Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ben Carson Defends Buying $31,000 Dining Set to Congress: ‘I Left It to My Wife’; New York Times, March 20, 2018

Glenn Thrush, New York Times; Ben Carson Defends Buying $31,000 Dining Set to Congress: ‘I Left It to My Wife’

[Kip Currier: HUD Secretary Ben Carson's statement in the excerpt below is the money quote take-away from this article.

Ethics is not only about the substantive impacts of actions but also about how those actions look to other people: The messages--both spoken and unspoken--that  our actions communicate about our own values.

A phrase often heard regarding ethical issues is "air of impropriety", meaning that an action has a sense of not seeming "right", of not being "above board", of not looking good. Even if an action may technically be legal or ethical.

Good ethical decision-making includes consideration of our own internal compasses and the external signals that our actions send to other people. Not just in the current buzzphrase sense of "the optics" of something, but what we are communicating about our priorities and values.

Ethical leadership--especially public service--is concerned with promoting trust in the integrity of our leaders, our institutions, our democratic values and ideals. Being mindful about how something looks--the example we set for others--is an integral component of ethical leadership. That's worth thinking about.]

"On Tuesday, Mr. Carson defended that decision, saying that his son had not profited from his father’s government post.

“HUD’s ethics counsel suggested it might look funny, but I’m not a person who spends a lot of time thinking about how something looks,” Mr. Carson said."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Who stole 314 items from the Carnegie Library rare books room?; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 19, 2018

Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Who stole 314 items from the Carnegie Library rare books room?

[Kip Currier: A very troubling story that will serve as a springboard for my 3/20/18 lecture/discussion of public relations crisis management in my Managing and Leading Information Services course. A few weeks ago, I gave a lecture I've been doing the past 10 years+ on "Managing Legal Issues in Libraries and Information Centers" that includes a geographically diverse "Rogues' Gallery" (props to DC Comics' The Flash comic book for the memorable appellation!) of persons identified over the past decade, who have been alleged to have committed library-related infractions and have been convicted of library-related crimes. The individual (or individuals) who perpetrated this brazen theft of rare books from the venerable Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Main Library and breach of public trust can be added to the Rogues' Gallery if/when apprehended and adjudicated.]

"Mr. Vinson believes that the thief may have been a library employee or employees because only a handful of people knew the security procedures.
“The books were immensely valuable. But they were also across a wide variety of fields,” he said.” Only a few people have that knowledge — a general antiquarian bookseller, a librarian or a curator would know the value. It has inside written all over it.”"

Where's Zuck? Facebook CEO silent as data harvesting scandal unfolds; Guardian, March 19, 2018

Julia Carrie Wong, Guardian; Where's Zuck? Facebook CEO silent as data harvesting scandal unfolds

[Kip Currier: Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, made some strong statements about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal on MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle show yesterday.

Regarding Facebook's handling of the revelations to date:

"This is a textbook example of how not to handle a crisis."

He referred to Facebook's leadership as "tone-deaf management" that initially denied a breach had occurred, and then subsequently deleted Tweets saying that it was wrong to call what had occurred a breach.

Galloway also said that "Facebook has embraced celebrity but refused to embrace its responsibilities". He contrasted Facebook's ineffectual current crisis management to how Johnson & Johnson demonstrated decisive leadership and accountability during the "tampered Tylenol bottles" crisis the latter faced in the 1980's.]

"The chief executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has remained silent over the more than 48 hours since the Observer revealed the harvesting of 50 million users’ personal data, even as his company is buffeted by mounting calls for investigation and regulation, falling stock prices, and a social media campaign to #DeleteFacebook...

Also on Monday, the New York Times reported that Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, would be leaving the company following disagreements with other executives over the handling of the investigation into the Russian influence operation...

Stamos is one of a small handful of Facebook executives who addressed the data harvesting scandal on Twitter over the weekend while Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Shery Sandberg, said nothing."

Oscar Munoz's tough ride as United CEO; CNN, March 19, 2018

Julia Horowitz, CNN; Oscar Munoz's tough ride as United CEO

""There's something about the United culture that has employees making decisions that are not the right things to do," [John Strong, a professor of business administration at the College of William and Mary and an airline industry expert] said.

Another high-profile event could be the final straw, according to Reber. Even if Munoz isn't directly implicated, he could wind up taking the fall.

"History is littered with CEOs who have had to take a hit for a crisis that happened and was caused someplace else in the organization," Reber said."

Data scandal is huge blow for Facebook – and efforts to study its impact on society; Guardian, March 18, 2018

Olivia Solon, Guardian; Data scandal is huge blow for Facebook – and efforts to study its impact on society

"The revelation that 50 million people had their Facebook profiles harvested so Cambridge Analytica could target them with political ads is a huge blow to the social network that raises questions about its approach to data protection and disclosure.

As Facebook executives wrangle on Twitter over the semantics of whether this constitutes a “breach”, the result for users is the same: personal data extracted from the platform and used for a purpose to which they did not consent.
Facebook has a complicated track record on privacy. Its business model is built on gathering data. It knows your real name, who your friends are, your likes and interests, where you have been, what websites you have visited, what you look like and how you speak."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Can Higher Education Make Silicon Valley More Ethical?; Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14, 2018

Nell Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education; Can Higher Education Make Silicon Valley More Ethical?

"Jim Malazita, an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hopes to infuse ethics lessons into core computer-science courses."...

"Q. You mentioned you’ve been getting some pushback.

A. I’ve had to do a lot of social work with computer-science faculty. The faculty were like, This sounds cool, but will they still be able to move on in computer science? We’re using different, messier data sets. Will they still understand the formal aspects of computing?

Q. What do you tell faculty members to convince them that this is a good use of your students’ time?

A. I use a couple of strategies that sometimes work, sometimes don’t. It’s surprisingly important to talk about my own technical expertise. I only moved into social science and humanities as a Ph.D. student. As an undergraduate, my degree was in digital media design. So you can trust me with this content.

It’s helpful to also cast it in terms of helping women and underrepresented-minority retention in computer science. These questions have an impact on all students, but especially women and underrepresented minorities who are used to having their voices marginalized. The faculty want those numbers up."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

UT computer science adding ethics courses to curriculum; KXAN, March 5, 2018

Alyssa Goard, KXAN; UT computer science adding ethics courses to curriculum

"Barbary Brunner, CEO of the Austin Technology Council, believes that what these ethics courses at UT are “a really valuable thing.” She explained that as companies in the tech world search for new ways to disrupt old ideas, it’s important to look at the human implications of what they’re setting out to do.

“This may be where the university leads the industry and the industry wakes up and says, ‘Wow that’s really smart,'” Brunner said. “For Texas to become a real tech powerhouse– which I think it can become — it needs to engage in the same sort of collaboration between higher education and the technology community that you see in California, that you see in the Seattle area.”

Brunner hasn’t heard many overarching discussions of ethics within the Austin tech world, but knows that individual discussions about ethics are going on at many companies, especially those related to security and artificial intelligence.

In the long run she thinks that ethics training may become one of many qualities tech companies look for in the recent graduates they hire."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When it comes to this White House, the fish rots from the head; Washington Post, March 7, 2018

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post; When it comes to this White House, the fish rots from the head

"“Make no mistake about it, if Trump does not fire Kellyanne Conway after THREE Hatch Act violations another redline will be crossed,” tweeted Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics counsel during the Obama administration. “He will be saying breaking the law does not matter — I will pardon away any sins.” Eisen added: “Well, it does matter, and the American people will not tolerate it.” Richard Painter, who was George W. Bush’s ethics counsel, weighed in as well. “In any other White House, a single major ethics violation would result in dismissal,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is her third, and all three within the same year. She needs to go.” But we surely know she won’t — at least not for this.

The expectation of compliance with the law and concern about the appearance of impropriety are entirely absent from this administration for one very simple reason: Trump has set the standard and the example. Don’t bother with the rules. If caught, just make up stuff."

Top priest shares ‘The Ten Commandments of A.I.’ for ethical computing; internet of business, February 28, 2018

Chris Middleton, internet of business; Top priest shares ‘The Ten Commandments of A.I.’ for ethical computing

"A senior clergyman and government advisor has written what he calls “the Ten Commandments of AI”, to ensure the technology is applied ethically and for social good.

AI has been put forward as the saviour of businesses and national economies, but how to ensure that the technology isn’t abused? The Rt Rev the Lord Bishop of Oxford (pictured below), a Member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, set out his proposals at a policy debate in London, attended by representatives of government, academia, and the business world.

Speaking on 27 February at a Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Innovation, Funding and Policy Priorities, the Bishop set out his ten-point plan, after chairing a debate on trust, ethics, and cybersecurity."

Ethics and AI conference launched by CMU, K&L Gates; Pittsburgh Business Times, March 6, 2018

, Pittsburgh Business Times; Ethics and AI conference launched by CMU, K&L Gates

"The inaugural Carnegie Mellon University-K&L Gates Conference on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence is slated for April 9-10.

Leaders from industry, academia and government will explore ethical issues surrounding emerging technologies at the two-day event in Pittsburgh."

IBM settles legal dispute with diversity officer hired by Microsoft; IBM, March 5, 2018

Jan Wolfe, Reuters; IBM settles legal dispute with diversity officer hired by Microsoft

"International Business Machines Corp on Monday said it settled a trade secrets lawsuit it brought against its former chief diversity officer who left for a similar job at Microsoft Corp.

The settlement allows Lindsay-Rae McIntyre to begin working at Microsoft in July."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Here’s how Canada can be a global leader in ethical AI; The Conversation, February 22, 2018

The Conversation;    Here’s how Canada can be a global leader in ethical AI

"Putting Canada in the lead

Canada has a clear choice. Either it embraces the potential of being a leader in responsible AI, or it risks legitimating a race to the bottom where ethics, equity and justice are absent.
Better guidance for researchers on how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsrelates to AI research and development is a good first step. From there, Canada can create a just, equitable and stable foundation for a research agenda that situates the new technology within longstanding social institutions.
Canada also needs a more coordinated, inclusive national effort that prioritizes otherwise marginalized voices. These consultations will be key to positioning Canada as a beacon in this field.
Without these measures, Canada could lag behind. Europe is already drafting important new approaches to data protection. New York City launched a task force this fall to become a global leader on governing automated decision making. We hope this leads to active consultation with city agencies, academics across the sciences and the humanities as well as community groups, from Data for Black Lives to Picture the Homeless, and consideration of algorithmic impact assessments.
These initiatives should provide a helpful context as Canada develops its own governance strategy and works out how to include Indigenous knowledge within that.
If Canada develops a strong national strategy approach to AI governance that works across sectors and disciplines, it can lead at the global level.

The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia; New York Times, March 5, 2018

Michelle Goldberg, New York Times; The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia

"Yet if the strike is rooted in the specific conditions and history of West Virginia, it’s also part of a nationwide upsurge in intense civic engagement by women. “As a profession, we’re largely made up of women,” Amanda Howard Garvin, an elementary school art teacher in Morgantown, told me. “There are a bunch of men sitting in an office right now telling us that we don’t deserve anything better.” In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, she said, women across the country are standing up to say: “No. We’re equal here.”

Of course, Trump won West Virginia overwhelmingly, with nearly 68 percent of the vote. Still, Craig described the anti-Trump Women’s March, as well as the explosion of local political organizing that followed it, as a “catalyst” for at least some striking teachers. “You have women now taking leadership roles in unionizing, in standing up, in leading initiatives for fairness and equality and justice for everyone,” she said."

Monday, March 5, 2018

Are Open Data Efforts Working?; Government Technology, March 2018

Adam Stone, Government Technology; Are Open Data Efforts Working?

"Data managers say that in their fondest dreams, they’ll do more than count data sets and track clicks. They are looking for metrics that connect open data to social outcomes.

Are babies healthier because of open data? Are streets safer? That’s the holy grail of open data metrics, and data chiefs from cities large and small agree that we’re not there yet. In these still-early days of open data, there’s no algorithm that will cleanly and clearly describe the impact of open data on society at large.

“There needs to be more conversation at the national level about how to measure success, especially on the public side,” Roche said. “Maybe there needs to be a standard set of metrics across cities to let us benchmark the use of open data. It’s something we all need to be exploring.”"

Elon Musk quits AI ethics research group; BBC, February 22, 2018

BBC; Elon Musk quits AI ethics research group

"Technology billionaire Elon Musk has quit the board of the research group he co-founded to look into the ethics of artificial intelligence.

In a blog post, OpenAI said the decision had been taken to avoid any conflict of interest as Mr Musk's electric car company, Tesla, became "more focused on AI".

He has been one of AI's most vocal critics, stressing the potential harms."

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Don’t forget how the movement that changed Hollywood started: With great reporting; Washington Post, March 4, 2018

Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post; Don’t forget how the movement that changed Hollywood started: With great reporting

"The world has changed since last year’s Oscars — and for the better.

So let’s not forget what got us there: great journalism.

Legacy media companies may be under constant criticism, and trust in the press may be at a low point.

But less than six months after the New York Times broke its first story about abusive film mogul Harvey Weinstein in early October — quickly followed by more revelations from the New Yorker magazine — American culture has been flipped on its head.

Nothing is the same: Not awards shows, not the corporate workplace, not national politics."

Bendis’ Take on Superman’s Truth, Justice & The American Way; Comic Book Resources, March 3, 2018

Anthony Couto, Comic Book Resources; Bendis’ Take on Superman’s Truth, Justice & The American Way

"Talking all things Superman at his spotlight panel for Emerald City Comic Con, Eisner Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis offered a renewed approach to a classic Superman motto: Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Bendis said he’s found new relevance in Superman’s “truth, justice and the American way” adage, which helped inspire him to take on the Man of Steel. “Truth is under siege in our society today,” Bendis continued. “Justice — we see it every day on video, justice is not being handed out to everybody. The American dream, that is also under siege. These things, that seemed cliche just five years ago, are now damn well worth fighting for.”"

Donald Trump Sure Has a Problem with Democracy; New York Times, March 4, 2018

Editorial Board, New York Times; Donald Trump Sure Has a Problem with Democracy

"Though George Washington was elected unanimously, he was always a reluctant president. He pursued a second term in 1792 only at the urging of his cabinet, and in 1796, when he insisted it was time to step down, he famously warned that not to do so risked a return to the very tyranny Americans had fought to overthrow...

Mr. Trump was surely joking about becoming president for life himself. But there can be little doubt now that he truly sees no danger in Mr. Xi’s “great” decision to extend his own rule until death. That craven reaction is in line with Mr. Trump’s consistent support and even admiration for men ruling with increasing brutal and autocratic methods — Vladimir Putin of Russia, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, to name a few."

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Who needs ethics anyway? – Chips with Everything podcast; Guardian, March 2, 2018

[Podcast] Presented by  and produced by Guardian; 

 Who needs ethics anyway? – Chips with Everything podcast

"Technology companies seem to have a bad reputation at the moment. Whether through honest mistakes or more intentional oversights, the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter have created distrust among consumers.

But as technology develops, and as we hand over more control to artificial intelligence and machines, it becomes difficult for developers to foresee the negative consequences or side-effects that might arise.
In October 2017, the AI company DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google, created an ethics group made up of employees and external experts called DeepMind Ethics & Society.
But are these groups any more than a PR strategy? And how can we train technology students to preempt an ethical disaster before they enter the workforce?
To discuss these issues, Jordan Erica Webber is joined by Dr Mariarosaria Taddeoof the Oxford Internet Institute, Prof Laura NorĂ©n of NYU and student Kandrea Wade."

Friday, March 2, 2018

Never have we seen such chaos and corruption; Washington Post, March 1, 2018

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post; Never have we seen such chaos and corruption

"Any other president who displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts would have provoked an uproar. Trump barely gets a shrug. Nobody expects him to be consistent. Nobody expects him to know anything about anything. He is defining the presidency down in a way that we must not tolerate.

I spent years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. To say we are being governed like a banana republic is an insult to banana republics. It’s that bad, and no one should pretend otherwise."

Trump Management Style, Year 2: See Year 1; New York Times, March 1, 2018

James B. Stewart, New York Times; Trump Management Style, Year 2: See Year 1

"With over a full year under Mr. Trump’s belt, and his unorthodox management style fully in evidence, I asked several experts to assess the president’s abilities as a manager."

The Trump administration is in an unethical league of its own; Washington Post, March 1, 2018

Max Boot, Washington Post; The Trump administration is in an unethical league of its own

"One of the great non-mysteries of the Trump administration is why Cabinet members think they can behave like aristocrats at the court of the Sun King. The Department of Housing and Urban Development spent $31,000 for a dining set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office while programs for the poor were being slashed. The Environmental Protection Agency has been paying for Administrator Scott Pruitt to fly first class and be protected by a squadron of bodyguards so he doesn’t have to mix with the great unwashed in economy class. The Department of Veterans Affairs spent $122,334 for Secretary David Shulkin and his wife to take what looks like a pleasure trip to Europe last summer; Shulkin’s chief of staff is accused of doctoring emails and lying about what happened. The Department of Health and Human Services paid more than $400,000 for then-Secretary Tom Price to charter private aircraft — a scandal that forced his resignation. 

Why would Cabinet members act any differently when they are serving in the least ethical administration in our history? The “our” is important, because there have been more crooked regimes — but only in banana republics. The corruption and malfeasance of the Trump administration is unprecedented in U.S. history. The only points of comparison are the Gilded Age scandals of the Grant administration, Teapot Dome under the Harding administration, and Watergate and the bribe-taking of Vice President Spiro Agnew during the Nixon administration. But this administration is already in an unethical league of its own. The misconduct revealed during just one day this week — Wednesday — was worse than what presidents normally experience during an entire term...

Given the ethical direction set by this president, it’s a wonder that his Cabinet officers aren’t stealing spoons from their official dining rooms. Come to think of it, maybe someone should look into that."

A code of ethics to get scientists talking; Nature, February 27, 2018

Editorial, Nature; A code of ethics to get scientists talking

"“Pursuing the truth means following the research where it leads, rather than confirming an already formed opinion.”

That statement opens one of seven presentations in a ‘Code of Ethics for Researchers’ produced by a group of scientists convened by the World Economic Forum. These scientists, drawn from many countries, are all under 40 but well established in career terms, with decades of research and leadership ahead of them. This combination makes them well qualified to explore the realities and pressures of modern lab life, so their ideas deserve to be considered by the scientific community...

As the authors state, their purpose is to stimulate open conversations “to safeguard a positive and sound research environment”. Accordingly, Nature readers may do themselves and others some good by visiting and providing feedback. Even better, they might discuss the ideals expressed, and consider how to live up to them in their own lab, research institution or funding agency. We at Nature are trying to do so, too."

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Professor Tells UN, Governments Of Coming “Tsunami” Of Data And Artificial Intelligence; Intellectual Property Watch, February 21, 2018

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; Professor Tells UN, Governments Of Coming “Tsunami” Of Data And Artificial Intelligence

"[Prof. Shmuel (Mooly) Eden of the University of Haifa, Israel] said this fourth revolution in human history is made up of four factors. First, computing power is at levels that were unimaginable. This power is what makes artificial intelligence now possible. The smartphone in your hand has 1,000 times the components of the first rocket to the moon, he said, which led to a chorus of “wows” from the audience.

Second is big data. Every time you speak on the phone or go on the internet, someone records it, he said. The amount of data is unlimited. Eden said he would be surprised if we use 2 percent of the data we generate, but in the future “we will.”

Third is artificial intelligence (AI). No one could analyse all of that data, so AI came into play.

Fourth is robots. He noted that they don’t always look like human forms. Most robots are just software doing some function...

 Eden ended by quoting a hero of his, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who told him: “Technology without ethics is evil. Ethics without technology is poverty. That’s why we have to combine the two.”
Eden challenged the governments, the UN and all others to think about how to address this rapid change and come up with ideas.
He challenged the governments, the UN and all others to think about how to address this rapid change and come up with ideas. Exponentially."

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

UMD should require ethics courses for all students; The Diamondback. February 26, 2018

Julian Savelski, The Diamondback; UMD should require ethics courses for all students

"All Terps have the ability to become true leaders; not just intelligent and competent, but moral, too. Many already are, yet we can all benefit from taking a moment to reflect on our decisions to determine how we can be better in the future. And, though not a panacea, university-mandated coursework in ethics would go a long way. It is up to the administration and students alike to produce a generation of leaders who uphold moral and ethical values as dearly as they hold success.

Julian Savelski is a junior government and politics and philosophy major. He can be reached at"