News Item

2019
Renewing Rights and Responsibilities in the U.S.
Ralph Ranalli. 9/30/2019. “Renewing Rights and Responsibilities in the U.S.” Harvard Kennedy School. See full text.Abstract

Americans live in a country founded on the concept of individual rights, but human rights experts say more work still needs to be done teaching people what rights actually are, where they come from, and how their neighbors’ rights intertwine with their own.

A major new initiative from the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy will seek to bridge that gap, particularly in the area of how individual rights are inextricably linked to societal responsibility. The two-year research initiative is titled “Renewing Rights and Responsibilities in the US.”

Read the full article here

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Talks Ethics and Technology at Kennedy School
Michelle G. Kurilla. 9/10/2019. “Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Talks Ethics and Technology at Kennedy School.” The Harvard Crimson. See full text.Abstract
Luís Roberto Barroso, current justice of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil and senior fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School, warned that advances in technology will pose new dangers to Brazilian and American democratic institutions in a speech at the school Monday evening.
 

He said the development of artificial intelligence — which he called the “fourth industrial revolution” — will prompt urgent questions about the proper limits of freedom of expression on the internet, including ways to combat hate speech and fake news.

Read the full article here

Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.
Desmond Patton. 8/7/2019. “Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.” Vox.com. See full text.Abstract
New article on Vox highlights the work of Desmond Patton, Technology and Human Rights Fellow.

Desmond Patton, a Technology and AI fellow at the Carr Center, emphasized that current AI tools tend to identify the language of African American and Latinx people as gang-involved or otherwise threatening, but consistently miss the posts of white mass murderers.

"I think technology is a tool, not the tool," said Patton. "Often we use it as an escape so as to not address critical solutions that need to come through policy. We have to pair tech with gun reform. Any effort that suggests we need to do them separately, I don’t think that would be a successful effort at all.”

Read the full article here

Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism
Mark Latonero. 7/11/2019. “Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism.” The New York Times. See full text.Abstract
Mark Latonero – Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow, and research lead at Data & Society – discusses surveillance humanitarianism for The New York Times

A standoff between the United Nations World Food Program and Houthi rebels in control of the capital region is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Alarmed by reports that food is being diverted to support the rebels, the aid program is demanding that Houthi officials allow them to deploy biometric technologies like iris scans and digital fingerprints to monitor suspected fraud during food distribution.

The Houthis have reportedly blocked food delivery, painting the biometric effort as an intelligence operation, and have demanded access to the personal data on beneficiaries of the aid. The impasse led the aid organization to the decision last month to suspend food aid to parts of the starving population — once thought of as a last resort — unless the Houthis allow biometrics.

Read the full article.

Reclaiming Stonewall: Welcome to the Celebration—and the Struggle
Timothy Patrick McCarthy. 6/24/2019. “Reclaiming Stonewall: Welcome to the Celebration—and the Struggle.” The Nation. See full text.Abstract

As we reckon with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it is essential that we ask, “What still needs to be done?”

"Fifty years ago, in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a motley multitude of queer folks fought back. The stage was the Stonewall Inn, a popular Mafia-owned gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village. The spectacle was a police raid, which had become an increasingly routine fact of queer life during the 1960s. It was summer, people were hot, and the nation was pulsing with protest."

Read more.

The Quest For Inclusive & Ethical Technology
Sabelo Mhlambi. 6/10/2019. “The Quest For Inclusive & Ethical Technology.” WUWM Milwaukee NPR. Bonnie North. See full text.Abstract
New interview with Technology and Human Rights Fellow Sabelo Mhlambi.

"Most of us think of technology as a neutral force. Objects or processes are designed and implemented to solve problems and there are no biases, implied or overt, at work. But Sabelo Mhlambi says, not so fast. The computer scientist and researcher says technology cannot be neutral. What gets made, who makes it and uses it, and why is dependent upon our societies — and all societies are biased.

"Technology will only replicate who we are," he explains. "Our social interactions will still occur online anyway. So, there’s nothing magical about technology where it somehow brings neutrality or brings equality or equity."

https://www.wuwm.com/post/quest-inclusive-ethical-technology

Big Tech Firms are Racing to Track Climate Refugees
Mark Latonero. 5/17/2019. “Big Tech Firms are Racing to Track Climate Refugees.” MIT Technology Review. See full text.Abstract
The MIT Technology Review features new report by Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow Mark Latonero.

"Simply layering technology on top of existing humanitarian problems tends to exacerbate the issues it intended to resolve. In a new report on the role of digital identity in refugee and migrant contexts, a team of researchers at the Data & Society Research Institute, led by Mark Latonero, detail the various ways these initiatives can reproduce and worsen existing bureaucratic biases."

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613531/big-tech-firms-are-racing-to-track-climate-refugees/

protest_01
David Robson. 5/13/2019. “The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world.” BBC Future. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Research featuring Carr Center's Erica Chenoweth. 

Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
 

"In 1986, millions of Filipinos took to the streets of Manila in peaceful protest and prayer in the People Power movement. The Marcos regime folded on the fourth day.

In 2003, the people of Georgia ousted Eduard Shevardnadze through the bloodless Rose Revolution, in which protestors stormed the parliament building holding the flowers in their hands."

Read the full article on BBC Future.

Critical Skill for Nonprofits in the Digital Age: Technical Intuition
Alix Dunn. 5/7/2019. “Critical Skill for Nonprofits in the Digital Age: Technical Intuition.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. Listen to the Interview.Abstract

Not everyone needs to become a tech expert, but all activists and nonprofit leaders must develop skills to inquire about, decide on, and demand technological change. Tech Fellow Alix Dunn talks to Stanford's Social Innovation Podcast. 

In a world where the pace of organizational learning is often slower than the pace of technological change, activists and nonprofit leaders must develop their “technical intuition.” Not everyone needs to become a tech expert, explains Alix Dunn, of the consulting firm Computer Says Maybe, but this ongoing process of imagining, inquiring about, deciding on, and demanding technological change is critical.

In this recording from the Stanford Social Innovation Review's 2019 Data on Purpose conference, Dunn walks through her guidelines to help anyone to develop these skills.

People Power is Rising in Africa
Zoe Marks, Erica Chenoweth, and Jide Okeke. 4/25/2019. “People Power is Rising in Africa.” Foreign Affairs. See full text.Abstract
New article in Foreign Affairs from Carr Center's Zoe Marks and Erica Chenoweth, with Jide Okeke, delineates how protest movements are succeeding where even global arrest warrants can’t.

A new tide of people power is rising in Africa. On April 2, a nonviolent resistance movement in Algeria succeeded in pressuring Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign after 20 years as president. Nine days later, protesters in Sudan were celebrating the ouster of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president of 30 years, after a three-month-long uprising against his regime.

The nonviolent overthrows of Bouteflika and Bashir are not aberrations. They reflect a surprising trend across the continent: despite common perceptions of Africa as wracked by violence and conflict, since 2000, most rebellions there have been unarmed and peaceful. Over the past decade, mass uprisings in Africa have accounted for one in three of the nonviolent campaigns aiming to topple dictatorships around the world. Africa has seen 25 new, nonviolent mass movements—almost twice as many as Asia, the next most active region with 16.

Read the full article on Foreign Affairs.

How to Solve Homelessness With Artificial Intelligence
Desmond Patton. 4/21/2019. “How to Solve Homelessness With Artificial Intelligence.” Ozy. See full text.Abstract
New article on Ozy.com featuring Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow Desmond Patton.

“This is a pioneering phase for social work and AI,” says Desmond Patton, a professor at Columbia University who uses natural language processing algorithms to analyze gang violence. “I don’t think it’s a space yet.”

Read the full article here

Deepfakes are Solvable—but Don’t Forget That “shallowfakes” are Already Pervasive
Mark Latonero. 3/25/2019. “Deepfakes are Solvable—but Don’t Forget That “shallowfakes” are Already Pervasive.” MIT Technology Review. See full text.Abstract
New article features Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow Mark Latonero.

" Mark Latonero, human rights lead at Data & Society, a nonprofit institute dedicated to the applications of data, agreed that technology companies should be doing more to tackle such issues. While Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and others have employees focused on human rights, he said, there was so much more they should be doing before they deploy technologies—not after."
Embedding Ethics in Computer Science Curriculum
Kate Vredenburgh. 1/25/2019. “Embedding Ethics in Computer Science Curriculum.” The Harvard Gazette. See full text.Abstract
New article in The Harvard Gazette features work by Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow Kate Vredenburgh.
 

"A module that Kate Vredenburgh, a philosophy Ph.D. student, created for a course taught by Professor Finale Doshi-Velez asks students to grapple with questions of how machine-learning models can be discriminatory, and how that discrimination can be reduced."

We Can't Future-Proof Technology. But Here are 5 Ways to Forward Plan.
Alexa Koenig and Sherif Elsayed-Ali. 1/5/2019. “We Can't Future-Proof Technology. But Here are 5 Ways to Forward Plan.” World Economic Forum . See full text.Abstract
New article co-authored by Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow Sherif Elsayed-Ali.

"We know that the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are drastically changing our world. This change is happening at a faster rate and greater scale than at any point in human history – and with that change come significant challenges to the ability of our public institutions and governments to adequately respond.

From the plough to vaccines to computers, technological innovations have generally made human societies more productive. Over time, people have figured out how to mitigate their negative aspects. For example, electrical applications are much safer to use now than in the early days of electrification. Though we came close to disaster, since the Second World War the international political system has managed to contain the threat of nuclear weapons for mass destruction.

However, the accelerating pace of change and the power of new technologies mean that negative unintended consequences will only become more frequent and more dangerous. What can we do today to help ensure that new technologies make life better, not worse?"

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/how-to-plan-for-technology-future-koenig-elsayed-ali/

2018
Here’s What Erick Erickson Gets Wrong About Dictators and Migration
Kathryn Sikkink. 12/4/2018. “Here’s What Erick Erickson Gets Wrong About Dictators and Migration.” The Washington Post. See full text.Abstract
In a recent op-ed, conservative writer Erik Erickson argued that the U.S. government should support the “next Pinochets” to create more stability in Latin America and stop the flow of refugees seeking access to the United States.

The remark was instantly controversial because Augusto Pinochet was a Chilean dictator who committed massive human rights abuses.

Read the full article here.

In July, the Trump-era wave of protests started taking a back seat to campaign rallies
Erica Chenoweth. 10/19/2018. “In July, the Trump-era wave of protests started taking a back seat to campaign rallies.” The Washington Post. See full text.Abstract

Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman contribute to The Washington Post's monthly series on political crowds in the United States. 

For 18 months now, as we’ve counted attendance at political gatherings around the United States, we’ve seen crowds in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For the first time since President Trump’s inauguration, we found one state with no political gatherings. In all, in July, we tallied 743 protests, demonstrations, strikes, marches, sit-ins, rallies and walkouts in all states and the District — except South Dakota.

Our conservative guess is that between 71,502 and 73,483 people showed up at these political events, although more probably showed up, as well. This number is the lowest in one month that we’ve seen since December 2017. This year, January, March and June included some of the highest protest numbers in U.S. history, and June featured unusually high attendance because of LGBTQ Pride, Families Belong Together (which protested the policy that separated migrant families at the border), and the Poor People’s Campaign, among others.

Read the full article. 

Elections Under Oppression in Cambodia: A Predictable Outcome?
Sreang Heng. 9/4/2018. “Elections Under Oppression in Cambodia: A Predictable Outcome?” Yale Macmillan Center. See full text.Abstract
Read more on the Cambodian elections by by Sreang Heng, Carr Center fellow.
 
"On July 29, 2018, another parliamentary election was held in Cambodia. When the commune elections had been held on June 4, 2017, they were followed by complaints and recounts, but the official results showed that the two major rival parties had won the majority of votes: the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) received 1,156 communes (out of 1,646) while its opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) won 489. The Khmer National United Party received only one."

Full publication.