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Is Big Data Killing Democracy?
The combination of huge amounts of personal data on all of us and tools to analyze it can do great good in medical and scientific applications. But the same technologies also threaten the social and political order of our country, critics say. Technology can be "the best and worst of times at the same time," said Harvard Law School professor (and former presidential candidate) Lawrence Lessig
, speaking the Cloudflare Internet Summit Thursday in San Francisco. Lessig, who has long worried about the state of U.S. democracy, thinks that data science poses a new and dangerous threat.
House sets aside Trump’s biggest budget cuts
The House this week quietly pushed aside some of the most controversial proposals in President Trump’s budget request...By throwing out an enormous initial proposal for non-defense cuts, Trump may have made it easier for Congress to adopt cuts that are nonetheless significant. Psychologists call the strategy “anchoring,” because it anchors the first number— in this case $54 billion in discretionary non-defense cuts — at the center of a negotiation. “It’s a hugely powerful tool, as behavioral economists and psychologists have proven,” says Gabriella Blum
, a negotiations expert at Harvard Law School. “Once you throw a number out there, it serves as a very powerful anchor that your mind is drawn to. It forces the conversation around it.”
U.S. Tags ISIS Fighter ‘Enemy Combatant,’ Reviving Bush-Era Term
Almost nothing is publicly known about the American ISIS fighter who is now in the custody of the U.S. military, but one fact has already made the case extraordinary: The Trump Administration has declared him an enemy combatant, according to a military spokesman...The designation of the American ISIS fighter as an enemy combatant would become more consequential if the Trump administration seeks to detain him indefinitely under that status, legal experts say. If that happens, "then it's a big deal," said Jack Goldsmith
, a Harvard Law School professor and former Bush administration lawyer.
Harvard Prof Slated As Fees Expert In NFL Concussion Case
A Pennsylvania federal judge on Thursday appointed Harvard Law School professor William B. Rubenstein
to address several questions surrounding attorneys’ fees payouts in the uncapped NFL concussion settlement, overruling concerns that his involvement may create a conflict of interest...U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said Rubenstein must conclude whether a cap can and should be implemented in relation to the percentage any class member must pay his attorney, while also making a determination on how high the cap should be...
Arrest the American Islamic State Fighter
An op-ed by Noah Feldman
. President Donald Trump has to decide what to do with an American who was fighting for Islamic State, captured by Kurdish forces in Syria and handed over this week to the U.S. military. The best solution is also the simplest: Charge him with material support for terrorism, convict him and lock him up in an appropriate U.S. prison for many, many years. In any sane, nonpartisan world, this decision would be a no-brainer. The other options are all flawed -- practically, or legally, or both.
Could Facebook Have Caught Its ‘Jew Hater’ Ad Targeting?
Facebook lives and dies by its algorithms. They decide the order of posts in your News Feed, the ads you see when you open the app, and which which news topics are trending. Algorithms make its vast platform possible, and Facebook can often seem to trust them completely—or at least thoughtlessly. On Thursday, a pitfall of that approach became clear. ProPublica revealed that people who buy ads on Facebook can choose to target them at self-described anti-Semites...To Jonathan Zittrain
, a professor of law at Harvard University, that story suggests the entire way that tech companies currently sell ads online might need an overhaul. “For categories with tiny audiences, with titles drawn from data that Facebook users themselves enter—such as education and interests—it may amount to a tree falling in a forest that no one hears,” he said.
The Wisdom of Finance: Mihir Desai on the link between morality and money
From the Great Recession to Libor and PPI, money laundering to mis-sold rate swap deals, the world of finance has, in many cases, earned its crown of thorns. But Mihir Desai
, the Mizuho Financial Group professor of finance at Harvard Business School, thinks bankers get a bad rap. I caught up with him on a recent trip to London to discuss his book, the Wisdom of Finance. There is, he says, a deep connection between morality and money. I suggest that given recent years, more than a few will disagree. “Oh of course they will, but that’s what I’m trying to change. In fact part of the idea of the title, the Wisdom of Finance, was to put together two words people don’t usually associate.”
The Harvard Crimson
Law School Students, Faculty Celebrate Contributions to the Arts
Despite rainy weather, crowds of Harvard Law School students, staff, faculty, alumni, and their families gathered in Jarvis Field Friday night for an event recognizing the school’s contributions to the arts as part of its bicentennial celebrations. The event, called “HLS in the Arts,” spanned two days and is one of the first in year-long series to celebrate the Law School’s 200th birthday...Richard J. Lazarus
, a Law School professor and the faculty chair of the bicentennial planning committee, said that this year’s celebrations have been in the works since as early as 2014, when he began meeting with faculty, staff, and students to brainstorm ideas for how best to commemorate this milestone in the school’s history. His said his intention was for the school to spend the year recalling its own achievements, but instead actively showing what makes it so “iconic.”
The man who helped Trump use Facebook to get elected says algorithms can bring out our ‘worst’
The technologist who ran Donald Trump's automated ad campaign on Facebook says "unsupervised" software can bring out the best and worst of humanity. Darren Bolding, chief technology officer of Cambridge Analytica, told the crowd at the third annual Internet Summit in San Francisco on Thursday that "algorithms will find the worst in us if you let them go nuts." His comments came during an interview onstage with Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig
in front of several hundred people gathered to hear him discuss the campaign.
Stars and Stripes
Experts: Veterans should ‘get out in the streets’ to protest government’s handling of ‘bad paper’
Easing challenges created for veterans who receive “bad paper” discharges will require changes in practices and procedures at the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, some experts said Friday...Dana Montalto
, a fellow at Harvard Law School, is petitioning for change to VA regulations concerning veterans with other-than-honorable discharges. The VA in July began providing urgent mental health care to those veterans – aid that wasn’t available previously. Though VA Secretary David Shulkin’s announcement was a shift in how government officials talked about veterans with bad paper, critics argued the policy didn’t go far enough.
Minnesota Public Radio
Aspen Ideas Festival: The legacy of James Madison
Today is "Constitution Day," marking the anniversary of the adoption of the US Constitution on September 17th, 1787. James Madison is considered the "father of the Constitution," and Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman
is coming out with a new book about him in October titled, "The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President." Feldman says James Madison was a politician with a long-term view. He wanted a government of the people, a republic, but not an empire. Madison left office more popular than any of his predecessor presidents. Feldman spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado on June 26, 2017.