MIT releases report on its actions in the Aaron Swartz case
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A much-anticipated report on MIT’s actions in relation to the case of Aaron Swartz, a young computer programmer and Internet activist who committed suicide in January, finds no wrongdoing on MIT’s part. But the report raises concerns about certain policies and procedures and whether MIT should have been more actively involved in the matter. The report offers a set of forward-looking questions for the Institute as a whole to address.
At the time of his death, Swartz, who had informal connections to the MIT community, faced 13 federal felony charges relating to his downloading of more than 4 million academic journal papers from the online archive JSTOR, or about 80 percent of the JSTOR library. The downloading was carried out surreptitiously using a laptop computer that was left in a basement wiring closet in an MIT building, physically connected to the MIT computer network.
As described in the report, Swartz’s death “ignited a firestorm on the Internet.” Memorial services were held in several locations, including MIT; posthumous awards were given to Swartz; a proposed revision of the law under which he was prosecuted was introduced in Congress; a petition was filed with the White House demanding the firing of the federal prosecutor responsible for the case; and several anonymous cyberattacks were launched, some against MIT, in protest of the handling of the case.
Progress and Challenges in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey (PDF)
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Cities around the world are increasingly aware of the need to prepare for greater variability in temperature, precipitation, and natural disasters expected to take place as a result of global climate change. In recent years, numerous reports and manuals have been written and networks formed to offer guidance and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information. However, since systematic studies have not been conducted, the information and methods being disseminated often are based on the efforts of a limited number of cities and wisdom drawn from experience in other domains. To gain insight into the status of adaptation planning globally, approaches cities around the world are taking, and challenges they are encountering, a survey was sent to communities that are members of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. A total of 468 cities (44%) completed the 40-question survey, with the majority of respondents being from the U.S since this is where ICLEI has the largest membership.
Private Information and Insurance Rejections (PDF)
Source: MIT Economics (Nathaniel Hendren)
Across a wide set of non-group insurance markets, applicants are rejected based on observable, often high-risk, characteristics. This paper explores private information as a potential cause. To do so, we develop and test a model in which agents have private information about their risk. We derive a new no-trade result that can theoretically explain how private information could cause rejections. We use the no-trade condition to generate measures of the barrier to trade private information imposes. We develop a new empirical methodology to estimate these measures that uses subjective probability elicitations as noisy measures of agents’ beliefs. We apply our approach to three non-group markets: long-term care, disability, and life insurance. Consistent with the predictions of the theory, in all three settings we ﬁnd larger barriers to trade imposed by private information for those who would be rejected relative to those who are served by the market. For those who would be rejected, private information imposes a barrier to trade equivalent to an implicit tax on insurance premiums of roughly 65-75% in long-term care, 90-130% in disability, and 65-130% in life insurance.
The Promise and Perils of Private Voluntary Regulation: Labor Standards and Work Organization in Two Mexican Garment Factories
The Promise and Perils of Private Voluntary Regulation: Labor Standards and Work Organization in Two Mexican Garment Factories (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan School of Management
What role can private voluntary regulation play in improving labor standards and working conditions in global supply chain factories? How does this system relate to and interact with other systems of labor regulation and work organization? This paper seeks to address these questions through a structured comparison of two factories supplying Nike, the world’s largest athletic footwear and apparel company. These two factories have many similarities – both are in Mexico, both are in the apparel industry, both produce more or less the same products for Nike (and other brands) and both are subject to the same code of conduct. On the surface, both factories appear to have similar employment (i.e., recruitment, training, remuneration) practices and they receive comparable scores when audited by Nike’s compliance staff. However, underlying (and somewhat obscured by) these apparent similarities, significant differences in actual labor conditions exist between these two factories. What drives these differences in working conditions? What does this imply for traditional systems of monitoring and codes of conduct? Field research conducted at these two factories reveals that beneath the code of conduct and various monitoring efforts aimed at enforcing it, workplace conditions and labor standards are shaped by very different patterns of work organization and human resource management policies. This paper is part of a larger project on globalization and labor standards organized by Professor Richard Locke of M.I.T.. In addition to the results presented in this paper (some of which appear as well in Monica Romis, “Beneath Corporate Codes of Conduct: What Drives Compliance in Two Mexican Garment Factories,” (Masters Thesis, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, M.I.T., 2005)), the project entailed field research in China, Turkey, Europe and the United States as well as systematic analysis of Nike’s factory audits of working conditions in over 800 factories in 51 countries.
Can Healthcare IT Save Babies?
Source: MIT Sloan School of Management Working Paper
The US has a higher infant mortality rate than most other developed nations. Electronic medical records (EMR) and other healthcare information technology (IT) improvements could reduce that rate, by standardizing treatment options and improving monitoring. We empirically quantify how healthcare IT improves neonatal outcomes. We identify this effect through variations in state medical privacy laws that distort the usefulness of healthcare IT. We find that adoption of healthcare IT by one additional hospital in a county reduces infant mortality in that county by 13 deaths per 100,000 live births. Rough cost-effectiveness calculations suggest that healthcare IT is associated with a cost of $450,140 per infant saved.
+ Full Paper (PDF)
A Report on the Status of Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT, 2011 (PDF)
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
At MIT, we like data, especially data that advance our understanding of an important problem. In the 1990s, a group of MIT’s women faculty perceived patterns of inequitable resource allocation between them and their male colleagues. They collected data that demonstrated and quantified the problem, and they alerted the Institute’s leadership, in a search for practical remedies. Compelled by the evidence, MIT responded. Today , a new Report on the Status of Women Faculty in the Schools of Science and Engineering at MIT delivers the encouraging news that the process launched by these faculty women has made a lasting, positive difference for women faculty at MIT.
It is gratifying to see that MIT’s process has become a model for other institutions to improve conditions for their women faculty . The momentum of MIT’s research-based changes has helped women scientists and engineers at universities around the world advocate for equitable working environments that enable them to thrive.
This new report also highlights a number of areas where we still have work to do, from more fairly distributing service on Institute committees to enhancing training for faculty mentors. These recommendations echo several from last year’s Report of the Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity. Recurring themes in both of these reports reinforce the importance of our efforts to strengthen MIT’s culture of inclusion, so that everyone at MIT can do his or her best work.
I have enormous admiration for the faculty members who led the original study , for the many Institute leaders who have sustained the momentum since then, and for the women faculty who prepared this illuminating follow-up report. On behalf of the entire MIT community and especially on behalf of young women in science and engineering, I thank you for your important service to MIT and to the world.