Technology, law, privacy, and security are inextricably linked. Each area is intertwined with the way that government and commerce take place. This holds true for higher education, where these subjects underpin and enable how universities, including the University of Michigan, fulfill their teaching, learning, research, and clinical mission. The Dissonance event series explores these topics from a global and national perspective, and in doing so increases university-wide multidisciplinary discourse, and supports university initiatives related to data science.
The Dissonance event series is a collaboration of faculty, staff, and students from several supporting organizations across the university. If you would like to be informed of future Dissonance events, please add your name to our email list. You are also invited to suggest a topic or a speaker for future Dissonance events.
The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics and Newborn Screening
6:00 p.m. • Monday, September 25, Michigan League, Vandenberg Room
Advances in prenatal screening and genetic manipulation may have the potential to all but eliminate birth defects and genetic disorders. For example, prenatal genetic testing in Iceland has almost completely erased incidents of down’s syndrome in newborns. This has led to growing concerns over creating “designer babies,” hyperbole about the potential for a new era of eugenics, and broader questions about whether science is outstripping societal and ethical norms in regards to human genetic diversity.
- Joselin Linder, Author, "The Family Gene"
- Jodyn Platt, Assistant Professor, U-M Medical School
- Moderator: Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Assistant Professor, U-M Medical School; Chief of the Research Ethics Service in the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM)
- The Drive for Perfect Children Gets a Little Scary: Innovation in genetic engineering is moving faster than ethical discussions about parents' choices. (Bloomberg, 8/24/2017)
- "What kind of society do you want to live in?": Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing (CBS News, 8/15/2017)
- Ethical concerns over designer babies (The Guardian, 8/11/2017)
- Gene Editing for ‘Designer Babies’? Highly Unlikely, Scientists Say (The New York Times, 8/4/2017)
- Gene Editing Breakthrough: How Far Are We From Fixing And Designing Babies? (Forbes, 8/4/2017)
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Wednesday, October 11 • 1:30 p.m. • Rackham Auditorium, 915 East Washington Street, Ann Arbor
In this Dissonance pop-up, in partnership with the 2017 Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) Symposium, Cathy O’Neil will discuss her book, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy.
We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O’Neil reveals, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.
Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health.
O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
Visit the 2017 Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) Symposium website for more information on this lecture and the entire symposium schedule. To stay informed on all upcoming Dissonance events, join our mailing list.
- 'Gaydar' Shows How Creepy Algorithms Can Get, Cathy O'Neil (Bloomberg, 9/25/2017)
- Look Who's Fighting Our Algorithmic Overlords, Cathy O'Neil (Bloomberg, 8/30/2017)
Who Is Behind the Dissonance Speaker Series
- Bentley Historical Library
- Center for Computer Security and Society
- College of Engineering, Electrical Engineering And Computer Science Department (EECS)
- College of Law
- College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
- Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
- School of Information
U-MInformation and Technology Services (ITS) U-MPrivacy and Technology Law Association
Dissonance Organizing Committee
- Robert Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding, Department of Political Science, LSA; Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
- Sol Bermann, University Privacy Officer, Information Assurance
- David Grimm, Associate General Counsel, OGC
- Alex Halderman, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering, EECS
- Gautam Hans, Clinical Teaching Fellow, Law School
- Peter Honeyman, Research Professor, EECS
- John Cheney-Lippold, Assistant Professor, American Culture, LSA; Coordinator of the Digital Studies Minor and Digital Studies Program
- Aprille McKay, Assistant Director for University Archives and Records Management, Bentley Historical Library (privacy and archival issues)
- Tim McKay, Professor of Physics, LSA
- Christian Sandvig, Professor of Information, School of Information, Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research, and Professor of Communication Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
- Florian Schaub, Assistant Professor, School of Information
- Margo Schlanger, Professor of Law
- Student Team
- Tamy Guberek, PhD student, School or Information.
- Nadiya Kostyuk, PhD student, Ford School
- Matt Kretman, Masters student, Ford School
- Allison McDonald, PhD student, Computer Science & Engineering, EECS
- Benjamin VanderSloot, PhD student, EECS
- Ritchie Wilson, Law student (Privacy Technology Law Association), School of Law
- Tim Maurer, Visiting Scholar, Ford School (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
Dissonance Participants: News, Papers, and Speeches
- Walter Mebane, Kenya Supreme Court Nullifies Presidential Election (The New York Times, 9/1/2017)
- Cathy O'Neil, Look Who's Fighting Our Algorithmic Overlords (Bloomberg, 8/30/2017)
- Alex Halderman, U-M, and Merit, In fight for free speech, researchers test anti-censorship tool built into the internet's core (CBC News, 8/16/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Here’s exactly how Russia can hack the 2018 elections (Vice News, 7/10/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Halderman testifies in Senate's Russia probe (The University Record, 6/26/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Dr. J. Alex Halderman talks About how easy election equipment is to hack (C-SPAN video, courtesy of Josh Emerson, 6/21/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Here’s how to keep Russian hackers from attacking the 2018 elections (The Washington Post, 6/21/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Report: Russia Launched Cyberattack On Voting Vendor Ahead Of Election (NPR, 6/5/2017)
- Margo Schlanger, Here's what could be next for Trump's sanctuary cities order (AP, 4/26/2017)
- John Cheney-Lippold, Interview - We Are Data (WOCA Radio, 4/24/2017)
- Nadiya Kostyuk, PhD candidates Christina Cross and Nadiya Kostyuk receive competitive fellowships (Ford School News, 4/5/2017)
- Bastian Obermayer and Laurent Richard, Privacy & Security Challenges in Investigative Journalism (Duo Security, Inc. Industry News, 3/27/2017)
- Bastian Obermayer and Laurent Richard, Knight-Wallace fellows discuss sources, security in writing investigative stories (The Michigan Daily, 3/22/2017)
- Robert Axelrod, The best response to some cyberattacks may be to ignore them (Science, 3/6/2017)
- U-M Research, Game theory could improve cyberwarfare strategy (Michigan News, 3/1/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Professor Who Urged an Election Recount Thinks Trump Won, but Voting Integrity Still Concerns Him (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/23/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Johnson: Michigan may boost post-election audits (The Detroit News, 1/26/2017)
- Sol Bermann, Free to Be You and Me: Autonomy Privacy in Higher Education (Educause Review, 1/17/2017)
- Walter Mebane and Kirill Kalinin, When the Russians fake their election results, they may be giving us the statistical finger (Washington Post, 1/11/2017)
- Alex Halderman, Why a Recount? Prof Who Sparked It Explains (The Detroit News, 12/1/2016)
- Walter Mebane, New Evidence Finds Anomalies in Wisconsin Vote, But No Conclusive Evidence of Fraud (Washington Post, 11/28/2016)
- Walter Mebane, This is How You File a Legal Election Complaint (Washington Post, 11/8/16)
- Alex Halderman, The Security Challenges of Online Voting Have Not Gone Away (IEE Spectrum, 11/3/2016)
- Alex Halderman, Cybersecurity and Voting Machine Security (C-Span, 10/4/16)
- Peter Swire, Privacy Advisor Podcast (IAPP 9/30/16)