Posts Under: Policy

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.

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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McKinsey Global Institute Releases Report on Automation and Work

Yesterday, the McKinsey Global Institute released a new report called, “Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works.” This report comes after SIIA released its own report titled, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work” which touches on many of the same issues.  Similar to the SIIA report, it found that the adoption of automation carries significant benefits that outweigh the costs. In 2013, two Oxford economists estimated that occupations accounting for 47% of all U.S. employment were at risk of automation.  The McKinsey report states that more accurate assessment of the impact of automation on work is by looking at the impact by activity rather than the entire occupation.  By its assessment, only less than 5% of occupations can be fully automated with today’s technology.  Though, looking at automation via activity instead of by occupation, roughly half of all activities worldwide could be automated, totaling roughly $16 t ...

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Continued Misunderstandings of the Student Privacy Pledge

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has filed suit against Google for violation of the K-12 School Service Provider Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy.  The suit will work its way through the legal system and a judgement made based on its merit, but it is important to point out that the suit contains some important misunderstandings about the student privacy pledge. The complaint alleges that Google violated the student privacy pledge because it collected information about students who are using general purpose services. The pledge, however, only applies to applications, services, or web sites “designed and marketed for use in United States elementary and secondary educational institutions.” In addition, the complaint suggests that the pledge is violated because Google uses layered privacy policies (for its general purpose services and a more restrictive policy for its educational services) and educational websites related to its privacy policies (google.com/e ...

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DeVos Hearing Lacking Education Technology

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faced a tough lineup of Senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday evening. The heated, partisan questioning primarily focused on DeVos’ beliefs on school choice/privatization, accountability, and civil rights and her financial contributions to education reform groups. Unfortunately, education technology was not a topic addressed directly by DeVos or by any of the Committee’s members.

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"Hidden Figures:" A Great Story on Jobs as well as Civil Rights

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of 21st Century Fox’s “Hidden Figures.”  This is a great movie about the critical contributions made by three African-American women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson -  to put John Glenn into space in the early 1960s.  The movie depicts the struggles these women faced to be treated equally as the consummate professionals they were at a time when the state of Virginia still enforced segregation laws.  It is a wonderful and uplifting story about a mostly unexplored but important dimension of American history.  Go see it! There is an interesting sub-plot to the movie, which has to do with the usually somewhat dry – at least on the big screen -  topic of automation and jobs.  Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson were hired by NASA to be human “computers.”  Part of Johnson’s job was to calculate John Glenn’s exact landing zone in ...

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