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‘Bless you’

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | February 10, 2020

Even without coronavirus, we have enough coughs and colds to generate a lot of “bless yous.”  But what is the origin of this saying? Renaissance scientists, such as the sixteenth century Flemish anatomist Vesalius, were the first to start to dissect the human body. But the brain presented a problem. There were no chemicals to preserve … Continue reading »

Policymakers must understand 5G’s potential and its pitfalls

Christopher Eldred, Research Analyst, Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE) and Work and Intelligent Tools and Systems | December 2, 2019

    For some, 5G is a miracle network that will bring the internet’s speed, abundance, and possibility out of our pockets and throughout our physical world. For others, it’s the next national security battleground, the winner of which will be the world’s hegemonic superpower. For most, it’s probably just an ill-defined tech buzzword echoing … Continue reading »

5G Won’t Bridge the Rural Digital Divide, Nor Will Telecom Mergers

Jenna Burrell, associate professor, School of Information | November 15, 2019

Jaime is a generational cattle rancher in central Oregon. He subscribes to two Internet services, both of which have stringent data caps that he routinely exceeds. One is satellite-based, meaning it inefficiently boomerangs his data to outer space and back. The other is his cell phone service with Verizon, which he uses to connect a … Continue reading »

Kill science funding and you kill the future tech economy

Lee Fleming, faculty director, Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership | October 29, 2019

This post is co-written by Matt Marx of Boston University. When you hear the word innovation, you might think of Silicon Valley: a place where inventors, engineers, and scientists — funded by deep-pocketed venture capitalists and led by plucky entrepreneurs — build new products and industries from thin air. There’s an increasing sense that the … Continue reading »

The smartest people in the room? What Silicon Valley’s supposed obsession with tech-free private schools really tells us

Morgan Ames, assistant adjunct professor in the School of Information and interim associate director of research for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society | October 21, 2019

Sure, technologists can be smart. But to assume that expertise in software engineering converts to expertise in child development, public health, or the moral implications of technology more broadly — and that technologists thus need not consult expertise in other areas — has led to the ethical crises raging across the technology world today. Note: … Continue reading »

Fair, Reliable, and Safe: California Can Lead the Way on AI Policy to Ensure Benefits for All

Brandie Nonnecke, Founding Director, CITRIS Policy Lab | May 28, 2019

Co-authored with Jessica Cussins Newman, a research fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity Amidst claims that artificial intelligence (AI) will add $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030, governments around the world are devoting significant resources to support national R&D of the technology. At the same time, concerns about misuse and unintended consequences … Continue reading »

International Women’s Day: Gender equity by the numbers

Camille Crittenden, Executive Director, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute | March 7, 2019

A recent New York Times opinion piece decried the application of quantitative metrics to evaluate progress toward gender equity (“Stop counting women,” Feb. 23, 2019). The author’s assertion, that such frameworks are “reductive and demeaning” and impede a “gradual organic process of moving toward a society where men and women can both pursue the work … Continue reading »

Resumes, recruiting and recommendations: Data-driven guidelines for employers and applicants

Camille Crittenden, Executive Director, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute | December 5, 2018

As the year-end approaches, for many the winter break means not only holiday shopping and family time but also submitting applications for graduate school, searching for summer internships, or scanning job advertisements. Applicants prepare resumes, mentors draft recommendation letters, and employers (or their designated algorithms) assess both. Given the complicated chemistry of matching an ideal … Continue reading »

Vampires exist! A spooky Halloween post

Wadim Strielkowski, Professor of Economics, Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley | October 29, 2018

Is everyone looking forward to the forthcoming Halloween? The “All Hallows Evening” is at our doorstep and everyone is preparing for trick-or-treating, brushing off their scary costumes, renting horror movies, carving pumpkins and generally intending to have fun.  Halloween is the holiday that originated from the Celtic rituals in Ireland and the United Kingdom only to be … Continue reading »

Don’t forget people in the use of big data for development

Joshua Blumenstock, Assistant Professor in the School of Information | September 14, 2018

In the rush to find technological solutions to complex global problems, there’s a danger of researchers and others losing track of the hardships and constraints unique to each locality. Designing data applications will require a slower approach that pays far more attention to the people behind the data.

The summer of silent revolution, disruptive innovation and Factfulness

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 9, 2018

June is conferences month and this year I attended three – two in Washington (the ICABR Ravello group conference at the World Bank and the IFPRI conference) and then the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Gothenburg, Sweden. I was most enlightened by a wonderful book, Factfulness, I read on the plane. Altogether, … Continue reading »

Berkeley and the educational-industrial complex

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | April 11, 2018

People, especially outside the U.S., always ask “What makes America great?” A popular answer is America’s private sector, with its capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. A second answer is American universities, especially at the graduate level. Others will argue that it is its legal system that allows fast transactions and enforces contracts. I believe that … Continue reading »

Innovators and entrepreneurs: What’s the difference?

Steve Blank, lecturer, Haas School of Business | April 3, 2018

I just received a thank you note from a student who attended a fireside chat I held at the ranch. Something I said seemed to inspire her: “I always thought you needed to be innovative, original to be an entrepreneur. Now I have a different perception. Entrepreneurs are the ones that make things happen. (That) takes … Continue reading »

Facebook and the humanities: Pondering what would Oedipus do

Timothy Hampton, professor of French and comparative literature, director of the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities | March 21, 2018

No less disturbing than the recent news that the personal data of millions of Americans was culled from Facebook by the shady research firm Cambridge Analytica and provided to the Trump campaign, has been the behavior of the masters of Silicon Valley.  The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has so far been mostly silent. This … Continue reading »

Lack of oversight puts Americans’ privacy at risk across entire tech, information industry

Jennifer King, Ph.D candidate in information science at UC Berkeley’s School of Information | March 20, 2018

As fallout from the revelation of Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user information continues, many are mistakenly calling this incident a breach. Facebook is right to claim this incident was no breach — this is Facebook’s platform working exactly as designed. I know, because I too created a survey app on Facebook for the express purpose of … Continue reading »

Leadership is more than a memo

Steve Blank, lecturer, Haas School of Business | March 19, 2018

I just read Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley. It was both eye-opening and cringe-worthy. The book explores the role of gender in the tech industry – at startups and venture capital firms – and the interaction between men and women in the two. While Silicon Valley has grown to have global … Continue reading »

We cannot afford to keep academia and industry separate

Corinne Scown, Head of Sustainability at the Energy & Biosciences Institute | March 17, 2018

In 2007, UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab signed a $500 million agreement with BP to form the Energy Biosciences Institute. Protests ensued, with accusations that the university was selling out to big oil. Needless to say, many people were, and are, not fans of universities partnering with private companies, … Continue reading »