Category Archives: Talks & Conferences

Off to We Robot 2018

I’m off to We Robot 2018, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Ian kerr and I will be presenting our draft paper When AIs Outperform Doctors: The Dangers of a Tort-Induced Over-Reliance on Machine Learning and What (Not) to Do About it (co-authored with Joelle Pineau).

Long plane ride, but maybe I’ll see you there?

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10 Things You Can Do to Protect e-Privacy & Autonomy

At UM’s Data Privacy Day event I made 10 suggestions about what you can do to protect your e-privacy and autonomy.  Here they are:

  1. Trust cyber-civil liberties NGOs like EFF to recommend things to use and to do. If you take away nothing else, remember this URL: Eff.org.
    1. Use EFF’s Privacy Badger browser plugin.
    2. Take their audit – Panopticlick – of how unique your browser fingerprint is.  Unique fingerprints are a way you can be tracked. Block cookies and super-cookies.
    3. Use their Https Everywhere tool
    4. Find the EFF surveillance self-defense guide. It offers advice tailored for different groups that might have greater / lesser needs for privacy/defense (e.g. LGBTQ, activists, journalists, lawyers, activists).
  2. Use VPNs — virtual private networks.  And only use good ones – be careful about jurisdiction and policies:
    1. The UM off-campus VPN is a valuable service, and good to protect against third parties … but not against UM. Does UM log your usage? Do they record your originating IP#? The sites you visit? Despite some frantic Google searches, I can’t tell — it seems they don’t say. I think therefore you have to assume they do. And if were the UM General Counsel my first instinct would probably be to say they need to do the logging to protect themselves.
    2. Is your VPN service dirt-cheap or free? Does the service cost only a few dollars for a lifetime service? There’s probably a reason for that and your browsing history may be the actual product that the company is selling to others.
        1. Look for establishment in a democratic country with a strong commitment to the rule of law.  Without that, even the best promises in the Terms of Service (ToS) to not log web page access OR IP# and access times is meaningless.  Note that many, probably most, VPNs in most other countries are required to do some logging.https://it.miami.edu/a-z-listing/virtual-private-network/index.html
        2. Does the VPN promise to prevent DNS leakage to your ISP?
        3. Ideally, the VPN should support IPv6 as well as IPv4 to prevent leakage when the remote site is on IPv6. This will become more important in the future as more and more sites move to IPv6.
  3. Use Tor as much as possible.  (But see #8 below.)
  4. Inspect your browser settings on your phone and computer to set max privacy options (including blocking 3rd party cookies and enabling Do Not Track).  Use a privacy hardened browser on your phone such as the Warp browser.  On both computer and phone always use a search engine such as Duckduckgo that will not track you.
  5. Encrypt every drive, every email (when possible), and especially all cloud-stored data before uploading it.
  6. Get a password manager and use it – never re-use a password. Use 2-factor authentication for google, other services that support it. (Only 10% of google users do!)
  7. Don’t put any apps on your phone that connect to anything financial (due to risk of ID theft if phone stolen).
  8. Lobby UM to make it easier to use VPNs and Tor, on both the wired and wireless networks.  Ask UM to be more transparent about what cookies its web pages set and what they track and record.  And, importantly, ask UM to not require you take every single UM cookie in order to use the “remember me for 30 days” feature of its authentication app DUO.  Also, ask UM to promise that it has your back, and that it will challenge any request for your data to the maximum extent the law allows (right now it makes no such promises at all; even National Security letters are sometimes withdrawn if the data-holding entity says it will go to court to ask for it to be reviewed).
  9. Lobby for privacy laws that limit data collection – once data are collected major First Amendment issues come into play, making it hard to limit use and re-use of accurate data. Also lobby to stop the US government secretly introducing vulnerabilities into fundamental crypto standards.
  10. Resist the frame: understand that the true definition of the ‘greater good’ is one in which the individual is able to flourish. Remember that ‘terrorist’ is a label that fits best after conviction – before that what we have is a ‘suspect’; conceivably any of us can be a suspect. So arguments that we should control crypto or prevent privacy in order to give law enforcement access to all our data when they decide they need it should be viewed with great caution and a firm eye on how the powers they want could be misused by them or by others who get hold of their tools. And even if we someday find ourselves in a world where things have gone badly wrong, and we do find ourselves subject to pervasive surveillance, follow Vaclav Havel, who in his great work ‘Living in Truth’ reminded us that so long as we choose not to self-censor we have chosen not to surrender a key part of our freedom.

(Some links added after original posting)

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Speaking at Two Local Events This Week

Wednesday morning I’ll be one of the panelists at UM’s Data Privacy Day event. Among the incendiary things I plan to say is that the University should be more open to the use of Tor and VPNs on its network. (Update: to be clear, the current openness is almost zero.) Further, the VPN service UM provides for off-campus use needs to make much fuller disclosures about what it logs, how long it keeps logs, and whether it will undertake to oppose private and/or governmental attempts to access those logs. (At present, as far as I can tell, there are no representations at all on any of these topics.)

Friday afternoon, I’ll be speaking on AI and Medicine at the first panel of the University of Miami Law Review‘s 2018 Symposium, Hack to the Future: How Technology is Disrupting the Legal Profession. Why am I speaking about AI and medicine, even on a panel entitled “Emerging Technologies: Artificial Intelligence”, when the conference is about AI and Law? Well you might ask. When the organizers invited me, I protested that I didn’t know enough about AI’s effects on the legal profession to give a good talk — but I did know a few things about AI and Medicine. And they called my bluff…

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We Robot 2018 Call for Papers

We Robot 2018 has posted the official Call For Papers.

See you there — Stanford, April 12-14.

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See You at We Robot 2018

We Robot 2018 will be held at Stanford Law School, April 12-14. Full details will appear on the We Robot 2018 conference webpage in due course.

I’m looking forward to it, especially since I had to miss the last one due to illness.

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#WeRobot2017

We Robot is happening today and tomorrow. Although I founded the WE Robot conference, for the first time I am not able to attend, and indeed had to withdraw a paper I felt pretty good about. Fortunately the live stream is very good. The papers are great, as usual, but it feels so very weird to be only a remote participant, especially with so many familiar faces on camera and also familiar voices off-camera. As a viewer from a distance, on the one hand I’m delighted that the conference has momentum and a life of its own. On the other hand, I would have loved to be there, especially as it’s taking place at Yale. A lot of a great conference is the hallways, and that of course you don’t get from remote participation, not even Twitter.

See you next year!

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