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Bold Ambition: International Large-Scale Science

June 1, 2021

This report, Bold Ambition: International Large-Scale Science, describes the essential role of large-scale science initiatives, also referred to as megascience initiatives, for the U.S. scientific enterprise. It identifies best practices for building large-scale scientific collaborations in the future. 

House Arrest: How an Automated Algorithm Constrained Congress for a Century

April 14, 2021

The US Constitution mandates that every 10 years Congress should complete a census of the nation's population and use the data to reapportion the House of Representatives, ensuring that congressional representation remains proportional to the number and distribution of its citizens. However, in 1929, Congress passed the first in a series of legislative acts that substituted an automatic apportionment algorithm in place of direct action. The accepted history of this change to apportionment contends that it was a response to the shifting demographics of the nation, and that automatic apportionment was installed to prevent rural politicians from tampering with a process that promised to decrease their power.This report reveals a different history. By diving into the records of the 1920 census and the following decade of congressional debates, the report shows how the move to automatic apportionment was not caused by demographic shifts in the nation. Neither was it caused by a sub-standard 1920 census or by a scientific debate on apportionment methods—the other prevailing accounts. All of these were factors, but ultimately, the constitutional crisis was the result of an underlying decision to freeze the size of the House at 435 members—a move championed in the name of efficiency but rooted in further machinations over political power. The result is that even today, nearly 100 years later, we have a democratic system that is exceptionally limited, one where each American has one-third the share of representation of a century ago.

WikiCite 2018-2019: Citations for the Sum of All Human Knowledge

July 17, 2019

Wikipedia is the world's largest, most widely used online encyclopedia. Wikipedia relies on policies that put a premium on verifiability of the information it holds, a commitment to citations, fact-checking, and accuracy. How does the Wikimedia movement empower individuals to assess reliable sources and arm them with quality information so they can make decisions based on facts? How do we identify bias or distortions in the application of these verifiability policies? These questions are relevant not only to Wikipedia users but to consumers of media around the globe.Over the past decade, the Wikimedia movement has come together to answer that question. Efforts to design better ways to support sourcing have begun to coalesce around Wikipedia's sibling project Wikidata—the free knowledge base that anyone can edit. With the creation of a rich, human-curated, and machine-readable knowledge base of sources in Wikidata, the WikiCite initiative is crowdsourcing the process of vetting information and its provenance.WikiCite is an initiative aiming to build a comprehensive knowledge base of sources, to serve the sum of all human knowledge. This report examines the impact, key milestones, and reach the WikiCite community has achieved over the course of the past year (2018-2019).

How Might Restricting Immigration Affect Social Security’s Finances?

December 1, 2017

Most economists agree that immigration boosts productivity, raises the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and prevents labor shortages. In 2016, one in six workers in the United States was an immigrant. These immigrant workers finance a major share of Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) payroll taxes that fund Social Security. The restrictionist Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act proposed in 2017 would halve the number of green cards granted yearly and change the criteria for awarding them, moving from a largely family-based system to an employment-based one. The bill aims to raise wages for American workers and promote economic growth. In How Might Restricting Immigration Affect Social Security's Finances, the Urban Institute analyzes the proposed bill and concludes that the RAISE Act would shrink the number of workers by two million workers by 2030 and 8 million by 2070. As a result, it would weaken Social Security finances by reducing OASDI payroll tax revenues. Over a 75-year period, the RAISE Act would increase Social Security's unfunded obligations from $11.6 trillion to $13.1 trillion. Additional analysis finds that restricting immigration would reduce GDP and have only marginal impact on American wages (no more than 0.16 to 0.23 percent). The authors warn that policymakers should reconsider supporting legislation such as the RAISE Act as it would exacerbate Social Security's financial problems and do little to improve the wages of the U.S.-born. 

Governance of Dual-Use Technologies: Theory and Practice

May 10, 2016

The term dual-use characterizes technologies that can have both military and civilian applications. What is the state of current efforts to control the spread of these powerful technologies—nuclear, biological, cyber—that can simultaneously advance social and economic well-being and also be harnessed for hostile purposes? What have previous efforts to govern, for example, nuclear and biological weapons taught us about the potential for the control of these dual-use technologies? What are the implications for governance when the range of actors who could cause harm with these technologies include not just national governments but also non-state actors like terrorists? These are some of the questions addressed by Governance of Dual-Use Technologies: Theory and Practice, the new publication released today by the Global Nuclear Future Initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The publication's editor is Elisa D. Harris, Senior Research Scholar, Center for International Security Studies, University of Maryland School of Public Affairs. Governance of Dual-Use Technologies examines the similarities and differences between the strategies used for the control of nuclear technologies and those proposed for biotechnology and information technology. The publication makes clear the challenges concomitant with dual-use governance. For example, general agreement exists internationally on the need to restrict access to technologies enabling the development of nuclear weapons. However, no similar consensus exists in the bio and information technology domains. The publication also explores the limitations of military measures like deterrence, defense, and reprisal in preventing globally available biological and information technologies from being misused. Some of the other questions explored by the publication include: What types of governance measures for these dual-use technologies have already been adopted? What objectives have those measures sought to achieve? How have the technical characteristics of the technology affected governance prospects? What have been the primary obstacles to effective governance, and what gaps exist in the current governance regime? Are further governance measures feasible? In addition to a preface from Global Nuclear Future Initiative Co-Director Robert Rosner (University of Chicago) and an introduction and conclusion from Elisa Harris, Governance of Dual-Use Technologiesincludes:On the Regulation of Dual-Use Nuclear Technology by James M. Acton (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)Dual-Use Threats: The Case of Biotechnology by Elisa D. Harris (University of Maryland)Governance of Information Technology and Cyber Weapons by Herbert Lin (Stanford University)

The New Male Mystique

July 1, 2011

Examines the rise in men reporting work-family conflict, factors that put men at risk for conflict, and those that help reduce it, including supervisor support and workplace flexibility. Makes recommendations for workplace policies and public dialogue.

A Guide to Implementing Paid Family Leave - Lessons From California

February 13, 2011

Describes California's Paid Family Leave program and outlines key lessons from the legislative process and implementation in five areas: outreach and education, administration, employer issues, policy issues, and research, evaluation, and data collection.

The Legal Framework for States as Employers-of-Choice in Workplace Flexibility: A Case Study of Arizona and Michigan

May 6, 2010

Outlines the statutes, regulations, executive actions, and collective bargaining agreements that authorize flexible work arrangements, time off, and career flexibility in the two state workforces; the elements of model programs; and their benefits.

Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament: A Global Debate

April 20, 2010

Presents Sagan's 2009 paper calling for rethinking the balance of responsibilities and the relationship between articles in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with seven response papers by international scholars about how to pursue nuclear disarmament.

Age & Generations: Understanding Experiences at the Workplace

March 21, 2009

Examines differences in employees' perceptions of the quality of their jobs by generation, career stage, whether they have dependent care responsibilities, and length of tenure. Discusses elements of employment quality, including flexible work options.

A Survey of Attitudes and Actions on Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences

February 5, 2009

Presents results of a survey of American Association for the Advancement of Science members in the life sciences on their knowledge and perceptions of dual use issues, their role in reducing the risks of misuse, and the need for oversight mechanisms.

Older and Out of Work: Trends in Older Worker Displacement

September 17, 2008

This brief examines the issue of unemployed older workers. It examines the scope and impact of unemployment on older Americans. It also looks at individuals who must work to support themselves and their families and to maintain healthcare coverage before becoming eligible for Medicare. The brief was published by the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College in September 2008.