Dr. Ian Kerr holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. He also holds cross-appointments to the Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Philosophy.
Special thanks and much gratitude are owed to one of my favorite artists, Eric Joyner, for his permission to display a number of inspirational and thought–provoking works in the banner.
As many artificial intelligence aficionados have already made clear in the blogosphere, both before and after the match, Watson's victory does not meet the threshold of Turing's test. Not even close. Watson proved itself as an answer-generating machine par excellence. And, although Watson showed considerable computational skill in its ability to parse natural language, a conversationalist Watson was not. This reality was not lost on the IBM team. Hence the corporate choice to play Jeopardy! rather than address Turing's challenge head-on. So, if IBM's grand challenge was not to pass Turing's test, what exactly is going on here?
A quick romp through the sphere-o’-twits reveals what human-computer interaction specialists and the folks in Hollywood have understood for years: audiences can be engineered to like, love, lust for and trust machines like Watson better than human counterparts. And this is exactly what companies like IBM are counting on.Read more →
A couple of weeks ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrated his 26th birthday. Well, sort of. While he did indeed turn 26, it is reported that he was forced to cancel his Caribbean celebration to lead a series of emergency meetings on one of his least favourite topics: privacy.
These meetings resulted in significant alterations to the website's platform and user interface and a major media event that took place on Wednesday. Although numerous trusted media outlets, privacy advocates and politicians around the globe reported this event as "a privacy U-turn" (The Sun in Britain), an "about face" change (Economist), "a major step forward for privacy" (American Civil Liberties Association) and a "significant first step that Facebook deserves credit for," (Senator Charles Schumer), I am not so sure.Read more →
A little over a year ago, in one of the most important privacy cases ever heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Ian Binnie sought to allay concerns that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society with the following remark: "On these occasions, critics usually refer to 'Orwellian dimensions' and 1984, but the fact is that 1984 came and went without George Orwell's fears being entirely realized, although he saw earlier than most the direction in which things might be heading."
Like most judicial pronouncements with staying power, I still haven't quite figured out what he meant by this. Was the judge simply saying that the worries expressed by privacy advocates are sometimes overblown? Or was his clever, lawyerly use of the word "entirely" a tongue-in-cheek expression of genuine concern?Read more →
What I do know is that copyright 101 is forever changed. Copyright law in the age of the Kindle is no longer merely about ownership of the means of (re)production. It is also about access to knowledge, personal privacy, the citizen’s right to read anonymously and the consumer’s right to control the devices that she owns.
When the Ministers complete their copyright consultation on September 13th and begin to draft new laws projected for the spring of 2010, I hope that they recognize the power of the laws of robotics, reject an approach that would enable The Ministry of Truth, and offer-up a legislative regime that truly balances the copyright owners interests with the rights of citizens, as twice promised.Read more →