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Student Needs 2025+: Draft Final Report

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Student Needs 2025+: Draft Final Report
Source: University of Houston College of Technology (Houston Foresight)

Today, college students are encouraged to find work-life-school balance. In 2025, such a concept will be obsolete because work, life, school, and play will be one in the same. This is just one of the mind-bending takeaways that emerged from our Student Needs 2025+ project

Following our Framework Foresight method, we identified baseline and alternative scenarios, which we then analyzed for cross-cutting patterns. Four themes were identified:

1. A shift in balance of power from institutions toward students. The balance of power shifting toward balance for students means they will increasingly be dictating what needs to be “produced” rather than the institutions doing so.

2. A “blurring” between the six domains that makes them difficult to distinguish and thus difficult to address in isolation. As Cody Clark put it, “it’s all play” in 2025. Work, play, and school will all intersect and rely on one another.

3. 3. An emergence of IT/AI technologies that are both part of the “problem” – that is they drive change – and the “solution” – that is they offer great potential for addressing student needs. The growing capabilities of a vast array of information and communication technologies are the single biggest driver of change across the six domains. Put simply, in looking at how student life is changing, there is no bigger driver than the growing influence of information technologies.

4. A set of “social” or non-technological issues must be “dealt with” for the alternatives to occur as described. The teams questioned their assumptions and looked for ways that the growing influence of information technology might not happen, and found little to stop it beyond economic collapse. There are social issues, such as personal security in cyberspace or the security of the Internet itself related to technologies that could slow progress, but they are not likely to stop it.

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Empirically Characterizing Domain Abuse and the Revenue Impact of Blacklisting

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Empirically Characterizing Domain Abuse and the Revenue Impact of Blacklisting (PDF)
Source: George Mason University Department of Computer Science

Using ground truth sales data for over 40K unlicensed prescription pharmaceuticals sites, we present an economic analysis of two aspects of domain abuse in the online counterfeit drug market. First, we characterize the nature of domains abused by affiliate spammers to monetize what is evidently an overwhelming demand for these drugs. We found that the most successful affiliates are agile in adapting to adversarial circumstances, and channel the full spectrum of domain abuse to advertise to customers. Second, we use contemporaneous blacklisting data to provide an economic analysis of the revenue impact of domain blacklisting, a technique whereby lists of “known bad” registered domains are distributed and used to filter email spam. We found that blacklisting rapidly and effectively limited per-domain sales. Nevertheless, blacklisted domains continued to monetize, likely as a result of high demand, non-universal use of blacklisting, and delay in deployment. Finally, our results suggest that increasing the number of domains discovered and using blacklists to block access to spam domains could undermine profitability more than further improving the speed with which domains are added to blacklists.

Dialing Back Abuse on Phone Verified Accounts

September 26, 2014 Comments off

Dialing Back Abuse on Phone Verified Accounts (PDF)
Source: George Mason University

In the past decade the increase of for-profit cybercrime has given rise to an entire underground ecosystem supporting large-scale abuse, a facet of which encompasses the bulk registration of fraudulent accounts. In this paper, we present a 10 month longitudinal study of the underlying technical and financial capabilities of criminals who register phone verified accounts (PVA). To carry out our study, we purchase 4,695 Google PVA as well as pull a random sample of 300,000 Google PVA that Google disabled for abuse. We find that miscreants rampantly abuse free VOIP services to circumvent the intended cost of acquiring phone numbers, in effect undermining phone verification. Combined with short lived phone numbers from India and Indonesia that we suspect are tied to human verification farms, this confluence of factors correlates with a market-wide price drop of 30{40% for Google PVA until Google penalized verifications from frequently abused carriers. We distill our findings into a set of recommendations for any services performing phone verification as well as highlight open challenges related to PVA abuse moving forward.

Improving Government Performance, Anticipating Citizens’ Needs

September 26, 2014 Comments off

Improving Government Performance, Anticipating Citizens’ Needs (PDF)
Source: University of Pennsylvania (Knowledge@Wharton)

Predictive analytics is becoming a vital tool for governments trying to tackle tax evaders, terrorists, flu epidemics — and more.

Credit Standards and Segregation

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Credit Standards and Segregation (PDF)
Source: INSEAD (via University of Chicago)

This paper explores the effects of changes in lending standards on racial segregation within metropolitan areas. Such changes affect neighborhood choices as well as aggregate prices and quantities in the housing market. Using the credit boom of 2000-2006 as a large-scale experiment, we put forward an IV strategy that predicts the relaxation of credit standards as the result of a credit supply shock predominantly affecting liquidity-constrained banks. The relaxed lending standards led to significant outflows of Whites from black and from racially mixed neighborhoods: without such credit supply shock, black households would have had between 2.3 and 5.1 percentage points more white neighbors in 2010.

Muslim Reformists, Female Citizenship and the Public Accommodation of Islam in Liberal Democracy

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Muslim Reformists, Female Citizenship and the Public Accommodation of Islam in Liberal Democracy (PDF)
Source: University of Toronto Faculty of Law

The European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”), in a trilogy of cases involving Muslim claimants, has granted state parties to the European Convention on Human Rights a wide margin of appreciation with respect to the regulation of public manifestations of Islam. The ECHR has justified its decisions in these cases on the grounds that Islamic symbols, such as the hijāb, or Muslim commitments to the shari‘a – Islamic law – are inconsistent with the democratic order of Europe. This article raises the question of what kinds of commitments to gender equality and democratic decision-making are sufficient for a democratic order, and whether modernist Islamic teachings manifest a satisfactory normative commitment in this regard. It uses the arguments of two modern Muslim reformist scholars – Yūsuf al-QaraÃāwī and ‘Abd al-Íalīm Abū Shuqqa – as evidence to argue that if the relevant degree of commitment to gender equality is understood from the perspective political rather than comprehensive liberalism, doctrines such as those elaborated by these two religious scholars evidence sufficient commitment to the value of political equality between men and women. This makes less plausible the ECHR’s arguments justifying different treatment of Muslims on account of alleged Islamic commitments to gender hierarchy. It also argues that in light of Muslim modernist conceptions of the shari‘a, there is no normative justification to conclude that faithfulness to the shari‘a entails a categorical rejection of democracy as the ECHR suggested.

Entrepreneurship and Public Health Insurance

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Entrepreneurship and Public Health Insurance (PDF)
Source: Brown University

The social safety net provides financial security for millions of Americans, yet few studies have explored its influence on firm formation. This paper tests whether the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) affected business ownership. I use three identification strategies to isolate this effect: difference-in-differences (DID), regression discontinuity (RD) and a differenced version of RD that incorporates pre-policy data as a falsification check. Monte Carlo analysis suggests this differencing technique significantly reduces bias and Type 1 Error relative to RD and DID, and the procedure can be applied to a wide range of policy evaluations. I show that the local average treatment effect of SCHIP eligibility was a 29% reduction in the number of uninsured children and a 23% increase in self-employment. I also show that SCHIP increased incorporated business ownership by 31% and the share of household income from self-employment by 16%, suggesting these are high-quality ventures. The increase is driven by both a 12% rise in firm birth rates and an 8% increase in survival rates. I also document a large increase in labor supply, equivalent to 8.8 million full-time workers. The central mechanism is a reduction in the riskiness of self-employment rather than a relaxation of credit constraints. I find no evidence that observable characteristics are unbalanced between treatment and control groups. To the extent that entrepreneurs contribute to innovation, job creation or economic growth, these findings strongly suggest that public health insurance programs have spillover benefits on the supply of firms.

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