In a recent blog, I suggested that we have finally lost patience with Facebook after new revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen and the Wall Street Journal. Leaked documents show that FB knows that almost six million VIPs are given special dispensation to violate their content standards; criminals use FB to recruit women, incite violence against ethnic minorities, and support government action against political dissent; Instagram is toxic to many young girls, contributing to poor self-image, mental health, and suicidal thoughts; the firm relaxed its safeguards too soon after the U.S. election, contributing to the January 6 riot; and FB is incapable of suppressing election and vaccine misinformation.Read More »
Cybersecurity expert Prof. Susan Landau’s valuable and insightful recent book, People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health, stresses that trust in government is essential to making contact tracing work for everyone.
Contact tracing is a process for identifying, informing, and monitoring people who might have come into contact with a person who has been diagnosed with an infectious disease such as COVID-19. It starts with a positive test. Public health officials then need to know who that person might have inadvertently infected. This requires tracking down anyone that person had contacted (was “close enough” for “long enough”) recently (14 days in the case of COVID). They can then be informed that they might have been infected and take measures to quarantine and monitor for symptoms. For example, restaurants initiate tracing by recording the name and phone number of one person in each party taking a table in the restaurant.Read More »
Many issues discussed in Computers and Society: Modern Perspectives suggest a need for legal remedies, such as the case of monopoly power in digital technology industries. Other issues raise ethical quandaries, such as the cases of employees of such firms who find actions of their employers immoral. In almost all cases, such as technology addiction, fake news, and unjust algorithms, wise legal actions and informed moral choices depend upon having good information about what, how, and why things are happening. This requires research. In an excerpt from his excellent recent book The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations, published by Oxford University Press, Emeritus Prof. Ben Shneiderman suggests that what is needed is applied research illuminating context and situations coupled with basic research illuminating causes.Read More »