TEch policy

Applying Test-Driven Development to Technology Policy

By  Ginny Fahs, Brandie Nonnecke and Neal Parikh | December 2019

New York City voted earlier this year to keep automated decision systems in check by establishing a task force to oversee the use of algorithms by the city. The task force quickly fell apart because city officials could not come up with a definition of the types of tools the task force would examine, or any specific systems the task force could study in detail. Had the city started with a specific automated decision system in mind, they could have built a better task force and put them to work as soon as the policy was in place to support their efforts.

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5G article

5G hype vs. reality: How policymakers can harness its benefits

By Christopher Eldred  | Dec. 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 out of podcasts, banner ads, or business headlines. All three of these associations may ring true.

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The Kids Are Online—and Alright

By Camille Crittenden  | Fall 2019

Ninety-five percent of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one; 45% of them say they are online on a near-constant basis. Some adolescents become entangled in inappropriate or exploitive relationships by exchanging personal information or ill-advised selfies. Others have been victims or perpetrators of online abuse and harassment, leading to real-world consequences for mental and physical health. College acceptances, job opportunities, or good credit ratings can all be forfeited because of impetuous decisions made by young brains in the grip of ubiquitous, addictive technologies.

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Wired DeepFake

Opinion: California’s Anti-Deepfake Law Is Far Too Feeble

By Brandie Nonnecke  | Nov. 5, 2019

Imagine it’s late October 2020, and that there’s fierce competition for the remaining undecided voters in the presidential election. In a matter of hours, a deepfake video depicting a candidate engaged in unsavory behavior goes viral, and thanks to microtargeting, reaches those who are most susceptible to changing their vote. Deepfakes—the use of AI to generate deceptive audio or visual media depicting real people saying or doing things they did not—are a serious threat to democracy and lawmakers are aggressively responding. Unfortunately, their current efforts will largely be ineffective.

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WEF cover image

How the ‘California effect’ could shape a global approach to ethical AI

By Brandie Nonnecke & Jessica Cussins Newman | Oct. 18, 2019

Amid growing concern over the threat of AI-enabled systems to perpetuate discrimination and bias and infringe upon privacy, California has introduced several bills intended to curb negative impacts. Primary among them are bills related to mitigating the negative impacts of specific AI-enabled technologies such as facial recognition systems.

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Wildfire image

Health, Wildfire & Climate Change in California: Recommendations for Action 

By Bruce Riordan | Oct 8, 2019

In California’s hotter climate, the severity of large wildfires is growing. Extreme events like the 2018 Camp Fire that leveled Paradise are having profound effects on human health. These impacts are felt by residents in the immediate fire zones, first responders and other fire workers, and people impacted by smoke who live many miles away.

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Read ID

Viewpoint: Responsible Digital ID: Priority Data Governance Policies and Practices to Support Human Rights


By Brandie Nonnecke | Sept. 16, 2019

Nearly one fifth of the world’s population-an estimated 1 billion people-lacks formal identification, significantly restricting their ability to meaningfully participate in the economy and society. National digital ID systems hold great promise to provide individuals with an ID to enable access to social, economic, and civic opportunities.

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Facial Recognition

Facing the Future: How Policy can Mitigate the Threat to Human Rights from Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition Technology


By Henriette Huhrmann | Sept. 17, 2019

Henriette Ruhrmann, researcher at the CITRIS Policy Lab at UC Berkeley, considers privacy, equity and due process risks when it comes to facial recognition technologies used by law enforcement, and how strategic policy design can mitigate these risks.

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State Sponsor

CITRIS Participates in State-Sponsored Precision Medicine Initiative

By Edward Kang | Sept. 15, 2019

The final report from the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine Projects (CIAPM) was released to the California State Legislature in July 2019. An initiative of then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2015, CIAPM engaged health experts from CITRIS and across the state to identify and resolve hurdles to precision medicine.

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CITRIS E.D. Camille Crittenden named Chair of California Blockchain Working Group

By Edward Kang | Aug 06, 2019

Blockchain technology has opened up a range of possibilities for secure, immutable transactions of all kinds. It promises a safer data transfer system, yet its promises and limitations have yet to be fully explored.

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State AI

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

By Brandie Nonnecke & Jessica Cussins Newman | May 28, 2019

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.

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Anticipating Wildfire in 2019: Insights from the 2018 Camp Fire

By Louise Comfort | July 1, 2019

As the 2019 fire season begins in California, with Red Flag alerts in Butte County and eight other counties in Northern California, it is sobering to review the conditions that fueled the devastating 2018 Camp Fire.

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AI Dignity

AI, Human Dignity, & Inclusive Societies: Priority Recommendations to Better Ensure AI Doesn’t Deepen Disparities…


By Brandie Nonnecke  | May 30, 2019

AI-enabled systems are increasingly taking on a central role in core institutions, influencing consequential decisions that directly affect human rights. These systems have made their way into our healthcare facilities, courthouses, and employment offices, deciding who gets insurance, who receives parole, and who gets hired.

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New California legislation is taking important steps to ensure government use of AI is fair, accountable, and transparent.


By CITRIS Policy Lab | April 29, 2019

The California Legislature recently passed AB-976, establishing the Artificial Intelligence in State Government Services Commission to oversee use of AI in government services. It’s now considering AB-459, a bill that will set standards for accountability, privacy, and mitigating bias in government use of AI.

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Mobile broadband holds great promise, but is it enough?

By Brandie Nonnecke | Jan 20, 2019

Broadband access is vital to our society and economy – creating and strengthening socioeconomic inclusion locally, regionally, and globally. For the 24 million Americans who do not have have access to high-speed broadband, their ability to fully engage in the 21st century digital economy is stifled, perpetuating socioeconomic divides.

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DC Image

CITRIS to U.S. Capitol to help inform tech policy – CITRIS and the Banatao Institute

By Saemool Lee  | May 18, 2019

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute are ramping up efforts to bring technology expertise to national policymakers in Washington DC. Director Costas Spanos and CITRIS Policy Lab Director Brandie Nonnecke joined UC Berkeley’s Advocacy and Institutional Relations Director Michelle Moskowitz of the Office of Government and Community Relations for a two-day visit to …

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Risks of Recognition 

By Brandie Nonnecke | Sept 5, 2017

Like any new technology, digital IDs come with great benefits, but also great risks. For the 21 million refugees worldwide, digital IDs can empower them to exercise their fundamental economic, social, and political rights while simultaneously benefitting aid agencies and governments by validating and streamlining its processes.

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Two Robots

Artificial intelligence can make our societies more equal. Here’s how

By Brandie Nonnecke | Sept 21, 2017

Unconscious biases built into algorithms are introducing risks of discrimination in decision making. How can we manage these risks?

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