Information Law Institute



Algorithms and Explanations -- April 27-28, 2017

Explanation has long been deemed a crucial aspect of accountability.  By requiring that powerful actors explain the bases of their decisions — the logic goes — we reduce the risks of error, abuse, and arbitrariness, thus producing more socially desirable decisions.  Decisionmaking processes employing machine learning algorithms and similar data-driven approaches complicate this equation.  Such approaches promise to refine and improve the accuracy and efficiency of decisionmaking processes, but the logic and rationale behind each decision remains opaque to human understanding.  The conference will grapple with the question of when and to what extent decisionmakers should be legally or ethically obligated to provide humanly meaningful explanations of individual decisions to those who are affected or to society at large. 

International Workshop on Obfuscation: Science, Technology, and Theory -- April 7-8, 2017

Obfuscation strategies offer creative ways to evade surveillance, protect privacy, and improve security by adding, rather than concealing, data to make it more ambiguous and difficult to exploit. This interdisciplinary workshop convened researchers, scientists, developers, and artists to discuss a broad range of technical, theoretical, and policy approaches to obfuscation, from tools that anonymize users’ social media data to new methods for writing code itself. We surveyed some of the existing and emerging applications and technologies, threat models and scenarios for which obfuscation offers solutions, tests and tools for studying the strengths and weaknesses of obfuscation approaches, new challenges and applications (such as authentication, intellectual property, and security), benchmarks and approaches to formalizing obfuscation strategies, and general best practices for design, implementation, and evaluation of obfuscating systems.


AI Now: The Social and Economic Implications of Artifical Intelligence Technologies in the Near Term -- July 7, 2016

The White House and New York University’s Information Law Institute, with support from Google Open Research, Microsoft Research and the MacArthur Foundation hosted a major public symposium to address the near-term impacts of artifical intelligence technologies across social and economic systems. The focus was the challenges of the next 5-10 years, specifically addressing four themes: social inequality, labor, healthcare, and ethics. Leaders from industry, academia, and civil society will share ideas for technical design, research and policy directions.

At the Intersection of Privacy and Property -- May 6, 2016

This workshop provided a forum for work that explores the benefits and drawbacks of thinking about privacy—legally, practically, and conceptually—in terms of property. Given our common law heritage, the association between privacy and property is reflexive and ingrained. Nevertheless, significant problems arise in trying to make property norms “do the work” for privacy, particularly with respect to issues of data privacy. At the same time, it would also be wrong to dismiss property norms as wholly irrelevant to privacy. The right question, ultimately, is how property concepts and doctrines can be profitably incorporated into discussions of privacy—and likewise, to what extent we should wary about leaning too much on property-privacy analogy, in lieu of theorizing privacy independently. 

Conference on Responsible Use of Open Data: Government and the Private Sector -- November 19-20, 2015

The Conference, co-organized by NYU Department of Media, Culture and Communication, and BCLT, addressed two related issues. The first was a set of normative challenges associated with the open data movement, including e.g. privacy and other civil liberties, equitable access to data, and what counts a public interest. The second addressed obligations of private/commercial holders of data to make their holdings available for public and research purposes. Panels included leading thinkers and actors representing a range of perspectives and positions. The conference kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki, City of New York's Chief Analytics Officer in charge of the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics.

Symposium on Government Access to Data on the Cloud -- May 26-27, 2015

This Symposium will present cutting-edge research on domestic, international and transnational legal approaches to regulating government access to data stored in the cloud. Legal scholars, together with participants who bring law enforcement, industry, privacy advocacy and human rights perspectives will bear on the important and often contentious debate about this rapidly evolving issue. Details about the conference can be found here.

Algorithms & Accountability -- February 28, 2015

On February 28, 2015, we will hold a conference titled Algorithms and Accountability at NYU. Details about the conference can be found here.

NYU Security Research Seminar -- 2014-2015

The Security Research Seminar at New York University was a bi-weekly meeting of students, faculty, policy makers and industry professionals interested in analyzing the ways in which advanced technologies are putting pressure on legal regimes and concepts of security. The seminar addressed a variety of perspectives on security in a digital age, including security of information and software, computer networks, cyber-physical systems and infrastructure and included discussions about national as well as international cyber-security law and policy. We hosted talks about ongoing research and initiatives and provided a platform for integrating technical, cyber and information security issues with broader societal and legal dynamics.

Symposium on Student Privacy -- December 2, 2014

Together with the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center, ILI organized a symposium on student privacy in higher education entitled “Building Privacy into Data-Driven Education.” The event examined the new ethical concerns, legal questions and institutional challenges raised by the growth in use of data-driven platforms at higher education institutions.

Symposium on Obfuscation -- February 15, 2014

The Symposium on Obfuscation brought together experts from a variety of backgrounds who study, script and design technologies that either simulate, detect, or are susceptible to obfuscation. By obfuscation we mean the production of misleading, ambiguous and plausible but confusing information as an act of concealment or evasion. In the course of the day, we will critically explore and assess the use of obfuscation as a strategy for individuals, groups or communities to hide; to protect themselves; to protest or enact civil disobedience, especially in the context of monitoring, aggregated analysis, and profiling in (digital) space. Read more about the symposium.

Governing Algorithms Conference -- May 16-17, 2013

This conference set out to explore the recent rise of algorithms as an object of interest in scholarship, policy, and practice. Taking a fresh view on the current wave of interest in the topic, we discussed themes such as:
The very idea of “algorithms” as a subject and object of analysis
Issues of methodology and the kind of knowledge claims that come with algorithms
The rhetoric of problems and solutions, in which algorithms are mobilized
Questions of agency and automation
Conceptions of secrecy or inscrutability
Normative concerns
Rules and regulations surrounding development and implementation