Author Archives: Rob Schaller

Uber bows before California’s power and parks its robo-cars

WIRED, 21 DECEMBER 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

Uber’s showdown with California regulators is over, and the regulators won. For now.

After a week of legal threats, meetings, and very official letters, Uber announced late Wednesday that it would park the self-driving vehicles that have been providing rides in San Francisco. Legally, the company had little choice, because the state Department of Motor Vehicles officially revoked the registration on each of the 16 robo-cars after Uber brazenly refused to apply for an autonomous testing permit. Tough tactics aside, regulators did extend a hand in friendship.

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Five ways AI could change your life

THE HILL, 24 DECEMBER 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

Artificial intelligence is unavoidable these days.

Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are all investing in building the technologies — long the stuff of science fiction — into their projects. AI technologies allow computers to use large amounts of data to make decision or to learn on their own.

The companies have been working to educate the public about AI’s capabilities and limitations in an attempt to fend off perceptions of the technologies rooted in movies like “Terminator” and “War Games.”

Here’s a guide some of the ways the growth of AI might change your life over the next five to 10 years.

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Can Training Really Stop Police Bias?

US NEWS, 29 DECEMBER 2016, FEATURING PROF. SETH STOUGHTON: 

The video is grainy, but the incident seems painfully clear.

A special forces operator stands in the middle of a room, tense, when an assailant lunges at his sidearm. The operator strikes him in the head, knocking him to the ground.

As the man lies on his back, the operator opens fire, first two rounds then a third.

It’s over in six seconds. 

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Ellefson receives 2016 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Alumna Anne S. Ellefson (1979) was named the 2016 recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in September. The award is presented annually to an outstanding alumna or alumnus who has given service to his or her fellow man beyond that required by his or her job or profession. Ellefson, a former president of the South Carolina Bar, is the Deputy General Counsel for Academic and Community Affairs for the Greenville Health System.  She graduated from the university with her bachelors in 1976 before attending the School of Law.

Named for the great humanitarian and philanthropist, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award was established in 1926 and is awarded by the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.

Could self-driving cars be one solution to police shootings during traffic stops?

-WASHINGTON POST, 12 JULY 2016, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

The shooting death of Philando Castile in a St. Paul suburb last week started out as a police traffic stop for a broken taillight.

It’s a familiar refrain when it comes to officer-involved shootings that result in the deaths of black men and women around the country: A traffic stop – a seemingly routine interaction between police and civilians – swiftly escalates to a lethal altercation.

Of the more than 1,500 fatal shootings by police in the United States since the beginning of 2015, 11 percent started out as traffic stops, according to the Washington Post’s police shootings database. Of those people who died at traffic stops, 34 percent were black.

But what if traffic stops ceased to occur at all? <Read More>

Families of Charleston church shooting victims, survivors sue the FBI

-THE STATE, 1 JULY 2016, FEAT. PROF. KENNETH GAINES:

Relatives of the victims and survivors of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston are suing the federal government for failing to prevent the sale of a gun used in the slayings of nine parishioners.

Five survivors and five families of those killed are faulting the government, claiming the FBI should have denied the sale of a gun to alleged shooter Dylann Roof because of his criminal history. Complaints for wrongful death and negligence were filed Thursday.

Had the sale been denied, “it would have prevented the foreseeable harm to those people affected by Dylann Roof’s use of the obtained handgun,” according to the complaint. <Read More>

Man who struck cop on I-126 was Uber driver, lawyer says

-THE STATE, 5 JULY 2016, FEAT. PROF. JOE SEINER:

A driver who struck a Columbia cop on Interstate 126 in May was logged in to the Uber app at the time of the crash, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

Lt. Kelley Hughes told The State on Tuesday that the driver – Jason Bigby, then 28 years old, of Columbia – was logged in to the ride-sharing app when he struck Pete Conklin, a 28-year-old officer with the Columbia Police Department. 

Conklin had stopped on the Broad River bridge May 24 during evening rush hour traffic to work the scene of an accident. He was out of his patrol car when he was hit by a passing vehicle. <Read More>

Jail informant in trial over Chester killing: Snitch or crucial piece to conviction?

-THE HERALD ONLINE, 30 JUNE 2016, FEAT. PROF KENNETH GAINES AND PROF. COLIN MILLER: 

In the profession of prosecutors, the ultimate gamble paid off.

Using an alleged bad guy, an accused killer – his weapon a truck – to seek a guilty verdict in another murder case.  

It worked late Thursday afternoon – and an admitted killer went to prison for life with a push from another alleged killer.

Aside from a new 12-person jury seated this week, the only real difference between the April hung jury mistrial trial where Christopher Moore stood accused of murder in the shooting death of Chester councilman Odell Williams in November 2014 has been was the prosecutors’ use of a jailhouse informant in the 11th hour of the second trial. <Read More>

Judge grants “Serial”‘s Adnan Syed a new trial after finding issue with cell phone tower records

-NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 30 JUNE 2016, FEAT. PROF. COLIN MILLER:

After millions tuned in to revisit Adnan Syed’s 2000 murder case on the immensely popular “Serial” podcast, a judge will also give the trial another hearing.

Syed, who was convicted of a strangling death of his then-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, has been fighting for his freedom since the trial 16 years ago.

On Thursday, Baltimore judge Martin P. Welch granted Syed’s request for a new trial, on an issue surrounding a “cell fax cover sheet,” Rabia Chaudry, Syed’s friend and advocate said in a tweet. <Read More>

State regulators do nothing to sanction bad cops

-MIAMI NEW TIMES, 29 JUNE 2016, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

The grainy security video shows Steven Rodgers, a 43-year-old Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police officer, inside his Miami Edison Senior High School office. His silver badge glints against the dark blue of his uniform as he grins into the camera. And his penis is in his hand as he pleasures himself at work.

The footage — filmed in 2013 — soon found its way into the hands of a Channel 7 reporter and onto the airwaves, and it lives forever today on YouTube. Rodgers’ misdeed was outrageous enough. But the previously unreported aftermath is what’s truly a disgrace. <Read More>