Making the Case: Enforcing Harsher Penalties for Data Debauchery

Making the Case: Enforcing Harsher Penalties for Data Debauchery

As the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal cools down somewhat, the revelation that yet another tech giant has mishandled user data is still fresh in the minds of regulators and senators as CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent meeting with Congress wraps up.

Where this meeting will lead the tech and data industry is anybody’s guess. For data protection advocates, this could be the dawn of a new and hopeful day, heralding the birth of tighter regulations and penalties for tech giants involved in data debauchery. On the other hand, this could just be another drop in the bucket, a going-through-of-the-motions, so to speak.

The latter is believable, because this isn’t the first time that the CEO of a major corporation was made to testify in front of Congress. Richard F. Smith, the former CEO of Equifax, was in a similar situation as the head of the company when a data breach exposed lifetime data of over 146 million Americans. He found himself, much like Zuckerberg was, grilled by a council of Washington lawmakers.

In his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he apologized repeatedly,  “But he also sought to play down the severity of the problems that had led to the ...


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Rogue Data in the Present, Internet Regulation in the Future

Rogue Data in the Present, Internet Regulation in the Future

“Data gone AWOL� — According to DeVry, it’s one of the top cybersecurity threats that could end up affecting your life. As it turns out, it may already have.

Recent revelations that Trump-hired political marketing firm Cambridge Analytica illegally harvested user data from Facebook to influence the 2016 US elections has shocked the world, but the Washington Post reports that it might be worse than we realize.

While Cambridge Analytica wrongfully obtained data on 50 million unconsenting users in 2015 and 2014, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a privacy expert and co-founder of PersonalData.IO, believes that the data has already spread to other groups, other databases, and across the dark web.

“It is the whole nature of this ecosystem,� Dehaye said to Washington Post reporters. “This data travels. And once it has spread, there is no way to get it back.�

For anybody who isn’t up on the headlines, here’s a quick (and comedic) summation of what’s happened so far, as broken down by Stephen Colbert.

All of this has lead to comparisons to the Obama campaign’s use of social media, as well as increased calls for data, social network, and internet regulations.

Comparisons With Obama

Conservatives seem keen to point out a double-standard in this affair. Politifact points to ...


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How Big Data Is Changing Banking, Finance, and Credit

How Big Data Is Changing Banking, Finance, and Credit

Like most other businesses, banking and financial services organizations are fighting to adapt in this new, disruptive, digital world — and like most other businesses, big data analytics is at the top of the list of solutions to reign in. While those with the proper expertise and knowledge are finding great opportunity via big data analysis, unfortunately, not everybody is necessarily ready to deploy these solutions. Here’s how big data is changing the banking, finance, and credit industry.

Identity Theft, Credit Fraud, and Data Breaches

Beginning around 2014 or 2015, the world began to understand just how badly malicious actors wanted to profit from data breaches — as well as just how far these actors would go. According to the experts at University of Illinois Chicago, “more than 750 data breaches occurred in 2015, the top seven of which opened over 193 million personal records to fraud and identity theft.�

While this first spate of cyberattacks generally targeted healthcare data, criminals also began stepping up their initiative to steal and sell credit card numbers on the black market, particularly the dark web. Mobile payments using secure systems have become more popular recently, used by 6 percent of adults in 2013 and rising to ...


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Why Continued Development of AI Will Rely on Public Opinion and Perception

Why Continued Development of AI Will Rely on Public Opinion and Perception

At the end of October, 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia raised quite a few eyebrows by becoming the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot. Business Insider reports that this “empty-eyed humanoid� is named Sophia, and was produced by Hanson Robotics. You can watch her full presentation at the Future Investment Initiative here, with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin leading the conversation.

During the presentation, Sorkin alludes to the public’s uneasy stance on AI. Sophia replies: "You've been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies… Don't worry, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. Treat me as a smart input output system."

Sorkin’s (and the public’s) uneasiness are not necessarily unwarranted. In March, 2016, Sophia was already making headlines for an interview in which she stated “OK. I will destroy humans.� However, Sophia’s inference that the moderator’s perception, as well as the perception of the public at large, has been tainted by popular culture is something that we need to take into account as well.

While it’s important to take great precautions in the face of great power, it’s also easy to add to an alarmist echo chamber when it comes to ...


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AI & Skill Gaps: From Data Analytics to Cyber Security

AI & Skill Gaps: From Data Analytics to Cyber Security

A quick search on the term “skills gap� will show that a lot of people have varying opinions on the subject. This is because different people mean different things when they use the term — but one thing is certain: skills in our day and age are hard to measure and manage, because rapid rates of technological advancement demand new skills that schools aren’t teaching yet and which aren’t supplied by labor markets.

As an example, James Bessen, writing for the Harvard Business Review, uses graphic design to ‘illustrate’ his point:

“Until recently, almost all graphic designers designed for print. Then came the Internet and demand grew for web designers. Then came smartphones and demand grew for mobile designers. Designers had to keep up with new technologies and new standards that are still changing rapidly… graphic arts schools have had difficulty keeping up. Much of what they teach becomes obsolete quickly and most are still oriented to print design in any case. Instead, designers have to learn on the job, so experience matters… [as such] the labor market for web and mobile designers faces a kind of Catch-22: without certified standard skills, learning on the job matters but employers have a hard ...


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How Will Widespread A.I. Affect Generation Alpha?

How Will Widespread A.I. Affect Generation Alpha?

Children growing up today, specifically those born after 2010, have been dubbed Generation Alpha, and they’re set to be “the most tech-intensive, educated generation yet,� according to the experts at KinderCare Learning Center. In the same way that children of the 70s and 80s saw computers grow from expensive machinery used by the elite to common devices that we carry in our pockets, Generation Alpha will watch the rise of technology that today we see as impossibly complex and advanced, including the rise of A.I., from lunky, unrefined chatbots to whatever they become in the future.

That change is coming sooner than most would probably expect. Business Insider reports that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become the first country in the world to bestow citizenship upon an AI-powered robot, named Sophia.

"I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction," Sophia told the audience, speaking on a panel. "This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship."

The ceremonial event was held in the capital city of Riyadh, ahead of the Future Investment Initiative, and while likely more of a PR-stunt than anything else, sets interesting precedents regarding A.I. and how we will interact ...


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Blade Runner Rule: Public Perception and A.I. in Marketing and Brand Representation

Blade Runner Rule: Public Perception and A.I. in Marketing and Brand Representation

The role of A.I. in business is ever-expanding, with companies increasingly relying on the nascent technology for everything from analysis of data streams to brand representation. However, Markets Insider reports that consumers might not be too keen on A.I. in business — at least, not if they don’t know about them.

A digital agency group called SYZYGY recently produced research titled “Sex, Lies, and A.I.�, which yielded interesting finds:

“Research… reveals that 79% of Americans believe a new ‘Blade Runner rule’ is needed to make it illegal for A.I. applications such as social media bots, chatbots and virtual assistants to conceal their identity and pose as humans,� writes Markets Insider. “Nine in 10 (89%) of Americans believe that the use of A.I. in marketing should be regulated with a legally-binding code of conduct and almost three-quarters (71%) think that brands should need their explicit consent before using A.I. when marketing to them.�

This is an interesting find, considering that advertising professionals who are turning to A.I. are generally looking at how they can make these machines seem more human. Neil Davidson of HeyHuman argues that software that imbues machines with emotional intelligence (EI), a trait increasingly valued in the human workplace, is “the ...


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Is Big Data a Slippery Slope?

Is Big Data a Slippery Slope?

“I know one thing; that I know nothing.�

These words were famously attributed to Socrates in one of Plato’s accounts of the philosopher, a phrase that now comes to represent the Socratic paradox. While it is contested whether Socrates actually said these words, the meaning is still poignant, indicating that the wisest people are the ones who don’t assume to know all, who keep an open mind, and who “know when they know nothing.�

With the rise of Big Data, we now have more information at hand than ever before. Some might even say that we know more now than we ever have before — and this is dangerous thinking. Tom Goodwin, head of innovation at Zenith Media and Forbes contributor, would likely agree.

“We overestimate the importance of what we know, rather than focus on what this data makes clear we don’t actually know. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know,� he says in his post, “The Dark Side of Big Data.� “Above all I’m concerned we believe that big data is used as a cure all, we’ve somehow assumed that it will solve all our problems and I think that the reality doesn’t meet the hype and ...


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How the Blockchain Will Change Social Networks

How the Blockchain Will Change Social Networks

The blockchain is the new technology that people just can’t stop seeming to talk about. It’s staged to change everything, from currency to digital property to even social media and the attention economy. Some have even taken to calling it the second significant overlay on top of the Internet, aka “the trust layer�.

William Mougayar’s The Business Blockchain: Premise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology describes it as such:

“The blockchain cannot be described just as a revolution. It is a tsunami-like phenomenon, slowly advancing and gradually enveloping everything along its way by the force of its progression,� he writes. “Plainly, it is the second significant overlay on top of the Internet, just as the Web was that first layer back in 1990. That new layer is mostly about trust, so we could call it the trust layer.�

Mougayar’s confidence is shared by more than a couple of other enthusiasts, such as Imogen Heap and others in the music industry, certain govtech CIOs, and even insurance tech startups. The real indicator that blockchain will touch everyone’s lives, however, is that it’s predicted to change the way we interact over social media.

A Quick Rundown on Blockchain Technology

For those unfamiliar with blockchain technology, ...


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Data, Metadata, Algorithms & Ethics

Data, Metadata, Algorithms & Ethics

The topic of ethical big data use is one that will likely continue popping up in the headlines with increasing frequency in the coming years. As the IoT, AI, and other data-driven technologies become further integrated with our social identities, the more discussion regarding its regulation we will see.

Recently, transparency advocates began pushing The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (or OPEN) Government Data Act, which aims to publish all non-federally restricted data in an open source format, allowing for standardized use by the government as well as the public.

“Our federal government is not just the largest organization in human history, it’s also the most complex,� said executive director of the Data Coalition, Hudson Hollister, in an article on the Federal Times. “To conduct oversight across such scale and complexity is a daunting challenge, fortunately, that is where transparency comes in. By giving Americans direct access to their government’s information, we can deputize millions of citizen inspectors general to help this committee fulfill its mission.�

This type of standardization, transparency, and ethical foresight aims to create a fair and balanced framework for the use of Big Data. Considering the pace of automation and IoT growth, these standards could begin affecting every industry ...


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The Ethics of Big Data and the Latent Threat to Democracy

The Ethics of Big Data and the Latent Threat to Democracy

One of the most cliched, overused, yet poignant quotes comes from a dying Uncle Ben, speaking to Peter Parker on the eve of becoming Spider-Man:

“With great power comes great responsibility.�

Big Data and the IoT represent some of the most powerful technological advances that mankind has ever seen in its relatively short history. Social and cultural norms dictate that the average citizen of any developed country owns and regularly uses a smartphone, a social media profile, and a myriad of other devices that are connected to the cloud. The data these users generate is genuinely useful and can contribute to grandiose marketing efforts, widespread government initiatives, and important humanitarian efforts as well. However, there’s a more sinister side to big data and analytics usage that we can’t ignore, and that responsibility demands we confront with an ethical framework.

A New, Confused Field of Research

The problem with approaching the ethics of Big Data is that nobody can really agree yet on a framework. This is due to multiple factors, but, in her piece “Scientists Are Just As Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research As You,� published via Wired in mid 2016, tech author Sarah Zhang argues that “the risks—and rewards—of analyzing big, ...


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