The metaverse: real world laws give rise to virtual world problems — from cityam.com by Gregor Pryor

Legal questions
Like many technological advances, from the birth of the internet to more modern-day phenomena such as the use of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse will in some way challenge the legal status quo.

Whilst the growth and adoption of the metaverse will raise age-old legal questions, it will also generate a number of unique legal and regulatory obstacles that need to be overcome.

From DSC:
I’m posting this because this is another example of why we have to pick up the pace within the legal realm. Organizations like the American Bar Association (ABA) are going to have to pick up the pace big time. Society has been being impacted by a variety of emerging technologies such as these. And such changes are far from being over. Law schools need to assess their roles and responsibilities in this new world as well.

Addendum on 3/29/21:
Below are some more examples from Jason Tashea’s “The Justice Tech Download” e-newsletter:

  • Florida prisons buy up location data from data brokers. (Techdirt) A prison mail surveillance company keeps tabs on those on the outside, too. (VICE)
  • Police reform requires regulating surveillance tech. (Patch) (h/t Rebecca Williams) A police camera that never tires stirs unease at the US First Circuit Court of Appeals. (Courthouse News)
  • A Florida sheriff’s office was sued for using its predictive policing program to harass residents. (Techdirt)
  • A map of e-carceration in the US. (Media Justice) (h/t Upturn)
  • This is what happens when ICE asks Google for your user information. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Data shows the NYPD seized 55,000 phones in 2020, and it returned less than 35,000 of them. (Techdirt)
  • The SAFE TECH Act will make the internet less safe for sex workers. (OneZero)
  • A New York lawmaker wants to ban the use of armed robots by police. (Wired)
  • A look at the first wave of government accountability of algorithms. (AI Now Institute) The algorithmic auditing trap. (OneZero)
  • The (im)possibility of fairness: Different value systems require different mechanisms for fair decision making. (Association for Computing Machinery)
  • A new open dataset has 510 commercial legal contracts with 13,000+ labels. (Atticus Project)
  • JusticeText co-founder shares her experience building tech for public defenders. (Law360)

 

 

A New York Lawmaker Wants to Ban Police Use of Armed Robots — from wired.com by Sidney Fussell
Officers’ use of Boston Robotics’ Digidog intensifies concerns about militarization of the police.

A robot dog is pictured here.

Excerpt:

NEW YORK CITY councilmember Ben Kallos says he “watched in horror” last month when city police responded to a hostage situation in the Bronx using Boston Dynamics’ Digidog, a remotely operated robotic dog equipped with surveillance cameras. Pictures of the Digidog went viral on Twitter, in part due to their uncanny resemblance with world-ending machines in the Netflix sci-fi series Black Mirror.

 

How a Discriminatory Algorithm Wrongly Accused Thousands of Families of Fraud — from vice.com by Gabriel Geiger; with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource
Dutch tax authorities used algorithms to automate an austere and punitive war on low-level fraud—the results were catastrophic.

Excerpt:

Last month, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte—along with his entire cabinet—resigned after a year and a half of investigations revealed that since 2013, 26,000 innocent families were wrongly accused of social benefits fraud partially due to a discriminatory algorithm.

Forced to pay back money they didn’t owe, many families were driven to financial ruin, and some were torn apart. Others were left with lasting mental health issues; people of color were disproportionately the victims.

On a more positive note, Sam DeBrule (in his Machine Learnings e-newsletter) also notes the following article:

Can artificial intelligence combat wildfires? Sonoma County tests new technology — from latimes.com by Alex Wigglesworth

 

From DSC:
The items below are from Sam DeBrule’s Machine Learnings e-Newsletter.


By clicking this image, you will go to Sam DeBrule's Machine Learning e-Newsletter -- which deals with all topics regarding Artificial Intelligence

#Awesome

“Sonoma County is adding artificial intelligence to its wildfire-fighting arsenal. The county has entered into an agreement with the South Korean firm Alchera to outfit its network of fire-spotting cameras with software that detects wildfire activity and then alerts authorities. The technology sifts through past and current images of terrain and searches for certain changes, such as flames burning in darkness, or a smoky haze obscuring a tree-lined hillside, according to Chris Godley, the county’s director of emergency management…The software will use feedback from humans to refine its algorithm and will eventually be able to detect fires on its own — or at least that’s what county officials hope.” – Alex Wigglesworth Learn More from Los Angeles Times >

#Not Awesome

Hacked Surveillance Camera Firm Shows Staggering Scale of Facial Recognition — from
A hacked customer list shows that facial recognition company Verkada is deployed in tens of thousands of schools, bars, stores, jails, and other businesses around the country.

Excerpt:

Hackers have broken into Verkada, a popular surveillance and facial recognition camera company, and managed to access live feeds of thousands of cameras across the world, as well as siphon a Verkada customer list. The breach shows the astonishing reach of facial recognition-enabled cameras in ordinary workplaces, bars, parking lots, schools, stores, and more.

The staggering list includes K-12 schools, seemingly private residences marked as “condos,” shopping malls, credit unions, multiple universities across America and Canada, pharmaceutical companies, marketing agencies, pubs and bars, breweries, a Salvation Army center, churches, the Professional Golfers Association, museums, a newspaper’s office, airports, and more.

 

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

By the time thousands of rioters stormed the US Capitol in January, organized in part on Facebook and fueled by the lies about a stolen election that had fanned out across the platform, it was clear from my conversations that the Responsible AI team had failed to make headway against misinformation and hate speech because it had never made those problems its main focus. More important, I realized, if it tried to, it would be set up for failure.

The reason is simple. Everything the company does and chooses not to do flows from a single motivation: Zuckerberg’s relentless desire for growth. Quiñonero’s AI expertise supercharged that growth. His team got pigeonholed into targeting AI bias, as I learned in my reporting, because preventing such bias helps the company avoid proposed regulation that might, if passed, hamper that growth. Facebook leadership has also repeatedly weakened or halted many initiatives meant to clean up misinformation on the platform because doing so would undermine that growth.

In other words, the Responsible AI team’s work—whatever its merits on the specific problem of tackling AI bias—is essentially irrelevant to fixing the bigger problems of misinformation, extremism, and political polarization. And it’s all of us who pay the price.

Artificial Intelligence In 2021: Five Trends You May (or May Not) Expect — from forbes.com by Nisha Talagala

5 trends for AI in 2021

 

Technology and Access to Justice: How Does It Work? — from lawdroid.com by Robin Bull

Picture of a keyboard with the word Justice on one of the keys - clicking on this image will take you to an article called Technology and Access to Justice: How Does It Work?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At its most basic level, the term “access to justice” means the ability that a person has in accessing the legal system. This includes, and is not limited to, the ability to afford an attorney and file a lawsuit. There is only a legal right to an attorney if a person faces a criminal charge. There is no right to an attorney if someone is involved in a civil matter.

In the civil system, there is no constitutional right to an attorney. If a person can afford an attorney, great. Sure, there are legal aid organizations set up to provide access to justice. However, many do not have the funds, enough employees, or enough volunteers to help every person who seeks them out. Many Americans cannot afford to pay an hourly rate to have an attorney handle a civil matter. Even if they manage to come up with a retainer, they may not be able to see the matter through to completion or finish paying their attorney.

Here are a few ways that technology and access to justice work together.  

 

Also see:

If regular people lack the abilty to petition a branch of our government without spending their life savings, then we don't have a democracy. Sonja Ebron of Courtroom 5

 

Logging in to get kicked out: Inside America’s virtual eviction crisis -- from technologyreview.com by Eileen Guo

Logging in to get kicked out: Inside America’s virtual eviction crisis — from technologyreview.com by Eileen Guo

Excerpts:

An unprecedented, imperfect moratorium
Before the pandemic, an average of 3.6 million Americans lost their homes to evictions every year, according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. By the end of 2020, this number could increase exponentially, with one report from the Aspen Institute estimating that, without further federal aid, between 30 to 40 million people may be at risk of eviction in the next several months. The financial hardship exacerbated by covid-19 has left many in a precarious situation.

.

Legal aid attorneys chart course for 2021 after spike in demand

Legal aid attorneys chart course for 2021 after spike in demand — from law360.com by Justin Wise

Excerpts: (emphasis DSC)

The coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it caused sparked a massive spike in demand for legal aid services from America’s most marginalized communities, leaving a field already under-resourced facing even greater strain in 2020.

At the same time, many organizations had to close their offices in the spring and significantly reduce in-person communication with clients to comply with health guidelines. It all amounted to a “pretty crushing” year in which attorneys transitioned to a primarily remote operation with new channels including a COVID-19 legal intake line, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Executive Director Laura Tuggle said.

Tuggle said 3 in 4 of the calls on the SLLS hotline are from people seeking assistance on matters relating to housing and evictions. Overall, the group has had a 300% increase in eviction cases this year. It also had a 600% increase in unemployment assistance cases in the first few months of the pandemic.

“The most pressing legal need America faces as we enter 2021 is the tsunami of potential evictions that threaten the millions of people who have lost jobs during the pandemic,” LSC Executive Director Ronald Flagg said, pointing to a study showing that evictions can cause increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

 

 

Addendum on 12/9/20:

 

Initiative Aims to Find Future Diverse Lawyers in High School — from news.bloomberglaw.com by Meghan Tribe

Excerpt:

A new program seeks to build a pipeline of diverse future lawyers while they are still in high school, with help from Big Law firms.

Thrive Scholars, a Los Angeles-founded organization that supports high-achieving low-income students of color, has started a new track aimed at creating a greater pipeline of black and Latinx attorneys to work at top law firms.

Most programs to build a more diverse legal field start with students in college or law school, but Thrive’s program aims to find ambitious future lawyers earlier.

 

Connectivity gap persists for at least 300K California students — from educationdive.com by Shawna De La Rosa

Dive Brief:

  • California school districts are required to provide both devices and high-speed internet connection to any student learning from home, but between 300,000 and 1 million remain disconnected, EdSource reports. A backlog of computer orders and weak broadband infrastructure in remote areas are contributing factors.
  • At a state assembly education committee hearing Wednesday, California education leaders, teachers and lawmakers discussed how to close the digital divide. Though most households have enough broadband to handle some video calls, many family networks don’t have the strength for multiple students to be connected at once.
  • Nationwide, approximately one-third of households with annual incomes under $30,000 and with children under 18 don’t have high-speed internet connection at home, impacting roughly 9.7 million students, according to a Pew Research Center report. A quarter of teens within that socio-economic bracket lack access to a computer at home.

 

 

From DSC:
Who needs to be discussing/debating “The Social Dilemma” movie? Whether one agrees with the perspectives put forth therein or not, the discussion boards out there should be lighting up in the undergraduate areas of Computer Science (especially Programming), Engineering, Business, Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, Sociology, and perhaps other disciplines as well. 

To those starting out the relevant careers here…just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Ask yourself not whether something CAN be developed, but *whether it SHOULD be developed* and what the potential implications of a technology/invention/etc. might be. I’m not aiming to take a position here. Rather, I’m trying to promote some serious reflection for those developing our new, emerging technologies and our new products/services out there.

Who needs to be discussing/debating The Social Dilemna movie?

 

 

Radar trends to watch: October 2020 — from oreilly.com

Excerpt:

This month, the big surprise is that there’s no significant technology news about COVID. And there is more news than ever about legislation and regulation. I suspect that the legal system will be a big driver for technology over the next year. Another trend that doesn’t quite count as technology news but that definitely bears watching is that college enrollment in the US is down. Grad schools are up, 4 year colleges are down slightly; the big hit is in 2 year colleges. COVID is probably the biggest contributing factor, but regardless of the cause, this is an inauspicious trend.

 

From DSC:
I hesitate to post this one…but this information and the phenomenon behind it likely has impacted what’s happening in the higher education space. (Or perhaps, it’s a bit of the other way around as well.) Increasingly, higher ed is becoming out of reach for many families. Again, is this a topic for Econ classes out there? Or Poli Sci courses?


Trends in income from 1975 to 2018 — from rand.org by Carter Price and Kathryn Edwards

Excerpt:

We document the cumulative effect of four decades of income growth below the growth of per capita gross national income and estimate that aggregate income for the population below the 90th percentile over this time period would have been $2.5 trillion (67 percent) higher in 2018 had income growth since 1975 remained as equitable as it was in the first two post-War decades. From 1975 to 2018, the difference between the aggregate taxable income for those below the 90th percentile and the equitable growth counterfactual totals $47 trillion.

Trends in income

Also see:

  • ‘We were shocked’: RAND study uncovers massive income shift to the top 1% — from fastcompany.com by Rick Wartzman
    The median worker should be making as much as $102,000 annually—if some $2.5 trillion wasn’t being “reverse distributed” every year away from the working class.
    .
  • The top 1% of Americans have taken $50 trillion from the bottom 90%—And that’s made the U.S. less secure — from Time.com by by Nick Hanauer and David Rolf
    [From DSC: By the way, that title likely has some link bait appeal to it.]
    Excerpt: 
    As the RAND report [whose research was funded by the Fair Work Center which co-author David Rolf is a board member of] demonstrates, a rising tide most definitely did not lift all boats. It didn’t even lift most of them, as nearly all of the benefits of growth these past 45 years were captured by those at the very top. And as the American economy grows radically unequal it is holding back economic growth itself.

Why is our death toll so high and our unemployment rate so staggeringly off the charts? Why was our nation so unprepared, and our economy so fragile? Why have we lacked the stamina and the will to contain the virus like most other advanced nations? The reason is staring us in the face: a stampede of rising inequality that has been trampling the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of Americans, year after year after year.

 

For New Orleans–based firm, architecture is a tool for design justice — from autodesk.com by Redshift Video

Excerpt:

When Bryan C. Lee Jr. was a boy, his family moved from Sicily to Trenton, NJ, and he was struck by not only the vastly different physical environment but also the ways different physical spaces affect people. It’s a concept that he explores today at Colloqate Design, an architecture and design-justice firm that focuses on civic, communal, and cultural spaces through the lens of racial justice.

 

From A New Way Forward:

Grab the remote! A series from Big Picture Learning!

Grab the remote! A series from Big Picture Learning!

Also see the following “Must Reads” from A New Way Forward:


From DSC:
Along these lines…in regards to digital equity, I’m reminded of this recent graphic:

Let's use television for folks who don't have access to the Internet -- Daniel Christian

 

Using the TV as a key tool in our learning ecosystems

From DSC:

  • If one doesn’t have access to the Internet, a computer, or any such mobile technology as seen in the image above…could TV become the medium through which one could be educated during this next year of the Coronavirus situation? That is, until we can develop better and more equitable policies, plans, funding, systems, infrastructures, and connectivity for all students!
  • After that, could we see more televisions morph into smart/connected TVs?
  • Could PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and other major networks collaborate with the U.S. Department of Education to help us educate all students? 
  • Could the largest internet company of 2030 be an online school as Thomas Frey predicts?

A few years ago, I had hoped that Apple was going to go all-in with their tvOS platform.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the New Apple TV during a Special Event; 9/9/15.

 

Though it’s still early in the game, that really hasn’t happened to the extent that I had hoped. That said, more recently, I was encouraged to see this article from back in July:

LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING TO TELEVISE HIGH-QUALITY MATH INSTRUCTION THIS SUMMER

 



 

Let’s ask the employees of PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and other networks if they would be willing to work with the U.S. Department of Education to help educate ALL students! Though educational TV is not new, I’m talking about taking things to a *whole* new level.

With that in mind, I created the following graphic:

Let's use television to minimize the learning gaps that will otherwise be experienced by many students this next year!

(One might ask why I used an old television in the above graphic. I was trying to get at the idea that one might not have a lot of resources to work with.)

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian