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White House Worried About Discrimination Through Analytics

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the codifying-the-digital-divide dept.

Government 231

Cludge writes "Describing concerns about the potential for big data methods to inadvertently classify people by race, religion, income or other forms of discrimination, the White House announced it will release a report next week that reviews the adequacy of existing privacy laws and regulations in the era of online data collection. The review, led by Obama's senior counselor, John Podesta, will outline concerns about whether methods used for commercial applications may be inherently vulnerable to inadvertent discrimination. 'He described a program called "Street Bump" in Boston that detected pot-holes using sensors in smartphones of citizens who had downloaded an app. The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app.' 'It's easy to imagine how big data technology, if used to cross legal lines we have been careful to set, could end up reinforcing existing inequities in housing, credit, employment, health and education,' he said."

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Oxymoron (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852231)

Inadvertent discrimination

Re:Oxymoron (-1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 months ago | (#46852281)

Disparate impact... it's going to be with us for a while. Might as well get used to it. Black people are generally less intelligent than others and it's our fault.

Re:Oxymoron (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852347)

Holy flying Forbiden Use of Carnal Knowledge! Are you stunned bag of shit bigot or just willfully stupid?

Re:Oxymoron (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46852377)

Black people are generally less intelligent than others and it's our fault.

It could be partly our fault. A generation ago, the difference in IQ scores between protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland was almost as wide as that between blacks and whites in America. But today, that gap has completely disappeared. Social conditions have some impact.

The IQ score gap between different races in America is why it is illegal [wikipedia.org] to use any test of general intelligence for hiring or promotion. It is not enough for the inputs to the hiring/promotion process to be "race neutral", the output/result must be as well.

Re:Oxymoron (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#46852461)

It is not enough for the inputs to the hiring/promotion process to be "race neutral", the output/result must be as well.

Can we get the political system thrown out on this basis? There's only one black man in the US Senate - should be about twelve. Even the House is 'missing' about fifteen members.

Racist (and misogynistic) system has to go. The result is *far* from equal.

Re:Oxymoron (4, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | about 6 months ago | (#46852523)

Why aren't there more asian basketball or football players?

Some jobs need people with specific skill sets. Developing those skills is not encouraged equally among every culture.

Under representation of blacks in the senate may suggest that being a bunch of backstabbing bullshitters while smiling and saying jesus wants them to win may not be something that's important to many blacks. Then again, I don't think any culture has a lot of respect for these parasites, so maybe it's just that political donors are a bunch of racists.

Re:Oxymoron (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46852857)

No, it's the result of the election process. Many smaller districts voting will tend to reflect the biases of those districts, not an agregate average of the total. Minorities will be protected somewhat but also kept out of the game to a degree.

Re:Oxymoron (2)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46852535)

I'm guessing you're being sarcastic, but democracy will be kind of racist if the voters are racist. It does seem like a problem. The question would be, what's the best thing to do about it?

Re:Oxymoron (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 6 months ago | (#46852703)

I'm guessing you're being sarcastic, but democracy will be kind of racist if the voters are racist. It does seem like a problem.

True. Witness Marian Barry and Ray Nagin.

Re:Oxymoron (0)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46852817)

Don't allow racist people to vote?

Re:Oxymoron (1)

kenai_alpenglow (2709587) | about 6 months ago | (#46852855)

How does one define "racist"? There's too much "If you don't agree with me you must be racist"...

Re:Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852975)

Pretty sure if we were going for an accurate definition, then less than half of all white people would be allowed to vote and 0 asians, 0 native americans, very few blacks, and only a bit more hispanics.

Re:Oxymoron (1, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852765)

Social conditions have some impact.

That's absurd apologist political correctness. The real answer is that there has been rapid genetic mutation that has lessened the IQ gap between Catholics and Protestants.

Re:Oxymoron (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46852883)

A generation ago, the difference in IQ scores between protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland was almost as wide as that between blacks and whites in America. But today, that gap has completely disappeared. Social conditions have some impact.

I take it by "social conditions", you mean that you've finally gotten rid of all the lead pipes in the plumbing in Catholic neighborhoods?

Note that lead pipes in plumbing (fairly common once upon a time, now only found in older, poorer neighborhoods) has a fairly high correlation with violent crime, poverty, low IQ scores, that sort of thing. Now that the last of that crap is disappearing, a lot of "racial tendencies" that racists like to imagine are disappearing as well....

Re:Oxymoron (3, Insightful)

jesseck (942036) | about 6 months ago | (#46852379)

Disparate impact... it's going to be with us for a while. Might as well get used to it. Black people are generally less intelligent than others and it's our fault.

While you state that black people are generally less intelligent then others, I think these politicians thoughts are a big drive towards that... they are in effect stating that poor neighborhoods are incapable of reporting their own pothole problems. In the end, the "Street Bump" app is another avenue of personal responsibility - people took the initiative to improve their driving route, installed an app to report problems, and ran that app to ensure the problems were reported. In poorer neighborhoods, people are not taking the personal responsibility to report the problems. They can call in to report problems, and by reporting those in sufficient numbers (similar to the app) Boston's street maintenance crews could be alerted. They don't, though, because they have been conditioned over generations to believe they don't matter and it requires someone else to fix their "problems".

In the end, the politicians are stating the poor people / black people / whatever group of people are incapable of taking responsibility (unlike those wealthy people), so the Government must hold their hand and make things easier for them. Yes, it will be with us for a while, and short of a major event nothing will change it.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

nevermindme (912672) | about 6 months ago | (#46852503)

Could we be looking at the relationship of being Incapable of taking responsibility equal zero chance of making campaign donations ?

Re:Oxymoron (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46852585)

In poorer neighborhoods, people are not taking the personal responsibility to report the problems.

Or maybe they don't have the time and resources to do that. It's easier for an unemployed trust-funder to have his smart-phone automatically report the problem than for someone who's working 2 different shitty full-time jobs to take time to call in to report the problem. It's also important to note that the poor sometimes creates even more work and expenses. You might need to be a lot more careful in timing your commute for public transportation because you can't afford a car. You might need to spend more time or money going to the bank or grocery store because your neighborhood doesn't have those things. Being poor isn't all fairy-dust and gumdrops.

I don't see what the problem here is. If you're going to be collecting statistics for decision-making, you should be looking for bias. If you're collecting those statistics from smartphone apps, you should be asking whether there are populations who will be over-represented or under-represented based on who owns smart phones, and who's likely to install apps. Otherwise it doesn't make sense to create policy based on those statistics.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46852737)

its also just as easy for a stay at home mom, or an unemployeed poor person to report the same information

Re:Oxymoron (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46852867)

The "stay-at-home moms" in poor families are probably busy and may even have jobs. Poor unemployed people may not have money to be driving around with smart phones.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46852871)

OTOH, they'll be staying at home or inside playing Xbox.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#46852747)

Why is it easier for an unemployed trust-fund worker to have his smart-phone report the problem than for someone working two different shitty jobs to have their smart-phone report the problem. After all, it isn't like poor people don't have smart phones. I live in a lower income city and most other family's kids in my area had smart phones before I got one.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46852949)

After all, it isn't like poor people don't have smart phones. I live in a lower income city and most other family's kids in my area had smart phones before I got one.

Putting your anecdotal evidence aside for a minute, I don't know if it's true that poor people own smart phones at the same rate. Also, are they equally likely to have a phone with the features that make it easy for them to report these issues? Are they as likely to have the proper app installed? Are they as likely to be driving around their own low-income neighborhood?

The thing is, I'm not pretending to know the answer to questions like these. There may even be good reasons why a city may prioritize fixing roads in areas where more wealthy people live-- maybe those areas are more heavily trafficked? But it seems to me that's not really what we're discussing here. It seems like the White House was saying, "We should be careful when collecting these kinds of statistics to make sure the statistics aren't leading to some kind of unintentional discrimination." In response, people here are acting as though that's a crazy thing to say.

So in response to *that*, I'm arguing more of the general point that we should *always* be careful when basing decisions on statistics, because statistics can be very biased depending on how you collect an analyze them. Unfortunately, while statistics can be analyzed to say almost anything and a poorly selected sample invalidates any analysis, using numbers give the illusion of objective certainty.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

skids (119237) | about 6 months ago | (#46852647)

The pothole app was probably a poor choice of example, but is much simpler to understand than insurance risk pools, so that's probably why they chose it. There are plenty of examples of digital ghettos that don't open themselves up to this "personal responsibility" bullshit argument, and the economic bias the big data introduces into the system is going to negatively impact groups of people that are not so easily defined as by race, gender or poverty. It's a real and growing problem and without constant attention to the effects of data mining, it will get much worse over time.

Also note that when the delusional complain about the "welfare queens" possession of a cell phone is often an item on their list alongside cable TV.

Re:Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852663)

Shit, they're astonished when the poor possess a refrigerator, because I guess it's 1914 now or something.

Re:Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46853021)

No, the richer neighborhoods are more likely to own a smartphone which can have an automated reporting tool that exactly pinpoints where the potholes are with minimal effort of the user, while the poorer neighborhoods are less likely to afford such a smartphone and would have to report potholes manually. Reporting potholes manually is rather inconvenient, doesn't give an exact location, and they have to deal with surely city employees who would rather throw away their complaint into the garbage as it's more work for them.

Suppose the rich neighborhoods were fitted with streetlights that automatically report they are burned out, and the poorer areas don't. Do you blame the poor people for the lack of personal responsibility when the rich neighborhoods will have less street lights with burned out bulbs due to such technology?

The next thing you are going to say is that it's the lack of personal responsibility why rich neighborhoods have nicer looking homes than poor neighborhoods. The lack of access to funds plays no role in your little fantasy world where every social ill boils down to a lack of personal responsibility and the inequality that is baked into the system plays no role.

Generalizing about averages is bad science (1)

voss (52565) | about 6 months ago | (#46852617)

Between 1972 and 2002 the average iq difference between blacks and whites shrunk from 15 points to 9 points.

Thats an average...not something that can be generalized to all black people. Im willing to bet that Neil Degrasse Tyson
is smarter than 99.9% of the white people in America including you.

Re:Generalizing about averages is bad science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852689)

I'm white and a member of Mensa and I know Neil DeGrasse Tyson is smarter than me!

Re:Generalizing about averages is bad science (2)

taylorius (221419) | about 6 months ago | (#46852699)

I agree with you, the variance of the distribution is such to make the difference in mean IQ utterly meaningless on an individual basis. It must be incredibly frustrating to an intelligent black man to have that average working unfairly against him.

If you think that's bad though, imagine a world where it is easy to determine the average IQ of a black man from Baltimore, with a dead father,and who drives a car more than 8 years old. Now imagine coming from such a background, and being a great computer programmer. Now imagine the sinking feeling as you're handed a demographic form upon arriving for an interview for a coding job you could do well.

A life under the tyranny of statistics could be a hard life indeed, if we're not careful.

Re:Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852339)

Not at all, non-intentional discrimination is well known and recognized to be a problem, and has been since Kennedy issued the first order requiring Affirmative Action.

And while you may believe that it's an oxymoron because you think that discrimination does require a deliberate choice, it's not really the case. That there are two or more distinguishable choices only reflects the capacity to do so, not necessarily the act of purposefully discriminating.

Re: Oxymoron (3, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 6 months ago | (#46852397)

What I love about this is the focus on the fact that the poor don't have smartphones.

From the administration perspective, if they don't have smartphones, then how the hell is the NSA going to track them? This problem needs to be solved.

Crossing a Line is Easy for Some (4, Insightful)

mfh (56) | about 6 months ago | (#46852237)

The other side of this discussion are false positives. In any system where discrimination is allowed, power hungry climbers can throw a rival under the bus with a quick click. The system won't care if you and your family are labeled enemies of the state suddenly and put on all the blacklists that exist, your loved ones taken away without a trial and all because some person you work with wants your job.

Re:Crossing a Line is Easy for Some (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#46852333)

Remember, the WWW is a system of requests, then the site usually hands you what you wanted or an error. What they're saying is that if ad data gets so good we can tell what race the user is, more targeted ads and content could be served.

Re:Crossing a Line is Easy for Some (1)

rbrander (73222) | about 6 months ago | (#46852691)

You mean like Afghans who sold out rivals (often relatives) to the USA, to become some of the longest-serving Guantanamo captives? Yeah, that happens. Has for centuries in any regime that takes people away upon suspicion. That's what's wrong, not the information-gathering system; why you don't circumvent the protections of due process. I'm not sure what's new about this particular complaint system.

Pfft... (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 months ago | (#46852267)

.. they got to be joking. Considering everyone is racing to total information awareness to gain competitive advantage (NSA, GCHQ, etc). There's no stopping this, this is all token bullshit at this point. The only way to deal with this is to make the opaque institutions more transparent. You create data wherever you go, modern technology is so embedded in everyday life that it's impossible not for someone to build any kind of profile on you. Corporations have long been buying and selling data six ways to sunday, we can already assume they (NSA and helpers) will turn the packets they are harvesting off the net from anything you've ever posted into a permanent dossier on you.

Let's just be honest the leaders don't give a fuck, Obama is a moderate right republican. Most voters in North america are completely and totally politically illiterate.

What the elite are worried about is political awakening... Many in the bottom billions of poor on planet earth are in abject poverty and oppression. Elites want to keep those people in their place, hence the elites desire to control the internet.

People are waking up to the fact that the governments are all power hungry and corrupt and are not there to serve the interests of the people, but that of the global elite and the multi-billion dollar corporations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Pfft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852645)

You just need to see what the insurance industry is doing for example in Germany to be horrified. There is no need to bring in the government agencies to see how these unacceptable situations can develop inadvertently. Ironically, this discrimination touches the whole society, irrespective of income or wealth and distorts the social structure of a region to a more unhealthy direction, which increases insurance risks, causes violence and reduces well being of the whole community.

Re:Pfft... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852783)

You just need to see what the insurance industry is doing for example in Germany to be horrified.

Not familiar with German insurance practices. Please elaborate.

Re:Pfft... (1, Insightful)

Aragorn DeLunar (311860) | about 6 months ago | (#46852779)

Let's just be honest the leaders don't give a fuck, Obama is a typical statist.

FTFY. If you're making this about (R) vs (D), you're part of the problem.

Re:Pfft... (1, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 months ago | (#46852803)

"FTFY. If you're making this about (R) vs (D), you're part of the problem."

If you're making this about your libertarian or other capitalist fantasies you are part of the problem.

War is a racket

http://www.amazon.com/War-Rack... [amazon.com]

WIKILEAKS: U.S. Fought To Lower Minimum Wage In Haiti So Hanes And Levis Would Stay Cheap

http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

On elites

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Free markets?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Empire-I... [amazon.com]

"We now live in two Americas. One—now the minority—functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other—the majority—is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority—which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected—presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade reading level. In this “other America,” serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society."

White House is way ahead of its time. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46852271)

White House is looking ahead, far into the future, where all active and advertent discrimination is gone and the only problem left is inactive and inadvertent discrimination becomes the top priority. And it is acting now to forestall that possibility. But unfortunately many people will not see it as a farsighted move on the part of the administration and ridicule it. And the ridicule will come from both left and right. Finally Obama would have united America into one !. Hurrah!

Re:White House is way ahead of its time. (4, Insightful)

uberdilligaff (988232) | about 6 months ago | (#46852477)

The hypocrisy is that the party currently occupying the White House has gone to extraordinary efforts to apply big data analytics to identify and exploit the very differences (race, income, ethnicity, education, etc.) that this article decries in order to maximize their political gain in elections. They go to great lengths to discriminate along the same factors that they want other organizations to be blind to. To quote from just one article describing Obama's 2012 campaign:

"To derive individual-level predictions, algorithms trawled for patterns between these opinions and the data points the campaign had assembled for every voter—as many as one thousand variables each, drawn from voter registration records, consumer data warehouses, and past campaign contacts. ... The efficiency and scale of that process put the Democrats well ahead when it came to profiling voters."

So, exploit the demographics (e.g. profile and discriminate) when it helps your party, but wag your finger at the rest of the world when they do it even "inadvertently".

The Attorney General . . . (4, Funny)

Latent Heat (558884) | about 6 months ago | (#46852539)

. . . orders you to "don't go there."

Re:White House is way ahead of its time. (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46852627)

So, exploit the demographics (e.g. profile and discriminate) when it helps your party, but wag your finger at the rest of the world when they do it even "inadvertently".

Maybe it's more like, "Exploit demographics when determining who you can persuade and sell things to, but use the same level of analysis when analyzing demographics to hand out public benefits, in order to make sure the benefits are provided equitably."...?

Because it seems to me that they're not saying, "We shouldn't analyze this data," but more that, "We should be careful when analyzing this data to prevent bias that would result in unjust public policy." So therefore in that line of thinking, targeting your campaign ads to likely voters would be fine. Targeting your tax cuts to the same likely voters would not be fine. Targeting your tax cuts to only benefit rich white men would be even less fine.

Re:White House is way ahead of its time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852717)

So, exploit the demographics (e.g. profile and discriminate) when it helps your party, but wag your finger at the rest of the world when they do it even "inadvertently".

Maybe it's more like, "Exploit demographics when determining who you can persuade and sell things to, but use the same level of analysis when analyzing demographics to hand out public benefits, in order to make sure the benefits are provided equitably."...?

Because it seems to me that they're not saying, "We shouldn't analyze this data," but more that, "We should be careful when analyzing this data to prevent bias that would result in unjust public policy." So therefore in that line of thinking, targeting your campaign ads to likely voters would be fine. Targeting your tax cuts to the same likely voters would not be fine. Targeting your tax cuts to only benefit rich white men would be even less fine.

And who decides what "unjust public policy" is? Oh, yeah. The Obama administration.

In other words: Do as I say, not as I do. And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The inconvenience of facts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852283)

Political correctness meets real facts.

Barrier to progress.

What's different? (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#46852305)

Can anybody report what the major differences are between the races right now? Aside from the obvious ones like blacks would visit BET.com more often... what is going on here. Slashdot is supposed to be an all-races site, but is the tech audience actually a representative sample yet?

Re:What's different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852383)

You're far more likely to be an IT worker in your 20s now if you grew up with a home computer in the 90s. Guess what, you were far more likely to have a computer in your home in the 90s if you were white. So yes, there's almost certainly a racial bias in IT and therefore Slashdot.

Re:What's different? (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#46852675)

I'm not sure everybody is an IT worker unless we have a really broad definition of information. I'd rather say workers are now affected by IT, not always working in IT.

Re:What's different? (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 6 months ago | (#46852683)

You're far more likely to be an unemployed former IT worker in your 20s now, regardless of race.

Re:What's different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852403)

On the issue of representative sameple .....no, nyet and nope!

Re:What's different? (0)

taylorius (221419) | about 6 months ago | (#46852489)

That's the problem. Modern society has decided to act as if every race is equal, and also decided that for the sake of us all getting along, we won't look too closely at whether this is in fact the case, because history shows that going down that road doesn't tend to end well. So far so good, but what happens when the differences (and there are bound to be some) between various groups can be highlighted by a data-mining algorithm, and are in everyone's face? Answer: Trouble.

Re:What's different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852559)

You don't get to publish anywhere reputable, and some of the reviewers try to tear you a new one (which is too easy to do with most sociological papers), and you don't get funding except from *decidely* racist organizations. Try publishing a paper on the genetic affects of inbreeding among mormons in Utah, and the only ones who will publish or read it are the atual mormons in Utah, who know *damn well* their early settlers were a small group with a relatively small number of men marrying numerous wives, and that they have much higher rates of genetic problems like Meniere's Disease causing deafness as a result.

Inadvertently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852307)

An administration that doesn't know that poor people don't have smartphones with internet flatrates? Hard to believe. Let's go with Occam's razor and call it "deniable discrimination" instead of "inadvertent".

Re:Inadvertently? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46853043)

the app sounds like a stupid idea to run like that anyways.

however, just put the sensors on post cars.

(ok ok poor neighborhoods maybe don't get served their mail so often??)

LOL (1)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about 6 months ago | (#46852335)

FTFA "White House announced it will release a report next week that reviews the adequacy of existing privacy laws" hahahahahahaha... So now the White House is concerned about privacy. I feel better already.

Re:LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852937)

The White House has been concerned with privacy for a long time. Its just that their concerns are not aligned with ours.

Idea sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852367)

Just let me know when there's an app that can distinguish between a pothole and a pedestrian so it can keep track of my highscores for me.

Re:Idea sounds good (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852821)

That shouldn't be too hard as pedestrians have repeated acceleration/deceleration in the vertical axis as they take steps. Pothole accelerations are more infrequent and irregular (except in NYC).

How about they look at themselves? (2)

oic0 (1864384) | about 6 months ago | (#46852395)

I worry about this every time I see any government form that asks for race. What can they possibly do with that information that wouldn't be discriminatory?

Re:How about they look at themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852473)

See if they're being discriminatory.

Unless you believe correcting an occurrence of discrimination is necessarily as offensive as the discrimination itself. Not potentially, mind you, but intrinsically and necessarily so.

In which case, I suggest you fix your logic circuits, Robot Santa.

Re:How about they look at themselves? (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 6 months ago | (#46852475)

"Race: Human. Mostly."

Re:How about they look at themselves? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46852823)

"Race: 400 meter, preferably."

Re:How about they look at themselves? (1)

msauve (701917) | about 6 months ago | (#46852519)

Your race:

1) NASCAR
2) Kentucky Derby
3) Tour de France
4) Boston Marathon
5) Indianapolis 500
6) Other/unknown

Nationality (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852399)

Years ago I was flipping through TV channels and came across a scene from a movie based on The Little Prince. He's on an asteroid that's divided up into little countries and some bureaucrat is telling him that he can't cross from one country to the next without extensive paperwork - but the asteroid is so small the only a couple steps would take him into the a neighboring country.

And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed ridiculous to try to coerce people to live out their lives in which ever arbitrary geographical boundaries they were born into - an egregious affront to principle of individual freedom. Would it be so wrong for a person to live a few years in one country and a few in another? Is there really a fundamental need to keep everyone on the planet penned up in arbitrary geographical boundaries?

But while many people become quite sanctimonious in defending laws against discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and perhaps even such things as religious and political views, many of these same people will nod approvingly of laws that not only allow, but actually require, discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Certainly there is progress to made in reducing the last vestiges of racial and gender discrimination. But to ignore discrimination of the basis of nationality seems both oblivious and inconsistent.

Re:Nationality (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46852917)

Such controls are only fairly recent and are typically more about control than anything. Hopefully they are a fad that will pass though the welfare states of many nations make it troublesome to remove.

Discrimination (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 6 months ago | (#46852407)

The whole point of big data is to identify common properties of groups of people to be able to exploit them. While big data could also be used to find diseases, protect us from natural disasters, its is only utilized to such efforts when their is a financial gain or a gain in control of the population. For companies, it is only used for exploitation. Now wondering about that is hypocritical.

Re:Discrimination (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852493)

What about health insurance companies? They could use the data to black ball people who have family histories of certain diseases.I know that people with a family history of certain cancers are routinely asked to under go "screening" which involves detailed questioning about family medical history rather than any sort of clinical testing. What are the ethics of supplying this information about your extended family? What are the privacy guarantees? Health insurance companies only make money by denying claims; they avoid what they perceive as a high risk by denying coverage or making such coverage worthless. The abuse of big data would already be much worse except for the incompetence of those looking to gain from it.

Re:Discrimination (2)

msauve (701917) | about 6 months ago | (#46852619)

What's wrong with pricing insurance based on the risk being taken on? Why should I pay higher insurance premiums so higher risk people pay lower ones?

Re:Discrimination (1, Flamebait)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46852681)

Because it's a nice civilized thing to do, to support your fellow space-rock-travelers in times of need.

Re:Discrimination (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852725)

It would be nice if they said "thank you" once in a while instead of "pay me more because you are a racist".

Re:Discrimination (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46852841)

So, how do you discourage risky behaviour by subsidizing it indirectly?

Re:Discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852755)

What's wrong with pricing insurance based on the risk being taken on? Why should I pay higher insurance premiums so higher risk people pay lower ones?

Because insurance is risk-sharing and differentiating like that reduces the sharing. Yeah, it seems to me that there should be some differentiation, especially for self-inflicted risk factors like smoking or obesity*, but to allow genetic issues to effectively bar some from getting health insurance? That seems quite a bit too far.

* - and yes, obesity is self-inflicted. No one's force-feeding you.

Re:Discrimination (3, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852851)

What's wrong with pricing insurance based on the risk being taken on? Why should I pay higher insurance premiums so higher risk people pay lower ones?

I'm going to dispense with the arguments about being civilized and so forth. The real reason for doing it is to piss off people like you. Even though both my personal health and my family's history are pretty good, hence I would get lower rates under the system you suggest, it's worth the price just to increase the blood pressure (and hence health risk) of people like you.

Liberal Hypocrisy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852421)

The "Liberals"/"Progressives" have been statistically pigeonholing people for years and now they're concerned?

dont seem to care about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852427)

pay-to-play web traffic discrimination, though, where only the rich can afford fast connectivity, and the poor will be stuck with buffer screens and loading timeouts.

Re:dont seem to care about (1)

taylorius (221419) | about 6 months ago | (#46852497)

Let me know how the million-webgamer march goes.

Newsflash: Rich have advantages, poor do not (2)

swb (14022) | about 6 months ago | (#46852431)

They have more money, more political access, are better educated and have access to more resources.

Even if Boston dispatched street repair based on complaints, wouldn't they end up fixing roads in wealthier areas before poor areas simply because the more money people have the more likely they are to own cars and drive more? And are more likely to call and complain, and so on?

Re:Newsflash: Rich have advantages, poor do not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852761)

To balance it out, they should install pothole sensors in police cars. Since the police are no doubt disproportionately dispatched to poor areas, the additional potholes detected there should easily balance things out.

dom

Re:Newsflash: Rich have advantages, poor do not (1)

swb (14022) | about 6 months ago | (#46852843)

Sensors on any municipal vehicle that covers a lot of geography would be great -- cop cars, garbage trucks, busses. Busses and garbage trucks would be especially useful because you'd get regular coverage -- equip enough busses and you might have near real-time info on many streets.

They should consider some kind of ultrasonic or laser surface scanning over just vibration sensors (which would need a lot vehicle-specific calibration). Surface scanning would give them actual road surface measurements and maybe allow for better long-term road maintenance data -- durability of initial road surfaces, durability of patches and fixes, trends over time and so on.

Maybe they could even have a drone car with more detailed sensors for higher resolution info that just drove the streets endlessly.

America!!! (4, Insightful)

cookYourDog (3030961) | about 6 months ago | (#46852433)

What a masterful politician.

Instead of a discussion on privacy, and liberty, we are moved the much more state-friendly discussion of skin color and class. After all, Americans are all racist, greedy, and hate-filled, and only the state can protect us from one another. I, for one, support the drones.

NSA? (2)

srichard25 (221590) | about 6 months ago | (#46852495)

Let's apply the same standards to the NSA collecting data on all Americans. Since white people are more likely to own cell phones and use the internet, the NSA data collection will be racially biased and should be ended in the name of equality.

Not discrimination (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#46852557)

He described a program called "Street Bump" in Boston that detected pot-holes using sensors in smartphones of citizens who had downloaded an app. The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app.

This is a perfect example of something that's NOT discrimination. The "wealthy" neighborhood committed more time and energy towards reporting potholes; this is not discrimination based on their person, but these people made different choices.

This is not government discrimination. This is an emergent difference, based on choices that different groups of people in some areas may be more likely to make.

These were most likely just the earliest adopters of the app, BUT people who can afford gas for a $5000 for a car can afford a $50 smart phone capable of running the apps.

The government could also do smart things like make sure to send their own cars down to look at streets not frequently visited by users of their app.

Re:Not discrimination (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46852861)

heres another idea, Fit this app on cops who do patrol work, you would get a good map fairly quickly, and you would be helping out the poor (most crime happens in poor areas, therefore more cops driving around, therefore more potholes reported!)

OK (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46852573)

Why is simply classifying people by their race, religion, or other attributes discrimination? Seems to me in order to have "discrimination" you would have to use that data in a negative (or positive) way, say no loans for people that are "purple" (as an example) and then use the data classification to isolate all the purple people.

It seems to me PC'ism has gotten out of control and is a real threat now.

Screw privacy that's gone at this point, what I want is to be able to see what they have collected about me, all of it.

Re:OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852731)

Why is simply classifying people by their race, religion, or other attributes discrimination?

Because that's literally what the word means. Straight out of the dictionary.

"recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another."

If you're talking simple concepts, that's exactly what you are talking about.

Seems to me in order to have "discrimination" you would have to use that data in a negative (or positive) way, say no loans for people that are "purple" (as an example) and then use the data classification to isolate all the purple people.

Yes, literal definition aside, you will indeed find that most people are concerned when the discrimination does have a meaningful impact, you are correct in bringing up that concern. Which is why when talking about discrimination, most people apply the connotation of it being bad.

This can lead to some cognitive dissonance when you look at some other uses that people don't worry about, if you're not aware of it. For example, discrimination between adults and children. Appropriate in many many contexts.

So the key is to conduct a bit more analysis than the simple and superficial.

It seems to me PC'ism has gotten out of control and is a real threat now.

It seems to me anti-PC PC has gotten out of control when the basic meaning of words and the purpose of activities has to be demonstrated and even the more basic concepts of communication have to be explained to get past some really mindless rhetoric.

It's like you can't discern the difference between a real argument and a rhetorical one. So we waste time sorting out your sophistry.

Re:OK (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852913)

Seems to me in order to have "discrimination" you would have to use that data in a negative (or positive) way, say no loans for people that are "purple"

Are you aware that if you leave $1M in gold bullion lying on your front lawn, it's illegal to steal it? Are you aware that in the Federalist Papers it was recommended that federal judges be well paid in order to lessen the possibility of corruption? If you don't understand the importance of temptation and easy means to commit a crime, then you're woefully unrealistic.

The poor can get smart phones thru SafeLink et al (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 6 months ago | (#46852581)

Poor people can get gov't-subsidized smart phones [prweb.com] . There's no reason in the world they can't use these apps the same as the evil rich folks. This is blatant race- / class-baiting from the White House to further distract the masses from matters of real importance -- you, destruction of our civil liberties, telling the NSA not to talk to the press, etc.

Diversity doesn't work (0)

hessian (467078) | about 6 months ago | (#46852641)

Throughout history, diversity has only appeared when dying empires are trying to bolster their economies by importing labor.

They inevitably collapse soon after.

The reason is that when you destroy culture, you have only rules left, and rules are good at prohibiting certain behaviors but can't make people collaborate.

The result is a me-first kleptocracy which inevitably descends to third-world-levels of corruption, filth, disorder, etc.

Re: Diversity doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852759)

Very interesting. Wish I had mod points.

Re:Diversity doesn't work (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852947)

when you destroy culture

Pray tell what's destroying American culture? Once upon a time many said that about the Irish, Italians, Jews, assorted Eastern Europeans, etc. Forget immigrants - they said that about flappers and Elvis Presley too. Interestingly, despite the rough spots that are often glossed over in history, the destruction of American culture didn't come to pass. It did evolve, which is a good thing because cultures that don't evolve either die or become relegated to some anthropological curiosity. Do you think there's a lesson there?

So how are the going to weaponize this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852669)

I can't see it.

POTUS Obama needs to propose a new Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852721)

"The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app."

We must introduce the POTUS Obama Smartphone programs (POS) in order to quickly rectify this class and racial imbalance. Every person on Welfare, Disability, and Food Stamp must be given a POS phone immediately. Who will step up to the place and propose this POS legislation?

Obama Phones are not Sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852735)

" The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app."

What? POTUS Obama is NOT handing out Smartphones? What are these Obama Phones? Why does POTUS Obama get the Smartest of Smartphone and the people get NON-smartphones? We need a committee to study this discrepancy.

That's funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852785)

It's gonna confirm what we all thought all along with stereotypes.

That's where they came from, folks. Thousands of years of observations.

So now we know what obama's afraid of.

Re:That's funny! (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852959)

The stereotype it confirms for me is that every country, every culture, every ethnic, racial, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. has assholes. Sometimes I dream of a place where that isn't true, but thanks for helping to keep me realistic.

Yet... (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 6 months ago | (#46852853)

Yet the White House has no qualms about discrimination based on lack of net neutrality. They can be bought.

This is Good News! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852891)

Describing concerns about the potential for big data methods to inadvertently classify people by race, religion, income or other forms of discrimination ...

This is good news, and I'm surprised people upthread have said little about that. Very few people in the general public seem to give a damn about invasion of privacy, or perhaps are even all that aware of it, but if you can frame the debate in terms of hot button issues like discrimination it will go a long way in helping to bring about awareness of this issue. Have you ever heard of the media not jumping on a discrimination issue (except age discrimination of course)? If we ever return to a system of government where each citizen gets one vote, instead of each million dollars getting one vote, it might even result in laws or regulations that limit invasion of privacy.

What's better? .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852939)

... two classes or many classes?

Potholes are not your biggest worry... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46852951)

This happens regularly today but you are not aware of it yet:

You apply for a job and the company buys your analytics. They are interested in your credit rating, your health record & your socio-economic standing. If you are a woman: how many children do you have? how often and for how long have you left work to raise them?

Data analytics from your Facebook (for example) will answer all these questions and return scores. If your scores are low you will not be hired. Just like your credit rating has always been pulled when you applied for a job.

Hiring sick people costs more money (in the US) so companies will not hire you if you have a serious illness (or sick children). Further, your profile can indicate health in your family (all your connections, and all comments made etc), and so can score your health insurance risk in the future.

You socio-economic score also relates to how healthy you are as health and $ are strongly correlated.

Credit card companies already pull credit scores on all your Facebook connections and this now forms part of your credit profile. Companies are also interested in this information as your socio-economic class is related to many other positive factors.

A woman who leaves the workplace to raise a baby is very expensive for a company. Companies are not interested in babies (unless they sell diapers or baby food). They want profit and want to hire the person that will be most beneficial for them to accomplish this. All this they can get for your analytics.

This is just the tip of the iceberg that we know about (BTW, I know about this because this is what I do for a company).

Things are moving deeper in this direction than you think. Recall the latest slashdot article (a few weeks ago) which claimed that your Visa statement is available to the US government. Not just the balance, but the hole damn thing, every single purchase, every location, every date, every amount (this I can't confirm but I wouldn't doubt it).

Be careful what you put on Facebook (& other sites). If you have a sick child, you can't post this to Facebook since you husband may not get the job. If you have a bunch of stoner friends from high school with low credit scores, this may affect you ability to get a job. Don't post things about your health as this can count against you in the future. Did you post that cancer runs in your family? Probably not a good idea.

All the above of course transfers to your application for other things like private insurance. You can be assured that insurance companies have teams of people checking and scoring everything they can get their hands on.

Well at least you can delete it all from Facebook right? Oh right, it's a one way street. Post and it stays with you for the rest of your life.

Be careful out there. There is nothing to worry about until one day there is.

So I'm not really concerned about the potholes.

Re:Potholes are not your biggest worry... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 6 months ago | (#46852973)

Do you have citations for any of the above? No snark - I'm honestly interested.

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