The University of California can help close the digital divide. Here’s how.

By Brandie Nonnecke & Camille Crittenden | June 8, 2022

One in four Americans do not have high-speed internet access at home. Indeed, in its latest biennial survey of undergraduate students, the University of California (UC) found that 40% of low-income undergraduate students are concerned or very concerned about reliable internet access, compared to only 28% of undergraduates who do not face significant financial constraints. Many of these students have gone to extreme lengths to stay connected, including gathering in parking lots outside coffee shops, restaurants, and campus buildings to access a steady WiFi signal.

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Ada Lovelace courtesy of Manhattan Rare Book Company

On the wings of Ada Lovelace

By Camille Crittenden | Oct. 15, 2021

Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) is recognized for many remarkable attributes and affiliations, not only as a precursor of what came to be modern computer programming but also as the daughter of poet Lord Byron and friend to notable Victorian intellectuals like Charles Babbage, Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday and Mary Somerville. Her name has been used in tribute more recently as a programming language developed by the U.S. Department of Defense and as a unit of cryptocurrency.

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National Aviation Day

Aviation Fields Must Diversify to Soar with the Next Generation

By Camille Crittenden | Aug. 18, 2021

Created in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to commemorate Orville Wright’s birthday, National Aviation Day has been celebrated annually on August 19 with air shows and related extravaganzas. These are exciting days for aerospace researchers, aviation enthusiasts and aspiring job seekers. Many were inspired earlier this year by NASA’s exploration of Mars and the independent suborbital flights of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.

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California: Keep Public Meetings Open Through Technology

By Camille Crittenden | July 6, 2021

Over the past pandemic year, life events and activities have moved online that we once believed must be held in person: weddings, classes, conferences, cocktail parties. Many aspects of government business also transitioned from requiring a presence in person to being facilitated through online platforms. California’s open meeting laws inscribed in the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act of 1967 mandates that all meetings of State boards and commissions be open and accessible to the public, with agendas posted well in advance. It provides for remote participation via “teleconference” but requires that each location, including a member’s private home or office, be open and accessible to the public for the occasion.

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The Promise and Pitfalls of the Facebook Oversight Board: A Human Rights Perspective

By Flynn Coleman, Brandie Nonnecke, Elizabeth M. Renieris| May 6, 2021

Flynn Coleman, Brandie Nonnecke, and Elizabeth M. Renieris, Technology and Human Rights Fellows at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School discuss the benefits, risks, and potential alternatives of the Facebook Oversight Board from a human rights perspective.

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Education future

Technology and the Future of Education & Work

By CITRIS Policy Lab  | November 2020

Saurabh Sanghvi, Associate Partner and Leader in McKinsey’s Education and Economic Development Practices on the benefits and risks of emerging technologies in the future of education and work. Saurabh Sanghvi is an Associate Partner and leader in McKinsey’s Education and Economic Development practices. Saurabh has worked with nonprofits, government, universities, school systems, and companies on the topics of education, workforce development, economic development, product development, growth strategy, and innovation. Saurabh also supports research on the future of work and its implications on jobs, skills, and wages and is passionate about exploring how technology can better support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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blog 1

Can technology still save us in fighting the pandemic? Could it ever?

By S.E. Freeman  | November 2020

COVID-19 case counts in the United States are setting new records by the day. People in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities across the country are still dying at disproportionate rates, extending a long history of structural bias, exclusion, and exploitation in medical care and treatment. The federal government stands unprepared and unwilling to respond in the face of record daily caseloads, and contact tracing only crawls forward months after the pandemic began. As the numbers keep climbing and a grim winter encroaches, we are left despondent, wondering when it all might end.

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blog 2

The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn’t have the authority

By Brandie Nonnecke  | November 2020

In response to increased content moderation tactics implemented by social media platforms to quell the spread of mis- and disinformation in the 2020 presidential election, the Trump administration continues to pressure the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move forward on rulemaking to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

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Technology & the Future of Public Education

By CITRIS Policy Lab  | October 2020

Elana Zeide, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska College of Law, on the benefits and risks of emerging technologies in public education. Elana Zeide teaches and writes about the legal, privacy and ethical implications of emerging technologies as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska’s College of Law, after a recent stint as a PULSE Fellow in Artificial Intelligence, Law & Policy at UCLA’s School of Law. Recent articles include Student Privacy in the Age of Big Data, The Structural Consequences of Big Data-Driven Education, and Algorithms Can Be Lousy Fortune Tellers. Zeide received her B.A. cum laude in American Studies from Yale University, and her J.D. and LL.M. from New York University School of Law.

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Technology & the Future of Public Sector Work

By CITRIS Policy Lab  | October 2020

Scott Mauvais, Director of AI and Global Partnerships, Microsoft Philanthropies on the role & responsibility of the tech sector in the future of public sector work. Scott Mauvais is the Director of AI and Global Partnerships for Microsoft Philanthropies where he leads a new initiative to identify and jointly invest in social impact projects with Microsoft’s largest customers and partners. Scott has been at Microsoft for 20 years. Most recently, he was the Director of Microsoft Cities where he worked with city leaders to apply the global resources and expertise of Microsoft to foster the civic tech ecosystem and create opportunities for economic growth.

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Four strategies to combat disinformation before elections

By Brandie Nonnecke  | October 2020

California laws passed to stop disinformation will likely be ineffective. Here are four strategies that should be implemented. Earlier in October, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its “Homeland Threat Assessment.” The report cautions that Russian and Chinese online influencers continue to employ coordinated campaigns to spread mis- and disinformation to amplify socio-political division and increase voter suppression. With the 2020 US presidential election in just two weeks, these tactics are likely to ramp up.

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Blockchain, Digital Identity, and Health Records: Considerations for Vulnerable Populations in California

By CITRIS Policy Lab  | October 2020

In the early 2000s, blockchain took the private sector by storm. In addition to gaining notoriety for its applications in cryptocurrency, the technology was touted as a solution to dozens of organizational problems, from supply chain tracking to identity management. Although commercial applications of blockchain continue to show promise and are being pursued by startups and established companies alike, applications in the public sector have attracted far less attention. A few pilot projects in the United States and abroad have used blockchain platforms for voting, paying taxes and fines, and tracking educational credentials. But in order to build on promising cases in the public interest, further research is needed to guarantee secure digital identity systems, especially for programs that serve vulnerable populations like the unhoused.

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AI Ethics: We Need to Walk the Walk, Not Just Talk — Arm Blueprint

By Andra Keay  | September 2020

The ethics of androids and autonomous systems has fascinated me since childhood. Asimov’s Four Laws of Robotics unfolded in a series of classic cautionary tales describing just how badly those simple rules could and would go wrong. I have been searching for effective ethical rules for robots ever since.

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BlockChain Image

Blockchain For the Public Good

By Camille Crittenden  | July 2020

Over the last year, I have had the privilege to lead the California Blockchain Working Group, which delivered its report to the Legislature in early July. Established by AB 2658, the 20-member Working Group comprised experts with backgrounds in computer science, cybersecurity, information technology, law, and policy. We were charged with drafting a working definition of blockchain, providing advice to State offices and agencies considering implementation of blockchain platforms, and offering guidance to policymakers to foster an open and equitable regulatory environment for the technology in California.

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A Simple Guide to Scrape Tweets Using Python

By Brandie Nonnecke  | April 2020

The spread of mis- and disinformation through social media poses significant risks to public safety and democracy. Understanding how these campaigns are initiated and spread is critical to stemming their negative effects. Twitter has created an API, an application programming interface, that allows users to pull tweets and other data from Twitter’s servers for research.

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As millions of students turn to online education, the FCC must implement bold changes to close the digital divide

By Brandie Nonnecke  | April 2020

With confirmed cases of coronavirus on the rise in the US, over 100,000 schools have closed, disrupting the education of over 55 million students. While many schools are turning to online instruction, the millions of students who fall into the “homework gap”— those who lack broadband access at home — risk falling further behind their peers. .

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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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