Conference on Trade Secrets and Algorithmic Systems
Friday-Saturday, November 16-17, 2018
NYU School of Law
Lipton Hall, D’Agostino Hall
108 West 3rd Street

Organizers:  Rochelle Dreyfuss (Engelberg Center Faculty), Katherine Strandburg (ILI Faculty), and Julia Powles (ILI Fellow)

Co-sponsors: Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy and Information Law Institute

Abstract: This conference explored the increasingly important issues raised by trade secrecy protection of data-driven decisionmaking algorithms.  Its distinctive contribution was to bring innovation policy and intellectual property law expertise to the emerging debate about these tools.  Participants:

  • Examined the extent to which trade secrecy is a necessary and desirable means for promoting socially desirable innovation in decisionmaking algorithms and consider possible alternatives. 
  • Considered the potential implications of trade secrecy for competition among developers of decisionmaking algorithms.
  • Discussed the implications of trade secrecy for the ongoing validation, error correction and updating of these tools. 
  • Analyzed the intersection between these innovation policy issues and the concerns about accountability, transparency, privacy and fairness that have so far dominated the debate about data-driven decisionmaking algorithms.

Session I: Foundations
Session II: Case Studies: Private Sector
Session III: Case Studies: Public Sector
Session IV: Decisionmaking Algorithms, Trade Secrecy and Competition
Session V: Decisionmaking Algorithms, Trade Secrecy and Incentives
Session VI: Trade Secrecy and Forensic Technology Roundtable
Session VII: Mapping the Solution Space: Toward Socially Beneficial and Accountable Decisionmaking Systems Roundtable


Day 1: Friday, November 16

8:30-9:15  Breakfast

9:15-10:45  Session I. Foundations

Moderator: Katherine Strandburg (NYU)

• Introduction to Decisionmaking Algorithms:  Jeanna Matthews (Clarkson)
• Introduction to Trade Secrecy Law and Policy:  Rochelle Dreyfuss (NYU)
• Overview of Issues with Secret Algorithmic Systems:  Jason Schultz (NYU)

10:45-11:15  Break

11:15-12:30 Session II. Case Studies: Private Sector

Moderator: Ari Waldman (New York Law School)

• Employment:  Pauline Kim (Washington University)
• Health:  Glenn Cohen (Harvard)
• Consumer Credit:  Yafit Lev-Aretz (Baruch College)

12:30-1:45   Lunch

1:45-3:00  Session III. Case Studies: Public Sector

Moderator:  Lauren Kirchner (The Markup)

• Algorithms and Agencies:  David Levine (Elon)
• Smart Cities:  Aaron Shapiro (Penn)
• Forensic Evidence and the Courts:  Natalie Ram (Baltimore)

3:00-3:30  Break

3:30-5:00 Session IV. Algorithmic Systems, Trade Secrecy and Competition

Moderator:  Harry First (NYU)

Gintarė Surblyte-Namavičienė (Vilnius)
Scott Hemphill (NYU)
Katherine Strandburg and Eli Siems (NYU)

Day 2: Saturday, November 17

8:30-9:15  Breakfast

9:15-10:45 Session V. Algorithmic Systems, Trade Secrecy and Incentives

Moderator:  Amanda Levendowski (NYU)

Jeanne Fromer (NYU)
Nicholson Price (Michigan)
Jonathan Manes (Buffalo)

10:45-11:15  Coffee break

11:15-1:00  Session VI. Trade Secrecy and Forensic Technology Roundtable

Chair:  Erin Murphy (NYU)
Rebecca Wexler (Yale ISP), Dana Delger (Innocence Project), Christopher Slobogin (Vanderbilt)

1:00-2:00   Lunch

2:00-3:30 Session VII. Mapping the Solution Space: Toward Socially Beneficial and Accountable Algorithmic Systems Roundtable

Chair:  Julia Powles (NYU)

Andrew Tutt (Arnold & Porter), Natalie Ram (Baltimore), Colleen Chien (Santa Clara), Andrew Selbst (Data & Society), Sonia Katyal (Berkeley), Vincent Southerland (NYU)