Tag Archives: United States

You Can’t Solve These Problems on an Ad Hoc Basis

By Sasha Cohen O’Connell – Resolving today’s most pressing cyber security and Internet governance challenges is dependent on the tech industry and the government working together on both policy development and policy implementation.

Specifically, collaboration is required to successfully research, design, debate, and ultimately implement effective solutions.

While there is overwhelming consensus on the need for collaboration, it remains a huge challenge. Why?

While many factors contribute to the problem, including differing incentive structures, cultures and business models, one critical element—organizational structure—is a significant and often overlooked hurdle that needs attention and creative solutions.

Most collaborations today are done by ad hoc teams of operational personnel, lawyers, government affairs departments, and/or trade associations or other outside third parties. This setup is neither efficient nor effective. more> https://goo.gl/B0j8RA

What we don’t know about high schools can hurt us

By Mark Dynarski – High school graduation in the U.S. is like this. First, researchers struggled to understand why it was low and unchanging for a long time. Now, researchers are struggling to understand why it is rising. And there are few studies going on about effective approaches for helping students graduate.

A recent report estimated that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Getting to college means getting through high school.

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) gives states more authority over K-12 education. But we should not confuse authority to plan and deliver education services with authority to plan and deliver education research.

Research generates ’positive externalities’ in the jargon of economists. Any one state has an incentive to invest in research up to the point at which that state values it. But all states might benefit from research in any one state. The net result is that states will under-invest in research from the perspective of the nation.

This is true for just about any area of research, and it’s why we have the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on a wide variety of diseases and conditions, but no New Jersey Institutes of Health doing the same. more> https://goo.gl/U3UZYa

Net neutrality 2.0: Perspectives on FCC regulation of internet service providers

By Stuart N. Brotman – The final outcome of this high-profile, high-impact proceeding will not be apparent until sometime late in 2017, at the earliest. Congress may also become more seriously involved at some point on the legislative front.

But without a doubt, as Chairman Pai noted in his Newseum speech, a “fierce debate” lies ahead for a number of months at least. And if past is prologue, the FCC may well receive an avalanche of comments in response to these proposed changes; the record in the Title II Order shows that over four million comments were filed by interested parties and the general public combined.

There will be no lack of political discourse, to be sure.

As we move into 2016, an unresolved national communications policy dilemma remains: whether the public-switched telephone network and the internet are parallel systems or parts of a larger ubiquitous network environment. Determining which characterization will be followed has profound consequences for regulatory treatment.

Given the emerging dominance of mobile over fixed service, if the FCC can’t regulate both, it may win the battle but lose the war. Given that a further appeal is likely regardless of which side prevails, including possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress may find itself re-emerging as the best source of guidance for the FCC. Legislative action can definitively clarify whether Congress intends for the telephone network and internet to be joined at the hip, or should continue to function in parallel with differing regulatory treatment. more> https://goo.gl/f4x8Uh

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Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex

By Walter Vannini – Coding isn’t the only job that demands intense focus.

But you’d never hear someone say that brain surgery is ‘fun’, or that structural engineering is ‘easy’. When it comes to programming, why do policymakers and technologists pretend otherwise?

For one, it helps lure people to the field at a time when software (in the words of the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen) is ‘eating the world’ – and so, by expanding the labor pool, keeps industry ticking over and wages under control. Another reason is that the very word ‘coding’ sounds routine and repetitive, as though there’s some sort of key that developers apply by rote to crack any given problem.

It doesn’t help that Hollywood has cast the ‘coder’ as a socially challenged, type-first-think-later hacker, inevitably white and male, with the power to thwart the Nazis or penetrate the CIA. more> https://goo.gl/kfU3QD

A Political, Not Constitutional, Crisis

By Joseph P. Williams – A constitutional crisis is often used [synonymously] with a political crisis. What people see as a confrontation between the branches is often defined as a crisis. The Constitution is designed to have a certain degree of tension between the branches. It is also designed to deal with confrontations between a president and both Congress and the courts.

This is not a constitutional crisis. It’s a political crisis.

The thing is, the FBI director is essentially an at-will employee. He serves at the pleasure of the president. That should come as no surprise to those familiar with our system.

Our Constitution is designed for bad weather, not for good weather. It has survived crises that would have reduced other countries to a fine pumice.

President Trump is allowed to exercise the authority that he used to terminate James Comey.

Congress is allowed to investigate the conditions or reasons of that termination.

The constitutional system is working just fine. more> https://goo.gl/3wRPHf

Democracy needs politeness

By Steven Bullock – In 1808, the US president Thomas Jefferson ranked the ‘qualities of mind’ he valued. Not surprisingly, he included ‘integrity’, ‘industry’, and ‘science’. These traits were particularly important to American revolutionaries seeking a society based on independent citizens, rather than harsh rulers and inherited privilege.

But at the top of his list, Jefferson chose not these familiar Enlightenment values but ‘good humour’ – or what contemporaries usually called ‘politeness’.

18th-century Britons and Americans believed that politeness was essential for a free society. Autocrats shouted, cursed and berated. But they sought only obedience. Leading a more open society required respect for other people, sensitivity to their expectations and concerns. By the time of Jefferson’s ranking, politeness had been part of the project of challenging authoritarian rule for more than a century. more> https://goo.gl/IVIswe

Donald Trump’s drive for “law and order” undermines the rule of law

By Dara Lind – The Trump administration does not value the rule of law. It values law and order. It values law enforcement as a weapon to be wielded in a particular direction: against social disorder, real and feared. It respects the “front lines” of conflict to protect order, but sees less need to preserve the independence of investigators or prosecutors to choose which violations of law to pursue.

In other words, it’s embracing the brute reality of power — while obliterating one of its most important constraints.

Both “rule of law” and “law and order” are tossed around as political slogans more often than not — and often by the same people. But in practice, they represent slightly different sets of values.

The “rule of law” is a procedural value: It says that the right thing for the government to do is to set, and adhere to, proper processes in all cases, without favor or prejudice to where those processes might lead.

“Law and order,” by contrast, is a substantive value: It says something about what sorts of results the government ought to be getting out of its activity (namely, a reduction in crime and social disorder, and the assurance of a safe and loyal populace). more> https://goo.gl/B0pnlP

Why cyber warfare isn’t

By Mike Hearn – One of the issues (though not at all the only one) is how governments understand the term “cyber warfare”. This term has spread rapidly throughout government in the past 20 years. Presidents, Prime Ministers, generals and journalists all believe they understand what “cyber warfare” is, but they don’t and this lack of understanding leads to events like today’s.

The big problem is that cyber warfare is totally different to normal warfare, in fact it’s so different that calling it warfare at all is meaningless. In regular warfare you can build up your own defenses without improving your opponent’s defenses, and you can develop new weapons that your opponents will not have. This basic asymmetry is key to the very concept of war: the side with the better weapons, defenses and tactics should normally win.

But cyber warfare doesn’t work like that. Because everyone uses the same software infrastructure, and the “weapons” are nothing more than weaknesses in that global infrastructure, building up your own defenses by fixing problems inherently builds up your opponents defenses too. And developing new “weapons” is only possible if your opponents are able to develop the very same weapons for themselves, by exploiting the very same vulnerabilities in your country that you are exploiting in theirs.

Governments have huge problems understanding this fact because politicians tend to reflexively trust their own intelligence agencies, who deliberately obfuscate about it. more> https://goo.gl/t1YWuS

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21st-century propaganda: A guide to interpreting and confronting the dark arts of persuasion

By Gideon Lichfield – The belief, or rather hope, that humankind is ultimately rational has gripped Western politics at least since Descartes, and inspired such 19th-century optimists as Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill. “Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe,” Jefferson famously wrote.

But in recent years we’ve learned much about the human mind that contradicts the view of people as rationally self-interested decision-makers. Psychologists have established that we form beliefs first and only then look for evidence to back them up.

Research has turned up apparent physiological and psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, and found evidence that these differences have ancient evolutionary origins. It has identified the “backfire effect,” a.k.a. confirmation bias, in which people hew to even more strongly to an existing belief when shown evidence that clearly contradicts it.

Other research has looked at the habits of highly effective propagandists such as China, Russia, and alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos.

The main takeaways: truth, rationality, consistency, and likability aren’t necessary for getting people to absorb your viewpoint. Things that do work: incessant repetition, distractions from the main issue, sidestepping counterarguments rather than refuting them, using “peripheral cues” to establish credibility or authority, and antagonizing people who dislike you in order to get the attention of people who might like you. more> https://goo.gl/ddOwca

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The American healthcare system is for profit, not patients

BOOK REVIEW

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Author: Elisabeth Rosenthal.

By Elisabeth Rosenthal – Everyone knows the healthcare system is in disarray. We’ve grown numb to huge bills. We regard high prices as an inescapable American burden. We accept the drugmakers’ argument that they have to charge twice as much for prescriptions as in any other country because lawmakers in nations like Germany and France don’t pay them enough to recoup their research costs.

But would anyone accept that argument if we replaced the word prescriptions with cars or films?

The current market for healthcare just doesn’t deliver. It is deeply, perhaps fatally, flawed.

Imagine if you paid for an airplane ticket and then got separate and inscrutable bills from the airline, the pilot, the copilot, and the flight attendants. That’s how the healthcare market works.

In no other industry do prices for a product vary by a factor of ten depending on where it is purchased, as is the case for bills I’ve seen for echocardiograms, MRI scans, and blood tests to gauge thyroid function or vitamin D levels.

The price of a Prius at a dealership in Princeton, New Jersey, is not five times higher than what you would pay for a Prius in Hackensack and a Prius in New Jersey is not twice as expensive as one in New Mexico.

The price of that car at the very same dealer doesn’t depend on your employer, or if you’re self-employed or unemployed. Why does it matter for healthcare? more> https://goo.gl/5oBK5k