Posts Under: Policy

Measures of Algorithmic Fairness Move Beyond Predictive Parity to Focus on Disparate Error Rates

There’s good news from the scholarly community working on the assessment of fairness in algorithms.  Computer scientists and statisticians are developing a host of new measures of fairness aimed at providing companies, policymakers, advocates with new tools to assess fairness in different contexts. The essential insight of the movement is that the field needs many different measures of fairness to capture the variety of normative concepts that are used in different business and legal contexts. Alexandra Chouldechova, Assistant Professor of Statistics and Public Policy at Heinz College, says “There is no single notion of fairness that will work for every decision context or for every goal.” To find the right measure for the job at hand, she advises, “Start with the context in which you’re going to apply [your decision], and work backwards from there.” This issue came to a head in the controversy surrounding the COMPAS score.  This s ...

more

Data Flows and Development - There is a link!

SIIA hosted a panel discussion for delegates to the World Trade Organization (WTO) E-Commerce Work Committee in Geneva on March 14, 2017.  UNCTAD’s Cecile Barayre, the Brookings Institution’s Joshua Meltzer, Tala’s Zach Marks, and Google’s Nicholas Bramble provided background information, which elicited many insightful questions.  One takeaway that is perhaps not obvious to all who participate in trade negotiations is that cross-border data flows are not necessarily synonymous with domestic deregulation.  This is consistent with SIIA’s view that governments should permit – indeed even encourage – cross-border data flows through offering data transfer interoperability mechanisms that enable cross-border data flows, but at the same time ensure compliance with national privacy and other laws.  This resource paper provides information on sources that governments and others can consult as they consider policy in this space.

more

Europe Does Better on the Right To Be Forgotten

In a significant ruling, earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ruled that an individual’s privacy interest in limiting the disclosure of personal information does not generally override the interest in public disclosure about company officials. The ruling protects the public interest in transparency about governance of public companies; preserves the capacity of stock holders to assess companies accurately and protect their legal rights with respect to them; and reaffirms the legitimacy of data processor access to personal information in public data bases about companies.

more

Larry Summers Trashes a Robot Tax and Calls for Active Government Role to Deal with Structural Unemployment

Former Harvard University President and U.S. Treasury Secretary recently demolished the idea of a robot tax and also issued a ringing endorsement of an activist government role to manage the impact of artificial intelligence on the labor market and on society. 

more

Here’s to Hoping Sanity Returns to Patent Venue

Earlier this week, SIIA filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on patent venue, urging it to reverse the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of the existing patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. 1400(b).  Although the argument is a technical one, the resolution of this case has important implications for the technology industry.  The misinterpretation of that statute has concentrated patent litigation in a single district that has encouraged the growth of the patent assertion business model.

more

An Idea Whose Time is Coming

Benoit Hamon, the French Socialist Party candidate chosen by primary voters this week, has a plan.  He wants to provide everyone in France with a basic income.  The idea has been around for generations.  Why now?  Because Hamon thinks robots are coming for our jobs and we’re going to need to share the wealth they create. U.S. companies and entrepreneurs are flirting with the idea as well. If advanced artificial intelligence can really replace workers at all skill levels, then there might not be enough work to go around.  Brynjolffson and McAfee warn that education and skills training might not keep pace with rapidly advancing technological change – by the time workers learned new skills they would already be made obsolete by the evolution of smart machines. Of course, this hasn’t really happened up to now.  Automation and computer technology have created more jobs than they destroy. When companies introduce automation, it cheapens t ...

more

America Needs to Embrace Automation

On Wednesday, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo released an article titled, “How to Make America’s Robots Great Again” which discusses how to revitalize America’s manufacturing sector through the increased use of robots.   It is true that robots have replaced workers in many manufacturing jobs, but  embracing automation has the potential to be beneficial to workers and the economy.  While automation has caused some displacement, many manufacturers are still hiring.  However, these jobs require new and different skills, and many workers are not currently trained to interact with machines in the way that augments their skills and maximizes automation’s potential.  According to a Deloitte study, roughly 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled because of this skills gap.  One of the reasons for this, according to companies, is that education and training systems have not kept up with the evolving needs of indu ...

more

Infrastructure Blueprint A Great Start for Digital Learning & Connected Communities

One of the marquee promises of President Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House was a not insignificant $1 trillion investment to revitalize America’s infrastructure. Since taking office, the President has been mum on details and timing for an infrastructure push. In the void, Senate Democrats this week announced their vision for an infrastructure investment plan, the “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure.” What does this blueprint get right? Most importantly, the blueprint takes a broader interpretation of the term infrastructure by including broadband investments. Moving beyond concrete, glass and steel to include fiber is essential to ensuring schools, libraries and whole communities are connected to economic opportunities. Just as commerce increasingly occurs in the online marketplace, classrooms and schools around the country have begun to harness the benefits of digital learning. Over the last few years, the nation has made signif ...

more