Digital World Week 11

Drug Tests on the Spot

You’d have to be living under a rock to miss out on all the news of drug overdoses and specifically the opioid epidemic in America. During a drug bust, cops have to be very careful that 1. they log the evidence carefully, 2. they don’t expose themselves to the drug, and 3. the right treatment is given to the overdose sufferer.

To address the first problem, there is now in-field drug testing that allows the substance to be tested by a machine. It is placed into a baggy with a QR code on it that can then be scanned by the officer’s phone. It logs location, substance type, amount, time, and date, which makes prosecution later a lot simpler.

The second problem is addressed by the protocol that comes with in field testing. Fentanyl in small doses can be lethal, so officers can test drugs and find if their laced to understand how much immediate danger the users are in. They are also forced to wear gloves and other precautions to protect themselves and K9 friends from harm’s way.

The third is the greatest innovation to come from this type of testing. If someone is high off marijuana, and the marijuana is tested and laced with fentanyl, they then know that person needs immediate medical attention. No time is wasted and no one loses a life.

More Police Drones

Search and rescue drones?

Image result for drone cartoon

In a recent article by BBC news, they reported about new technology in the police drone world. For some context, this has always been controversial. People get extremely worried about privacy rights when it comes to drones in the hands of law enforcement, and rightfully so. However, this latest technology may give hope to many families of missing and murdered people.

It’s important to realize that this story is about Scotland’s technology, but could theoretically make it to the U.S. soon enough. Basically, the drone is fitted with a strong camera and thermal imaging software. It’s connected to a mobile phone and has been taught to identify things after seeing only a few pixels of an image.

They’ve taken precautions to make the drone highly visible to others. They do not want it to be interpreted as a spy drone. It was made only to search for missing people. It has a flashing blue light and noisy motors to make its presence known to onlookers.

I was absolutely fascinated by this technology and it made me wonder, why not sooner? We’ve had drones for years now, why is someone just now taking the time to develop this technology? If they tried before in the U.S., what went wrong? Scotland proved that this AI is low-cost and easy to use, and hopefully we can adopt something similar in the near future.

Digital World Week 9

Open Source Legal Tech

In recent news this week, a former CEO of a large tech company is starting a nonprofit based around open source legal technology. The article said it best, referring to the legal industry as “an industry notoriously known as a slow tech adopter.”

John Tredennick is creating an online platform that will allow for legal professionals to collaborate and have access to free resources. It will also include “access-to-justice” software creating a platform for amateurs to get information to help their legal ventures.

He plans to streamline the tasks for lawyers that are often redundant, archaic, or a waste of professional time. It’s wonderful to see this kind of tech coming into a field that is way too slow for what it’s trying to accomplish.

My future mission as a lawyer is to create a more cost-effective alternative to traditional law. I would love to run a tech-based firm that doesn’t charge clients a criminal amount of money. My hope is that tech like this will help me and my partners to accomplish this, and perhaps I can even get involved in the forefront of this legal technology movement.

Guest Speaker Responses

Gene and Bombing Brain Interactive

Before Gene’s presentation, I felt as though it might be hard to relate to a software developer. It’s never been an interest of mine career-wise and I don’t think I’d have the patience to do it. However, once he made it a point to show the class that software development and app creation can be part of anyone’s skill set. In fact, it’s crucial in a lot of fields. I think that any employer would look at coding or programming on a resume as a valuable skill and indication of a diverse skill set.

I love Gene’s passion for what he does. He was truthful and inspiring. I’ve always dreamed of running my own business in some capacity and he made it seem attainable. He was honest about the fact that it’s not always easy and he’s no millionaire, but he values his independence and flexible hours above all of that. I feel the same way. Being my own boss is my ultimate goal and seeing his success made me feel as though it was possible.

I was fascinated by the Teleprompt+ app. It was a simple idea turned into an amazing product. The fact that he was then able to pair his software to compatible hardware was amazing to me. I thought it was funny how he mentioned Apple overhauling things every couple of years. As an Apple consumer, it’s infuriating to have to buy a new phone (or headphones and chargers) because my old one is obsolete. I can only imagine what that must be like for developers who have to rewrite code.

Overall, I really enjoyed his speech and demonstration. I love that he found a niche problem and solved it with technology. In the process, he managed to make teleprompters more attainable for amateur journalists and musicians, which is always a beautiful thing.

Daniel and 3D Printing

As I mentioned in class, I was semi-familiar with 3D printing because my cousin is obsessed with it. He makes things for our family at every family function and we often get gifts of things that he’s printed. However, Dan had a more scientific perspective. Although some of his information went a little over my head, I was still able to get the gist. I appreciated the way he approached his presentation and gave us all a real-world perspective.

I had no idea about the history of 3D printing, and how far back it actually goes. I also loved hearing about the RepRap project and the thousands of possibilities that could come out of that. I love the idea of making 3D printing accessible to people who may not have a lot of money in an attempt to bridge the divide between rich and poor when it comes to access of technology.

I also loved hearing about the bio-medical uses of this technology. In theory, someone would be able to design and print their own prosthetic in a very cost-effective way. Daniel helped to explain how many uses this technology could have and how cost-effective it can really be.

Dan’s speech inspired me to want to get more involved in 3D printing. I loved the keychain and I’ve always enjoyed seeing my cousin’s creation. Maybe I don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to be able to do something like this. The resources he provided were user-friendly and easy to navigate which I greatly appreciated.

Digital World Week 8

Finally some news about AI in the legal world

I’ve spoken before about the archaic nature of lawyering. Nearly everything is done on paper or in person and not a lot has changed for decades. Of course, we have e-mail, phone conferences, and e-filing, but there hasn’t been a lot of revolution until now.

Startup companies are coming out with new ways of litigating cases. We now have ways of filing paperwork through online chat interviews with a robot. Artificial intelligence is able to mark up documents and get them ready for litigation. However the owner of one of these start ups was interviewed in this article. He believes that AI technology will never fully replace lawyering in the traditional sense. However, the owner of one of these start ups was interviewed in this article. He believes that AI technology will never fully replace lawyering in the traditional sense.

As of the present day, AI technology is not able to see the bigger scope of things. It is not able to look at a case and create an argument based off extenuating circumstances. The article, however, did mention these robots being able to replace entry-level lawyers.

This makes me wonder how my future in law school will play out. Is there room to grow in this field if we are no longer using humans for basic tasks but instead relying upon machine learning? Where will interns and up and will those positions become obsolete?

Of course, this is assuming that machine learning would become widely available to even the smallest of law firms. The article brought up a good point about ATMs. They had a fear when ATMs were first invented that it would replace bank tellers. Instead, it created even more jobs by allowing for expansion of bank branches in smaller and more rural areas.

At the end of the day, it is still too soon to tell where artificial intelligence plays a role in the legal field. It is an exciting development in technology that I hope we can learn to fine tune. This kind of advancement may allow for a more affordable alternative to lawyering, which would be the most ethical thing to happen to the field since its inception.

Digital News Week 7

Breach of 4th Amendment rights by FBI

Fourth Amendment
Infographic provided by periodicpresidents.com for educational use only.

In yet another case of unsealed documents, we are able to learn about the FBI’s unreasonable privacy breach against American citizens. You may be wondering how this relates to technology, but what’s interesting about this case is that it couldn’t have happened without technology. The NSA does surveillance on some American citizens, and in my opinion, probably know more than we’d feel comfortable with. They also do surveillance on international people of interest and terrorist organizations. Recently, the FBI was exposed for intercepting e-mails from the NSA database without a warrant, or even probable cause.

In the justice system, there’s something known as “expectation of privacy.” Even criminals have their right to privacy in the absence of a warrant. E-mails sent through a private server have a realistic expectation of privacy, while posts on a public Facebook page do not. The NSA, under the Patriot Act of 2001 was granted permission by the government to harvest metadata without a warrant. However, this information is meant to protect the nation, not to help with the prosecution of an FBI suspect. It’s unbelievable to think that this is such a 21st century issue. The 4th amendment is such an enormous deal because when it was written, there was no internet or data privacy or even half the types of crimes we have today. It makes you wonder if it’s time to readdress our Constitution and modernize it to make things clearer in the eyes of the law.

Digital News Week Six

Map depicting countries involved in Operation reWired, an international business email compromise takedown announced in September 2019.
Operation reWired graphic from FBI.gov

Operation ReWired

This week, I wanted to take a look at technology from a different stand point. In criminal justice, we often look at technology as something that can help law enforcement do their jobs more efficiently. However, criminals can learn tech just as easily as anyone else. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of the newest technology and learn how it can be used against the general public in an effort to stop it from happening.

There’s been a huge surge in cybercriminals attacking business financial departments in an effort to wire money to themselves. I wrote about this in last week’s post and included the use of deepfakes to assist in this crime. The FBI has caught onto this trend and launched in operation to arrest and convict the people committing these crimes across the U.S. and globally.

The scariest part of this is the realization that this isn’t just happening to businesses. Criminals are also targeting the elderly and individuals with any kind of buying power. They will email their victims and pretend to be someone they trust, asking for money to be wired. The emails look very legitimate and it’s hard to suspect any foul play. Because of this, the FBI urges people to be cautious. In the article linked above, they emphasize how important it is to authenticate the email by picking up the phone and calling the person to verify. Update systems regularly, use secure passwords, and don’t click on links in emails.

This operation to dismantle these criminal networks resulted in 281 arrests, and there’s still more to be caught! So don’t forget to report suspicious emails and text messages.

Digital News Week Five

Can AI commit crime?

I’m sure you’ve been hearing about “deepfakes” in the news lately. From my understanding, they are manipulated versions of digital data representing a real sound or image. The manipulation alters the way it appears or sounds to the reader or listener. For example, a video of someone political could be leaked doing something controversial. Later, we may find out there was in fact a video of someone doing something controversial, but the political figure wasn’t really in the video. It was cleverly manipulated to appear that way. This is scary for many people for obvious reasons, but in the article above, deepfakes are used in a whole new way.

An employee in the UK received a call from his boss asking him to transfer a large sum money to an account. The employee complied, and didn’t think much of it. A few moments later, he got another call from his boss, this time asking for more money. He started to get suspicious and after investigations, it was learned that the employee was being scammed. The scammer’s used a deepfake of the boss’ voice and was so convincing, the employee couldn’t tell the difference. The article says this AI technology can learn everything about someone’s voice, down to the accent, inflection, dialect, and lingo. This is fascinating to me, and also very scary.

In the criminal justice world, this makes people incredibly hard to trace. Imagine if phone scammers were able to use a different voice every time they called. Imagine if they could sound like your mother calling asking for bail money or a child saying they’re in trouble. It worries me to think what the future holds for this kind of technology, knowing it’s nearly impossible to trace a fake voice or face.

Digital News Week Four

Training empathy in police officers?

In an article published by Washington Post just a few days ago, new innovative technology was highlighted and was designed for law enforcement training. A few weeks ago, I did a post that mentioned the controversy of body cameras, and one of the biggest suppliers of that tech is developing this new training tech for police. However, this training I am personally very excited for.

Times are changing, and more and more of police mistakes are being exposed to the media. It is no longer acceptable for cops to use their gut reaction to respond to a scenario. A lot of scenarios require intense empathy training that is long overdue. In an attempt to solve this issue, they are creating scenarios within virtual reality that allows officers to practice a reaction without any real consequences. In the past, the article states, this technology has been used to show officers the difference between strange behavior from an autistic person, and strange behavior from a threatening person. This has saved countless lives in an attempt to get rid of the “shoot first, ask questions later” excuse.

In the latest VR tech, they are working on suicide prevention training. It takes a lot of training to show cops how to actively talk someone down to safety during an active suicide attempt. But how would you practice this? You can’t roleplay that kind of thing. The article does a great job at explaining why it’s so important, mentioning a study linking about 19% of fatal cop shootings to victims with mental illnesses. This VR allows cops to see a person standing on the edge of a roof, and gives them options of how to approach. These are quite literally life-saving precautions, and a form a police technology that I am completely on board with.

Digital World Week Three

California to ban facial recognition on body cameras

As a future lawyer, I am becoming increasingly aware of the amount of legal cases surrounding technology in the news. Facebook just recently faced a huge legal settlement regarding data privacy, and Twitter is facing legal repercussions from a recent hack. The justice system has been a little behind in their use of technology, but law enforcement officers have been using technology in the form of body cameras for the last fifteen years or so. There has been controversy around body cameras from the beginning, but more recently, agencies have started to implement facial recognition software into the cameras worn by officers.

California is now in the process of banning this recognition technology. Civil rights groups argue that this technology is an invasion of privacy since it allows officers to scan anyone’s face without consent and see whether or not they’re in the system. This technology is undeniably fascinating, but I have to agree that it infringes on basic civil rights. This kind of technology debate is important in the legal field. This article may not be a perfect representation of how technology affects lawyers in a positive way, but it does display important factors about future human rights and legal cases.