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Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
Last week you had a chance to ask the Associate Chair of Research in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida, Juan Gilbert, about the Human Centered Computing Lab, accessibility issues in technology, and electronic voting. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
Internet Voting ?!!
by mtrachtenberg

Here are some questions for Professor Gilbert, regarding internet voting:

1. How will non-mathematicians know with certainty that votes have been properly received and counted?

Gilbert: What we do is called Televoting. It’s not internet voting the way most people think of it. Take a look at this video. You will see that the printed paper ballot is still the ballot of record.

2. If the security depends upon encryption, how will we know that encryption has not been broken by a secret agency with vast computing power? Further, how will we know that those involved in developing the encryption have not secretly offered back doors to such agencies, as has happened in the past?

Gilbert: The encryption isn’t the key in Televoting. We use standard encryption and could use more advanced encryption, but it’s not the key because the ballot of record is the printed ballot.

3. What will a voter do if they experience an election-day denial of service attack?

Gilbert: Denial of service attacks can be detected and terminated. There are many researchers working on this with success from my understanding.

4. How can we know that a vote has not been coerced if the voter votes from home (bullying spouse, etc...)?

Gilbert: Televoting is for military and overseas voters. However, there are many states that have mail-in voting, so this is no different than mail-in voting with respect to coercion.

5. What are the insurmountable difficulties with a paper-based election process that make internet voting desirable despite risks? Why is the United States no longer capable of counting cast ballots in public? It is clearly not the vast number of voters, since this is a distributed problem with a vast number of potential counters. What has become so broken among our pseudo-elites that this KISS approach is now considered so inappropriate?

Gilbert: I really don’t know how to answer this question. From my perspective, we use our technology to count the ballots and we do so in public, so it can be done.

Re:Internet Voting ?!!
by Anonymous Coward

Do you think either party will have enough political will to make internet voting a reality? Winning in politics in large part is about who can play the game best, do you think the parties will let the rules change?

Gilbert: I don’t know if they will change or not. I do the research to address societal issues, i.e. making voting more accessible, usable and secure for all voters. Once I have done the research, I share it with everyone and we simply state the facts and hopefully, the solutions are implemented. Only time will tell. Stay tuned

by Anonymous Coward

I watched your TED talk about multiple teacher single student learning. Has any further progress been made on the project or have you integrated it into any real-life schools?

Gilbert: We haven’t added anything new to it, but we have the platform and we can set it up. Our other projects have really taken us away from this project, but we are still very much interested in this issue.

Re:"culturally relevant computing or ethnocomputing"
by Anonymous Coward

You've said that you created the Application Quest program in response to the Michigan affirmative action rulings to help colleges keep diversity without giving preference to race. Are any colleges using the system or expressed interest? Have you had an backlash over your stance that the issue really isn't about race but about capacity?

Gilbert: Auburn University has used it, Clemson University is using it and there are others that I can’t name. We have used it in several pilots and in every case, Applications Quest (AQ) recommended applications that resulted in great diversity than the actual admitted applicants selected by the committee, the results were found in a fraction of the time and probably most important, AQ reached the same academic achievement levels as the committee.

People haven’t pushed back on my notion of the capacity issue. I think most people get it. For those that don't know about this; I have said that affirmative action, specifically, the use of race in admissions isn’t about race/ethnicity, gender, national origin, etc. It’s a capacity issue. Whenever you have more qualified applicants than you have available slots, offers, etc. you have to turn away someone who is qualified. If you could admit all of the qualified applicants, this would not be an issue. Therefore, I created AQ, which addresses the capacity issue and results in greater holistic diversity without preferential treatment to any attribute.

by Anonymous Coward

How much impact will wearables have on the accessibility of technology to people with disabilities? A smart watch is a lot easier to move around with than a laptop. Do you think these smaller devices will have a big impact or is this just another fad?

Gilbert: These devices are already having a huge impact for people with disabilities. The mobile phone has enhanced accessibility greatly with GPS, text to speech and speech recognition. This is not a fad, it’s reality and happening now.

Churn Rate
by Anonymous Coward

From what I can tell most of the work done at the Human Centered Computing Lab seems to be from students. Since this means a fairly quick churn rate does this make it harder to complete big projects or does the constant influx of new blood make up for that?

Gilbert: We work on things that address societal issues. Our students are excited to be a part of these projects and they keep coming. Plus, these students are PhD students; therefore, I have them for 3-6 years, so we do pretty well on keeping the projects afloat. The Prime III project is over 10 years old and I estimate more than 35 students (undergrad and graduate students) have worked on this project.

automotive interfaces
by DriveDog

Most of the recent changes I've seen to driver controls seem wrong-headed. So many require the driver to look down at some screen or closely-spaced identically-feeling buttons. Only a few decades ago, car makers began moving functions to stalks to put them within easy reach, but the makers' usage is so different that it's more confusing than ever, particularly in this day when people are more likely to drive several different vehicles in a single day. I like steering wheel-mounted buttons, but now there are so many it has again become confusing, and again, makers refuse to adopt any standard placements/usage. Can we have programmable controls that follow a driver from car to car, always working the way that particular driver prefers? Must we resort to voice control? I despise talking to my car or any other device, including my phone. Is there no solution until cars can be controlled by thought?

Gilbert: We like the idea of voice controls, but we have also considered something called MyDash. Imagine your dashboard being stored on your phone. When you enter the car, the phone connects with the car and loads your dash; therefore, you can take your dashboard with you. Now, this would require the manufacturers to agree on certain controls, but it’s certainly doable.

Perspectives on End-User Development
by TuringTest

With today programming languages, creating new new software requires learning a complex syntax with very specialized rules on how to combine words, even for creating very simple software (for example, web pages with trivial interactions such as folding and dragging items).

Some approaches to allow end users to build automated behavior exist, but they can only go so far. There are "drag and drop" interface builders for building web pages with forms, and graph languages for transforming data. But they only allow reusing pre-defined components which are built with traditional languages. Any behavior not supported by those components can not be added to the program.

There are also rule-based visual systems like Agentsheets that allow defining new behaviors without a strict complex syntax, but those are difficult to reason about when behaviors depend on several levels of nested rules.

My question is: what would be your preferred approach to achieve the goal of allowing end users build their own simple software programs? This assumes that we define "program" in a loose way, not necessarily in the traditional way but referring to any software artifacts for defining repeatable processes to handle information such as:
* building and classifying collections of related data, transforming the shape of parts of a document
* or for automation of actions in time (turning on and off lights and engines at particular times or in a pre-defined pattern, sending messages to groups of people that follow certain criteria under some triggering condition)...

All this without requiring that the user learns a scripting language or otherwise needs to form a mental model of how exactly the program's execution evolves in time within the machine components.

Gilbert: I don’t know if this is possible without an AI backend of some sort. What you are describing is an intelligent programming backend. Essentially, allow a user to specify the interaction and the system builds it. Interesting idea and I believe the drag and drop systems we have today work fairly well, but I don’t know if we will have a true AI backend that can write code using natural language input.
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Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

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  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday July 14, 2014 @01:49PM (#47449931)

    Denial of service attacks can be detected and terminated. There are many researchers working on this with success from my understanding.

    This guy doesn't know WTF he is talking about.

    DDOS will take down your upstream provider/ISP. There is no fixing it. You just have to wait for it to stop.

  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Monday July 14, 2014 @01:55PM (#47449973) Homepage

    I've got to admit that Televoting as described in the video doesn't strike me at first glance as a bad idea at all. I'd be interested to hear what holes can be poked in it, but I think using a human election official and engaging in live video interaction between the official and the voter, and allowing the voter to witness (via video) the ballot filled in with their choices going into a ballot box goes a long way towards addressing the complaints I have with other forms of internet voting.

  • It sounds like Application Quest is becoming the defacto admission algorithm to admit students at some public colleges. Where can we download the source and see how it works?

  • "Now, this would require the manufacturers to agree on certain controls, but itâ(TM)s certainly doable."

    Manufacturers opening up the vehicle bus, the network responsible for the actual core operation of the car, to cell phone apps? Laughable.

  • I've appointed myself spokesman for all those who don't want to talk to their cars. We still don't want to.

    MyDash carried on a phone, however, I can really get behind. I get to keep my interface regardless of the car, and it can look like anything I want. There could be a variety of customizable "themes" available. I like it. Makes driving my car to the store and back while I stay home easier.

  • I'm very sorry... Slashdot interviews tend to summon interesting people, with real answers to tough questions. This one, however, is quite disappointing. The answer for a half-technical questions should not be "go look at the nice video our marketing chaps did", but a explanation of the process, as thorough as possible. And if his answers are all like the one where he says, "mail-in voting is fucked-up as well, but people tend to accept it"... It is a clear no-go. If he is pushing the technical-social part

  • I don't see why paper and pen aren't used. Even this guy's voting solution boils down to a paper ballot.

    As for auto dashboards, I prefer them with discrete tactile switches and knobs. That way, my attention is focused on the road, where it should be.

    I admire the fact that some folks are looking at making improvements, but there are some instances where involving technology serves only to complicate matters.

    I may be older, but you can stay on my lawn if you wish. Just please don't make a mess.

  • I've watched the video. It seems to me that there could be easy ways to circumvent secrecy, since the printed ballot comes out of the printer unfolded, goes in full view of the room to be shown through the webcam, and is put in the ballot box again unfolded. A simple conspiracy between two different ballot workers/volunteers using a mini camera could be enough. Am I missing something?

The universe does not have laws -- it has habits, and habits can be broken.