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jerryking : anonymity   8

The promise of synthetic data
February 4, 2020 | Financial Times | by Anjana Ahuja.

* Race after Technology by Ruha Benjamin.
Where anonymization fails, synthetic data might yet succeed. Synthetic data is artificially generated. It is most often created by funnelling real-world data through a noise-adding algorithm to construct a new data set. The resulting data set captures the statistical features of the original information without being a giveaway replica. Its usefulness hinges on a principle known as differential privacy: that anybody mining synthetic data could make the same statistical inferences as they would from the true data — without being able to identify individual contributions........Synthetic data has the potential to squeeze useful information from tightly-controlled databases. Uncovering fraud, for example, can be challenging because regulations restrict how information can be shared, even within banks. Synthetic data can help to unveil useful patterns, while masking individual incidents.......“If you’re trying to train an algorithm to detect fraud, you don’t care about specific transactions and who made them,” he says. “You care about the statistics, like whether the amounts are just below the limit needed to trigger an audit, or if they tend to occur close to the end of the quarter.” Those kinds of numbers can be shaken out of synthetic data as well as from the original........the UK’s Office for National Statistics says synthetic data offers a “safer, easier and faster way to share data between government, academia and the private sector”........ The data does not have to be rooted in the real world to have value: it can be fabricated and slotted in where some is missing or hard to get hold of........Synthetic data could, of course, be framed as fake data — but in some circumstances that is a bonus. Artificial intelligence that is trained on real-life information flaunts a baked-in bias: algorithmic decision-making in fields such as criminal justice and credit scoring shows evidence of racial discrimination........discrimination is not something that AI should perpetuate ..... synthetic data could help tackle complex social issues such as poverty: “We could modify that bias. People could release synthetic data that reflects the world we would like to have. Why not use those as training sets for AI?"
algorithms  anonymity  anonymized  biases  books  dark_side  data  data_wrangling  differential_privacy  fairness   inequality  noise  privacy  racial_discrimination  synthetic_data 
8 weeks ago by jerryking
The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know WSJ
Nov. 26, 2017 | WSJ |By Christopher Mims.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’ Melvin Kranzberg in the 1960s. He became a technology historian. Prof. Kranzberg’s first law is also his most important. He realized that the impact of a technology depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it is often good and bad—at the same time. (E.g. DDT, a pesticide and probable carcinogen nonetheless saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in India as a cheap and effective malaria prevention. Or, Facebook groups, serve as a lifeline for parents of children with rare diseases while also radicalizing political extremists. Tech companies' enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.....however, the dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,” (JK: tradeoffs) “To become spectacular at any discipline in technology means you’re not well-equipped to address these questions.”

2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’ Yes, that’s backward from the way you remember it. It means “every technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances in order to make it fully effective,” In our modern world, the invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other technologies, from phone cases to 5G wireless. Apple’s cure for staring at your phone too much? A smartwatch to glance at 100 times a day.

3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small. To understand any part of a technological package requires looking at its interaction with and dependency on the rest of it—including the human beings essential to how it functions. While innovation destroys jobs, it also creates countless new ones.

4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’ “People think technology as an abstraction has some sort of intrinsic power, and it doesn’t,” “It has to be motivated by political power or cultural power or something else.”

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president, software engineering, spoke about differential privacy, which Apple says is a way to collect user data while protecting the individual’s anonymity.
More broadly, lawmakers are taking an interest in everything from privacy and data transparency to national security and antitrust issues in tech—more because of a shift in our culture than in the technology itself.

5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’ The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet..... But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

6. ‘Technology is a very human activity.’ “Technology is capable of doing great things,” .....how we use technology is up to us. The trick is, because technology generally reaches mass adoption via corporations, those businesses must think of the consequences of their actions as well as how they profit from them. When corporations don’t, regulators, journalists and the public sometimes do it for them.

As Prof. Kranzberg presciently noted at the dawn of the internet age, “Many of our technology-related problems arise because of the unforeseen consequences when apparently benign technologies are employed on a massive scale.”
anonymity  anticipating  Christopher_Mims  Cold_War  contextual  cultural_power  differential_privacy  high-achieving  necessity  nuclear  overachievers  political_power  privacy  problems  scaling  technology  tradeoffs  unforeseen  unintended_consequences 
november 2017 by jerryking
TED talks without the ego
August 14, 2017| Financial Times | Harriet Fitch Little.

Sincerely X is a new podcast from TED that leaves no space for grandstanding.
Here, speakers are anonymous. They deliver their talks in a studio with only Cohen, the host, as audience....Whatever the mind game at play, it may be time to ditch the adage that hard stories need a "human face" -- an anonymous voce can apparently do the same job, and better.....But ultimately, this podcast is distinguished by a seriousness that sometimes seems to elude speakers on the TED stage, for whom viral fame is so tantalizingly close at hand.....ideas worth spreading.
TED  conferences  anonymity  listening  podcasts  ideas  curators  intimacy  audio  seriousness 
august 2017 by jerryking
Leadership Means Learning to Look Behind the Mask - The New York Times
JAN. 30, 2016 | NYT | By BARBARA MISTICK.

Don't wait until it's too late to solicit feedback. Ms. Mistick was named president and director of Andrew Carnegie’s public library system in Pittsburgh, becoming only the second nonlibrarian to lead the system in over 110 years. She went in knowing that she was considered an outsider and that she would need to call on all her interpersonal and communication skills to navigate her new position. The problem is, the higher your position in an organization, the harder it is to receive honest assessments from the people who work for you, because the balance of authority shifts. ...The search for genuine feedback is increasingly your own responsibility.... In a culture of scarce resources, people had become guarded with their opinions. ....Mistick felt that everyone except her knew what was expected to succeed in “library land.” New jobs always present the challenge of how to read the norms, standards and expectations that aren’t explicitly told to new hires....When seeking input on specific skills, the 360-degree management assessment tool is a great starting place. When you want insights on the most important priorities for personal change, it takes honest conversation with those who know you best at work....We each have more control of our future than we recognize. One of the most powerful ways we can take charge of developing new skills is to ask for feedback.
leadership  women  CEOs  Communicating_&_Connecting  sense-making  performance_reviews  people_skills  Pittsburgh  libraries  anonymity  feedback  first90days  self-improvement  outsiders  tacit_knowledge  insights 
january 2016 by jerryking
Here’s my list of the most obnoxious Torontonians - The Globe and Mail
MARCUS GEE
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 13 2014

Amy Alkon, the American author of a new book with the cute title Good Manners for Nice People who Sometimes Say F*ck, says it is inevitable in a busy urban environment.

"We can behave badly when we are around strangers, and we're around strangers almost all the time," "This allows people to do stuff they would never do to a neighbour. The guy that's flipping you the bird in traffic is counting on the fact that he's never going to see you again."

Rude people in cities somehow persuade themselves that all those other people around them simply don't exist – or, at least, don't merit bothering about.

These rude people are self-declared islands in the urban sea, pursuing their self-interest and supremely indifferent to the effects on the rest of us.The road hog cyclist was like that, but there are many others like him.........Most people follow the simple rules of urban etiquette that keep the modern metropolis functioning, even when there is no one around to enforce them.

Most dog owners pick up after their pets with plastic bags, a relatively new practice, simply because it is expected. Most city dwellers who aren't the mayor still experience shame......Amy Alkon is off base. Most of us don't feel we can behave badly around strangers. When that guy rammed me with his bike, everyone getting off the streetcar and passing by on the street knew he was in the wrong. Even as he bombed off through the intersection, I'm sure he felt it. It is that collective judgment that we fear and, by and large, respect.
Marcus_Gee  Toronto  civics  courtesies  etiquette  civility  humility  public_decorum  anonymity 
june 2014 by jerryking
Comments to The Economics of Surveillance
4:54 pm September 29, 2012
Jassa Skott wrote:

Can you elaborate on how this works: “data that once seemed anonymous can actually identify people if it’s pooled with other...
anonymity  anonymization  letters_to_the_editor  massive_data_sets  mobile_applications  pooling  privacy  smartphones  synthetic_data 
january 2014 by jerryking
Crovitz: Is Internet Civility an Oxymoron? - WSJ.com
APRIL 19, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By L. GORDON
CROVITZ. Unmoderated, anonymous comments on Web sites create more noise
than wisdom. "For those of us tempted to hope that new technology
might improve human nature, the Web has proved a disappointment. The
latest online reality: comment sections so uncivilized and uninformative
that it's clear the free flow of anonymous comments has become way too
much of a good thing."..."The hope was that people would be civil.
Instead, many comment areas have become wastelands of attacks and
insults."...Part of the problem is that people who conceal their names
seem to feel free to say things they never would if their identities
were known. There are obvious cases—dissidents living in authoritarian
countries—where anonymity is needed. But ... message boards dominated by
anonymous comments often become "havens for a level of crudity,
bigotry, meanness and plain nastiness that shocks the tattered remnants
of our propriety."
L._Gordon_Crovtiz  civility  internet  commentators  anonymity  courtesies  incivility  disappointment 
may 2010 by jerryking

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