Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Liberty and Security: A Town Hall Discussion"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1st Call for papers: ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci14), June 23-26, 2014


ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci14)
June 23-26, 2014
Bloomington, Indiana, USA * @WebSciConf * #WebSci14
Deadline for papers: Feb. 23rd 2014

Web Science is the emergent science of the people, organizations, applications, and of policies that shape and are shaped by the Web, the largest informational artifact constructed by humans in history. Web Science embraces the study of the Web as a vast universal information network of people and communities. As such, Web Science includes the study of social networks whose work, expression, and play take place on the Web. The social sciences and computational sciences meet in Web Science and complement one another: Studying human behavior and social interaction contributes to our understanding of the Web, while Web data is transforming how social science is conducted. The Web presents us with a great opportunity as well as an obligation: If we are to ensure the Web benefits humanity we must do our best to understand it.

Call for Papers

The Web Science conference is inherently interdisciplinary, as it attempts to integrate computer and information sciences, communication, linguistics, sociology, psychology, economics, law, political science, philosophy, digital humanities, and other disciplines in pursuit of an understanding of the Web. This conference is unique in the manner in which it brings these disciplines together in creative and critical dialogue, and we invite papers from all the above disciplines, and in particular those that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Following the success of WebSci09 in Athens, WebSci10 in Raleigh, WebSci11 in Koblenz, WebSci 12 in Evanston, and WebSci13 in Paris, for the 2014 conference we are seeking papers and posters that describe original research, analysis, and practice in the field of Web Science, as well as work that discusses novel and thought-provoking ideas and works-in-progress.

Possible topics for submissions include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Analysis of human behavior using social media, mobile devices, and online communities
  • Methodological challenges of analyzing Web-based large-scale social interaction
  • Data-mining and network analysis of the Web and human communities on the Web
  • Detailed studies of micro-level processes and interactions on the Web
  • Collective intelligence, collaborative production, and social computing
  • Theories and methods for computational social science on the Web
  • Studies of public health and health-related behavior on the Web
  • The architecture and philosophy of the Web
  • The intersection of design and human interaction on the Web
  • Economics and social innovation on the Web
  • Governance, democracy, intellectual property, and the commons
  • Personal data, trust, and privacy
  • Web and social media research ethics
  • Studies of Linked Data, the Cloud, and digital eco-systems
  • Big data and the study of the Web
  • Web access, literacy, and development
  • Knowledge, education, and scholarship on and through the Web
  • People-driven Web technologies, including crowd-sourcing, open data, and new interfaces
  • Digital humanities
  • Arts & culture on the Web or engaging audiences using Web resources
  • Web archiving techniques and scholarly uses of Web archives
  • New research questions and thought-provoking ideas

Web Science is necessarily a very selective single track conference with a rigorous review process. To accommodate the distinct traditions of its many disciplines, we provide three different submission formats: full papers, short papers, and posters. For all types of submissions, inclusion in the ACM DL proceedings will be by default, but not mandatory (opt-out via EasyChair). All accepted research papers (full and short papers) will be presented during the single-track conference. All accepted posters will be given a spot in the single-track lightning talk session, and room to present their papers during a dedicated poster session.

Full research papers (5 to 10 pages, ACM double column, 20 mins presentation including Q&A)

Full research papers should present new results and original work that has not been previously published. Research papers should present substantial theoretical, empirical, methodological, or policy-oriented contributions to research and/or practice.

Short research papers (up to 5 pages, ACM double column, 15 mins presentation including Q&A)

Short research papers should present new results and original work that has not been previously published. Research papers can present preliminary theoretical, empirical, methodological, or policy-oriented contributions to research and/or practice.

Full and short paper submissions should be formatted according to the official ACM SIG proceedings template (WebSci archive format at

Posters (up to 6 pages, ACM abstract template, lightning talk + poster presentation)

Extended abstracts for posters, which should be in English, can be up to 6 pages, and should be formatted according to the official ACM SIG abstract template (extended abstract format at

Other creative submission formats (flexible formats)

Other types of creative submissions are also encouraged, and the exact format and style of presentation are open. Examples might include artistic performances or installations, interactive exhibits, demonstrations, or other creative formats. For these submissions, the proposers should make clear both what they propose to do, and any special requirements they would need to successfully do it (in terms of space, time, technology, etc.)

Instructions for all types of submissions will be posted on the WebSci14 conference website soon.


The Web Science program committee consists of a program committeethat covers all relevant areas of Web Science. Each submission will be refereed by three PC members and one short meta review written by a Co-PC chair,to cover both the research background of each submission as well as the necessary interdisciplinary aspects.

(Optional) Archival Proceedings in the ACM Digital Library

All accepted papers and posters will by default appear in the Web Science 2014 Conference Proceedings and can also be made available through the ACM Digital Library, in the same length and format of the submission unless indicated otherwise (those wishing not to be indexed and archived can opt out of the proceedings).

Deadlines (tentative)
Full & Short Papers:
  • 23 February 2014: Submissions of full and short papers
  • 13 April 2014: Notification of acceptance for papers
  • 11 May 2014: Camera-ready version of papers and posters due
Late Breaking Posters:
  • 23 March 2014: Submissions of posters
  • 13 April 2014: Notification of acceptance for posters
  • 11 May 2014: Camera-ready version of posters due 
Authors take note: The official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. This date may be up to two weeks prior to the first day of the conference. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work. (If proceedings are published in the ACM Digital Library after the conference is over, the official publication date is the first day of the conference.)
Call for Workshops

TBA - more information will be made available on the conference website soon

Conference calendar and rough program
  • 23 June 2014: workshops, opening reception and keynote
  • 24 June 2014: keynote(s), technical program, poster reception
  • 25 June 2014: keynote(s), technical program, social event
  • 26 June 2014: keynote, technical program, closing 
General chairs
  • Fil Menczer, Indiana University
  • Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Bill Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Program chairs
  • Markus Strohmaier, University of Koblenz and GESIS (Computing)
  • Ciro Cattuto, ISI Foundation (Physics)
  • Eric T. Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford     (Social Sciences)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"If a Young Child Wanders, Technology Can Follow"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Information-Gathering Paradox"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

There's no escape

I keep this blog and Twitter account, and I edited a book on pervasive ICT, but I'm not a hard-core techie. I don't read any tech magazines, I don't go out looking for sources for this blog. I just scan a few sources daily or weekly, including The New York Times, and post interesting bits here or on my @TeachRCR Twitter account. My point is that I pretty much stumble across these things, which means they are pretty close to the line of common knowledge. Sometimes, like today, I find it a bit scary how creepy the in-the-pipeline technologies are, and I wonder what's out there, just a few steps behind.

All of that was triggered by these two stories in the Times. The first is just about a handful of Google Glass wannabes. Irritating, invasive, privacy-decomposing - but we're getting braced for the flood.
But along with it comes this:
Somebody give me a "Come on, now!"

Here are my two favorite passages:
The more invasive audio mining also has the potential to unnerve some consumers, who might squirm at the idea of an unknown operator getting an instant entree into their psyche.
That's an understatement.
“It seems to me that the biggest risk of this technology is not that it violates people’s privacy, but that companies might believe in it and use it to make judgments about customers or potential employees,” says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. “That could end up being used to make arbitrary and potentially discriminatory decisions.”
I don't know about you, but to me this is a no-win proposition. If the software works as advertised, it's the most severe invasion of privacy we're likely to see until Isaac Asimov's pscyho-probe comes around. If it doesn't work, but people believe in it, it'll be another source of confusion and another tool in the power-abuser kit.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements"

Has Google become yet another abomination upon the earth? On the bright side, we can all use it's own services to condemn it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Let's Build a More Secure Internet"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Researchers split over NSA hacking"

Here's the comment I posted to this news piece: 

In 1982, I graduated with a B.S. in mathematics. I was young and ignorant and naive, and the only math jobs I knew of were either college teaching or in the military-industrial complex. I didn't think I was good enough in math to go to graduate school and I didn't want to contribute to the war in Viet Nam, so I took another route.

I later came to believe that we should not vilify people who work in industries that we deplore. If liberal academics (like me) condemn others like us except that they might apply for a job that happens to have military connections, only the very boldest will apply and the majority of applicants might well be militaristic jingoist fundamentalists intent on ushering in the apocalypse. (I came of age during the nuclear freeze movement and Secretary of Interior James Watt.)

My characterization of "them" is intentionally exaggerated, but I hope you get the point: If people who share my values are shut out from certain areas of study, only people who don't share my values will have a voice. This is unacceptable in a democracy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Smartphones for the blind and visually impaired

Friday, September 20, 2013

California privacy; people vs computer traders

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PICT book now available in hardcover and eBook

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The book has arrived!

Friday, August 30, 2013

"The Face Scan Arrives"

Homeland Security and the FBI are developing facial identification software. The author, Ginger McCall,  suggests two policies to restrict the use of such technologies.
First, facial-recognition databases should be populated only with images of known terrorists and convicted felons. Driver’s license photos and other images of “ordinary” people should never be included in a facial-recognition database without the knowledge and consent of the public.

Second, access to databases should be limited and monitored. Officers should be given access only after a court grants a warrant. The access should be tracked and audited. The authorities should have to publicly report what databases are being mined and provide aggregate numbers on how often they are used.
I approve of the second policy 100%, but I wonder whether having the faces of ordinary people on file would tend to make the database more effective in identifying criminals. In some areas, having tons of data give systems greater power; when Netflix knows that I like movies A, B, and C, and that several hundreds of people who like A, B, and C also like movie D, it's a good guess that I'd like D, too. Is there an analog to this in facial recognition?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free preview of the PICT book now available

Monday, August 26, 2013

PICT book projected publication date now September 30

I am disappointed to announce that the publication date of our book has been pushed back another month. If I weren't monitoring Springer's Web page for the book, I wouldn't know about this myself. I have been given no explanation for the delay.

Ken Pimple

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"I Flirt and Tweet. Follow Me at #Socialbot."

"How Pay-Per-Gaze Advertising Could Work With Google Glass"

Pay-per-gaze - what a revolting concept.

"Facial Scanning Is Making Gains in Surveillance"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Children Lost in War Zones and Disasters Find Their Families With an App"

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"2 E-Mail Services Close and Destroy Data Rather Than Reveal Files"

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Searching Big Data for ‘Digital Smoke Signals’"

This article describes "the United Nations Global Pulse team — a tiny unit ... [with a focus on] harnessing technology in new ways — using data from social networks, blogs, cellphones and online commerce to transform economic development and humanitarian aid in poorer nations" as one example of "a growing collection of scientists at universities, companies and nonprofit groups have been given the label 'Big Data for development.'"
Research by Global Pulse and other groups, for example, has found that analyzing Twitter messages can give an early warning of a spike in unemployment, price rises and disease. Such “digital smoke signals of distress,” Mr. [Robert] Kirkpatrick [who leads Global Pulse] said, usually come months before official statistics — and in many developing countries today, there are no reliable statistics.
I shouldn't have been surprised by this; people who want to help people, just like people who want to make money, are innovative, hard working, and alert to new tools. I am pleased to learn of this movement.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"A Cheap Spying Tool With a High Creepy Factor"

Could it be coming to a location (uncomfortably) near you?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Pinterest Allows Users to Opt Out of Being Tracked"

It's one of those taking away with your right hand what you gave with your left situations. Here's a key paragraph:
As for people who do not select the Do Not Track feature, Pinterest will be watching over their shoulders more than it has in the past. As Twitter did in 2012, Pinterest introduced a new feature that it says will help surface better content to users.
Here's the score for Pintrest:
  • 5 points for allowing users to opt in for do-not-track,
  • -8 points for increasing invasiveness for users who do not opt out, and 
  • -15 points for failing to use an opt-in model instead (so that no one would be tracked unless explicitly invited Pinterest to follow them wherever they go).
That puts them 18 points in the red. Nice try.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Whispering sweet nothings in commuters’ ears"

Thanks to Lisa Lee for bringing this to my attention. Read the comments, too.

Friday, July 5, 2013

PICT book release delayed

This morning I checked on the status of our book, Emerging Pervasive Information and Communication Technologies (PICT): Ethical Challenges, Opportunities and Safeguards, and was surprised to learn that it is not yet available. It was supposed to be available by June 30. 

The new release date is August 31. However, the eBook "will be available for sale soon."

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Stealth Wear Aims to Make a Tech Statement"

From today's New York Times.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Voice-Activated Technology Is Called Safety Risk for Drivers"

If there was ever any doubt that adding Internet connectivity and voice command technologies to cars is a bad idea, this should wipe that doubt away.

I summarize below (do read the whole article). Passages that are not direct quotations should be taken as my editorial ranting.

"In April, the federal government recommended that automakers voluntarily limit the technology in their cars to keep drivers focused," but automakers see dollar signs when they think about installing this stuff. Profits! Profits! Who cares about safety?

Research led by "David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah who for two decades has applied the principles of attention science to driver behavior," shows that
What makes the use of these speech-to-text systems so risky is that they create a significant cognitive distraction.... The brain is so taxed interacting with the system that, even with hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, the driver’s reaction time and ability to process what is happening on the road are impaired.
(Some of Strayer's earlier research showed that "talking on a phone while driving creates the same level of crash risk as someone with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, the legal level for intoxication across the country.)

And it's not just that speech-to-text is distracting, but that it's more distracting than other activities. In his latest study, Strayer and his colleagues "compared the impact on drivers of different activities, including listening to a book on tape or the radio, and talking on a hand-held phone or hands-free phone" and found "the results were consistent across all the tests in finding that speech-to-text technology caused a higher level of cognitive distraction than any of the other activities."

The only way this technology should be legal would be if the driver could not use it. I suspect it would be safe to install it in the back seats of limos, for example. There might even be a way for a passenger in the front seat, but not the drive, to use it - I don't know how that would be accomplished, but that would probably be fairly safe, too.

We really don't need more distracted drivers.
See also in this blog (listed from most to least recent) "Device Prevents Driving While Phone Is In Use," "Attention Turns to the Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians," and "Cell Carriers Explore Ways to Limit Distracted Driving."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"The Price of the Panopticon"

"Track the trackers"

Friday, June 7, 2013

"The Cyborg Era Begins"

Talk about your pervasive technologies.

Here's a bit more from the summary: "In the lab, cling wrap–like circuitry draped over the hearts of test animals can track the activity of each of the heart's four chambers and kill tissue that initiate potentially deadly arrhythmias. Other arrays penetrate brain tissue to monitor the abnormal nerve firing patterns in epilepsy or induce gene expression in the brain tissue of mice." 

"Ad Formats at Facebook to Be Fewer"

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Smart map tracks people through camera networks"

"A MAP that tracks people's movements across a network of CCTV cameras and gives their location in a real time could be an invaluable tool for finding intruders, or for simply knowing your whereabouts.

"Dubbed the Marauder's Map after the magical map used by Harry Potter, the system takes security camera footage and analyses it using an algorithm that combines facial recognition, colour matching of clothing, and a person's expected position based on their last known location."

Thanks to Francis Harvey for drawing my attention to this.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book on ethical guidance for PICT on its way

Emerging Pervasive Information and Communication Technologies (PICT): Ethical Challenges, Opportunities and Safeguards 

Edited by Kenneth D. Pimple,  Ph.D.

To be published by Springer; expected publication date June 30, 2013.


This book provides a wide and deep perspective on the ethical issues raised by pervasive information and communication technology (PICT) – small, powerful, and often inexpensive Internet-connected computing devices and systems. It describes complex and unfamiliar technologies and their implications, including the transformative potential of augmented reality, the power of location-linked information, and the uses of “big data,” and explains potential threats, including privacy invaded, security violated, and independence compromised, often through widespread and lucrative manipulation.

PICT is changing how we live, providing entertainment, useful tools, and life-saving systems. But the very smartphones that connect us to each other and to unlimited knowledge also provide a stream of data to systems that can be used for targeted advertising or police surveillance. Paradoxically, PICT expands our personal horizons while weaving a web that may ensnare whole communities.

Chapters describe particular cases of PICT gone wrong, but also highlight its general utility. Every chapter includes ethical analysis and guidance, both specific and general. Topics are as focused as the Stuxnet worm and as broad as the innumerable ways new technologies are transforming medical care.

Written for a broad audience and suitable for classes in emerging technologies, the book is an example of anticipatory ethics – “ethical analysis aimed at influencing the development of new technologies” (Deborah Johnson 2010).

The growth of PICT is outpacing the development of regulations and laws to protect individuals, organizations, and nations from unintended harm and malicious havoc. This book alerts users to some of the hazards of PICT; encourages designers, developers, and merchants of PICT to take seriously their ethical responsibilities – if only to “do no harm” – before their products go public; and introduces citizens and policy makers to challenges and opportunities that must not be ignored.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"In the Programmable World, All Our Objects Will Act as One"

"In our houses, cars, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives."

So: Is that appealing, appalling, or what?

Thanks to Francis Harvey for sharing this.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Privacy in the digital age"

"The proposed European Data Protection Regulation will rightly preserve people’s privacy — but, without exceptions for scientific research, it could hinder or prevent medical discoveries."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Sustainable mobility: A vision of our transport future"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Google Emulates Apple in Restricting Apps for Glass"

The developers get the first shot at Glass. Then, maybe, other people with too much money. How big will the change be?

"Mobile location data 'present anonymity risk'"

"Scientists say it is remarkably easy to identify a mobile phone user from just a few pieces of location information."

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Behind the Webcam's Watchful Eye"

There are some ingenious strategies out there for proctoring tests for MOOCs and other online courses.If you're willing to pay enough, and impose enough restrictions on the students, it looks like it can be very effective - possibly more effective than proctoring in-person tests. I wonder how anyone would determine how much less than foolproof would be good enough?

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Bubble or No, This Virtual Currency Is a Lot of Coin in Any Realm"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Automated essay grading and Twitter followers

Let's see: College professors are starting to depend on computers to grade essays, and Twitter users are spending millions of dollars to get fake followers. Is this the best that AI can offer?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Privacy: Valued, given away, and under-protected

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"What You Didn’t Post, Facebook May Still Know"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Big Data Is Opening Doors, but Maybe Too Many"

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Gene-analysis firms reach for the cloud"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Senate Panel Weighs Privacy Concerns Over Use of Drones"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Device Prevents Driving While Phone Is In Use"

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Domestic Drones Stir Imaginations, and Concerns"

From the new Twitter feed:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Geographic Information Ethics and GIScience

The annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers will include two special sections  on Geographic Information Ethics and GIScience.

Session organizers are Rodolphe Devillers, Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Francis Harvey, Department of Geography, University of Minnesota; and Dawn Wright, Environmental Systems Research Institute and College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University.

From the organizers' Web site:

Ethical engagements with the multitude of GIS applications and uses, whether surreptitious or overt, have marked recent developments in the field. Indeed, the variety of applications of geographic information science & technology (GIS&T) has led the U.S. Department of Labor to highlight geospatial/geographic technologies as the third largest high-growth job field for the 21st century. While the potential benefits and risks of geographic technologies are becoming well known, these sessions provides a forum to engage ethical issues. For instance:
  • Geographic technologies are surveillance technologies. The data they produce may be used to invade the privacy, and even the autonomy, of individuals and groups.
  • Data gathered using geographic technologies are used to make policy decisions. Erroneous, inadequately documented, or inappropriate data can have grave consequences for individuals and the environment.
  • Geographic technologies have the potential to exacerbate inequities in society, insofar as large organizations enjoy greater access to technology, data, and technological expertise than smaller organizations and individuals.
  • Georeferenced photos, tweets and volunteered (and unvolunteered) geographic information can reveal private information. Those data that are increasingly publically available and used to study societal phenomena raise significant privacy concerns.
Papers in this session again engaged with the above issues in relationship to GIScience, including such topics as:
  • case studies, curriculum development, or the pedagogy of teaching GIS ethical issues;
  • issues of privacy, surveillance, inequity, erroneous or inappropriate data concerning geographic technologies;
  • codes of ethics and conduct of professional organizations;
  • GIS professional development;
  • reflections on the changing nature of ethical issues in GIS&T
These sessions are co-sponsored by the AAG GI Systems & Science and Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Groups.
My thanks to Deepsea Dawn Wright for sharing this information.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Big Data goes to grade school

I haven't been posting many blog entries lately because I've been busy editing a book on pervasive computing. More on that later.

For today, I've got something that isn't quite in the main stream of this blog: Data aggregation on K-12 students.

The quotations in this entry are from an article by Stephanie Simon and published by Reuters, "K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents" (March 3, 2013).

I'll start with the up side: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others have developed "a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school." A newly created nonprofit organization, inBloom Inc., will run the database.

School districts will be able to use the database free of charge (for now). This one database will be able to integrate a school's student data in one place. "Schools tend to store different bits of student information in different databases, often with different operating systems." This is inefficient on its face, and it makes it difficult for schools to provide instruction tailored to the abilities and interests of students.

Seven states are already signed up, and the larger the pool of school districts, the more useful the database will be. Creators of educational technologies will be able to mine the database and create better education packages, including custom packages for states, school districts, individual schools, clusters of students (sports fans, say, or those who struggle with math), and even individuals.

Just think of the possibilities. With several states using the same platform for data, there will be huge incentive for technology companies to get on the band wagon. It seems likely that better and less expensive applications will appear quickly.

This all sounds great, and if it is handled properly, it might be truly wonderful. But if there weren't a down side, I wouldn't be writing about it.

In order to exploit the database, corporations will have to have access to all of this student data.
In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.
What about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the U.S. Department of Education's regulation to protect student privacy and is known to make it difficult for families paying their children's college tuition to see the kid's grades? Apparently it's no obstacle.
Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any "school official" who has a "legitimate educational interest," according to the Department of Education. The department defines "school official" to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts.
It's not hopeless: "Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information" and the database "gives school administrators full control over student files, so they could choose to share test scores with a vendor but withhold social security numbers or disability records." Still, there are reasons for concern.
"Once this information gets out there, it's going to be abused. There's no doubt in my mind," said Jason France, a father of two in Louisiana.

While inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it "cannot guarantee the security of the information stored ... or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted." [ellipsis in original]
So it looks like schools and states will be depending on the good character of corporations with dollar signs in their eyes to handle student information in a responsible and safe manner.

Did I mention that the database infrastructure was built by Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp?

How do you think that will work out?

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Call for Abstracts: Governance of Emerging Technologies

Call for Abstracts

Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics

May 20-21, 2013
Chandler, Arizona

The Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has issued a call for abstracts for proposed presentations at its upcoming First Annual Conference on Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics.  Eleven other organizations from across the nation with an interest in emerging technologies are co-sponsoring this path-breaking event.

The national conference is slated for May 20-21 at the scenic Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler, Ariz., just south of downtown Phoenix. Abstracts are due March 1, and should be submitted at Successful applicants will be notified by March 22.

The conference will consist of plenary and session presentations and discussions on regulatory, governance, legal, policy, social and ethical aspects of emerging technologies, including, but not limited to, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, biotechnology, genomics, personalized medicine, stem cell and regenerative medicine, human enhancement technologies, telecommunications, information technologies, surveillance technologies, geoengineering, neuroscience and robotics.

Keynote speakers include George M. Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of, George Poste, Co-director and Chief Scientist, Complex Adaptive Systems Network, Regents' Professor and Del E. Webb Chair in Health Innovation, ASU, and Andrew D. Maynard, NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, and Director, University of Michigan Risk Science Center.

There is much to be learned and shared from and across the governance experience and proposals for these various emerging technologies, said Gary Marchant, Faculty Director of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation.

"What's clear is that for every single technology – from nanotechnology and neuroscience to robotics and surveillance technologies – the way we regulate them and their risks is not working," Marchant said. "Traditional forms of regulation fail because they lag so far behind the science. These technologies are going forward at an unprecedented pace, and they cut across many different industries and sectors. And the set of governance issues they raise are of unprecedented diversity and importance."

An example is autonomous weapons systems, which are capable of accomplishing military and other missions with little or no human intervention. "We are on the verge of having the technological capability to enable robots to make decisions about killing people, but we don't yet have in place any principles or methods for governing this capability," Marchant said. "We need to look at both the substance – what is the ethical thing to do? – and the process – how do we make these decisions in society? We will be exploring these issues at our conference."

The conference will bring together government regulators, technology innovators, scientists and engineers, scholars from law, public policy, philosophy and ethics, policymakers, non-governmental organizations, students and journalists.

Participants will have a unique opportunity to explore the challenges that cut across many fields, the convergence of emerging technologies, and the societal impact of a bewildering array of transformative tools and techniques, said Wendell Wallach, of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University, a co-sponsor of the conference.

"We have entered a critical juncture," Wallach said. "There are still opportunities to provide direction as to which technological possibilities should be embraced and those potential harms that must be addressed. But some of the opportunities to effectively monitor, manage and modulate the emerging technologies will disappear relatively soon."

Multidisciplinary discourse, creative thinking and innovative approaches are fundamental to striking an appropriate balance between the risks and rewards, said Diana Bowman, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan Risk Science Center and the Department of Health Management and Policy. The Risk Science Center also is sponsoring the conference.

"Autonomous vehicles – drone warfare – sophisticated materials for tissue engineering – what once belonged only in the pages of science fiction is very much science fact today," Bowman said. "And with the promise of new, emerging and disruptive technologies on the horizon, our capacity to grapple with the legal, policy and societal issues posed by the promised applications shall be challenged."

Additional sponsors of the conference are the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU; the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU; The Hastings Center; Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies; Initiative on Governance of Emerging Technological Systems, University of Minnesota; Ethics & Emerging Sciences Group, California Polytechnic State University; Neuroethics Studies Program, Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center; The Science & Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.  For additional sponsorship opportunities, email For more information about the conference and to register, visit

About the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is one of the leading public law schools in the country. Currently ranked No. 26 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, and No. 8 among all public law schools, the College has moved up further and faster in national rankings than nearly any other law school. The College is the preeminent law school in metropolitan Phoenix, the nation's sixth-largest city. In addition to its renowned faculty, the College is home to several leading centers and programs recognized for excellence, including the Center for Law, Science & Innovation, the Center for Law and Global Affairs and the Indian Legal Program. Its students choose and benefit from numerous opportunities for experiential and practical-skills training as well as an array of theoretical courses. With a writing program that is ranked No. 8 nationally by U.S. News, a wide range of clinical opportunities, a breadth of externship offerings, and a pro bono program that annually contributes more than 100,000 hours of legal and law-related services to the community, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is pursuing a path of boundless impact, excellence, engagement and opportunity. For more information, visit