it would have been impossible to flight the creative without a super flexible ad serving system. PRX pulled it off with Dovetail. It had a huge effect on our ability to monetize the season’s 50M+ downloads,” (Seth Lind, Director of Operations at This American Life and Serial).

PRX has seen up to 40 percent of listening occurring on older episodes, especially for shows with large back catalogs and evergreen topics. There’s no single way for Radiotopia fans  to listen: some binge listen and some cherry-pick, but with Dovetail, PRX serves timely and varied ads to the entire catalog. Beyond improving revenue, the listener experience is also better when ads are relevant and fresh—no more promotions for fundraising drives that have ended or coupon codes that have expired.

PRX brings more than a decade of experience in digitally distributing hundreds of thousands of audio files around the world. In building Dovetail, the team pulled from this vast technical and sales experience, matched with the goals and needs of highly successful publishers.

The post On Dovetail: PRX’s Ad Insertion Product appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at May 18, 2016 10:27 PM

Berkman Center front page
Radio Berkman 237: The Chilling Effect


Does the feeling of being surveilled or judged on the internet make you less likely to engage in perfectly legal, socially beneficial activities? Today on the podcast we talk to a researcher who investigates chilling effects online.

Thumbnail Image: 

The effects of surveillance on human behavior have long been discussed and documented in the real world. That nervous feeling you get when you notice a police officer or a security camera? The one that forces you to straighten up and be on your best behavior, even if you're doing nothing wrong? It's quite common.

The sense of being monitored can cause you to quit engaging in activities that are perfectly legal, even desirable, too. It's a kind of "chilling effect." And it turns out it even happens online.

Researcher Jon Penney wanted to know how the feeling of being watched or judged online might affect Internet users' behavior. Does knowledge of the NSA's surveillance programs affect whether people feel comfortable looking at articles on terrorism? Do threats of copyright law retaliation make people less likely to publish blog posts?

Penney's research showed that, yes, the chilling effect has hit the web. On today's podcast we talk about how he did his research, and why chilling effects are problematic for free speech and civil society.

Reference Section

Watch Jon Penney's recent talk and read a recap

Follow Penney on Twitter

Creative Commons photo via Flickr user fotograzio

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by djones at May 18, 2016 06:33 PM

Radio Berkman 237: The Chilling Effect
Listen: or download | …also in Ogg The effects of surveillance on human behavior have long been discussed and documented in the real world. That nervous feeling you get when you notice a police officer or a security camera? The one that forces you to straighten up and be on your best behavior, even if you’re […]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School ( at May 18, 2016 06:21 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
MA Anti-SLAPP Law Applied in the Context of Trademark Challenge

ShireRebecca Tushnet wrote a nice summary of the decision of the United States District for the District of Massachusetts in Shire City Herbals, Inc. v. Blue, Case No. 3:15-cv-30069-MGM (D. Mass. May 12, 2016).  No need to restate the facts or the holding, but I wanted to pile on with some local context and a quick acknowledgment that this seems like an important decision for proponents of Anti-SLAPP protections for speakers in the Commonwealth.  

Our Anti-SLAPP law in Massachusetts is quite limited as these things go, focused narrowly on claims asserted based on one’s “exercise of its right of petition under the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth.”  That’s notably narrower than the Anti-SLAPP laws of states like California (Cal Code Civ. P. § 425.16) (which provides a remedy in the event of claims implicating a person’s “right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue” (emphasis added)) and Oregon (Oregon Rev. Stat. § 31.150) (which encompasses protections for “other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest” (emphasis added)).  

Not only is the text of the statute narrow on its face — courts have been loathe to read its definition of petitioning activity expansively to cover the broad range of ways in which citizens might promote consideration, review, or action by a government body.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2010 decision in Fustolo v. Hollander, 455 Mass. 861, 920 N.E.2d 837 (2010) is illustrative in this regard.  In Fustolo, a real estate developer sued a reporter from the “Regional Review,” a community publication in Boston’s North End, over a series of articles that she wrote.  The reporter was also a co-founder of the North End Waterfront Residents’ Association, Inc., a non-profit that advocated on local zoning and development issues, and the articles in question concerned the plaintiff’s development activities.  Plaintiff’s complaint asserted claims for defamation, among other things, and defendant sought to have the complaint dismissed pursuant to Section 59H.  Confined by the language of the statute, the SJC had to evaluate whether purportedly factual reporting could qualify as the exercise by defendant of her “right of petition.”

The Court highlighted defendant’s argument that:

regardless of whether she personally was petitioning for relief, as a journalist reporting on meetings of community groups, she was in effect a messenger, giving voice to and providing space for the petitioning activity of those groups and their members.

The Clinic worked to augment that argument, contributing to an amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the former Citizen Media Law Project, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association arguing that factual reporting can constitute petitioning activity.  Specifically, amici argued in the brief as follows:

The text of Massachusetts’ anti-SLAPP law does not limit the type of party that may benefit from its protections, so long as that party engages in petitioning activity. Newspapers, through their reporters, engage in news reporting to influence, inform, and bring about governmental consideration of issues and to foster public participation in order to effect such consideration. This type of petitioning activity is exactly what the legislature sought to protect by enacting the anti-SLAPP law. Because newspapers, by necessity, petition through the reporting of their staff, a categorical exclusion of reporters from the scope of the anti-SLAPP law would chill expression far more effectively than any SLAPP suit could.

Notwithstanding these arguments, the Court held in favor plaintiff and denied defendant’s request for relief under Section 53H.  In reaching its conclusion, the Court held that “[t]here is nothing about the role or function of a staff reporter of an independent newspaper that by its nature renders the reporter a representative or agent of every, or indeed any, community organization that the reporter may cover.”  

The Shire City Herbals case does not come close to bringing Massachusetts in line with states that have extended broad protections to speakers by making remedies available whenever one exercises one’s First Amendment rights.  Indeed, by holding that advocacy around opposition to a federal trademark application can constitute petitioning, the SJC has kept Anti-SLAPP protections firmly tethered to the notion of petitioning.  But, by MA standards, this represents a step in the right direction for those who seek robust protections for free expression.

by Christopher Bavitz at May 18, 2016 04:29 PM

Bruce Schneier
Primitive Food Crops and Security

Economists argue that the security needs of various crops are the cause of civilization size:

The argument depends on the differences between how grains and tubers are grown. Crops like wheat are harvested once or twice a year, yielding piles of small, dry grains. These can be stored for long periods of time and are easily transported ­ or stolen.

Root crops, on the other hand, don't store well at all. They're heavy, full of water, and rot quickly once taken out of the ground. Yuca, for instance, grows year-round and in ancient times, people only dug it up right before it was eaten. This provided some protection against theft in ancient times. It's hard for bandits to make off with your harvest when most of it is in the ground, instead of stockpiled in a granary somewhere.

But the fact that grains posed a security risk may have been a blessing in disguise. The economists believe that societies cultivating crops like wheat and barley may have experienced extra pressure to protect their harvests, galvanizing the creation of warrior classes and the development of complex hierarchies and taxation schemes.

by Bruce Schneier at May 18, 2016 02:11 PM

metaLAB (at) Harvard
Documenting Beautiful Data

With art museums making both their imagery and collections data open and accessible, the question arises: what to do with it all? This was the question put to participants in Beautiful Data II, a summer workshop supported by the Getty Research Institute and hosted by metaLAB with the Harvard Art Museums and the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. For two weeks in July 2016, a gathering of art historians, curators, designers, and technologists forged concepts and skills necessary to make use of open collections to develop art-historical storytelling.

The workshop was extensively documented by participants and staff. metaLAB has now made that documentation public, in the form of a web site incorporating several data-visualization modes. As a provocation, we’ve treated this documentation as “data,” turning it into an array in JSON, an open data format used widely in web programming. This site visualizes the resulting data set in three ways: styled as content tiles; as “raw” metadata, with cross-referencing tags visibly linking records; and as a rotary timeline expressing those connections as arcs of adjacency. So although each visualization expresses the same data, its styling and features privilege certain characteristics and connections. Each has its emphases, and its missing elements as well. These interdependent visualizations not only offer a set of mnemonics for our class of participants; they also offer a collective provocation on the multimodal nature of “data” as a concept and norm.

In the first instance, our documentation data are visualized as media, in combinations of text and image. People are visualized as scans of their ID badges, which, during the workshop, identified us to one another and helped us pass in and out of the museum. Books, articles, and other resources show up as citations not unlike cards in a library catalogue or index file; presentations, projects, and other excursions are documented in images and descriptive tags. Vague, oblique, and fitfully incomplete, these documentary traces represent a “problem collection” in themselves.

An alternative visualization displays our documentation data in “raw” form as JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, an open format which describes data objects as combinations of pairs of attributes and values. That formula might not be penetrable to you; what is essential to understand here is that we can use HTML, JavaScript, and other languages to interact with these data on web sites, making a direct connection between server and browser. Typically, these data reside invisibly in files accessed by the web sites we use to search and browse collections; here, we’ve made them visible. Clicking on tags visualizes additional linkages, as shared tags connect up and down the array. Clicking on ID numbers links every instance of that object cross-referenced in other fields throughout the dataset.

It’s important to note that these “raw” data are thoroughly cooked—they’re constructs, painstakingly transcribed in JSON format from manuscript notebooks and digital documents. This transcription necessarily involved ordering, structuring, excision, and revision. Increasingly, museums and other collections institutions are making their metadata available in this form for outside developers to interact with via Application Programming Interfaces that are open, accessible, and direct. JSON and APIs are not the only means for doing this. Another approach, called “linked open data,” is favored by some; still others practice “structured data” approaches using versions of XML. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, its promises of utopia.

In an evocative circular graph, events, projects, presentations, and resources—“data objects” all—manifest as spokes on a wheel, their relative lengths reflecting the amount of media associated with each of them. Arcs express adjacencies in the form of shared tags. The default display, in color, expresses connections made in the JSON array on the previous screen. Mousing over an individual spoke shows its connections across the circle to other data objects that it references, with which it will tend to share resemblances. The arcs and spokes are evocative of connection and system, even as they may be less “transparent” in this view than in the other visualizations. What are “beautiful data”? They’re appealing, they’re lovely—and perhaps they’re a bit distant and incomprehensible as well, as they withdraw from us into their beauty.

by Matthew Battles at May 18, 2016 10:32 AM

May 17, 2016

Ethan Zuckerman
From disastrous decisions to decentralization: a mostly spontaneous talk for Data & Society

My friends at Data and Society ran an excellent conference today in NYC. A speaker dropped out at the last minute and I got asked less than 48 hours ago to give a talk… a very specific talk. Here’s what I came up with, more or less.

I’m pinch hitting here, as we had a speaker who couldn’t join us, so I apologize for an unpolished talk without slides. To make my life easier, our friends at Data and Society asked me to tell a story I’ve told before. As I thought about it, I realized I wanted to tell that story very differently. So here’s a story that starts with one of the most embarrassing moments of my professional career and ends up on one of the most experimental and difficult projects I’ve ever worked on. Basically, it’s a story about the gap between ambitions, intentions and the compromises we make to bring ideas to life.

Twenty years ago, in 1996, I was 23 years old, and somehow was the chief tech guy for, which thought it was a lifestyle site for recent college graduates, but was actually one of the world’s first user-generated content sites. By 1999, we were hosting free webpages for 15 million users, which made us the 8th biggest website in the world. But in 1996, we were trying to figure out how to pay for the massive bandwidth bills we’d suddenly incurred by letting thousands of people publish whatever they wanted on our server.

Advertising was the business model everyone else was using on the internet, and so we joined in – we put banner ads on top of the pages users hosted with our service. Great! Until we got a call from one of our ad sales guys, who giving a demo to the Ford motor company, and found a Ford banner on top of a page enthusiastically and visually celebrating the joys of anal sex. (Lesson one – don’t let ad guys give live demos. Lesson two – don’t ever program a “show me a random page” button, no matter how easy it would be to implement.)

Ford was understandably upset, and so my boss demanded I do something. And while I should have figured out how to minimize the amount of pornography we were hosting on the site, my immediate reaction was to figure out how we could somehow distance ads from user generated content. I designed a navigation window that featured Tripod branding, links to our edited content, and an ad, and used a just invented javascript function,, to open a new window on top of the browser window the user’s page lived in.

Yes, I invented the pop-up ad. And yes, I’m very, very sorry.

In reflecting on my sins, I’ve publicly decried advertising as the original sin of the web. Not all advertising – I have a soft spot for advertising targeted by user intent, like ads matched to search engine queries. But the ads we use to support the services we use everyday, our social networks and webmail, are almost necessarily going to fail – they’re trying to distract us from seeing our our friends’ baby pictures or hear about the weekend’s debauchery. And so these ads have become deeply surveillant, encouraging us to use whatever data we can glean about the context they’re shown in, and anything we can learn about a user’s demographics, psychographics and behavioral data in the desperate hope that we might click on them. And I fear that the rise of surveillant ads may be slowly training us all to expect to be surveilled at all time, a development that’s dangerous for us as citizens, not just as consumers.

But it’s way too easy to beat up on advertising. It’s a really tough problem to figure out how to support services that require network effects to be effective. Facebook wouldn’t be the useful behemoth it is today if it were a hundredth or a tenth the size. It’s useful because there’s the reasonable assumption that anyone you know will be on the service, even if they use it fairly rarely. it’s the universality that makes it so useful, and universal services require near-zero cost of entry.

Yes, we eventually could have supported Tripod with paid subscriptions… and Facebook could and should offer a non-surveillant, paid service for power users. Gmail should agree not to surveil the email of anyone paying for disk space. YouTube shouldn’t track the users who pay for ad-free RedTube. But there’s got to be a way for me to be findable by my high school friends, even if I don’t want to use the tool everyday. For the activist in Egypt to put up a webpage calling people out into the streets in a way where she doesn’t need to pay with a credit card and reveal her identity. Advertising is problematic solution, and it’s led us some troubling places. But I’m starting to worry about a bigger problem.

The mistake we made with Tripod was deeper than the pop-up ad. In retrospect, I feel like our whole business model – the business model I spent two years persuading my boss to adopt – is starting to destroy the web, this strange and beautiful creature I’ve been in love with for the past 22 years.

What Tripod did was take something that was possible for technically sophisticated users – to put up a webpage – and make it possible for orders of magnitude more users. and that was a good and important thing to do, much as letting people share photos and videos with each other, or send 140 character messages to each other is a Good Thing. But the way we did it sucked. We took the great genius of the web – the idea that everything could live on its own box, but be connected to everything else by the wonder of the hyperlink – and replaced it with a single server, controlled by a single company. This made it vastly easier for someone to put up a webpage without learning how to install apache and to write HTML, but it also meant that we had control over what you wrote. If you wanted to share your enthusiastic love for anal sex, too bad, because Tripod banned almost all nudes, and enforced the ban aggressively, with a combination of automation and human filtering. And so if you find yourself with certain types of speech – wanting to share information on breastfeeding on Facebook, for instance – you’re going to face the complicated reality that our digital public spaces are owned and controlled by corporations that we have little control or influence over.

A few years ago, cyberutopians of my generation, people who weren’t dumb enough to believe that the internet would automatically make the world a better place, but were dumb enough to believe that the values and tendencies of the internet would lead us towards a better world, started to find ourselves in crisis. One of the great hopes we’d had was that the internet inherently fights centralization. That barriers to entry are so low that there will always be competitors, always be options. When Amazon is eating all retail, Facebook all communication, Google all discovery, it’s hard to believe this anymore. And so it’s time to stop being so enthusiastic and uncritical about the internet and to start thinking hard about the downsides of this approach we’ve adopted.

My friend Rebecca MacKinnon encourages us to think of ourselves as citizens, not just as consumers, and to demand basic rights on these platforms. Others have proposed that we start thinking about how we regulate these platforms as if they were utilities, recognizing that they provide essential services and that we need to ensure everyone can access them. I want to suggest something even more radical.

I think the future of the web – the future I want for the web – comes from radical decentralization. The really radical version of Tripod – impossible at that point in time, but maybe possible now – would have been building tools that helped people publish their own content on their own servers they control under their own rules.

Here’s what I’m working on now – in all the classes I teach, students turn in their work on blogs. But I control those blogs, and at the end of the semester, I end up controlling their work. What I want is a system in which students have their own blogs, share the appropriate posts with me for the semester so I can aggregate them into a class site, but they end up owning their words and coming away from their time with a portfolio of work on their sites. This is not a new idea – The University of Mary Washington has a project called A Domain of One’s Own where there are accounts on a shared wordpress install. But I’m trying to solve this problem in a ludicrously convoluted way

I’m trying to build a system where my students use a tool that’s as beautiful and easy as Medium, but stores the data on multiple places all over the web using IPFS, the IP file system. Rather than keeping an index of the students in my classes and where those blogs are located, the system uses the bitcoin blockchain to register contracts about where I can find their writings for class. I’m building this in an insanely complicated way because the same architecture lets me build a distributed but compatible version of Twitter – if I decide I don’t want Twitter having control over my tweets anymore, I can start publishing my own twitter-like feed on a website I control, then register contracts that say that’s where my tweets live. If you use a compatible client, and you decide to follow me on Twitter, your client will check the blockchain to see if I’ve registered a contract to publish my updates off twitter and then subscribe to that RSS feed. If not, it will look for me on Twitter and subscribe to that feed. Basically, I’m trying to build a system with as few centralized points of control as possible, in the hopes of making it both easy for anyone to publish and disseminate information, and difficult for anyone intentionally or inadvertently to act as a censor or gatekeeper.

But it’s really hard. We didn’t design Tripod centrally because we were censorious control freaks. It’s way, way easier to build a single, central database than to distribute a directory of users across a distributed hash table. The sort of system I’m describing is probably 1000 times less efficient than existing centralized systems. That inefficiency has consequences, of cost, and for the environment. And there are enormous problems with managing content in a system like this one – it may not be possible to demand deletion of content in a truly distributed system, so what do we do with truly offensive content, like revenge porn.

And yet, it’s probably what we need to do. Because giving control over public spheres to private companies isn’t just a bad idea for us as citizens – it’s an impossible set of responsibilities for the corporations in question, and they’re already starting to strain under the load. And so we need to start thinking about how we build systems that aren’t just new and innovative, but that are architected in ways that support the generativity and creativity of the web in the long term. This isn’t a brave new world – it’s a rescue mission. It’s a return to the past, to the way the web used to work. And while building a decentralized web didn’t work the first time around, because the easy solutions won out against the right ones, we can do it right now, because we understand the dangers of centralization. We’ve seen how the story plays out.

To be clear, I’m not the only one trying to build these new systems. From the bitcoin libertarians to the openhearted cyberhippies like Brewster Kahle, people are building new ways to publish, discover and pay each other for content in ways that don’t require a gatekeeper standing in the middle of these transactions. But we need a much bigger group of people taking on this challenge, deciding to build a web that works in a way that empowers rather than imprisons us. As you’ve figured out, I’m not very smart – I’m the dumbass that thought that pop-up ads were a good solution to internet pornography. I need you, whether you’re motivated by curiosity, by ideology or by opportunity, to join me and take on this task. It’s hard to do, but it’s also right.

by Ethan at May 17, 2016 09:30 PM

David Weinberger
When the transgender bathroom debate will end

It’ll end when the Republicans have this conversation with their daughters:

“You see, precious, that’s really a woman who’s just pretending to be a man because, well, she’s what we call a ‘pervert.’ No, dear, she can’t use the men’s room because we passed a law to make sure that lady perverts have to use the lady’s room. Yes, dear, we also made a law that the male perverts have to use the men’s room dressed as ladies. Yes, dear, the lady perverts who look like men actually are lady homosexuals — why aren’t you precocious! — who lust after little girls, just like we’ve told you, but, well, …you won’t understand it when you grow up either.”

The post When the transgender bathroom debate will end appeared first on Joho the Blog.

by davidw at May 17, 2016 07:06 PM

Berkman Center front page
Under-connected in America: How Lower-Income Families Respond to Digital Equity Challenges


with Vikki S. Katz, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University

Parent Event

Berkman Luncheon Series

Event Date

May 17 2016 12:00pm to May 17 2016 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Room 2009

While 94% of parents raising school-age children below the U.S. median household income have an Internet connection, more than half are “under-connected,” in that their Internet connection is too slow, has been interrupted in the past year due to non-payment, and/or they share their Internet-connected devices with too many people. Katz will discuss how being under-connected impacts the everyday lives of lower-income parents and children, how parents assess the risks and rewards that connectivity can offer their children, and the implications of under-connectedness for policy development and program reform. She draws from two linked datasets of lower-income parents with school-age (grades K-8) children that she has collected since 2013: in-depth interviews with 336 parents and children in three states, and a telephone survey of 1,191 parents—the first nationally representative survey of this U.S. demographic. 

About Vikki

Vikki Katz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, and Affiliate Graduate Faculty in the Department of Sociology, at Rutgers University. She conducts research on immigrant and low-income families’ efforts to access U.S. social institutions, resources, and opportunities, with a particular interest in how digital equity issues affect these experiences. Her current projects are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. Her findings have been published in journals including American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Communication, and Social Problems, and she is author of Kids in the Middle: How Children of Immigrants Negotiate Community Interactions for their Families (Rutgers U Press, 2014) and co-author of Understanding Ethnic Media: Producers, Consumers, and Societies (Sage, 2011). She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and serves on the PBS Ready to Learn Advisory Board as a Community Engagement expert. She holds a B.A. from UCLA, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.


by candersen at May 17, 2016 05:00 PM

Ivan Sigal
The Lugansk Excursions

This story was originally published on Global Voices and written with Tanya Lokot.


“The Luhansk videos focus on the mundane. And that. . . is the point.” Screenshot from a dashcam video posted on YouTube.

A car revs and pulls forward. Volume cranked on the radio, out blares a Russian pop song from the 1990s, all static and drum machine. Streets, pavement, peripheral view of buildings, trees, kiosks, streetlights, pedestrians. Occasionally the driver remarks on something unseen in the landscape. It is a woman. It is a man. It is late spring and the poplars are shedding their white tufted seeds. It is winter and heavy wet flakes land on the windshield. The road is white. The route is through intersections, around corners, past monuments, gas stations, schools, apartment buildings, parks. It had no obvious beginning; it seems as if it could continue forever.

These are the excursions of Luhansk. They are videos shot with dashcams, and given to us by residents who know that we must want to see them. And who are we? We are the former residents of Luhansk, or perhaps of the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, of other Ukrainian regions, or of some other place in the Soviet Union. We once had a car like this, listened to these upbeat electronic tunes, drove aimlessly on these streets, drank vodka or beer on these benches and Nescafé by these kiosks.

These images of Luhansk began appearing online in 2009, maybe earlier. They have titles like  “Luhansk Today”, with a date. Sometimes there’s a part 1, part 2, part 3. Or “Luhansk and Streets”, “Nostalgia for Luhansk”, “Winter in Luhansk”, or Luhansk plus the name of a street or neighborhood—Sovetskaya, Oboronnaya, Vatutin, Frunze. All names left over from Soviet times. For while other Ukrainian cities have renamed their streets with Ukrainian themes and heroes, Luhansk has kept Soviet names for many of its main thoroughfares.

The Luhansk excursions are part of a larger tradition of driving in the post-Soviet world. Dashboard cameras—dashcams—are ubiquitous, in part because of a love for gadgets, in part for protection. Drivers document their passage through the world, knowing that in case of an accident or attempted police bribery, the footage could prove invaluable later, as evidence or influence.

In dashcam videos, as in life, usually nothing happens. The famous ones record those moments when, by chance or circumstance, they capture an event worth noting: the passage of a bear, a trailer truck overturning, a jet fighter buzzing the highway, a tank bursting out of the trees, a meteorite trailing across the sky.

Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter buzzes a car near Volgograd, Russia, September 2012. Screen shot of YouTube video.

Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter buzzes a car near Volgograd, Russia, September 2012. Screen shot of YouTube video.

The Luhansk videos, however, focus on the mundane. And that—unlike the eventful dashcam videos of YouTube fame—is the point. Dashcams are there because you never know what might happen as you drive. But in the case of Luhansk, we know that exactly nothing will happen, and what we will see is precisely and only the same old streets and buildings. This is especially true of videos made after March 2014, when the Donbas, and Luhansk within it, became a contested, violent, and then militarized area, and when many residents decided it was no longer safe to stay.

The dashcam video genre takes on a special significance for those who have left eastern Ukraine behind, but want to know it is still there. The form remains the same, but the intent and meaning behind it are changing. People are now creating on-demand dashcam excursions around Luhansk, offering a glimpse of home to those who cannot return.

In November 2014, a Luhansk resident named Vitaly posted a call on his Facebook page, asking people to suggest streets, addresses and routes in the city which he then compiled into a single long route. With his dashcam on, he drove slowly along the route for over an hour, capturing familiar landmarks, but also turning corners to reveal broken windows and bus stops bent out of shape by the shelling.

To the chance observer, this might seem like an exercise in ruin porn, looking at the destruction for the sake of looking. But it is quite the opposite. While nostalgia for the familiar, decaying city is there, what really powers these videos is the hope that the city, as we knew it, still remains. We want to see the destruction, both the long-term damage we are used to and the newer marks and holes that shock us. But more than that, we want to reassure ourselves that something remains. We revel in the unremarkable sight of that Khrushchev-era apartment building as we see it come up in the video because it is home. And because it is still standing.

Dashcam video of Luhansk, November 2014. Screen shot of YouTube video.

“What really powers these videos is the hope that the city, as we knew it, still remains.” Screen shot of November 2014 dashcam video of Luhansk posted on YouTube.

Many of us walked away from Luhansk. United Nations and Ukrainian authorities estimate over 1.5 million people from the Donbas have relocated to other parts of Ukraine or to Russia and other countries. We left behind our apartments, our childhoods, our parents, our collections of photos. Those who moved to escape the violence lost their homes and their everyday lives with all their habits and haunts, and an often lackluster but familiar routine. Those of us who had moved away earlier, for school or work, to Kyiv or other places, lost something else: a sense of Luhansk as it was fixed in our memories, a place to which we knew we could return, even if we rarely did.

The Luhansk excursions are designed explicitly for those of us who have left. They contain all the markers of authenticity necessary to evoke our nostalgia: The use of radio as soundtrack. The stated claim of no editing or censorship. The prosaic quality of the images, and the relatively narrow field of vision that shows us little beyond the surface of the road and other cars. The buildings and people remain on the periphery of vision.

The artlessness of the footage contributes to the claim of authenticity, and the idea of authenticity is crucial to understanding the images. They show both the mundane and the extraordinary, the actuality of the place, which is the root of nostalgia. They also show the changes caused by war, a newly realized cityscape of Luhansk that becomes a claim to a newly realized authenticity.

November 2014. Screen shot of YouTube video.

“We know that exactly nothing will happen, and what we will see is precisely and only the same old streets and buildings”. Screen shot of November 2014 dashcam video posted on YouTube.

Those of us who have lived in the former Soviet world will recognize these buildings, kiosks, parks, streetlights, the shape of curbs, the angle of billboards, as these designs are repeated throughout the post-Soviet space. But only people who have lived in Luhansk will recognize these specific streets, trees, neon lights, and graffiti on shutters, as well as the new spaces in the city’s streetscapes, created by the recent violence and destruction. In this way the particular loss of Luhansk blends with the larger, more generalized loss of the Soviet world, and partakes of a larger practice of street cruising and documenting with dashcams. These activities say first, “I am here” and “I endure” and only secondarily—with an undercurrent of pride, maybe concern, maybe resentment—“I miss you”.

The voice on the radio sings, “Summer will be over soon, there are no more hopes left.” And yet, by showing us the routine and the familiar, the pockmarked streets and shabby houses, the camera doesn’t surprise us, but comforts us, as if saying, “this is still here. You’re still here. You go on.”

The DJ on the radio puts on Johnny Cash: “Everyone I know goes away in the end.” But the streets and buildings keep rolling by. The city goes on, stubbornly but quietly. Now you see signs of fresh violence, and now you don’t. Was that window always broken or is it new? A journalist friend from Luhansk, upon watching the dashcam video, wrote:

“I wonder, if I fell into a coma a year ago and then woke back up today—would I be able to tell, just from what I saw through the car’s windshield, what had happened to Luhansk in the meantime? Or would I not notice any changes?”

These are fresh scars upon old scars, new decay upon old, and we are comforted to see that, despite both, the city that is home remains. We love it not because of or despite these scars. We love it because it made us who we are, and because these streets and houses contain the secrets of our childhood, the dreams of our adolescence, and the hopes of who we could become. You might see a boring dashcam video where nothing happens. We see ourselves, and we miss our city.

In the video, the Russian singer Delfin haunts the car radio and promises: “We will definitely meet again, do you hear me? I’m sorry.”

Tanya Lokot grew up in Luhansk; Ivan Sigal has never been to the Donbas, but lived in countries of the former Soviet Union for eight years.

by Ivan Sigal at May 17, 2016 04:13 PM

Berkman Center front page
Disneyland, measles, and parents’ choice not to vaccinate


A conversation with CA State Senator Dr. Richard Pan and Dr. Brittany Seymour


In 2014, the US experienced the largest measles outbreak in nearly a generation, with many cases linked to unvaccinated Disneyland visitors. Misinformation online about vaccines was recognized as one of the contributing factors to this outbreak. Please join us in a discussion with California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, author of the landmark legislation to abolish non-medical exemptions to legally required vaccines for school students, as we discuss some of public health’s toughest questions facing us in the digital age.

Event Date

May 17 2016 12:00pm to May 17 2016 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Longwood Medical Campus
Harvard School of Dental Medicine REB Auditorium
188 Longwood Ave. Boston, MA 02115

This event is co-sponsored by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, the Pershing Square Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The social nature of today’s Internet has led to new public health and policy challenges. People are creating and sharing more information (and misinformation) online than ever before. In 2014, the US experienced the largest measles outbreak in nearly a generation, with many cases linked to unvaccinated Disneyland visitors. Misinformation online about vaccines was recognized as one of the contributing factors to this outbreak. Through the leadership of State Senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan, California passed Senate Bill 277, which eliminated religious and personal belief exemptions to legally required vaccines for California school students. In this session, Dr. Pan will tell the story of his first hand experience managing the deadly 1991 measles outbreak in Philadelphia, which resulted in the death of nine children. He will speak about the spectrum of responses to his new legislation in CA, ranging from recognition as a TIME Hero in Vaccine History to death threats from local citizens. Communication researchers from MIT and Harvard will facilitate conversation as we tackle some of public health’s toughest questions. What role does the Internet play in influencing health and disease? How can public health experts prevent the spread of misinformation, and ensure better protection of our communities through improved health communication and strong evidence-based policies?

About Senator Pan

Dr. Richard Pan is a pediatrician, an HSPH alumni, former UC Davis educator, and California State Senator.  He is Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement and the Senate Select Committee on Children with Special Needs, and he also serves on the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Budget and Fiscal Review, Education, and Health. TIME magazine called Dr. Pan a “hero” when he authored landmark legislation to abolish non-medical exemptions to legally required vaccines for school students, thereby restoring community immunity from preventable contagions.  Dr. Pan also authored one of the most expansive state laws regulating health plans eliminating denials for pre-existing conditions and prohibited discrimination by health status and medical history. He demands transparency and accountability in state health programs; holding hearings on reducing fraud, investigating poor access to dental care, and ensuring children with cancer and other serious conditions have access to pediatric specialty care. Dr. Pan provided leadership in enrolling families for health coverage, resulting in halving the number of uninsured in California, and he sponsored numerous health fairs providing resources including free glasses, dental screenings, and vaccines. Dr. Pan co-founded and served as chair of Healthy Kids Healthy Future, where he helped secure health, dental and vision coverage for over 65,000 children in the Sacramento area. For his leadership in education and community development, Dr. Pan has been recognized with the Campus Compact's Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning and the Physician Humanitarian Award from the Medical Board of California. Dr. Pan supports his wife, who is a dentist, in running her dental practice and continues to practice pediatrics at WellSpace Health in Oak Park, California.

About Brittany

 Dr. Brittany Seymour is an Assistant Professor at Harvard School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology and the Office of Global and Community Health. She has held Fellowships at the Harvard Global Health Institute, currently at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, and will hold a 2016 Harvard Medical School Academy Fellowship for Medical Education. Her overall research focus is in interdisciplinary approaches for health improvement at the global level through prevention, policy, and health promotion. Her current work focuses on public health information dissemination and public and community education.  Using network science and media modeling, she studies how digital information/misinformation and large online communication networks impact important public health programs such as community water fluoridation and childhood vaccinations.

by candersen at May 17, 2016 02:43 PM

Welcome Millennial!

PRX is proud to announce that as of today, Radiotopia will millennial-bluebe welcoming Millennial as the 14th show in our award-winning lineup. Millennial is a show that chronicles the life of host Megan Tan, as she learns to maneuver her 20s.

To listen to the latest episode of Millennial, which documents the drama and excitement of joining Radiotopia, go to or Listeners can also subscribe to Millennial in iTunes, or listen via podcast players like Stitcher or TuneIn.

Check out all of the details in this press release below.


Radiotopia Welcomes Millennial’s Fresh, New Voice to the Podcast Network’s Award-Winning Lineup

Real life in real time: Producer Megan Tan reveals the next chapter for her show—and her life—on the May 17th episode of Millennial.

Cambridge, MA  (May 17, 2016) Radiotopia, the award-winning podcast network from PRX, welcomes Millennial as the 14th show in its award-winning lineup. In real time, Millennial follows the trials and tribulations of host and producer Megan Tan as she chronicles a subject rarely taught in school—mill_logo1maneuvering your 20s. To listen to the latest episode of Millennial, which documents the drama and excitement of joining Radiotopia, go to or Listeners can also subscribe to Millennial in iTunes, or listen via podcast players like Stitcher, Spotify or TuneIn.

Tan’s accessible, honest and candid accounts of life, love and career have been played over 540,000 times by listeners of all ages since she launched the show from her closet in January 2015. By the end of the year, The Atlantic picked Millennial as #14 in their top 50 podcasts of 2015, noting, “Serialized podcasts are still relatively rare, especially memoire-style ones like these, and especially ones that are this good. Be warned: you’re going to want to binge season one.”

Tan has been called “more likeable than anyone in Girls” by The Guardian. “I am so excited to join the Radiotopia family and to continue doing what I love: making a podcast with honesty and sincerity while I grow and experiment,” said Tan. “This certainly doesn’t mean I’ve figured out my 20s, but I am feeling pretty good about this podcast thing right about now.”

Anchored by the wildly popular 99% Invisible, Radiotopia is a curated network of 14 extraordinary, story-driven podcasts, including Criminal, Song Exploder, and Strangers. Radiotopia empowers independent producers to do their best work, grow audience and increase revenue. The network now sees over 12 million downloads per month, and its recent talent search for new podcasts resulted in 1,537 entries from over 50 countries. Radiotopia is a partnership between PRX and Roman Mars, creator of 99% Invisible, supported by the Knight Foundation, and led by Executive Producer Julie Shapiro. In 2015, the network was named one of Fast Company’s ‘World’s 10 Most Innovative Companies Backed by Kickstarter’.

“Radiotopia exists to support creative and independent voices across the podcast landscape, and Millennial fits in perfectly,” said Shapiro. “Megan is a talented and passionate producer, who has impressively built up her show all on her own so far. Now we are excited to offer Radiotopia’s support in helping Megan do her best work, increase revenue and grow her audience—both among traditional podcast listeners and with a younger demographic, who will hear their own experiences reflected in Millennial.”


About PRX: PRX is shaping the future of public media content, talent and technology. PRX is a leading creator and distributor, connecting audio producers with their most engaged, supportive audiences across broadcast, web and mobile. A fierce champion of new voices, new formats, and new business models, PRX advocates for the entrepreneurial producer. PRX is an award-winning media company, reaching millions of listeners worldwide. For over a dozen years, PRX has operated public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of shows, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, and Reveal. Follow us on Twitter at @prx.

The post Welcome Millennial! appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at May 17, 2016 01:01 PM

Bruce Schneier
More NSA Documents from the Snowden Archive

The Intercept is starting to publish a lot more documents. Yesterday they published the first year of an internal newsletter called SIDtoday, along with several articles based on the documents.

The Intercept's first SIDtoday release comprises 166 articles, including all articles published between March 31, 2003, when SIDtoday began, and June 30, 2003, plus installments of all article series begun during this period through the end of the year. Major topics include the National Security Agency's role in interrogations, the Iraq War, the war on terror, new leadership in the Signals Intelligence Directorate, and new, popular uses of the internet and of mobile computing devices.

They're also making the archive available to more researchers.

by Bruce Schneier at May 17, 2016 11:18 AM

Berkman Center front page
The Berkman Assembly Pilot Program 2017


Calling Developers and Tech Industry Professionals


The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is excited to announce the Berkman Assembly, an innovative pilot program that will experiment with different modes of education, collaboration, and development to work towards solving some of the tough problems at the intersections of code and policy in digital security. 

Thumbnail Image: 

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is excited to announce the Berkman Assembly, an innovative pilot program that will experiment with different modes of education, collaboration, and development to work towards solving some of the tough problems at the intersections of code and policy in digital security. 

We’re combining three weeks of rigorous education with a twelve-week action-oriented development period, and looking for passionate developers and tech industry professionals to take part.  Applications are open and will be accepted up until Friday, July 15, 2016.   

This is an opportunity for mid-to-senior level practitioners to learn, connect, and develop with others from various sectors – private, public, civil, and academia – in an environment that will aim to foster collaboration, development, and innovative thinking. 

Pilot Program Details

The pilot program, running from January to May 2017, will be made up of a tight knit and unique cohort of seven to ten participants from across various sectors and communities. 

The mode of the Assembly program is experimental and highly interactive.  The first cohort will play an important role in shaping the pilot and future iterations of the program. 

The program will be composed of two main parts: a three-week course and a twelve-week development period. 

  • The Course: The cohort will participate in a three-week course at Harvard University taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Center, and Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.  The course will cover foundational technical, social science, economic, and legal material that grapples with emerging problems in the digital security space.  
  • The Development Period: Following the course, the cohort will work through the design, iteration, and development process over twelve weeks on a project selected by the cohort that addresses a key digital security issue that participants identified during the course. 

This is a great opportunity for intellectually curious and energetic individuals who want to expand their expertise and collaborate on a hands-on project in digital security. Participants will have a chance to learn from one another and experts in the space, as well as interact with the diverse and multidisciplinary Berkman community. 

The call for applications is open!  Applications are due Friday, July 15, 2016.  To apply and for more information, visit the Berkman Assembly website


by tlin at May 17, 2016 12:07 AM

May 16, 2016

Bruce Schneier
Unforeseen Costs of Security Training

At the last match of the year for Manchester United, someone found a bomb in a toilet, and security evacuated all 75,000 people and canceled the match. Turns out it was a fake bomb left behind after a recent training exercise.

by Bruce Schneier at May 16, 2016 10:15 PM

Song Exploder Live at the Sydney Opera House

On Monday, May 30th, Song Exploder will make its international debut at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Vivid LIVE Artist Talks program.

Song Exploder host Hrishikesh Hirway will interview Hiatus Kaiyote as they take apart one of their Gsongexploder-logo-2rammy-nominated songs, piece by piece, in a live session. The session will reveal how their music is made and the
personal stories behind the lyrics and melodies.

Melding electric jazz virtuosity with the beat-making dexterity of Flying Lotus and Madlib, Hiatus Kaiyote are a future-soul
quartet formed in Melbourne, Australia. Self-described as ‘multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster sh*t’, singer-guitarist Nai Palm leads with her soul-driven force that unites R&B lovers, hip-hop heads and heavy music fans alike.

vividHrishikesh is also the leader of the electronic pop group The One AM Radio, one half of avant-rap outfit Moors along with American
actor/rapper Keith Stanfield, a producer, designer and composer for film and TV.

If you’re in Sydney and want to attend the live taping for free, get your tickets here.

The post Song Exploder Live at the Sydney Opera House appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at May 16, 2016 04:17 PM

A reading list for online publishers

I’ll be talking to a pile of publishers today at a Meet the Blockers thing hosted by DCN in New York. Here are a few of the many links I’ve accumulated as a background for the conversation I hope ensues. (These are in addition to my own Adblock War Series, now 53 posts long.)

I’ll report more on my exact advice later.


by Doc Searls at May 16, 2016 02:47 PM

Bruce Schneier
Defeating a Tamper-Proof Bottle

Here's an interesting case of doctored urine-test samples from the Sochi Olympics. Evidence points to someone defeating the tamper resistance of the bottles:

Berlinger bottles come in sets of two: one for the athlete's "A" sample, which is tested at the Games, and the other for the "B" sample, which is used to corroborate a positive test of the A sample. Metal teeth in the B bottle's cap lock in place, so it cannot be twisted off.

"The bottles are either destroyed or retain visible traces of tampering if any unauthorized attempt is made to open them," Berlinger's website says about the security of the bottles.

The only way to open the bottle, according to Berlinger, is to use a special machine sold by the company for about $2,000; it cracks the bottle's cap in half, making it apparent that the sample has been touched.

Yet someone figured out how to open the bottles, swap out the liquid, and replace the caps without leaving any visible signs of tampering.

EDITED TO ADD: There's a new article on how they did it.

In Room 124, Dr. Rodchenkov received the sealed bottles through the hole and handed them to a man who he believed was a Russian intelligence officer. The man took the bottles to a building nearby. Within a few hours, the bottles were returned with the caps loose and unbroken.

One commenter complained that I called the bottles "tamper-proof," even though I used the more accurate phrase "tamper-resistance" in the post. Yes, that was sloppy.

by Bruce Schneier at May 16, 2016 02:39 PM

James Losey
Architecture New and Old by James Losey Via Flickr: The...
Architecture New and Old

Architecture New and Old by James Losey
Via Flickr:
The Odenplan subway station in the middle of Vasastan, Stockholm, is a juxtaposition of 18th century and modern architecture.

May 16, 2016 12:47 PM

May 13, 2016

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: Counterfeit Squid

Goya is facing a $5 million lawsuit; the plaintiff is claiming its canned octopus is really squid.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

by Bruce Schneier at May 13, 2016 09:14 PM

Bruce Schneier
FTC Investigating Android Patching Practices

It's a known truth that most Android vulnerabilities don't get patched. It's not Google's fault. It releases the patches, but the phone carriers don't push them down to their smartphone users.

Now the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are investigating, sending letters to major carriers and device makers.

I think this is a good thing. This is a long-existing market failure, and a place where we need government regulation to make us all more secure.

by Bruce Schneier at May 13, 2016 11:56 AM

More on the Going Dark Debate

Lawfare is turning out to be the go-to blog for policy wonks about various government debates on cybersecurity. There are two good posts this week on the Going Dark debate.

The first is from those of us who wrote the "Keys Under Doormats" paper last year, criticizing the concept of backdoors and key escrow. We were responding to a half-baked proposal on how to give the government access without causing widespread insecurity, and we pointed out where almost of all of these sorts of proposals fall short:

1. Watch for systems that rely on a single powerful key or a small set of them.

2. Watch for systems using high-value keys over and over and still claiming not to increase risk.

3. Watch for the claim that the abstract algorithm alone is the measure of system security.

4. Watch for the assumption that scaling anything on the global Internet is easy.

5. Watch for the assumption that national borders are not a factor.

6. Watch for the assumption that human rights and the rule of law prevail throughout the world.

The second is by Susan Landau, and is a response to the ODNI's response to the "Don't Panic" report. Our original report said basically that the FBI wasn't going dark and that surveillance information is everywhere. At a Senate hearing, Sen. Wyden requested that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence respond to the report. It did -- not very well, honestly -- and Landau responded to that response. She pointed out that there really wasn't much disagreement: that the points it claimed to have issue with were actually points we made and agreed with.

In the end, the ODNI's response to our report leaves me somewhat confused. The reality is that the only strong disagreement seems to be with an exaggerated view of one finding. It almost appears as if ODNI is using the Harvard report as an opportunity to say, "Widespread use of encryption will make our work life more difficult." Of course it will. Widespread use of encryption will also help prevent some of the cybersecurity exploits and attacks we have been experiencing over the last decade. The ODNI letter ignored that issue.

EDITED TO ADD: Related is this article where James Comey defends spending $1M+ on that iPhone vulnerability. There's some good discussion of the vulnerabilities equities process, and the FBI's technical lack of sophistication.

by Bruce Schneier at May 13, 2016 11:55 AM

May 12, 2016

Berkman Center front page
Towards a Modern Approach to Privacy-Aware Government Data Releases


Governments are under increasing pressure to promote transparency, accountability, and innovation by making the data they hold available to the public. Because the data often contain information about individuals, agencies rely on various standards and interventions to protect privacy interests while supporting a range of beneficial uses of the data. This article provides a survey of practices for releasing data in response to freedom of information and Privacy Act requests, traditional public and vital records, official statistics, and e-government and open government initiatives.


Authored by Micah Altman, Alexandra Wood, David O’Brien, Salil Vadhan, and Urs Gasser.

The Berkman Center is pleased to announce a new publication from the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project, authored by a multidisciplinary group of project collaborators from the Berkman Center, MIT Libraries, and Harvard's Center for Research on Computation and Society. This article summarizes research exploring various models by which governments release data to the public and the interventions in place to protect the privacy of individuals in the data. Applying concepts from the recent scientific and legal literature on privacy, the authors propose a framework for a modern privacy analysis and illustrate how governments can use the framework to select appropriate privacy controls that are calibrated to the specific benefits and risks in individual data releases.

Governments are under increasing pressure to promote transparency, accountability, and innovation by making the data they hold available to the public. Because the data often contain information about individuals, agencies rely on various standards and interventions to protect privacy interests while supporting a range of beneficial uses of the data. However, there are growing concerns among privacy scholars, policymakers, and the public that these approaches are incomplete, inconsistent, and difficult to navigate.

This article provides a survey of practices for releasing data in response to freedom of information and Privacy Act requests, traditional public and vital records, official statistics, and e-government and open government initiatives. This review yields a number of findings:

  • Governments rely on a narrow set of tools to analyze and mitigate privacy risks, compared to the wide range of privacy interventions proposed by computer scientists, legal scholars, and social scientists.
  • Most agencies address privacy concerns by withholding or redacting records that contain certain pieces of information considered to be directly or indirectly identifying based on an ad hoc balancing of interests.
  • Treatment of data across government actors is largely inconsistent. Similar privacy risks (and, in some cases, even identical sets of data) are addressed differently by different actors.
  • Guidance on interpreting regulatory standards for privacy and implementing appropriate methods for privacy protection in specific data release settings is very limited.

In light of these findings, this article proposes a framework for a modern privacy analysis informed by recent advances in data privacy from disciplines such as computer science, statistics, and law. Modeled on an information security approach, this framework characterizes and distinguishes between privacy controls, threats, vulnerabilities, and utility at each stage of the information lifecycle. In characterizing privacy controls, the article provides a catalog of a range of procedural, economic, educational, legal, and technical interventions for protecting privacy, along with descriptions of recent advances in each of these areas.

The authors argue that changes in science, technology, and the understanding of privacy risks offer the opportunity for sophisticated characterization of privacy risks and harms, as well as new tools for protecting privacy. Governments now have the opportunity to select from a distinct set of interventions, in order to construct a comprehensive policy that is based on the desired data uses, the expected benefits, and the privacy threats and vulnerabilities associated with a data release. The article seeks to lay the groundwork for the future design of such policies, by sketching the contours of a comprehensive analytical framework, and populating selected portions of its contents. By applying the framework to two real-world examples of government data releases, the article also illustrates how it can inform the selection of suitable privacy controls, promote data releases that support varied uses while protecting privacy, and provide a natural foundation for increased transparency through the documentation of the uses, potential risks, and the privacy and security interventions selected.

This article, and other papers from the 19th Annual BCLT/BTLJ Symposium: Open Data: Addressing Privacy, Security, and Civil Rights Challenges, were published in Volume 30, Issue 3 of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.

Microsoft Corporation, in collaboration with the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, supported the research and the writing of this report. In addition, this material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CNS-1237235, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Microsoft Corporation, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, or the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

About the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data Project

Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project is a collaboration between the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS), the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard University, as well as the Program on Information Science at MIT Libraries, that seeks to develop methods, tools, and policies to facilitate the sharing of data while preserving individual privacy and data utility.

Executive Director and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice Urs Gasser leads the Berkman Center's role in this exciting initiative, which brings the Center's institutional knowledge and practical experience to help tackle the legal and policy-based issues in the larger project.

More information about the project is available on the official project website.

Producer Intro

Authored by

by djones at May 12, 2016 06:48 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Cyberlaw Clinic Supports Amicus Effort in Border Shooting Case

Rodriguez CoverThe Cyberlaw Clinic and attorney Mahesha Subbaraman of Subbaraman PLLC submitted an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week on behalf of civil liberties advocacy organization, Restore the Fourth, in the case, Rodriguez v. Swartz.  As set out in more detail in the brief and summarized in  a statement by Restore the Fourth, the case concerns the 2012 shooting of a Mexican teenager by United States Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz.  The victim — 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez — was in Nogales, Mexico; the agent fired shots from the U.S. side of the border, through a border fence, killing Rodriguez as he walked home following a basketball game.

The civil suit brought by the victim’s mother against the agent raises questions about whether the agent can claim qualified immunity and, in turn, whether the killing is subject to the Fourth Amendment’s requirements regarding the reasonableness of searches and seizures.  The case has potentially far-reaching implications regarding the scope and continuing viability of United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) — in which the United States Supreme Court addressed the applicability of the Fourth Amendment to a search of a Mexican citizen’s home in Mexico — and more broadly about the extraterritorial reach of the Fourth Amendment’s protections.

The amicus brief specifically responds to an argument advanced by the government in the case, suggesting that “the Fourth Amendment imposes no limit on the exertion of U.S. authority against aliens who lack substantial voluntary connections to the United States—even individuals within just a few miles of the U.S. border.”  Restore the Fourth argues to the contrary, that the government “misread[s]” Verdugo-Urquidez to support its position and that the plurality in that case “did not erase the Fourth Amendment’s core demand that all government searches and seizures be ‘reasonable’—even extraterritorial searches and seizures of aliens.”

Spring 2016 Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic students Travis West, Steven Wilfong, and Katherine Kwong contributed significantly to the brief.

by Clinic Staff at May 12, 2016 02:54 PM

Ethan Zuckerman
Life, Only Moderately Messed Up, part 2: Getting Help

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post, “Life, only moderately messed up: understanding (my own) high-functioning depression” that was widely shared and appreciatively received. This is a somewhat overdue update to that post, and intended very much in the same spirit, both as a way to process some challenging experiences in my life through writing, and as a way to signal to people that I’m someone they can talk with about these issues.


Writing that post two years ago is one of the most important things I’ve done, because it’s opened conversations with friends, family and students that would not have happened otherwise, allowing people to approach me to talk about depression and allowing me to share my experiences with them and add them to my support structure.

The TL:DR; of that post is as follows:
– I’ve been a high-functioning depressive most of my adult life
– I wanted to come out as someone living with depression so friends would know and help me cope, and so students and others could approach me to talk about these issues
– High functioning depression is hard to recognize because it often isn’t externally visible, leading people to live with it, instead of seeking treatment.

It’s that last point I want to talk about here.

Part of the reason I wrote that post was to make it more likely that I’d seek counseling or try antidepressants the next time I felt moderately depressed. That’s not what happened.

In October of 2015, my wife Rachel told me that she wasn’t happy in our marriage and that we needed to seek counseling. We did, but by late November, it was clear that our problems weren’t easy ones to fix, and that we were in for a rough road ahead. Other factors intervened – my promotion process at MIT took a major step backward, and I started thinking seriously about leaving MIT. I left the board of an NGO I’d spent a huge amount of time and energy advising in a way that was deeply hurtful to me. With these things happening all at once, the days growing shorter and the winds colder, I found myself – almost overnight – in a very dark place.

In my previous post, I wrote, “…I am deeply fortunate that my depression is something that’s not life threatening. But that’s allowed me to gloss over long stretches of my life when I’ve not been my best, where daily life is a heavy lift.”

This time, and all of a sudden, my depression was life threatening. I started experiencing long bouts of suicidal ideation, detailed thoughts about how I might end my life. I wasn’t especially scared that I was going to act on these impulses, but intense thoughts of suicide are no fun at all, and I recognized that they were a symptom I needed to address before they wore me down and turned into something more dangerous.

And so I got help. My physician got me on an SSRI and, when the first one came with some unpleasant side effects, got me on another one very quickly. A very dear friend, hearing me talk about suicide, gave me the best intervention I could imagine. She told me:

“I love you.
You have been here before and you know you’re not always going to feel this way.
If you decide you need to go, talk to me so that your decision doesn’t end up ruining the lives of the people you love.”

I’m not sure it’s the best generic speech to talk someone off a ledge, but it worked well for me. And, critically, she introduced me to her therapist, who’s the first counselor I have felt understood where I was coming from, that I didn’t want to regress to childhood and heal decades of hurt, but needed some acute, immediate help in coping with the challenges of my life.

I got better quickly. Within a month, I was able to help Rachel through a challenging trip to Texas to visit a sick relative. Within two months, I felt significantly better than I had before my life started to go off the rails in October. By March, I found myself coming to the realization that SSRIs and therapy are probably part of the toolkit – along with walking, weightlifting, and a marvelous circle of friends around the world – that helps me harness my quirky brain (and we ALL have quirky brains) in productive and healthy directions.

I was high functioning before. I am higher functioning now. And that’s important, because life inevitably includes circumstances that are beyond your control.

On April 1st, Rachel asked me for a divorce. We are now in the process of moving her and Drew to a new house and diving our books, our art, and the physical and financial detritus of 23 years together. More importantly, we’re doing so in a way that we hope to break the script of most divorces. We’re committed to staying good friends, to spending time together with our son, and to keeping our many friends in the Berkshires and elsewhere from having to choose between the two of us. We’re trying very hard to stay on the same side, the side that recognizes that people grow and change, and that sometimes you continue to love someone but need not to be partnered with them. It’s hard work, and we don’t always get it right. But I’m starting to have the previously inconceivable thought that there’s life after losing the partner I’ve shared my entire adulthood with, and that the new life that follows divorce could be as wonderful as the life that preceded it.

But here’s the key bit: I would not have been able to handle this divorce if I were still moderately messed up. I would not have the resilience I’ve been able to display, the ability to be kind to someone who’s (understandably, necessarily and unintentionally) hurt me so badly. I would not be able to act with grace, to be the father my son needs me to be, to keep listening to and supporting my students at a time when I need so much support. I would not have survived this transition if I had not – at my darkest moment last year – gotten the help I needed.

And so I have a request. If you read my earlier post on high-functioning depression – two years ago, today or any time in between – and it resonated for you, please get help. Maybe that’s drugs and therapy, which worked for me. Maybe it’s yoga or running or weightlifting. Maybe it’s meditation, or prayer or co-counseling. Maybe it’s a practice of talking with a friend every day about how you’re feeling. What I’m asking is that you don’t continue accepting a reality in which you are high functioning, but far from as whole and resilient as you could be.

I’m asking you not to do what I did for 25 years.

Not just because it’s such a fucking waste of time to lose so many days to that feeling of fighting your way through a vat of molasses to get through the tasks of the day. Not just because being sad and scared and lonely slowly erodes your sense of self and prevents you from seeing yourself as the marvel you are. But because life is going to kick you in the gut sometime, and being able to weather that blow and get up again is hard to do even when you’re whole.

We don’t get to choose what happens to us. We do get to choose how we react to it. And we can choose to prepare ourselves for that kick in the gut, to make sure we’re as strong and graceful as resilient as we are capable of being.

As with my previous post, this isn’t meant as a cry for help – I’m doing pretty well, thanks very much. My family, many of my friends, my students and staff have been wonderful about helping me through this transition… as has my beloved ex, which is something I couldn’t have imagined being part of a divorce. I wanted to share these thoughts because I’m so grateful for the dozens of people who came out of the woodwork to counsel me through my divorce, to tell me that it will get better. I wanted to share with my friends so they know it’s okay to talk to me about what’s going on, that I’m okay – and Rachel’s okay, and Drew too. And I wanted to invite you – whether I know you or not – to reach out if you need someone to talk to about these issues.

by Ethan at May 12, 2016 01:03 PM

Bruce Schneier
Hacking Gesture-Based Security

Interesting research: Abdul Serwadda, Vir V. Phoha, Zibo Wang, Rajesh Kumar, and Diksha Shukla, "Robotic Robbery on the Touch Screen," ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, May 2016.

Abstract: Despite the tremendous amount of research fronting the use of touch gestures as a mechanism of continuous authentication on smart phones, very little research has been conducted to evaluate how these systems could behave if attacked by sophisticated adversaries. In this article, we present two Lego-driven robotic attacks on touch-based authentication: a population statistics-driven attack and a user-tailored attack. The population statistics-driven attack is based on patterns gleaned from a large population of users, whereas the user-tailored attack is launched based on samples stolen from the victim. Both attacks are launched by a Lego robot that is trained on how to swipe on the touch screen. Using seven verification algorithms and a large dataset of users, we show that the attacks cause the system's mean false acceptance rate (FAR) to increase by up to fivefold relative to the mean FAR seen under the standard zero-effort impostor attack. The article demonstrates the threat that robots pose to touch-based authentication and provides compelling evidence as to why the zero-effort attack should cease to be used as the benchmark for touch-based authentication systems.

News article. Slashdot thread.

by Bruce Schneier at May 12, 2016 10:31 AM

May 11, 2016

Justin Reich
Design Thinking in the Elementary Classroom: the Power of Empathy
Even the youngest of students can engage in the Design Thinking process and make an impact in their community.

by Beth Holland at May 11, 2016 10:34 PM

Ellery Biddle on The Internetish Things of Cuba: Open Source and ‘in the Clear’ [AUDIO]
What is it like to use the Internet in fits and starts? How do communities with limited access to the global Internet use digital tools? Beyond sensational media narratives about Havana’s WiFi hotspots and the paquete semanal, there is a complex landscape of Internet access, digital media use and open source software development in Cuba. […]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School ( at May 11, 2016 06:02 PM

Berkman Center front page
The Internetish Things of Cuba: Open Source and ‘in the Clear’


with Berkman Fellow , Ellery Biddle


Learn about the complex landscape of Internet access, digital media use and open source software development in Cuba.

Event Date

May 11 2016 12:00pm to May 11 2016 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (Room 2036, second floor)

What is it like to use the Internet in fits and starts? How do communities with limited access to the global Internet use digital tools? Beyond sensational media narratives about Havana’s WiFi hotspots and the paquete semanal, there is a complex landscape of Internet access, digital media use and open source software development in Cuba. This talk will offer a primer on Cuba’s digital culture and critique of Western political narratives surrounding technology, freedom and empowerment as they apply in the Cuban context.

About Ellery

Ellery is a writer, editor and Internet policy expert who specializes in the protection of online free expression in the global south. She is the Advocacy Director for Global Voices, an international network of bloggers and free expression advocates around the world and holds a fellowship at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Ellery has been studying intellectual history and technology in Cuba since 2004.


by candersen at May 11, 2016 05:00 PM

Why #NoStalking is a good deal for publishers

Here’s  what @JuliaAnguin asked the new Brave browser for the other day:

Julia Angwin's request to Brave

Here’s how we put up the same request on a whiteboard at VRM Day two weeks ago at the Computer History Museum:

"Just give me ads not based on tracking me.."

Let’s call it the NoStalking deal.  It’s being worked out and formalized at the Kantara Initiative and will live at Customer Commons, where it will be legible at all three of these levels:


It will work because it’s a good one for both sides. Individuals issuing the offer get guilt-free use of the goods they come to the publisher for, and the publisher gets to stay in business — and improve that business by running advertising that is actually valued by its recipients.

The offer can be expressed in one line of code in a browser, and accepted by corresponding code on the publisher’s side. The browser code can be run natively (as, for example, a choice in the Brave menu above) or through an extension such as an ad or tracking blocker. In those cases the blocker would open the valve to non-tracking-based advertising.

On the publisher’s side, the agreement can be automatic. Or simply de facto, meaning the publisher only runs non-tracking based ads anyway. (As does, for example, Medium.) In that case, the publisher is compliant with CHEDDAR, which was outlined by Don Marti and discussed at length two weeks ago,  first at VRM Day and then at  IIW, the unconference that followed over the next three days at the Computer History Museum. Here’s an emblem for CHEDDAR, drawn by Craig Burton on his phone:

Sketch - 7

To explain CHEDDAR, Don wrote this on the same whiteboard where the NoStalking term above also appeared:


For the A in CHEDDAR, if we want the NoStalking agreement to be accountable from both sides, it might help to have a consent receipt. That spec is in the works too.

What matters most is that individuals get full respect as sovereign actors operating with full agency in the marketplace. That means it isn’t good enough just for sites to behave well. Sites also need to respond to friendly signals of intent coming directly from individuals visiting those sites. That’s why the NoStalking agreement is important. It’s the first of many other possible signals as well.

It also matters that the NoStalking agreement may be the first of its kind in the online world: one where the individual is the one extending the offer and the business is the one agreeing to it, rather than the other way around.

At VRM Day and IIW, we had participants affiliated with the EFF, Mozilla, Privacy Badger, Adblock Plus, Consent Receipt, PDEC (Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium),  and the CISWG (Consent & InfoSharing Working Group), among others. Work has continued since then, and includes people from the publishing, advertising and other interested communities. There’s a lot to be encouraged about.

In case anybody wonders if advertising can work as well if it’s not based on tracking, check out Pedro Gardete: The Real Price of Cheap Talk: Do customers benefit from highly targeted online ads?  by Eilene Zimmerman (@eilenez) in Insights by Stanford Business. The gist:

Now a new paper from Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Pedro Gardete and Yakov Bart, a professor at Northeastern University, sheds light on who is likely to benefit from personalized advertising and identifies managerial best practices.

The researchers found that highly targeted and personalized ads may not translate to higher profits for companies because consumers find those ads less persuasive. In fact, in some cases the most effective strategy is for consumers to keep information private and for businesses to track less of it.

You can also mine the oeuvres of Bob Hoffman and Don Marti for lots of other material that makes clear that the best advertising is actual advertising, and not stalking-based direct marketing that only looks like advertising.

Our next step, while we work on all this,  is to put together an FAQ on why the NoStalking deal is a good one for everybody. Look for that at Customer Commons, where terms behind more good deals that customers offer will show up in the coming months.

by Doc Searls at May 11, 2016 04:34 PM

Radiotopia Live: A Recap
Radiotopia-6Photo credits: Gadi Creative

On May 4th, 2016, Radiotopia presented its first live show at the Ace Theater in Los Angeles, to a sold out room. The event was Radiotopia’s first foray into live performance as a network, and we were thrilled to take the stage in front of more than 1,500 friends and fans. Nine of our 13 shows performed. Throughout the evening we laughed, we cried, and cheered together as Radiotopia hit a new milestone in its two-year history.

The Show

IMG_9954The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace- “This Room, Right Here”
Nate set the stage for the evening by telling the history and founding of United Artists and the Theatre at Ace Hotel itself.

Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters- “Nobody Can Soldier Without Coffee”
Nikki and Davia told the story of coffee in the Civil War- the most popular topic in soldier’s letters to home.

Radiotopia-63The Allusionist

The Allusionist- “Making a Mark”
After some banter with Roman, Helen gave us a humorous recap of the history of penmanship.

Radio Diaries- “Juan’s Diary: Undocumented”
Founder Joe sat down with past teenage diarist Juan Rodriguez to talk about living in the US undocumented.

Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything- “UFO’s Are Real”
Benjamen took the audience through a story of outsider art, UFOs and modern-day drones.


Criminal- “The Finger”
Phoebe and Lauren told the story of a man who loves giving police officers “the finger”. Check it out on the latest episode of their podcast.

Strangers- “Love Hurts, The Prequel”
In a moving first-person story, Lea revealed the prequel to her ‘Love Hurts’ series.

Mortified- “Stairway to Winnipeg”
Past diarist Johanna diarist performed a history report on Winnipeg/Led Zeppelin cover song she wrote in high school, meant to woo her crush.

Radiotopia-11999% Invisible

99% Invisible- “Anchorwoman”
Accompanied by live music, Roman, Avery and writer Jon Mooallem wove the tale of an earthquake in Alaska and how one news station persevered.

Song Exploder- 
Throughout the night, interstitial music provided by Hrishi helped pull the evening together.

Coin Check

IMG_3928Coin check!

Radiotopia Live further proved we have the most passionate fans in the world.
Hands down. At the end of the evening we pulled off the largest coin check of the year, asking the audience to pull out the popular
99% Invisible-inspired premium from our 2015 fundraising campaign. As we looked out at the crowd and saw a theatre full of fans holding coins in the air, we were truly humbled. We couldn’t possibly have made our live show happen without our sustaining donors.

What We Learned

A big challenge in planning the show was figuring out how to weave stories from nine very diverse shows into one cohesive program. We realized Radiotopia podcasts cover a wide range of subject matter, but still feel connected and relevant to each other through their high-quality, sound-rich styles and formats. With Roman Mars as master of ceremonies, we created a physical representation of Radiotopia, and transported the audience to a place where “everything is radio, and everything is very good” (quote from now EP Julie Shapiro when she coined the name “Radiotopia” years ago at a conference).

As producers and radio makers, we’ve never had to think about stagecraft, but in order to put on a good live show, technical production is vital. We hired anamazing team of professionals, led by our friend Lynn Finkel who has worked on TED, the Grammys, the Emmys and more. Having a stellar production team

Team bowTeam bow

allowed our producers to focus on their stories and performances, rather than the dirty details. From the captivating lighting in Lea Thau’s story of heartbreak, to the perfectly timed smoke machine choreography, to the media clips played throughout the night, Lynn’s team made sure our show looked as good as it sounded.

We continue to learn that if our stories are compelling, our listeners will follow; even to new mediums. During the show, what felt like magic was actually love and energy from our fans, both in-person and online through social media. We can’t thank you enough for your support, and to those who missed our first show… we’re already talking about when and where the next Radiotopia Live show will happen!

Huge thank you to our amazing sponsors, including Poo-pourri, A1-Array, Kind, Hint, KCRW, Knight Foundation and Mailchimp. And another enormous thank you to Gadi Creative for capturing these amazing photos and video! 

The post Radiotopia Live: A Recap appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at May 11, 2016 04:17 PM

Bruce Schneier
New Credit Card Scam

A criminal ring was arrested in Malaysia for credit card fraud:

They would visit the online shopping websites and purchase all their items using phony credit card details while the debugging app was activated.

The app would fetch the transaction data from the bank to the online shopping website, and trick the website into believing that the transaction was approved, when in reality, it had been declined by the bank.

The syndicates would later sell the items they had purchased illegally for a much lower price.

The problem here seems to be bad systems design. Why should the user be able to spoof the merchant's verification protocol with the bank?

by Bruce Schneier at May 11, 2016 11:34 AM

May 10, 2016

Ethan Zuckerman
Lessons from Letterlocking: a serendipitous academic encounter

Here’s a quick experiment – I’ve been publishing stories on FOLD and replicating the text here on this blog. But FOLD now supports embedding – let’s see how well my blog supports it… Otherwise, please feel free to go read this story on

by Ethan at May 10, 2016 07:21 PM

Brittany Seymour on Social Communication Strategies for Public Health [AUDIO]
The social nature of today’s Internet is creating new public health and policy challenges. For example, the US in 2014 experienced the largest measles outbreak in nearly a generation, which led to the passing of the nation’s most conservative vaccine legislation, eliminating the personal belief exemption in California. Research has identified online misinformation about vaccines […]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School ( at May 10, 2016 05:06 PM

Berkman Center front page
Applying network science for public health: Toward 'social' communication strategies


with Berkman Fellow, Brittany Seymour


How can we employ network science to develop social communication strategies for public health that build on the strengths and opportunities provided by today's Internet?

Parent Event

Berkman Luncheon Series

Event Date

May 10 2016 12:00pm to May 10 2016 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (Room 2036, second floor)

The social nature of today’s Internet is creating new public health and policy challenges. For example, the US in 2014 experienced the largest measles outbreak in nearly a generation, which led to the passing of the nation's most conservative vaccine legislation, eliminating the personal belief exemption in California. Research has identified online misinformation about vaccines as one of the risk factors for this outbreak. Through three big data case analyses on water fluoridation, the Ebola epidemic, and childhood vaccinations, we analyze the influence of scientific evidence and the influence of “social proof,” a form of imitation where individuals ascribe to the behavior of others in order to resolve uncertainty. Our work aims to answer the question, how can we employ network science to develop social communication strategies for public health that build on the strengths and opportunities provided by today's Internet? In other words, instead of asking "How can we share our message with our target audience?" should we be asking "How can our target audience share our message?"

About Brittany

Dr. Brittany Seymour is an Assistant Professor at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She holds a full-time appointment in the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology and the Office of Global and Community Health. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and completed her Masters in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Population. Her overall research focus is in interdisciplinary approaches for oral health improvement at the global level through prevention, policy, and health promotion. She has held Fellowships at the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and conducts funded research on how misinformation online impacts important public health programs such as community water fluoridation and childhood vaccinations. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and the American Association of Public Health Dentistry where she holds a position with the Council on Practice. She is the Director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health’s Global Oral Health Interest Group and was a contributing author to the FDI World Dental Federation’s Oral Health Atlas 2nd Edition. Dr. Seymour has won numerous honors and awards, including the Award for Community Dentistry and Dental Public Health and the Herschel St. Horowitz scholarship by the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and an Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award from HSDM.

by candersen at May 10, 2016 05:00 PM

Ethan Zuckerman
That’s _Professor_ Bozo to you, Pal

Something odd about teaching at a university – everyone wants to call you Professor, or Doctor. I am always flattered by the upgrade, but I sometimes feel a little miffed. There’s lots of people who teach at universities who haven’t earned the doctorate, and lots of people who teach without being professors: lecturers, research scientists, graduate students. I enjoy telling people that I’m neither a professor or a doctor and that they should call me “Ethan”.

I guess I have one less thing to be miffed about.

MIT announced today that I have been promoted to Associate Professor of the Practice of Media Arts and Sciences, active July 1st. And while I make jokes about it, I’m deeply proud to take on the professor title. I love all facets of my work – the research, the software development, the writing and public speaking, the teaching and the advising – but I am especially proud of the work I’ve done the past five years in the classroom and working one on one with students. Many of my favorite people at the Media Lab hold the Research Scientist title, but I wanted the Professor title so as to recognize how much of my work is about students and their work.

Plus, I’m greying rapidly, and I look good in tweed.

IMG_3803 (1)

(Am I looking professorial yet?)

I am deeply grateful to MIT as a whole and to the Media Lab in particular for making it possible to take on this new role. MIT is especially open to recognizing those of us who’ve taken unconventional roles towards academic careers, and I am grateful for their flexibility. I owe special thanks to Pattie Maes, Mitch Resnick, James Paradis and Ed Schiappa, who’ve been tireless advocates on my behalf, to the wonderful reviewers who wrote letters on my behalf, and to Joi Ito, who has supported everything I’ve done and tried to do at the Media Lab. But the biggest thanks are reserved for my students and staff, past and present, who’ve helped me see that teaching is what I should be doing – thank you all more than I can say.

by Ethan at May 10, 2016 01:01 PM

Bruce Schneier
Economist Detained for Doing Math on an Airplane

An economics professor was detained when he was spotted doing math on an airplane:

On Thursday evening, a 40-year-old man ­-- with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent --­ boarded a plane. It was a regional jet making a short, uneventful hop from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse.

Or so dozens of unsuspecting passengers thought.

The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently if inscrutably scribbling on a notepad he'd brought aboard. His seatmate, a blond-haired, 30-something woman sporting flip-flops and a red tote bag, looked him over. He was wearing navy Diesel jeans and a red Lacoste sweater -- a look he would later describe as "simple elegance" -- but something about him didn't seem right to her.

She decided to try out some small talk.

Is Syracuse home? She asked.

No, he replied curtly.

He similarly deflected further questions. He appeared laser-focused ­-- perhaps too laser-focused ­-- on the task at hand, those strange scribblings.

Rebuffed, the woman began reading her book. Or pretending to read, anyway. Shortly after boarding had finished, she flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note of her own.

This story ended better than some. Economics professor Guido Menzio (yes, he's Italian) was taken off the plane, questioned, cleared, and allowed to board with the rest of his passengers two hours later.

This is a result of our stupid "see something, say something" culture. As I repeatedly say: "If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn't be surprised when you get amateur security."

On the other hand, "Algebra, of course, does have Arabic origins plus math is used to make bombs." Plus, this fine joke from 2003:

At Heathrow Airport today, an individual, later discovered to be a school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator.

Authorities believe she is a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement. She is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

AP story. Slashdot thread.

Seriously, though, I worry that this kind of thing will happen to me. I'm older, and I'm not very Semitic looking, but I am curt to my seatmates and intently focused on what I am doing -- which sometimes involves looking at web pages about, and writing about, security and terrorism. I'm sure I'm vaguely suspicious.

EDITED TO ADD: Last month a student was removed from an airplane for speaking Arabic.

by Bruce Schneier at May 10, 2016 12:21 PM

Children of Spies

Fascinating story of Tim and Alex Foley, the children of Russian spies Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley.

by Bruce Schneier at May 10, 2016 11:15 AM

Dennis Yi Tenen
What is a pack and play?

The pack and play consists generally of a (right) square or round surface, which in turn is surrounded by bars / grids. Sometimes, pack and play can be similar to cots, possess slip grid, which products can be removed and the child – at best under supervision – allow, leave the pack and play on your own or join can.

Pack and plays are among others also called walking school, since they actually mean a great support during independent hoisting, erecting and holding while running for the child. Therefore, it is important to adapt the growing mobility and size of the child with the height of the pack and play. The height of the grid must guarantee namely that the child unnoticed can not climb over or been injured while trying to do so.

Pack and play can be made of wood or plastic and fixedly attached to the base or be set up separately. They are available as a variant for the journey, as well as in combination with height adjustable shelves. Depending on the age of the child pack and play can be sheltered, mobile children’s and games room, it can be but usually move without major problems and take to where you currently a parent. This ensures that the child is always near and yet enjoys its own space, and its newly acquired skills always tried anew and thereby acquires a growing self-confidence.

Of course, the baby can also eat or drink in the pack and play, at least now and then. Insofar pack and play or the bottoms of the respective surfaces are easy to clean, yet not cold and slippery, eventually the child needs not only the maintenance of the rods when it pulls up, but also has on the ground have firm step. Pack and play can be equipped individually and thus delimit the actual nursery / cot, but simultaneously also provided with a positive cast, lest equating pack and play.

Why do I need a pack and play?

The pack and plays are useful aids to give the child a large piece of autonomy in learning crawling or walking, without there being danger of falling down things like CDs, books, vases, etc. Because the child tends always to pull himself up on furniture or other tangible just at or before the first steps. Because, of course, the pack and play is not yet fully able to assess risks of tilting chairs, tables or shelves or their content and the pack and play are so far very useful in that they exclude such risks completely and allow at the same time through the grid that the child pull alone and safely can stand.

For parents, the pack and play also mean a relief, the child may still be left unattended even for brief moments or much more even define its own space, in a way, define and acquire skills themselves, without, however, be present alone must. The pack and plays support the motor skills of the child and should be functional and safe in the first place. Especially, when you have two kids or visiting from other children, pack and play can also serve that children will engage together for a while, they can learn without mom or dad have for example help them when pulling up or running

Why pack and play should not be used, on the other hand equally important to mention. They should not be used as punishment or for keeping the child, so if the child cries, do not listen, you have to do something and the child sets (punishment) in the pack and play. Especially when children can not leave independently, inevitably creates a negative connotation and the playpen will be a really positive space rejected in the sense of a small, mobile game room in the future.

Regarding the cleaning you should, especially in metal and plastic, make sure that can make the pack and play thoroughly clean, remuneration and deposits should be washed machine washable or at least with hand washing and also in the size exactly match the dimensions of the pack and play to avoid gaps.

Finally, one should pay attention to stability and steadiness. This is above all to be considered as playpens are often loaded on one side, as soon as the child pulls on one side

by D3nT3n at May 10, 2016 01:59 AM

May 09, 2016

Berkman Center front page
Computers Gone Wild: Impact and Implications of Developments in Artificial Intelligence on Society


A summary of the second “Computers Gone Wild: Impact and Implications of Developments in Artificial Intelligence on Society” workshop, which took place on February 19, 2016 at Harvard Law School. 

The following summary was written by Samantha Bates:

The second “Computers Gone Wild: Impact and Implications of Developments in Artificial Intelligence on Society” workshop took place on February 19, 2016 at Harvard Law School.  Marin Soljačić, Max Tegmark, Bruce Schneier, and Jonathan Zittrain convened this informal workshop to discuss recent advancements in artificial intelligence research.  Participants represented a wide range of expertise and perspectives and discussed four main topics during the day-long event: the impact of artificial intelligence on labor and economics, algorithmic decision-making, particularly in law, autonomous weapons, and the risks of emergent human-level artificial intelligence. Each session opened with a brief overview of the existing literature related to the topic from a designated participant, followed by remarks from two or three provocateurs.  The session leader then moderated a discussion with the larger group. At the conclusion of each session, participants agreed upon a list of research questions that require further investigation by the community. A summary of each discussion as well as the group’s recommendations for additional areas of study are included below.

A summary of the first "Computers Gone Wild" workshop, held in 2011, is available at The Future of the Internet blog.

Session #1: Labor and Economics


The labor and economics session focused on two main topics: the impact of artificial intelligence on labor economics and the role of artificial intelligence in financial markets.  Participants observed that capital will eventually displace labor and that the gradual bifurcation of the market into the financial sector and the real economy will accelerate and exacerbate the impact of AI on capital concentration.  While the group seemed to be persuaded that current unemployment rates suggest that artificial intelligence is not yet replacing human workers to a great extent, participants discussed how artificial intelligence may cause greater social inequality as well as decrease the quality of work in the gig economy specifically.  The group also discussed how recent events in the financial market, such as the flash crashes in 2010 and 2014, exemplify how the interaction between technology, specifically high frequency trading, and human behavior can lead to greater instability in the market.[1]

On the impact of AI on labor economics, the group agreed that social inequality, particularly when it prevents social mobility, is concerning. For example, the growth of technology has expanded student access to information regarding college applications and scholarships, which increases competition among students.  Consequently, colleges and scholarship boards may overlook candidates who have the necessary skill set to succeed due to the growing size of the applicant pool.  While some social inequality is necessary to motivate students to work harder, increased competition may also take away opportunities from students who do not have the financial means to pay for college on their own.  Participants expressed concern that rather than creating opportunities for all users and helping society identify talent, technology may at times reinforce existing socioeconomic structures.

Similar to the college application example, the growth of technology has started to re-organize labor markets by creating more “talent markets” or jobs that require a very specific skill set.  Workers who possess these skills are highly sought after and well paid, but the current system overlooks many of these candidates, which can lead to fewer opportunities for individuals from the working classes to climb the social ladder.  Participants did not agree about the best way to solve the problem of social immobility.  Several participants emphasized the need for more online education and certification programs or a restructuring of the education system that would require workers to return to school periodically to learn about advancements in technology.  Others pointed out that we may be moving towards a society in which private companies start hoarding information, so online education programs and/or restructuring the education system will not make a difference when information is no longer widely available.

During the discussion about high frequency trading and flash crashes, the group struggled to determine what we should be most concerned about.  We do not fully understand why flash crashes occur, but past examples suggest that flash crashes are caused by a “perfect financial storm” in which a combination of technical flaws and malicious actors trying to manipulate the system happen all at the same time.[2]  Several participants expressed surprise that flash crashes do not occur more frequently and that the market is able to recover so quickly.  In response, it was pointed out that while the market appears to recover quickly, the impact of these short drops in the market can prove devastating for individual investors.  For example, we heard about a librarian who lost half of her retirement savings in three minutes.

Ultimately, participants agreed that policy regulation will play a major role in managing the impact of artificial intelligence on labor and the financial market.  For example, it was suggested that time limits on high frequency trading could prevent rapid-fire transactions and reduce the risk of causing a flash crash.  Other areas identified for further research included investigating whether there are flash trips rather than crashes that do not cause as much damage and are therefore overlooked and if we have a model to predict how frequently the system will trip.  Participants also agreed that the financial system is an important area for further research because it serves as a predictor of problems that may arise in other sectors.  There was also discussion of pros and cons of different approaches to reducing income inequality through redistribution, ranging from guaranteed income and negative income tax to provision of subsidized education, healthcare, and other social services.  Lastly, participants agreed that we should define what the optimal education system would look like and how it could help solve the social immobility problem.

Questions and Conclusions

  • Concluded that the financial system is a good measure of what the major AI challenges will be in other sectors because it changes quickly and frequently as well as has a large impact on people’s lives.
  • The group discussed whether we should be concerned that flash crashes are largely unexplained. One research area to explore is whether there are flash trips rather than crashes, which do not cause as much damage and are therefore, more difficult to detect.
    • Do we have any models to predict how frequently the system will trip aside from models of complex systems?
  • Since 2011, there has been no progress in mitigating the risks of high frequency trading. Maybe we should call attention to this problem, especially since we have no explanation for why flash crashes occur.
    • Why have we not solved the flash crash problem by setting time limitations that prevent rapid-fire transactions? This may be a policy issue rather than a tech problem.
    • Given that the algorithms are not perfect, should the financial market incorporate more human oversight?
  • What education model is an optimal preparation for a society in which AI is very advanced and getting rapidly and exponentially better: is it liberal-arts? Is our educational model (~20yrs of education/specialization followed by 40yrs of specialized work) outdated? [E.g. would it for example be more reasonable that people work for a few years, then go back to school for a year, then work for a few years, etc.?]
  • Does AI affect “financial democracy” (will everyone have access to investment and participate in the appreciation of financial assets (e.g. stock or bond market), or will only those individuals/institutions which have most powerful finance-AI capture all the profits, leaving retirement funds with no growth prospects)?
  • Many developing countries relied on export-based growth models to drag themselves out of poverty, exploring their cheap manufacturing. If robots and AI in developed countries replace cheap manufacturing coming from the undeveloped countries, how will poor countries ever pull themselves out of poverty?
  • When and in what order should we expect various jobs to become automated, and how will this impact income inequality?
  • What policies could help increasingly automated societies flourish? How can AI-generated wealth best support underemployed populations?  What are the pros and cons of interventions such as educational reform, apprenticeships programs, labor-demanding infrastructure projects, income redistribution and the social safety net?
  • What are potential solutions to the social immobility problem?
    • Can we design an education system that solves social immobility problems? What is the optimal education model?  Is education the best way to solve this problem?
    • Maybe we should investigate where we should invest our greatest resources. Where should we direct our brightest minds and greatest efforts?
    • How do we encourage the private sector to share knowledge rather than holding onto trade secrets?

Session #2: Algorithms and law


The discussion mainly focused on the use of algorithms in the criminal justice system.  More specifically, participants considered the use of algorithms to determine parole for individual prisoners, predict the location where the greatest number of crimes will be committed and which individuals are most likely to commit a crime or become a victim of a crime, as well as decide bail for prisoners.

Algorithmic bias was one major concern expressed by participants.  Bias is caused by the use of certain data types such as race, criminal history, gender, and socioeconomic status, to inform an algorithmic output.  However, excluding these data types can make the bias problem worse because it means that outputs are determined by less data.  Additionally, as certain data types are linked and can be used to infer other characteristics about an individual, eliminating specific data types from the dataset may not be sufficient to overcome algorithmic bias. Eliminating data types, criminal history in particular, may also counteract some of the basic aims of the criminal justice system, such as discouraging offenders from committing additional crimes in the future.  Judges consider whether prisoners are repeat offenders when determining sentences.  How should the algorithm simulate this aspect of judicial decision-making if criminal history is eliminated from the dataset?  Several members of the group pointed out that even if we successfully created an unbiased algorithm, we would need to require the entire justice system to use the algorithm in order to make the system fair.  Without universal adoption, certain communities may be treated less fairly than others.  For example, what if the wealthier communities refused to use the algorithm and only disadvantaged groups were evaluated by the algorithm?  Other participants countered that human judges can be unfair and biased, so an algorithm that at least ensures that judicial opinions are consistent may benefit everyone.  An alternative solution suggested was to introduce the algorithm as an assist tool for judges, similar to a pilot assist system, to act as a check or red flag on judicial outcomes.

Another set of concerns expressed by participants involved issues related to human perceptions of justice, accountability, and legitimacy.  The conversation touched on the human need for retribution and feeling that justice is served.  Similarly, the group talked about ways in which the use of algorithms to make or assist with judicial decisions may shift accountability away from the judge. If the judge does not have any other source of information on which to challenge the output of the algorithm, he or she may rely on the algorithm to make the decision.  Furthermore, if the algorithmic output intimates an official seal of acceptance, the judge will not as readily be held accountable for his or her decisions. Another concern was the possibility that, by trusting the technology to determine the correct outcome of a given case, the judge will become less personally invested in the courts system, which will ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the courts.

The other major topic discussed was the use of algorithms to inform crime prevention programs. The Chicago Police Department uses algorithms to identify individuals likely to commit a crime or become a victim of a crime and proactively offers these individuals support from social services.[3]  A similar program in Richmond, CA provides monetary incentives to encourage good behavior among troubled youth in the community.[4]  Unlike the Chicago Police Department, this program relies on human research rather than an algorithm to identify individuals at the greatest risk.  The group discussed how predictive algorithms in this case could automate the identification process.  However, the group also considered whether the very premise of these programs is fair as, in both examples, the state offers help only to a specific group of people.  Again, bias might influence which individuals are targeted by these programs.

The group concluded that algorithms can be most useful if built to leverage human abilities and act as a “tool” rather than a “friend.” More specifically, participants agreed that there needs to be greater transparency about how a given algorithm works and what types of data are used by the algorithm to make determinations. Aside from the legitimacy issue and the possibility that an assist program would substitute for human decisions, participants seemed to feel more comfortable with judges using algorithms as an assist tool if there is transparency about how the process worked and if the algorithm is required to explain its reasoning.  Furthermore, several participants made the point that transparency about the decision-making process may discourage future crime.

Questions and Conclusions

  • The group concluded that algorithms can be most useful if built to leverage human abilities and act as a “tool” rather than a “friend.”
    • Participants seemed to feel more comfortable with judges using algorithms as an assist tool if there is transparency about how the process worked and if the algorithm is required to explain its reasoning.
    • How do we make AI systems more transparent?
  • What data should we use to design algorithms? How can we eliminate bias in algorithms without compromising the effectiveness of the technology?
  • How can we design algorithms that incorporate human elements of decision-making such as accountability and a sense of justice?
  • Should we invest in designing algorithms that evaluate evidence? How do we apply the evidence data available to a given case?

Session #3: Autonomous Weapons


The group defined AWS as “a weapon system that is capable of independently selecting and engaging targets.”  However, determining which weapons should be considered autonomous led to some disagreement within the group, especially since there are weapons currently used by the military that some would have considered autonomous in the recent past but no longer do (while drones do not select and engage targets, aspects of drones as well as certain types of missiles (e.g. heat-speaking missiles), are autonomous).

There was discussion about how best to regulate AWS or whether we should ban the development and use of this technology in the United States or internationally.  The overarching question that emerged was whether we are concerned about AWS because they are “too smart” and we worry about their capabilities in the future or if we are concerned because the technology is “too stupid” to comply with the laws of war.  For example, some experts in the field have questioned whether existing legal requirements that outline the process for determining the proportionality and necessity of an attack can be automated.  A poll of the room demonstrated that while almost all participants wanted to encourage governments to negotiate an international treaty banning the use of lethal autonomous weapons, there was one participant who thought that there should not be any restrictions on AI development, and one participant who thought that the U.S. should not pursue AWS research regardless of whether other governments agreed to negotiate international regulations.  An additional participant was conflicted about whether the U.S. should ban AWS research altogether or should negotiate a set of international regulations, so his or her vote was counted in both categories. Several participants reasoned that a ban would not be effective because AWS is likely to benefit non-state actors. Others argued that the absence of an international ban would trigger an AWS arms race that would ultimately strengthen non-state actors and weaken state actors, because mass-produced AWS would become cheap and readily available on the black market.  Those in favor of a ban also highlighted the moral, legal, and accountability concerns raised by delegating targeting determinations to machines.

One person argued that from a defensive perspective, the U.S. has no choice but to develop autonomous weapons because other actors (state and non-state) will continue to develop this technology. Therefore, it was suggested that the U.S. restrict research to only defensive AWS.  However, even if the U.S. develops only defensive AWS, there may still be undesirable second order effects that will be impossible to anticipate.  In addition, as the leader of the market, the U.S., by refusing to continue AWS development, may be able to encourage other nations to abandon this area of AI research as well.

Despite differing opinions on how best to regulate AWS, the group agreed that enforcement of these regulations may be difficult. For example, it may be impossible to enforce restrictions when only the deployer knows whether the weapon is autonomous.  Furthermore, would one hold the individual deployer or the nation state responsible for the use of autonomous weapons? If we choose to hold nation states accountable, it will be difficult to regulate the development and use of AWS because we may not be able to trust that other countries will comply with regulations.  It was pointed out that the regulation would also need to take into account that technology developed for civilian uses could potentially be re-purposed for military uses.  Last, several participants argued that regulatory questions are not a large concern because past examples of advanced weaponry that may have previously been defined as autonomous demonstrate that the U.S. has historically addressed regulatory concerns on a case-by-case basis.

The costs and benefits of using AWS in the military also generated a discussion that incorporated multiple perspectives.  Several participants argued that AWS, which may be more efficient at killing, could decrease the number of deaths in war. How do we justify banning AWS research when so many lives could be preserved?  On the other side, participants reasoned that the loss of human life discourages nations from entering into future wars. In addition, participants considered the democratic aspect of war.  AWS may create an uneven power dynamic in democracies by transferring the power to wage war from the general public to the politicians and social elite.  There was also a discussion about whether the use of AWS would encourage more killing because it eliminates the messy and personal aspects from the act of killing.  Some participants felt that historical events, such as the genocide in Rwanda, suggest that the personal aspects of killing do not discourage violence and therefore, the use of AWS would not necessarily decrease or increase the number of deaths.

Lingering research questions included whether AWS research and use should be banned in the U.S. or internationally and if not, whether research should be limited to defensive AWS.  Additionally, if there was an international treaty or body in charge of determining global regulations for the development and use of AWS, what would those regulations look like and how would they be enforced?  Furthermore, should regulations contain stipulations about incorporating certain AWS features, such as kill switches and watermarks, in order to address some of the concerns about accountability and enforcement?  And regardless of whether AWS are banned, how should we account for the possibility that AI systems intended for civilian uses may be repurposed for military uses?

Questions and Conclusions

  • Most participants (but not all) agreed that the world powers should draft some form of international regulations to guide AWS research and use.
    • What should the terms of the agreement be? What would a ban or regulations look like? How would the decision-makers reach consensus?
    • How would regulations be enforced, especially since non-state actors are likely to acquire and use AWS?
    • How do we hold nation states accountable for AWS research and development? Should states be held strictly liable, for example?
  • Alternatively, do we already have current regulations that account for some of the concerns regarding AWS research? Should the U.S. continue to evaluate weapon development on a case-by-case basis?
  • Should certain types of AWS development and use be banned? Only offensive? Only lethal weapons? Would a ban be effective?
    • Should we require AWS to have certain safety/defensive features, such as kill switches?
  • Even if the U.S. limits research to defensive AWS, how do we account for unanticipated outcomes that may be undesirable? For example, how do we define whether a weapon is defensive?  What if a “defensive” weapon is sent into another state’s territory and fires back when it is attacked? Is it considered an offensive or defensive weapon?
  • How do we prevent military re-purposing of civilian AI?
  • Need to incorporate more diverse viewpoints in this conversation. We need more input from lawyers, philosophers, and economists to solve these problems.

Session #4: The Risks of Emergent Human-Level AI


The final session featured a presentation about ongoing research funded by the Future of Life Institute, which focuses on ensuring that any future AI with super-human intelligence will be beneficial. Group members expressed a variety of views about when, if ever, we will successfully develop human-level AI.  It was argued that there will be many issues to resolve in order to converge current AI technology, which is limited to narrow AI, to form an advanced, general AI system.  Conversely, several participants argued that while the timeline remains uncertain, human-level AI is achievable.  They emphasized the need for further research in order to prepare for the social, economic, and legal consequences of this technology.

The second major point debated was the potential dangers of human-level AI.  Participants disagreed about the likelihood that advanced AI systems will have the ability to act beyond the control of human creators.  In response, other group members explained that an advanced, general AI system may be harder to control because it is designed to learn new tasks, rather than follow a specific set of instructions like narrow AI systems, and therefore, may act out of self-preservation or the need for resources to complete a task.  Given the difference between general AI and narrow AI, it will be important to consider the social and emotional aspects of general AI systems when designing the technology.  For example, there was some discussion about the best way to build a system that allows the technology to learn and respect human values.  At the same time, it was pointed out that current AI systems that do not possess human-level intelligence could also pose a threat to humans if released “into the wild.”  Similar to animals, AI systems with code that can be manipulated by malicious actors or have unforeseeable and unintended consequences may prove equally dangerous to humans.  It was suggested that some of the recommendations for overseeing and maintaining control of human-level AI be applied to existing AI systems.

In conclusion, the group identified several areas requiring additional research including the need to define robotic and AI terminology, including vocabulary related to the ethics of safety design.  For example, should we define a robot as a creature with human-like characteristics or as an object or assist tool for humans?  Experts from different disciplines such as law, philosophy and computer science will require a shared vocabulary in order to work together to devise solutions to a variety of challenges that may be created by advanced AI.  Additionally, as human-level AI can quickly become super-human AI, several participants emphasized the need for more research in this field related to safety, control, and alignment of AI values with human values.  It was also suggested that we investigate whether our understanding of sociability is changing as it may impact how we think about the social and emotional elements of AI.  Lastly, lawyers should investigate liability and tort law in order to determine whether there are guiding ethical principles that should be incorporated into future AI systems.

Questions and Conclusions

  • Group displayed the full spectrum of perspectives about the timeline and the potential outcomes of human-level AI. A large number of questions remain that still need to be considered.
  • Group identified the need to define robotic and AI terminology, including vocabulary related to the ethics of safety design. For example, should we define a robot as a creature or as an object?  Experts from different disciplines such as law, philosophy and computer science will require a shared vocabulary in order to work together to devise solutions to a variety of challenges that may be created by advanced AI.
  • The group considered the social and emotional aspects of AI systems. What is the nature of a collaborative relationship between a human and a machine? We should investigate whether our understanding of sociability is changing as it may impact how we think about the social and emotional elements of AI.
  • How should we design legal frameworks to oversee research and use of human-level intelligence AI?
  • Lawyers should investigate liability and tort law in order to determine whether there are guiding ethical principles that should be incorporated into future AI systems.
    • How can we build the technology in a way that can adapt as human values, laws, and social norms change over time?


  • Ryan Adams – Assistant Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
  • Kenneth Anderson – Professor of Law, American University, and visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (spring 2016).
  • Peter Asaro – Assistant Professor, School of Media Studies, The New School.
  • David Autor – Professor and Associate Department Head, Department of Economics, MIT.
  • Cynthia Breazeal – Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT.
  • Rebecca Crootof – Ph.D. in Law candidate at Yale Law School and a Resident Fellow with the Yale Information Society Project, Yale Law School.
  • Kate Darling – Research Specialist at the MIT Media Lab and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University.
  • Bonnie Docherty – Lecturer on Law and Senior Clinical Instructor, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School.
  • Peter Galison – Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University.
  • Viktoriya Krakovna – Doctoral Researcher at Harvard University, and a co-founder of the Future of Life Institute.
  • Andrew W. Lo – Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor, Director, MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering, MIT.
  • Richard Mallah – Director of AI Projects at the Future of Life Institute.
  • David C. Parkes – Harvard College Professor, George F. Colony Professor of Computer Science and Area Dean for Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
  • Steven Pinker – Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University.
  • Lisa Randall – Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Department of Physics, Harvard University.
  • Susanna Rinard – Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Harvard University.
  • Cynthia Rudin – Associate Professor of Statistics, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and Sloan School of Management, MIT.
  • Bruce Schneier – Security Technologist, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, and Chief Technology Officer of Resilient Systems, Inc.
  • Stuart Shieber – James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,Harvard University.
  • Marin Soljačić – Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, MIT.
  • Max Tegmark – Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, MIT.
  • Jonathan Zittrain – George Bemis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

[1] “One big, bad trade,” The Economist Online, October 1, 2010, See also Pam Martens and Russ Martens, “Treasury Flash Crash of October 15, 2014 Still Has Wall Street in a Sweat,” April 9, 2015,

[2] In 2015, authorities arrested a trader named Navinder Singh Sarao, who contributed to the flash crash that occurred on May 6, 2010.  See Nathaniel Popper and Jenny Anderson, “Trader Arrested in Manipulation That Contributed to 2010 ‘Flash Crash’” April 21, 2015,

[3] Matt Stroud, “The minority report: Chicago’s new police computer predicts crimes, but is it racist?” The Verge, February 19, 2014,

[4] Tim Murphy, “Did This City Bring Down Its Murder Rate by Paying People Not to Kill?” Mother Jones, July/August 2014,


by gweber at May 09, 2016 01:49 PM

Bruce Schneier
NIST Starts Planning for Post-Quantum Cryptography

Last year, the NSA announced its plans for transitioning to cryptography that is resistant to a quantum computer. Now, it's NIST's turn. Its just-released report talks about the importance of algorithm agility and quantum resistance. Sometime soon, it's going to have a competition for quantum-resistant public-key algorithms:

Creating those newer, safer algorithms is the longer-term goal, Moody says. A key part of this effort will be an open collaboration with the public, which will be invited to devise and vet cryptographic methods that -- to the best of experts' knowledge -- ­will be resistant to quantum attack. NIST plans to launch this collaboration formally sometime in the next few months, but in general, Moody says it will resemble past competitions such as the one for developing the SHA-3 hash algorithm, used in part for authenticating digital messages.

"It will be a long process involving public vetting of quantum-resistant algorithms," Moody said. "And we're not expecting to have just one winner. There are several systems in use that could be broken by a quantum computer­ -- public-key encryption and digital signatures, to take two examples­ -- and we will need different solutions for each of those systems."

The report rightly states that we're okay in the symmetric cryptography world; the key lengths are long enough.

This is an excellent development. NIST has done an excellent job with their previous cryptographic standards, giving us a couple of good, strong, well-reviewed, and patent-free algorithms. I have no doubt this process will be equally excellent. (If NIST is keeping a list, aside from post-quantum public-key algorithms, I would like to see competitions for a larger-block-size block cipher and a super-fast stream cipher as well.)

Two news articles.

by Bruce Schneier at May 09, 2016 11:19 AM

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