Posts Tagged ‘ ethics ’

Did web scraping just receive a legal boost?

August 15, 2017
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Kaiser Fung, founder of Principal Analytics Prep and author of Numbersense, discusses a recent legal ruling against LinkedIn's technologies that restricts web scraping.

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A call for less automation, more transparency in digital advertising

August 8, 2017
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Kaiser Fung, founder of Principal Analytics Prep and founding director of Applied Analytics at Columbia, calls for reform in the digital advertising industry to address concerns about measurability and accountability

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Know your data 21: another example of data sleaze, straight from your home

August 1, 2017
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Kaiser Fung, founder of Principal Analytics Prep and author of Numbersense, reacts to the news that Roomba captures detailed maps of people's homes.

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Crash course in precision and uncertainty, in advance of that climate debate, free for Mr. Pruitt

July 13, 2017
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Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief, continues to make innumerate comments about his personal views on climate change science. His chief accusation - chanted often - is that we need more "precision". In his view, achieving 100% precision is necessary because it removes all uncertainty, allowing lawmakers to take action. This post is inspired by his latest interview in which he is encouraging a TV debate event to air out the…

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Data bite back: a Harvard lesson

June 7, 2017
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New York Times reports that Harvard rescinded admission offers to 10 students (link). These kids allegedly engaged in horrible behavior on "private" chatrooms online. Not reported is how Harvard admission officers got a hold of such information. Is it possible there are jealous classmates? I am not condoning the bad behavior - I put this link up to remind people: (a) no data are private, not even "deleted" data (b)…

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The Times agrees on privacy and kind of on fake news business

May 11, 2017
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The New York Times Magazine has been publishing some pieces that directly relate to a couple of my blog posts. In this article, Amanda Hess noticed that "privacy became a commodity for the rich and powerful." This echoes my blog post on "Data is the next frontier of equal rights." Hess discussed the asymmetry and hypocrisy of the situation whereby the same businesses and business executives that are wantonly stripping…

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That fake news business

May 4, 2017
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When Hillary Clinton unexpectedly lost the election in November 2016, it was high time for pundits to espouse their pet theories for the shocking losses suffered by the Democrats at all levels of government. The usual suspects were put on parade, such as “Bernie Bros” who abstained from voting and the “deplorables” who voted against their own interests. For the first time, two unlikely entities faced scrutiny: the social-media giant,…

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Data sleaze: Uber and beyond

April 26, 2017
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There has been a barrage of negative publicity related to Uber recently. The latest salvo is a long article in the New York Times (link). This piece focuses on Uber's CEO, who was trained as a computer engineer, but my interest lies primarily in several revelations about how Uber collects and uses customer data. The key episode picked up by various outlets (e.g. TechCrunch, Wired) involves Uber "secretly identifying and…

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My pre-existing United boycott, and some musing on randomness and fairness

April 12, 2017
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You probably already saw the video - if not, do yourself a favor, and search for "man forcibly removed from overbooked United flight." Other than the video evidence, which is damning, we don't have many facts, other than assertions made by various parties, repeated endlessly on social media and mainline media. Some facts, such as the United CEO claiming the passenger was "belligerent," is an assault on the meaning of…

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What is Mr. Pruitt saying?

April 3, 2017
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In his latest provocation, the EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt, aborted an on-going process by his agency to ban a widely-used but potentially harmful pesticide known as chlorpyrifos (link to New York Times article). In my previous blog on his climate-change statement, I pointed out that people who attack data-driven conclusions for its "imprecision" will ignore any uncertainty if they want something to happen: However, when it comes to such decisions…

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