Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

AI Play No More Opaque than Beckett

Sunspring | A Sci-Fi Short Film Starring Thomas Middleditch
In the wake of Google’s AI Go victory, filmmaker Oscar Sharp turned to his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin to build a machine that could write screenplays. They created "Jetson" and fueled him with hundreds of sci-fi TV and movie scripts. Building a team including Thomas Middleditch, star of HBO’s Silicon Valley, they gave themselves 48 hours to shoot and edit whatever Jetson decided to write.

You can see it at Sunspring | A Sci-Fi Short Film Starring Thomas Middleditch – Ars Technica Videos – The Scene.

It is no more obscure than some Samuel Beckett.

More info at Ars Technica’s Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense…including the somewhat disturbing fact that the AI has named itself Benjamin.

Posted in Robots | Leave a comment

Rabbi Cheered at Muhammad Ali Memorial

Rabbi Michael Lerner gave a barnburner of a memorial speech at the memorial for Muhammad Ali.

Based on the reaction shots, Bill Clinton seemed to really enjoy it, especially the part at 6:20.

Also tempts me to buy subscriptions to Tikkun for a few former students I know.

Posted in Politics: US | 5 Comments

In the Hall of the Mountain Trump

Huuuuuge.

I don’t think I’m up for six more months of this.

Posted in Trumpalooza | Leave a comment

Trumpalooza III

Previously: DSC Plays Its Trump Card, Clinton Fires 1st General Election Salvo, Clinton Attack: Salvo 2.

Posted in Trumpalooza | Leave a comment

How Snowden Might Hurt Privacy

In addition to the good things Edward Snowden did by alerting us to the reality of NSA surveillance, there is one way in which I think his revelations may hurt privacy. This is not to say that on balance his revelations were unjustified, just that there’s a complexity about the long-run consequence of his disclosure that we should keep an eye on.

Before Snowden, the fact of NSA’s collection was a very highly protected secret. Consequently, there was only limited data sharing with law enforcement, and then only on condition that the fact of the NSA’s role never show up in court. Now that the cover is blown, so to speak, we should expect not only covert inter-agency data sharing to increase, but also a prohibition on letting it into court. Maybe not open court, but perhaps in a closed hearing, or secret brief. Likely beneficiaries are the DEA, the FBI, and maybe even some local cops in big target cities like New York or DC?

So, perversely, I expect Snowden’s revelations to have a limited negative consequence for privacy to balance against however we measure the positives.

Note: I could have sworn I posted something about this previously, but EPIC‘s Marc Rotenberg said he hadn’t seen it, and I couldn’t find it, so this one’s for you Marc.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Criminal Law | Leave a comment

Speaking at 3 to National Academy Panel

I’m on the (token?) Privacy session for a day-long event organized by a panel of the National Academies of Science on “Improving Federal Statistics for Policy and Social Science Research Using Multiple Data Sources and State-of-the-Art Estimation Methods.” In other words, how to get the government in on the big data bandwagon.

My panel is moderated by EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg, and also features IBM’s Jeff Jonas. I’ve attached my slides for the talk on privacy issues with sensor data collection.

The event open to the public, and runs all day at the Keck Center, 500 Fifth St.NW, Room 100, Washington DC. Come along if you are in the neighborhood.

Posted in Surveillance, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

Checking Email Like Playing the Slots

Seems checking mail provides the same “intermittent variable rewards” that addicts folks to slot machines. That insight, and several others, comes from How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist. I didn’t agree with every word, but there’s a lot there to chew on, and I suspect the thing about email-checking is spot on. (And to the extent it’s not, FOMO does the rest.)

Is reading blogs like checking email? Probably, especially if done via RSS feed – intermittent variable rewards indeed.

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment