Practical Fairness


Book by Aileen Nielsen: “Fairness is becoming a paramount consideration for data scientists. Mounting evidence indicates that the widespread deployment of machine learning and AI in business and government is reproducing the same biases we’re trying to fight in the real world. But what does fairness mean when it comes to code? This practical book covers basic concerns related to data security and privacy to help data and AI professionals use code that’s fair and free of bias.

Many realistic best practices are emerging at all steps along the data pipeline today, from data selection and preprocessing to closed model audits. Author Aileen Nielsen guides you through technical, legal, and ethical aspects of making code fair and secure, while highlighting up-to-date academic research and ongoing legal developments related to fairness and algorithms.

  • Identify potential bias and discrimination in data science models
  • Use preventive measures to minimize bias when developing data modeling pipelines
  • Understand what data pipeline components implicate security and privacy concerns
  • Write data processing and modeling code that implements best practices for fairness
  • Recognize the complex interrelationships between fairness, privacy, and data security created by the use of machine learning models
  • Apply normative and legal concepts relevant to evaluating the fairness of machine learning models…(More)”.

Governance of Data Sharing: a Law & Economics Proposal


Paper by Jens Prufer and Inge Graef: “To prevent market tipping, which inhibits innovation, there is an urgent need to mandate sharing of user information in data-driven markets. Existing legal mechanisms to impose data sharing under EU competition law and data portability under the GDPR are not sufficient to tackle this problem. Mandated data sharing requires the design of a governance structure that combines elements of economically efficient centralization with legally necessary decentralization. We identify three feasible options. One is to centralize investigations and enforcement in a European Data Sharing Agency (EDSA), while decision-making power lies with National Competition Authorities in a Board of Supervisors. The second option is to set up a Data Sharing Cooperation Network coordinated through a European Data Sharing Board, with the National Competition Authority best placed to run the investigation adjudicating and enforcing the mandatory data-sharing decision across the EU. A third option is to mix both governance structures and to task national authorities to investigate and adjudicate and the EU-level EDSA with enforcement of data sharing….(More)”

Consumer Bureau To Decide Who Owns Your Financial Data


Article by Jillian S. Ambroz: “A federal agency is gearing up to make wide-ranging policy changes on consumers’ access to their financial data.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking to implement the area of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act pertaining to a consumer’s rights to his or her own financial data. It is detailed in section 1033.

The agency has been laying the groundwork on this move for years, from requesting information in 2016 from financial institutions to hosting a symposium earlier this year on the problems of screen scraping, a risky but common method of collecting consumer data.

Now the agency, which was established by the Dodd-Frank Act, is asking for comments on this critical and controversial topic ahead of the proposed rulemaking. Unlike other regulations that affect single industries, this could be all-encompassing because the consumer data rule touches almost every market the agency covers, according to the story in American Banker.

The Trump administration all but ‘systematically neutered’ the agency.

With the ruling, the agency seeks to clarify its compliance expectations and help establish market practices to ensure consumers have access to consumer financial data. The agency sees an opportunity here to help shape this evolving area of financial technology, or fintech, recognizing both the opportunities and the risks to consumers as more fintechs become enmeshed with their data and day-to-day lives.

Its goal is “to better effectuate consumer access to financial records,” as stated in the regulatory filing….(More)”.

Commission proposes measures to boost data sharing and support European data spaces


Press Release: “To better exploit the potential of ever-growing data in a trustworthy European framework, the Commission today proposes new rules on data governance. The Regulation will facilitate data sharing across the EU and between sectors to create wealth for society, increase control and trust of both citizens and companies regarding their data, and offer an alternative European model to data handling practice of major tech platforms.

The amount of data generated by public bodies, businesses and citizens is constantly growing. It is expected to multiply by five between 2018 and 2025. These new rules will allow this data to be harnessed and will pave the way for sectoral European data spaces to benefit society, citizens and companies. In the Commission’s data strategy of February this year, nine such data spaces have been proposed, ranging from industry to energy, and from health to the European Green Deal. They will, for example, contribute to the green transition by improving the management of energy consumption, make delivery of personalised medicine a reality, and facilitate access to public services.

The Regulation includes:

  • A number of measures to increase trust in data sharing, as the lack of trust is currently a major obstacle and results in high costs.
  • Create new EU rules on neutrality to allow novel data intermediaries to function as trustworthy organisers of data sharing.
  • Measures to facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector. For example, the reuse of health data could advance research to find cures for rare or chronic diseases.
  • Means to give Europeans control on the use of the data they generate, by making it easier and safer for companies and individuals to voluntarily make their data available for the wider common good under clear conditions….(More)”.

AI’s Wide Open: A.I. Technology and Public Policy


Paper by Lauren Rhue and Anne L. Washington: “Artificial intelligence promises predictions and data analysis to support efficient solutions for emerging problems. Yet, quickly deploying AI comes with a set of risks. Premature artificial intelligence may pass internal tests but has little resilience under normal operating conditions. This Article will argue that regulation of early and emerging artificial intelligence systems must address the management choices that lead to releasing the system into production. First, we present examples of premature systems in the Boeing 737 Max, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic public health response, and autonomous vehicle technology. Second, the analysis highlights relevant management practices found in our examples of premature AI. Our analysis suggests that redundancy is critical to protecting the public interest. Third, we offer three points of context for premature AI to better assess the role of management practices.

AI in the public interest should: 1) include many sensors and signals; 2) emerge from a broad range of sources; and 3) be legible to the last person in the chain. Finally, this Article will close with a series of policy suggestions based on this analysis. As we develop regulation for artificial intelligence, we need to cast a wide net to identify how problems develop within the technologies and through organizational structures….(More)”.

Taming Complexity


Martin Reeves , Simon Levin , Thomas Fink and Ania Levina at Harvard Business Review: “….“Complexity” is one of the most frequently used terms in business but also one of the most ambiguous. Even in the sciences it has numerous definitions. For our purposes, we’ll define it as a large number of different elements (such as specific technologies, raw materials, products, people, and organizational units) that have many different connections to one another. Both qualities can be a source of advantage or disadvantage, depending on how they’re managed.

Let’s look at their strengths. To begin with, having many different elements increases the resilience of a system. A company that relies on just a few technologies, products, and processes—or that is staffed with people who have very similar backgrounds and perspectives—doesn’t have many ways to react to unforeseen opportunities and threats. What’s more, the redundancy and duplication that also characterize complex systems typically give them more buffering capacity and fallback options.

Ecosystems with a diversity of elements benefit from adaptability. In biology, genetic diversity is the grist for natural selection, nature’s learning mechanism. In business, as environments shift, sustained performance requires new offerings and capabilities—which can be created by recombining existing elements in fresh ways. For example, the fashion retailer Zara introduces styles (combinations of components) in excess of immediate needs, allowing it to identify the most popular products, create a tailored selection from them, and adapt to fast-changing fashion as a result.

Another advantage that complexity can confer on natural ecosystems is better coordination. That’s because the elements are often highly interconnected. Flocks of birds or herds of animals, for instance, share behavioral protocols that connect the members to one another and enable them to move and act as a group rather than as an uncoordinated collection of individuals. Thus they realize benefits such as collective security and more-effective foraging.

Finally, complexity can confer inimitability. Whereas individual elements may be easily copied, the interrelationships among multiple elements are hard to replicate. A case in point is Apple’s attempt in 2012 to compete with Google Maps. Apple underestimated the complexity of Google’s offering, leading to embarrassing glitches in the initial versions of its map app, which consequently struggled to gain acceptance with consumers. The same is true of a company’s strategy: If its complexity makes it hard to understand, rivals will struggle to imitate it, and the company will benefit….(More)”.

Using Data and Respecting Users


“Three technical and legal approaches that create value from data and foster user trust” by Marshall Van Alstyne and Alisa Dagan Lenart: “Transaction data is like a friendship tie: both parties must respect the relationship and if one party exploits it the relationship sours. As data becomes increasingly valuable, firms must take care not to exploit their users or they will sour their ties. Ethical uses of data cover a spectrum: at one end, using patient data in healthcare to cure patients is little cause for concern. At the other end, selling data to third parties who exploit users is a serious cause for concern. Between these two extremes lies a vast gray area where firms need better ways to frame data risks and rewards in order to make better legal and ethical choices. This column provides a simple framework and threeways to respectfully improve data use….(More)”

Open data and data sharing: An economic analysis


Paper by Alevtina Krotova, Armin Mertens, Marc Scheufen: “Data is an important business resource. It forms the basis for various digital technologies such as artificial intelligence or smart services. However, access to data is unequally distributed in the market. Hence, some business ideas fail due to a lack of data sources. Although many governments have recognised the importance of open data and already make administrative data available to the public on a large scale, many companies are still reluctant to share their data among other firms and competitors. As a result, the economic potential of data is far from being fully exploited. Against this background, we analyse current developments in the area of open data. We compare the characteristics of open governmental and open company data in order to define the necessary framework conditions for data sharing. Subsequently, we examine the status quo of data sharing among firms. We use a qualitative analysis of survey data of European companies to derive the sufficient conditions to strengthen data sharing. Our analysis shows that governmental data is a public good, while company data can be seen as a club or private good. Latter frequently build the core for companies’ business models and hence are less suitable for data sharing. Finally, we find that promoting legal certainty and the economic impact present important policy steps for fostering data sharing….(More)”

Consumer Reports Study Finds Marketplace Demand for Privacy and Security


Press Release: “American consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy and data security when purchasing new products and services, which may be a competitive advantage to companies that take action towards these consumer values, a new Consumer Reports study finds. 

The new study, “Privacy Front and Center” from CR’s Digital Lab with support from Omidyar Network, looks at the commercial benefits for companies that differentiate their products based on privacy and data security. The study draws from a nationally representative CR survey of 5,085 adult U.S. residents conducted in February 2020, a meta-analysis of 25 years of public opinion studies, and a conjoint analysis that seeks to quantify how consumers weigh privacy and security in their hardware and software purchasing decisions. 

“This study shows that raising the standard for privacy and security is a win-win for consumers and the companies,” said Ben Moskowitz, the director of the Digital Lab at Consumer Reports. “Given the rapid proliferation of internet connected devices, the rise in data breaches and cyber attacks, and the demand from consumers for heightened privacy and security measures, there’s an undeniable business case for companies to invest in creating more private and secure products.” 

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  • According to CR’s February 2020 nationally representative survey, 74% of consumers are at least moderately concerned about the privacy of their personal data.
  • Nearly all Americans (96%) agree that more should be done to ensure that companies protect the privacy of consumers.
  • A majority of smart product owners (62%) worry about potential loss of privacy when buying them for their home or family.
  • The privacy/security conscious consumer class seems to include more men and people of color.
  • Experiencing a data breach correlates with a higher willingness to pay for privacy, and 30% of Americans have experienced one.
  • Of the Android users who switched to iPhones, 32% indicated doing so because of Apple’s perceived privacy or security benefits relative to Android….(More)”.

Data Sharing 2.0: New Data Sharing, New Value Creation


MIT CISR research:”…has found that interorganizational data sharing is a top concern of companies; leaders often find data sharing costly, slow, and risky. Interorganizational data sharing, however, is requisite for new value creation in the digital economy. Digital opportunities require data sharing 2.0: cross-company sharing of complementary data assets and capabilities, which fills data gaps and allows companies, often collaboratively, to develop innovative solutions. This briefing introduces three sets of practices—curated content, designated channels, and repeatable controls—that help companies accelerate data sharing 2.0….(More)”.