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Posts Tagged ‘trust

I am still surprised that there does not seem to be much discussion about use of TraceTogether (TT) data for secondary use. That is, how TT data for public health might extend to criminal investigations.

For me, such a move is like sharing your salary information with a trusted life insurance agent only to be approached by car sales folk or income tax auditors. Data for the good of one thing (customising an insurance plan) somehow gets used for something else (sell you something, investigate income).

What little discussion I have processed seems to focus on user privacy as enabled by technical and policy protections [1] [2] [3]. But these conveniently bypass an equally important and preliminary issue — permission. I elaborate on this after I reflect on what I have read.

Screenshot of the TraceTogether app.

One justification for using TT data for criminal investigation seems to be that the data is just another source of information. We might consider this part of the process of triangulation.

For example, a team that is investigating, say, an unsolved murder will look for as much information as they can to figure out whodunnit and why. The where, when, how, and what is the domain of forensics.

A modern forensics team will not just rely on possible witnesses. It might also look at video-based data (e.g., CCTVs) and digital traces to figure the who and they why. In this hypothetical case, digital traces might include data from a TT token or app.

A layperson with a rudimentary understanding on how TT works might realise that TT collects proximity (who was around and how near) and temporal (how long) information. A techie and technocrat would like you to focus on how difficult it is to get this information because of siloing and encryption. They would be right to focus on how TT has built in privacy measures.

But it does not take sophisticated skills to cast doubt on such information. How? My guesses are that a would-be criminal merely need install the TT app on someone else’s phone and have them walk somewhere else, or hand their TT token to that person to do the same.

Alternatively, the would-be criminal might give the token and app to two different people in different places so that s/he would seem to be interacting with very different people at the same time. This could call into question the validity of such data as evidence.

The validity of TT data can be compromised by technically unsophisticated acts. So just how valid and important is TT data for solving this hypothetical case?

In contrast, it would take sophisticated skills to manipulate video data or to not get recorded on video in the first place. Other than video evidence, there are other strong points for triangulation, e.g., data in the form of text exchanges, breadcrumb trails in financial records, etc. Do we need TT data?

That question is something the authorities might already have a firm answer to. It is probably safe to assume that most of the general population is not out to commit crimes while they have the TT token or app on their persons, so we are safe from that worry.

But we are not safe from an insidious erosion of privacy. Insidious because it is not obvious — the TT data was arguably only for COVID-19 contact tracing (i.e., public health safety). But because it has the potential to assist in crime investigations, it was added to the umbrella of overall safety.

Designers of artificial intelligence and information systems know how easy it is to abuse the personal data of people even when those people given permission for their data to be used. We need only recall the fallout that resulted from Facebook’s loose grip on data that led to misuse by Cambridge Analytica.

With a limited scope of information and imagination, I do not claim to have answers. But I still have questions. Did we give permission for TT data to be used for other purposes? Was it unreasonable to assume that TT data was only for public health safety? How sophisticated are we as a society if we let slide the secondary use of TT data? How much trust are the authorities willing to exchange for expediency? If circumstances change so that secondary use of data is critical, how might those with more power communicate with those with less?

The age of COVID-19 has pushed us to rely on technologies for remote teaching and learning. But how far have we pushed ourselves pedagogically? How have we actually changed the way we assess learning?

This Times Higher Education (THE) article started with the premise that the assessment of learning in higher education is often an afterthought that still takes the form of pen and paper examinations.

Traditional mainstays of assessment have failed in the age of COVID-19. This was evidenced by remote proctoring debacles and the abandoning of IB and GCE/GCSE exams.

According to the article, such dated assessment design is down to bureaucracy, i.e., administrative needs prioritised over student and learning needs. Students and faculty have little power (if any) to question the status quo.

A professor, Dr Jesse Stommel, who was interviewed for the article declared:

He and other interviewees were effectively suggesting what I like to call the pedagogy of trust (PoT). PoT is built on a foundation that students have varied life experiences, diverse needs, and a broad spectrum of goals.

Part of the PoT in assessment design might include more authentic assessments that are based on real-world issues, perhaps shaped by students themselves, and require meaningful opportunities for cooperation.

The article did not suggest how we might implement PoT in detail. To do so, faculty need to answer this question: Is trust mostly earned or created?

If educators think that students need to show that they are trustworthy first, nothing will change. There will always be some students who will cheat and take shortcuts. Ironically, they might do so because of university rules and procedures that assume that they are not trustworthy in the first place.

For example, students typically need to take an anti-plagiarism/cheating module and quiz that are both online because the university prefers an efficient and hands-off mode. Students soon discover that they can use more than one device and/or cooperate with one another to clear this administrative hurdle.

PoT starts with the educator: Opportunities for trust need to be created. This could mean taking the time and effort to be assessment literate, explaining the design and purpose of assessments to students, and counselling students who make mistakes.

Video source

This episode focused on how we might use artificial intelligence (AI) to augment ourselves to end human disability.

The first example in the video was artificial legs with embedded AI. The AI used machine learning to process a person’s movement to make the continuous and tiny adjustments that we take for granted. What was truly groundbreaking was how such limbs might be attached to existing muscles so that the person can feel the artificial limb.

The second example was improving existing abilities like analysis and decision-making in sports. The role of AI is to take large amounts of data and make predictions for the best payoffs. But despite the AI ability to process more than humans can intuit, we sometimes hold AI back because its recommendations seem contradictory.

We trust AI in some circumstances (e.g., recommending travel routes) but not in others (e.g., race strategies). The difference might be the low stakes of the former and the higher stakes of the latter.

The third example highlight how we might enhance our vision and hearing while increasing trust in AI in high stakes situations. It featured glasses that augmented vision for firefighters so that they could see is now or zero visibility. The camera and AI combined detect and highlight edges like exits and victims.

The video ended with the message that increased trust in AI will make it ubiquitous and invisible. But trust to be built, we need to remove ignorance, bias, and old perspectives.

AI can be a tool that we shape. But I am reminded of the adage that we first shape our tools and that our tools also shape us. This was true in our past and it will apply in our future.

Should you trust your gut feelings or instinct?

Video source

According to the research reviewed in this video, the answer is yes and no.

Yes, if the decision might have too many and complex variables for most people to process. This is a form of “fast” thinking that is an unconscious pattern recognition.

No, if the decision is a straightforward one or if it involves being empathetic to someone else. This is a form of “slow” thinking that is conscious and effortful.

Two days ago, someone I know reached out to me via a private Twitter direct message to ask for some advice. I offered to meet in person and we had a two-hour chat.

I realized that my contact could get better information from two other people I knew, so I offered to make connections while not promising that they would say yes. After all, I had not chatted with one of those people for a few months and the other for over a year.

I contacted one of them by WhatsApp and the other by email. I received replies within minutes while I was walking home. I had just enough time to compose replies to thank them and to make the connections by the time I got back.

When I reflected on why the two people responded to my request, I remembered that I also had the equivalent of two-hour chats with them previously. The time we invested in making connections built trust. The trust remained even though we did not connect regularly.

Some people, particularly those who charge by the hour, like to say that time is money. I say well-invested time builds trust. No amount of money can replace that.

I experienced a series of unusual evenings last week. These were not something I could do if I was not my own boss.


Last Thursday night, the TEDxSingapore Brain Trust met to discuss an ambitious project. We had met before and this was the first time we remembered to capture a moment.

Not all the folks in the photo are board (bored) members. A few were guests. But all wore their passions on their sleeves and had wonderful ideas. It is uplifting to meet people with positive and practical ideas for the future.

The next evening, I met a core group of #edsg members for a tweetup at a public space in Fusionopolis. We met to plan an informal online project we hope to implement soon.

Many thanks to @rachelhtan, first-time visitor and impromptu photographer, for the snapshot.

On Sunday evening, I attended the inaugural Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) as keynote speaker and judge.

I have not received any photos yet.

I also did not get to deliver my keynote as we were short of time and it was late. We had to make a decision for the good of the audience. But I might outline some ideas I had for the keynote in an entry tomorrow.

It was lovely to meet such passionate people at the event. I was very encouraged by the ideas and enthusiasm of the participants. It gave me hope for the future of education in Singapore.

It was a shame that there had to be winners and losers at the event. But this practice was still more authentic than a test.

In fact, I look forward to a day when tests become unusual and irrelevant fossils studied by future educators as something that plagued us and stunted possibilities.

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I have had a draft of this reflection sitting in Evernote for such a long time I cannot remember exactly why I wrote it. 

Let us say that you have a complex problem to solve. Some will lock down while others will open up.

One benefit of being strategically open is that it can create more transparent processes. This in turn can build trust.

Being more open with problems, ideas, or policies can result in greater feedback and critique. While doing this might result in slower implementation, you are more likely to get better inputs by crowdsourcing.

I think one reason some people do not like being open is that they fear that others will not understand the complexities of the issues at hand. But how are others expected to understand if you are not open in the first place?

Other times people worry that the process is messy and that being transparent is a sign of discord or weakness. But I think that it takes trust to build more trust.

You have to share some information that you might have withheld in the past. This leads to a more informed group that now knows the context, background, or the reasons why.

If you manage the situation well, it creates trust whether you succeed or fail during implementation. That trust is more important than the problem you tried to solve because it helps with the next problem.

Now I remember why it remained a draft. I was just rambling mentally.

Whenever people talk about the principles of managing change, you will invariably hear things like communication and leadership. You will not often hear about faith and trust as core change principles.

I am not referring to religious change management but to any change.

Before you have a track record for change, it takes a lot of faith for someone to give you the go-ahead to implement change.

Sometimes that leap of faith comes from an inspired or informed decision-maker. Sometimes the faith bestowed upon you is a matter of good timing. A change agent can seed the inspiration or provide timely information instead of leaving things to chance.

After establishing a track record, you might earn some trust for managing change. You can take on bigger or fuzzier projects because you can rely on past accomplishments. But I think that is a dangerous modus operandi.

Every change initiative, particularly those mediated by educational technology, can be different. For example, you cannot transfer exactly the same strategies and principles from a school initiated 1:1 programme to a BYOD programme. The desired end result might look the same (a device for every learner) but the journey is different.

In cases like these, you need faith in yourself as a change agent to keep the passion going and trust in your team that they will overcome obstacles.


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