Home > data science, law > Open Data conference at Berkeley Center for Law & Technology this Friday

Open Data conference at Berkeley Center for Law & Technology this Friday

April 14, 2015

I’m excited to be involved with an interesting and important conference this coming Friday at UC Berkeley, held by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology as well as the student-run journal, the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.

It’s a one day event, entitled Open Data: Addressing Privacy, Security, and Civil Rights Challenges, and it’s got the following blurb:

How can open data promote trust in government without creating a transparent citizenry? Governments at all levels are releasing large datasets for analysis by anyone for any purpose—“Open Data.” Using Open Data, entrepreneurs may create new products and services, and citizens may use it to gain insight into the government. A plethora of time saving and other useful applications have emerged from Open Data feeds, including more accurate traffic information, real-time arrival of public transportation, and information about crimes in neighborhoods.

The program is here, and as you’ll see I’m participating in two ways. First, I’m giving a tutorial first thing in the morning on “doing data science,” which is to say I’m doing my best to explain to a room full of lawyers, in 40 minutes, what it is that modelers actually do with data, and how there might be ethical concerns. Feel free to give me advice on this talk!

Then at the end of the day, I’m in charge of “responding” to Panel 3. Since this is something we don’t have in academic math conferences or talks, I had to ask my lawyer friend what it means to respond, and his answer was that I just take notes during the panel discussion and then I get to comment on stuff I’ve heard. This will be my chance to talk about whether the laws they are talking about, or the proposed changes in the laws, make sense to the world of modeling.

I’m a bit concerned that I simply won’t understand what they’re talking about, since they are experts in this field of security and privacy law which I know very little about, but in any case I’m looking forward to learning a lot on Friday.

Categories: data science, law
  1. April 14, 2015 at 9:03 am

    “I’m a bit concerned that I simply won’t understand what they’re talking about, since they are experts in this field of security and privacy law …”

    I’m concerned that the lawyers simply won’t understand what YOU are talking about. Expecting lawyers to understand Data Science is like expecting SEC lawyers to understand trading. Not much hope there.

    Your best bet, IMHO, is to stay away from abstract ideas, and give concrete examples that they can relate to.

    Enjoy Berkeley.


  2. April 14, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Keep it going! Occasionally I have a few chats on Twitter with Ed Frenkel, mathematician there at Berkeley, nice person and he gets it. We got into a conversation about 1984 and asked if I had read it. I did back around 1970 when it was required reading at the high school I attended and required a “book report” afterwards:) It’s been so many years I’m thinking about now, many years later, reading it again as I remember what I thought about the book way back and would like to see what my perceptions are today versus then.

    Also, love it you are talking to lawyers who hang on to their legally correct verbiage out there that have not figured out how people “just code around it”. I have said that so many times on Twitter and it’s not only lawyers, but include Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court in on this deal. It’s time for some kind of marriage here with the two speaking to each other. I’ll use the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA as a prime example. If all those policies are deemed no good, well the frigging algorithm scramble begins and people get hurt. We have a disconnect here and it’s all over the place and again another topic, I have talked about is the fact that the ACA is largely run by the machines. So when changes are made in laws, it’s not telling people to change directions, duh? Send the coders in to change the directions of the machines which takes time and money.

    I tell lawyers all the time that “they” are the road blocks to any real privacy measures getting through as it all lies in their erroneous perceptions (aka the Sebelius Syndrome) on how code and models work. I had that all the time with doctors when I wrote my EMR years ago as they thought what I did with writing code was like opening up a spreadsheet to make some changes. Best thing I ever did was take a couple of doctors and opened up Visual Studio to let them watch (for a couple hours) me make a change in the program they wanted, one they thought was very simple. Case closed, it was not and they learned real well that day and out of it was a whole new role of respect flowing both ways.

    I agree if lawyers and lawmakers could quit stumbling over perceptions and interpretations that are just flat out wrong, we could make some progress. Then again you have the news media out there too every day blowing out some erroneous interpretation too so they can have a “storified” article too. Augh…never ends with horrific perceptions of things that are not there and the big problem that emerges from this is the fact that people can’t tell the difference between virtual world and real world values anymore and end up walking around like a bunch of screwballs with some very strange perceptions and too much of that ends up as news (grin).


  3. Jennifer
    April 14, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Cathy!
    I’m part of a student organization in Berkeley called Women in Mathematics, the undergraduate version of the Noetherian Ring. If you have time in your schedule while you’re in town, we’d love to meet you! We can also arrange a joint meeting with the Noetherian Ring as well.

    P.S. Ken Ribet is our faculty advisor 🙂


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