My AlgorithmicMe: Our representation in data

Talk at Strata + Hadoop World Conference 2016, San Jose, Ca. Today, algorithms predict our preferences, interests, and even future actions—recommendation engines, search, and advertising targeting are the most common applications. With data collected on mobile devices and the Internet of Things, these user profiles become algorithmic representations of our identities, which can supplement—or even replace—traditional social research by providing deep insight into people’s personalities. We can also use such data-based representations of ourselves to build intelligent agents who can act in the digital realm on our behalf: the AlgorithmicMe. These algorithms must make value judgments, decisions on methods, or presets of the program’s parameters—choices made on how to deal with tasks according to social, cultural, or legal rules or personal persuasion—but this raises important questions about the transparency of these algorithms, including our ability (or lack thereof) to change or affect the way an algorithm views us. Using key examples, Joerg Blumtritt and Majken Sander outline some of these value judgements, discuss their consequences, and present possible solutions, including algorithm audits and standardized specifications, but also more visionary concepts like an AlgorithmicMe, a data ethics oath, and algorithm angels that could raise awareness and guide developers in building their […]

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The Need For Encryption

The Need For Encryption

With this post we do something quite unusual: we re-publish Apple’s letter to their customers. It’s not that we were such Apple fans that we would join  the company’s marketing efforts but the encryption of iPhones has been discussed for a long time. And this week, the FBI and the United States government, demanded that Apple builds a new version of iOS bypassing security and creating a backdoor. This might not be the first case of such a request a private company being asked to install a backdoor (we know that some have done it) but Apple does not retreat. Please read this letter and add your thoughts to that topic – either here at Datarella or other channels – we think that this needs to be discussed in public. And – maybe – there even are (secure) technical solutions to comply with the FBI’s requests AND privacy. „A message to our customers„, published by Apple, Inc., February 16: February 16, 2016  A Message to Our Customers The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for […]

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Algorithm ethics: The inevitable subjective judgements in analytics

Here is the video of the talk on subjectivity and ethics in data science methods, that Majken Sander and I gave at Strata+Hadoop World Conference 2015 in London (Courtesy O’Reilly Media, Inc.). The Strata + Hadoop World 2015 in London Complete Video Compilation is also available at O’Reilly’s – and highly recommended.

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Telling the story of people’s lives – Strata+Hadoop, Feb 15, San Jose

We can draw a colorful picture of people’s everyday lives from the data we collect via smartphones. To tell the data-story, we need to translate the raw measurements into meaningful events, like “driving a car”, “strolling in a mall”, or even more intimate, like “being nervous”. We will show how to access the phone’s data, how to derive complex events from the phone’s raw data, and how to bring it into a meaningful story, and how to make it work for businesses. Cases we’ll show: an app for the automotive industry to support ecological driving, learning about preferences of Chinese passengers at an international airport, and supporting people suffering from osteoporosis to stabelize their condition and maintain mobility. More on Strata+Hadoop  

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BYOD – Bring your own Data. Self-Tracking for Medical Practice and Research

BYOD – Bring your own Data. Self-Tracking for Medical Practice and Research

„Facebook would never change their advertsing relying on a sample size as small as we do medical research on.“ (David Wilbanks) People want to learn about themselves and get their lives soundly supported by data. Parents record the height of their children. When we feel ill, we measure our temperature. And many people own a bathroom scales. But without context, data is little meaningful. Thus we try to compare owr measurements with those of other people. Data that we track just for us alone Self-tracking has been trending for years. Fitness tracker like Fitbit count our steps, training apps like Runtustic deliver to us analysis and benchmark us with others. Since 2008, a movement has been around that has put self-tracking into its center: The Quantified Self. However it is not just self-optimizer and fitness junkies who measure themselves. Essential drive to self-tracking originated from self-caring chronically ill. Data for the physician, for family members, and for nursing staff In the US like in many countries lacking strong public health-care, it becomes increasingly common to bring self-measured data to the physician. With many examinations this saves significant consts and speeds up the treatment. With Quantified Self, many people have been […]

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There is no privacy in mobile

There is no privacy in mobile

Our phones register in radio cells to route the calls to the phone network. When we move around, we occasionally leave one cell and enter another. So our movements over leave a trace through the cells we have been passing the course of the day. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye and his co-authors from MIT explored, how many observations we need, to identify a specific user. Based on actual data provided by telephone companies, they calculated, that just four observations are sufficient to identify 95% of all mobile users. We need just so little evidence because people’s moving patterns are surprisingly unique, just like our fingerprints, these are more or less reliable identifiers. Location When we analyze the raw data, that we collect through our mobile sensor framework ‚explore‘ we found several other fingerprint-like traces, that all of us continuously drop by using our smartphones. Obviously we can reproduce de Monjoye’s experiment with much more granular resolution when we use the phone’s own location tracking data instead of the rather coarse grid of the cells. GPS and mobile positioning spot us with high precision. Wifi Inside buildings we have the Wifis in reception. Each Wifi has a unique identifier, the BSSID and […]

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„Mobile Data: Under the Hood“

„Mobile Data: Under the Hood“

The slides of our talk at Munich DataGeeks Meetup: „A smartphone is a mighty array of sensors. How to access the data, and get meaningful information from the various readings, like geo-location, gyroscope, accelerometer, or even the magnetic flux. We also discuss the ehtical implication of mobile tracking: informational self-determination, „other-tracking“ vs. self-tracking, and how to do spooky things with apparently innocent measurements.“ Mobile Data Analytics from Joerg Blumtritt

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Data Courtesy

Data Courtesy

Picture above: The court of Louis XVI is regared as the ecstasy of courtesy. Esprit, the bon-mot and the courtly attire had been overdone to an extend never to be reached again. The end: the terror – the most uncourtly form of social cohabition. „Privacy invasion is now one of our biggest knowledge industries.“ „The more the data banks record about us, the less we exist.“ Marshall McLuhan „Handle so, dass du die Menschheit sowohl in deiner Person, als in der Person eines jeden anderen jederzeit zugleich als Zweck, niemals bloß als Mittel brauchst.“ („Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end“) Immanuel Kant „Being socially exposed is OK when you hold a lot of privilege, when people cannot hold meaningful power over you, or when you can route around such efforts. Such is the life of most of the tech geeks living in Silicon Valley. But I spend all of my time with teenagers, one of the most vulnerable populations because of their lack of agency (let alone rights). […]

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Telefongesellschaften verkaufen vertrauliche Kundendaten

Als der Mobilfunk-Konzern Telefonica 2012 ankündigte, auch in Deutschland die Daten der O2-Kunden zusammen mit der Marktforschungsfirma GfK zu Geld zu machen, brach ein Proteststurm los, der O2 und GfK schleunigst zurrückrudern lies (s. zB. hier: wiwo.de). Jetzt kündigt auch AT&T an, ebenfalls die Verbindungsdaten zu verkaufen. AT&T geht dabei offenbar noch weiter und bietet explizit die Historie der Internet-Nutzung seiner Kunden an. Ich bin überzeugt, dass dieser Vertrauensbruch sich nicht rechnen wird. Die Menschen geben ihre Daten nicht freiwillig an die Telefonkonzerne – es sind Nebenprodukte der Nutzung der Telekom-Dienste, für die die Nutzer Geld bezahlen. Ich glaube, dass es nicht nur moralisch falsch ist, sondern tatsächlich wirtschaftlichen Schaden anrichten wird, wenn Menschen beginnen, ständig auf der Hut vor den Daten-Kraken zu sein. Daher gehen wir bei iognos einen anderen Weg: unseren Nutzern ist klar, was sie tun. Wir informieren sie ständig, welche Daten anfallen und was daraus gemacht wird. Es ist nicht grundsätzlich falsch, Daten zu erheben. Aber es ist falsch, es im Verborgenen zu tun, erst recht, wenn die Nutzer keine Wahl haben.

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