Friday, September 13, 2013

Tweet at me!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Disconnect's Privacy Hackathon

Last Friday, we partook in a "legal hackathon". I don't think I can explain the context more eloquently than Casey did already but the gist of the hackathon was that privacy policies are hard to understand and we can help solve this problem by applying icons. (Sort of like how your clothing has pictures to tell you not to iron it or a bottle of bleach has pictures to tell you not to drink it.) The idea was to get lots of people together to read the privacy policies of thousands of websites and select appropriate icons.

The hackathon is over now but you can still participate on your own. 


1. Sign up for an account if you'd like:
2. Select a website from the sites list. Some of the websites are already done but you're welcome to make revisions. 
3. Read the privacy policy.
4. Apply four icons.
  • The first slot is about collection and use. Does the website collect or use your personal information in ways that you did not expressly allow or reasonably expect? 
  • The second slot is about sharing and selling your data. Does the website share or sell your personal information without your consent?
  • The third slot is about disclosure requests. Does the website disclose your information if it is not legally obligated to?
  • The last slot is about retention. How long does the website keep your information for?

You can also add websites that are not on the list by downloading the Firefox browser extension. This also allows you to view any icons that have already been applied to websites you visit.

Here are some popular websites that have been iconified:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stanford inventions

It's no secret that Stanford is an innovation hub, especially in the technology sphere. A quick search through the USPTO database reveals that Stanford holds at least 2,640 patents - and that's not including the patents that have expired. From last year alone, Stanford received over $76.7 million in gross royalty revenue with five of these inventions earning $1 million. Cumulatively, since 1970, Stanford has gained over $1.4 billion in royalty income.

A recent study estimates that companies formed by Stanford entrepreneurs generate revenues of $2.7 trillion annually and have created 39,900 companies and 5.4 million jobs since the 1930s. If gathered collectively into a hypothetical independent nation, these companies would constitute the world's 10th largest economy. In addition to the businesses, Stanford alumni and faculty have also founded over 30,000 non-profit organizations.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Predicting the future: election results and more

Ken Jennings graciously losing to IBM's "Watson" on Jeopardy
Not only can computers steal our jobs and win at Jeopardy, they can also predict the future with frighteningly accurate results. Yesterday, Professor Daniel Katz gave a fascinating presentation on quantitative prediction in my legal informatics class. His focus was primarily in the legal field but the explanation of how we've arrived at a point in time where legal prediction is possible is applicable to many areas.

His slides are available below. I would highly recommend a quick skim of even just the first 60 or so slides if you're not interested in the legal field for a general overview of the rise of technology. (To my fellow law students, the information contained past slide 60 may disturb you but I urge you to power through!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Legal Challenges of Autonomous Driving

On September 25th earlier this year, California became the third state in the US, following Nevada and Florida, to pass legislation in allowing the operation of driverless cars on the road. Two short years earlier, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab director Sebastian Thrun unveiledGoogle had created the world’s first autonomous car. In testing, the cars, which were manned by trained operators, drove around California, from Mountain View to Santa Clara and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They successfully navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and even made it around Lake Tahoe. The test cars logged over 140,000 miles in total. The following year, Thrun gave a TED talk explaining how autonomous cars could save lives, time, and fuel:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 32,885 motor vehicle deaths in 2010, the leading cause of death among teenagers. Furthermore, the majority of car accidents can be attributed to driver error and other human factors (from 57% to as high as 90%) that would not be present in driverless cars. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

The following is an editorial I wrote for Osgoode Hall's student newspaper, the Obiter Dicta. Originally posted here.
An elementary school in Seattle recently reported that students were prohibited from dressing up for Halloween this year. The decision was implemented as a preventative measure out of fear that Halloween costumes could offend or upset students of different cultures, which came as somewhat of a surprise to me. As someone who doesn’t belong to a Judeo-Christian faith, Halloween was probably the only holiday that didn’t make me feel excluded growing up.

My friend who is currently attending teacher’s college confirmed that the Seattle school wasn’t just an anomaly. She said that her curriculum also taught that Halloween is not inclusive of all religions.
The cultural roots of Halloween are mostly attributed to Celtic and Christian influences. Many believe that Halloween has pagan roots originating from Samhain, a Gaelic celebration held on October 31st to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Samhain is also likened to a festival of the dead, being set at a time when the door to the Otherworld (the realm of the dead) is opened enough to allow spirits and other beings to come into our world. Feasts were held to appease souls of the dead and people dressed up in costumes to disguise themselves to harmful spirits.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The future of legal search

I've been a post-secondary student for almost seven consecutive years now so I feel pretty comfortable saying that I'm familiar with academic research. I did my undergraduate in social psychology which means that most of my research involved various databases that linked to journals my school had subscriptions to and Google. I liked using Google mostly because I already knew how to use it. I would sometimes search for articles on Google, find something I wanted, hit a paywall, and then search for the same article through my university database. Of course, I also came across Google Scholar which was often a lifesaver.

As I entered legal education, I still used university databases and Google scholar for articles but now I had to look for cases and for that we were taught how to use Westlaw and LexisNexis. Searching for case law is a little different than searching for articles. With articles, I could tell from a brief glance at the abstract whether it would be useful or not. Not quite with cases ... I had to consider its authority in regards to jurisdiction and level of court, what the dissenting opinion (if any) was, what qualifications were made, what the specific fact scenario was, which area of law it covered, which other cases it cited and how, and most importantly, if the case had been overruled. And there could be hundreds and hundreds of potentially relevant cases depending on which keywords I put in. As you might have guessed, going on Westlaw and LexisNexis was not exactly my favourite thing to do.