Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Young man putting goods on counter in supermarket

Government Mulls Money That Can Only Be Spent on Approved Items

Programmable digital currency restricts citizens’ freedoms for “socially beneficial outcomes”

A story from mid-last year reveals a creepy side to digital currency: “The Bank of England has called on ministers to decide whether a central bank digital currency should be ‘programmable’, ultimately giving ‘the issuer control over “how it is spent by the recipient”: Tom Mutton, a director at the Bank of England, said during a conference on Monday that programming could become a key feature of any future central bank digital currency, in which the money would be programmed to be released only when something happened. He said: “You could introduce programmability – what happens if one of the participants in a transaction puts a restriction on [future use of the money]? “There could be some socially beneficial outcomes…

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Freedom Convoy 2022 sign

No-Buy Lists Are the Next Big Thing After Debanking

When a big online financial service like PayPal works closely with government to monitor citizens, it is violating its founding ideals

Yesterday, Jonathan Bartlett was writing about the way banks were becoming political in terms of who they are choosing to do business with, otherwise known as debanking. Another trend to watch for is no-buy lists, according to former PayPal COO David Sacks: When I helped create PayPal in 1999, it was in furtherance of a revolutionary idea. No longer would ordinary people be dependent on large financial institutions to start a business. Our democratized payment system caught fire and grew exponentially with millions of users who appreciated its ease and simplicity. Traditional banks were too slow and bureaucratic to adapt. Instead, the revolution we spawned two decades ago inspired new startups like Ally, Chime, Square, and Stripe, which have further…

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Gold coins in the form of bitcoin on a bag with dollars

DOJ Arrests Couple for Huge Bitcoin Heist — Who Are They?

Cryptocurrency doesn’t depend only on technology; it depends on trust, and trustworthiness

On the morning of February 8, DOJ announced that they had made an arrest in the $3.6 billion Bitcoin heist from Bitfinex from 2016. They arrested Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife, Heather Morgan. However, little information was conveyed about the pair. Some digging, however, revealed two individuals by those names who worked together in a variety of technology startups, at least one of which is cryptocurrency-based. While we don’t know for certain if these are the same individuals, the profiles are very similar, and other media seem to be reporting that they are the same. The profile here is on the two individuals we were able to identify, and have not confirmed they are identical to the ones in the…

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Social media concept.

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online

In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through…

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closeup keyboard laptop and Google Ads AdWords app icon on smartphone screen. Google is the biggest Internet search engine in the world. Moscow, Russia - April 27, 2019

Facebook and Google Face Big Legal Challenges

The FTC, dozens of states, and private citizens are coming after the big tech companies for antitrust violations

How has 2022 begun for our favorite Big Tech companies? With a good chunk of lawsuits. As technology companies grow bigger, they face bigger legal challenges. Here’s a brief rundown of a few such challenges Facebook and Google face in the courts in this new year: FTC Antitrust Lawsuit Against Facebook Moves Forward Let’s begin at the federal level. Last June, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia tossed out a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) challenging Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. According to Boasberg, the FTC failed to adequately show that Facebook holds a monopoly. Not to be dissuaded, the FTC re-filed with an amended complaint in August. Last…

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Information censorship - Typewriter locked with a chain

Are Media Gag Orders Fair in an Internet World?

Editor Michael Cook says no, based on the Pell sex abuse case Down Under. New ways must be found to ensure that a jury is not prejudiced

This article by editor Michael Cook tackles the problem of media gag orders in an internet world. Australian media outlets were recently fined A$1.1 million for contempt of court for publishing information that was widely available elsewhere concerning the trial of George, Cardinal Pell on charges of sexual molestation. Significantly, they could not publish information that cast doubt on the fairness of the trial, that they were in a better position to understand than foreign media would be. Cook suggests new approaches going forward. The article first appeared at MercatorNet on June 9, 2021 under the title “They’re still picking up the pieces after the Cardinal Pell fiasco.” A media pygmy, MercatorNet spends much of its time complaining about the mainstream media…

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Octopus

British Government Moves To Protect Octopuses From Cruelty

The move to protect cephalopods and crabs/lobsters follows from research showing their intelligence and awareness of pain

Following a report from the London School of Economics and Political Science, the British government has decided to extend animal protection laws to include “cephalopods (including octopuses, squid and cuttlefish) and decapods (including crabs, lobsters and crayfish).” No, this is not just another nut moment along the lines of “Salad is plant murder!” There’s a background: Researchers have discovered in recent decades that some invertebrates, especially those with complex central nervous systems, are much more intelligent and capable of experiencing pain (sentient) than we used to think. As George Dvorsky explains at Gizmodo, the British government introduced the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill in May. The bill defined sentient animals as animals with backbones (vertebrates). However, scientists have known for some…

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Judge's gavel on table in office

Rittenhouse Trial: Are Attorneys and Judge Tech/Math-Challenged?

Does simple pinch and zoom change pixels? The devil, though, is in the details

In one of the many exchanges between lawyers and Judge Schroeder in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the degree to which pinching and zooming change cell phone images was addressed. Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards claimed it does. The district attorney Thomas Binger claimed there is no change. Richards first claimed that an image prepared by the prosecutor changed pixels using AI and logarithms. If AI is defined as any “gee whiz” technology, he was right. But pinch and zoom was invented in 2007 by Steve Jobs and uses nothing that can be considered modern AI. All nerds should laugh at the claim that “logarithms”  were used in the pinch and zoom.  Attorney Mark Richards obviously meant “algorithms”  To his credit, Richards confessed he knew…

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Texas Governor Signs Law Curbing Big Tech Censorship

A similar law in Florida was halted by a federal judge. Will Texas's law face the same legal battle?

Last Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 20 into law, legislation that would prohibit social media companies from banning users for their political beliefs and provide users with a legal remedy for unfair discriminatory behavior. The law is very similar to legislation passed earlier this year in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law at the end of May. Within days, technology trade groups had filed a lawsuit, and on June 30, a federal judge stopped the bill in its tracks with a preliminary injunction. For the bill’s proponents, the law’s intention is to protect the free speech rights of state citizens when using social media. “Freedom of speech is under attack in Texas,” said…

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Terracotta warriors, China

China’s Data Laws Restrict Businesses and Favor the State

The Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law are part of the Chinese government’s plan to steer the private sector toward State goals

In previous articles, I looked at how the Chinese government is reigning in China’s tech sector first of Jack Ma and Ant Group’s initial public offering on the Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges and then Didi Global, Inc. The Chinese government has since passed two data laws and released an update that clarifies the 2017 Cybersecurity Law. The result is better protections of citizens’ data from being used, exploited, or sold by private companies, and encroaching government presumption of the private sector in which the State has virtually unrestricted access to and jurisdiction over private companies’ data.  Clarification of the 2017 Cybersecurity Law The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) gained oversight powers over other state agencies in 2014 under Xi Jinping. Jane…

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Social media concept.

Federal Trade Commission Takes Facebook to Court… Again

The FTC hopes to prove in an 80-page complaint that Facebook holds damaging monopoly power over competitors

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an amended complaint against Facebook, trying again for an antitrust lawsuit after a federal judge dismissed their original complaint earlier this summer. The updated complaint alleges that Facebook has violated antitrust laws and garnered monopoly power, namely by buying up rival companies and imposing unfair policies that “neutralize perceived competitive threats.” Facebook is the world’s dominant online social network, with a purported three billion-plus regular users. Facebook has maintained its monopoly position in significant part by pursuing Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy, expressed in 2008: “it is better to buy than compete.” True to that maxim, Facebook has systematically tracked potential rivals and acquired companies that it viewed as serious competitive…

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Justice and law concept. Gavel on sounding block in hand's Male judge at a courtroom, working with document law books, report the case on table in modern office.

Section 230: What Is It and Why the Controversy?

Does Section 230 provide Big Tech too much power, or is it necessary for the moderation of misinformation and inappropriate content?

At the center of the controversy between free speech and the rights of private companies lies Section 230, the controversial U.S. code dating back to 1996. Toward the end of his term in 2020, former President Donald Trump famously tweeted that Section 230 should be “completely terminated.” Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voiced their support, but by and large, the sentiment was met with fierce resistance. Advocates for the reform (or complete repeal) of Section 230 argue that it shields Big Tech companies from accountability when they engage in politically-motivated censorship and content moderation. Supporters of Section 230 argue that it is essential to keep the internet free of misinformation and vile or obscene material. Section 230…

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Big Tech Law

The judge ruled that the law violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies

A federal judge struck down the recent Florida legislation aimed at reigning in the censorship powers of Big Tech, hours before it was set to go into effect. Within days of Governor DeSantis signing the bill into law in May, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a lawsuit, representing the biggest names in social media (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon). They argued that the new law is a violation of their First Amendment rights as private companies. On June 30, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of NetChoice and CCIA, issuing a preliminary injunction on the law after determining that it violates the First Amendment…

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Dna test in the lab. a laboratory technician with a dispenser in his hands is conducting dna analysis in a sterile laboratory behind glass

China Is Building the World’s Largest Global DNA Database

The government violates the country’s own privacy laws in the name of security and stability

A January 2021 study by a U.K. cybersecurity and privacy watchdog, Comparitech, found that China was the world’s worst offender for “widespread and invasive biometric data collection” out of ninety-six countries studied. The Chinese government aspires to build the world’s largest police-run DNA database. Its Made in China 2025 plan places a priority on building its biotechnology industry, which involves collecting a large number of DNA samples. The way Chinese authorities obtain DNA is often intrusive and without consent. In a previous article, we looked at how U.S. companies’ DNA sequencing and identification technologies end up in Xinjiang despite U.S. sanctions. In this article, we will look at how China is using DNA collection to further its national goals. China’s…

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DNA sequence with colored letters on black background containing mutation

U.S.-Made DNA ID Equipment Is Being Sold to Xinjiang’s Police

Engineering professor Yves Moreau’s research shows that a more serious approach to existing sanctions against such uses is needed

The U.S. leads the world in DNA sequencing technologies. Unfortunately, two U.S. companies’ products are being used in China in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region despite the fact that the U. S. has placed sanctions on such uses. The sanctions were put in place because Chinese authorities surveil and detain Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities without legal precedent and engage in acts that are in violation of the Genocide Convention of 1948. The New York Times, for example, obtained ten contracts, along with government procurement documents, showing that Thermo Fisher Scientific’s and Promega’s equipment is being sold to Xinjiang police: The government procurement documents and contracts show that several Chinese companies sold Thermo Fisher equipment worth at least $521,165 to…

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Can a Robot Hold a Patent?

The boring answer is no, but the question raises intriguing thoughts about AI and intellectual property law

Since the late 1800s, people have been intrigued by robots. There’s something strange, wonderful, but sometimes scary about walking, talking, thinking machines, especially when in human form. Talking about “whether a robot can hold a patent” is bound to intrigue humanoids.  Mute the Robot Sound Bite In June 2021, we started considering the provocatively titled podcast transcript, “Can a Robot Be Arrested? Hold a Patent? Pay Income Taxes?”, posted on the IEEE Spectrum site. Steven Cherry interviewed Ryan Abbott, physician, lawyer, and professor, about these topics and referencing his 2019 book, The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law. Our previous discussion, “Can a Robot be Arrested and Prosecuted?”, addressed criminal liability for crimes committed by artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Now we consider: “Can a…

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Real Python code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Python code visible under magnifying lens.

How Do We Know the Machine Is Right If No One Knows How It Works?

We don’t, and that’s a problem, says Oxford philosopher John Zerilli

Oxford philosopher John Zerilli, author of A Citizen’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence (2021), asks us to consider how machine learning, the most widely used type of AI, might be deciding our lives without our knowing it: There are many reasons not to take job rejections personally, but there’s one in particular you might not consider: you might have been screened out by an algorithm that taught itself to filter candidates by gender, surname or ethnicity – in other words, by factors that have nothing to do with your ability to do the job. Even if you’re unfazed by the spectre of runaway robots enslaving humanity, this little tale shows how the ascendancy of machine learning (ML) comes with risks that…

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Business risk control concept, Businessman protect wooden block fall to planning and strategy in risk to business Alternative and prevent. Investment Insurance Business.

The Push to Break Up Big Tech Monopolies

Facebook is "acting as an arm of the state," says Florida's governor

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appeared on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures, hosted by Maria Bartiromo, over the weekend. The two discussed Big Tech’s alarming censorship power and Florida’s efforts to combat that power. Recent government emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits suggest that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg coordinated what should and should not be dispersed through social media platforms regarding COVID-19 and its origins. “Do you believe Fauci colluded with Mark Zuckerberg? Does this expose Facebook to legal action?” Bartiromo asked DeSantis. DeSantis answered by calling Facebook “an arm of the state”: Here’s an example of working with Fauci where Facebook, you can argue, is essentially acting as an arm of the state, because they’re…

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AI・人工知能

Could You Be Reconstructed From Your Memories? – Sci-fi Saturday

If you were, would destroying the digitized “you” be murder?

“The Final Moments of Karl Brant” at DUST by Neil Ellice and Matthew Wilson (June 10, 2021 at DUST, 15:46 min) “Set in the near future where experimental technology allows two detectives to bring a murder victim back to life in a digital state in order to question him about his final moments.” Review: This is an “oldie” from 2013, recently uploaded to DUST. Entrepreneur Karl Brant and academic neuroscientist Bennett Ferryman were partners in a promising new high tech venture in which Brant suddenly perishes, leaving Ferryman now the sole owner — and under interrogation down at the local cop shop: “Am I a suspect?” “Not if you give us a good reason why you shouldn’t be.” Not too…

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Light bulb

How Patent Law Has Changed for the Worse

Scientific achievement is almost impossible for the little guy anymore

During their conversation about the National Science Foundation, Drs. Robert J. Marks and Paul Werbos took a moment to discuss patent law. Their short rabbit trail ends with a grim analysis of patent law today: it’s now “almost impossible for the little guy” to secure a patent – and expensive. Patent law was considered so important to the nation’s founders that they enshrined it in the Constitution, granting Congress the authority to protect the rights of inventors to their inventions (see: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8). “Granting exclusive rights to the inventor is intended to encourage the investment of time and resources into the development of new and useful discoveries,” explains Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. In 2011, then-President Barack…