Reading13: Intellectual Property

Reading13: Intellectual Property

I have to admit that coming into these readings, copyright law was something I badly lacked knowledge of.  I knew copyrights were weaker than patents and lasted longer, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they entailed.  Regardless, the idea of copyrights present an interesting juxtaposition for me as someone who supports innovation and progress.  I recognize the importance of protecting intellectual property as an incentive to innovate but also realize that collaboration is important and that much progress is made from people building off others’ work, so a delicate balance must be struck between strict and loose IP protections.


One of the most interesting debates related to copyright surrounds the practice of reverse engineering, or the reproduction of a product made from an examination of the product’s inner workings.  I was surprised to learn through these readings that “the fair use doctrine allows users to make unauthorized copies in certain circumstances.” In other words, people can reverse engineer products without permission assuming they follow certain guidelines. In general, legal precedence allows for reverse engineering as long as there are no license agreements preventing it and it is done strictly from studying and fiddling with the original product in an effort to produce a copy independently.  Copying actual restricted instructions would not be allowed under fair use (see Atari Games Corp. vs. Nintendo of America, Inc.).


Ethically, I think reverse engineering is permissible as long as the intended purpose is not to explicitly rip off the original seller.  In other words, if you are reverse engineering to improve your individual experience or add a positive contribution (something new), I believe you are acting ethically.  This has become a bigger issue lately with some companies like John Deere using the DMCA to argue that “consumers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy,” essentially meaning that “farmers receive an implied lease for the life of [a John Deere] to operate the vehicle.”  I think this is quite a stretch.  The DMCA was constructed to prevent theft of IP, not to prevent people from modifying their property to use as they see fit, and I cannot see why fiddling with the stereo of a John Deere to allow for more audio options represents a theft of IP.  Luckily, earlier this year, the US Copyright office clarified that such use is permissible (and it is even permissible to hire someone to alter such internal hardware/software for you).


However, I do not believe that the DMCA is a totally misguided law.  As mentioned, it was designed to protect intellectual property and it is generally effective at doing so.  For instance, it permits companies to use DRM (digital rights management), or access control technologies that restrict the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works, to protect IP.  I think this is a perfectly ethical way to prevent piracy and the illegal copying of IP, and circumventing DRM to copy such works for distribution is certainly not moral.  Though it would probably be illegal, I have no problem with people ripping a CD to get audio files they already own in a format they can personally use better, but impermissibly distributing such ripped audio is just blatant theft.

Reading11: Intelligence

Reading11: Indelligence

Artificial intelligence is probably one of the most exciting and promising fields right now due to the extraordinary amount of success researchers have achieved in the past decade.  It seems that every few weeks, news of another breakthrough comes out, and people are increasingly interacting with AI technology in their daily lives.  However, actually defining what artificial intelligence actually means is not completely obvious.  As a first pass, I would roughly define artificial intelligence as anything a computer can do that seems to require human intellect and/or intuition (for instance, recognizing that an image is of a dog and not a cat).  However, I do agree with John McCarthy’s caution that “once [something] works, no one calls it AI anymore.”  Though there are many exciting AI applications on the horizon, we must not continue considering AI as something only of the future because as I have noted, AI is all around us.

There is one thing, though, that was previously considered AI, that do not think qualifies.  Early “AI” game algorithms focus on brute force Monte Carlo simulations to pick an optimal outcome, such an approach to me does not seem intelligent.  I think for something to be considered AI, it has to do some sort of learning.  Given this restriction, I am hesitant to label IBM DeepBlue as a true AI system because although it is impressive, it does not actually learn anything.  In contrast, newer systems like AlphaGo and Watson learn from experience to improve qualifying them as intelligent systems.  Many ideas used in these systems have been successfully adopted across the AI industry, making them more than just gimmicks but exciting steps forward in artificial intelligence.

Though I think I have a working understanding of what AI is, I am extremely conflicted when debating its potential equivalence to human intelligence. I have qualms with both the Turing Test as a valid measure of intelligence and the Chinese Room as a sound counter argument.  I like the idea from the Chinese Room thought experiment that humans have a sort of working understanding of surroundings that a machine can never have, but I think the Chinese Room is an overly simplified case because it assumes that there is always a certain function that will be followed and discounts the ability for a mechanized system to learn from experience.  Therefore, my view is that the Turing test (including its equivalents for different tasks) is a valid measure of a machine’s ability to perform at or above human level for a certain task, but it does not necessarily mean that the intelligence it is displaying is of the same sort as human intelligence.

In this vain, I do not think that a machine can ever be thought of as possessing actual morality.  Though it may have to make decisions that seem like moral decisions, these decisions will be made to optimize some result or fulfill some rule and not to actually follow innate understood morals.  Because I have this view, I am not that worried about the prospect of AI taking over. I agree that we should be careful not to build AI systems with the potential to independently reach an “optimized state” that is harmful to us, I don’t think we are anywhere near a world where machines will consciously and malevolently take over.

Reading10: Fake News

Reading10: Fake News

I believe there is little doubt that discord spawned by fake and misleading news on social media is one of the great issues of our day.  Before the advent of the Internet and social media platforms, people generally got their news from trusted news providers like newspapers, magazines, and TV stations.  While some of these media undoubtedly have certain partisan slants, they generally do not spread blatantly false stories (and tend to admit errors when they are found to have done so).  With social media, news no longer has to come directly from these trusted providers in the established media – it can come from anyone.  This has led to people increasingly viewing content shared and “liked” by their friends, which is problematic for two reasons.  First, people are more likely to believe things their friends share than a stranger (particularly those less educated on how news works).  This makes it easier for a questionable news story to gain credibility when something shared by someone’s friend’s friend’s friend eventually reaches them.  Second, people tend to share somewhat similar views to their friends, so the spreading of content through different social media circles can create echo chambers where people only hear what they want to hear, which increases discord by accentuating extreme positions at the expense of moderation.

Personally, I am acutely aware of these issues and have taken concrete steps to ensure I do not succumb to fake news or a political echo chamber.  When I was in high school, my Facebook feed definitely looked quite one sided and contained some content of questionable validity, but since then, I have actively tried to shift this by unfollowing accounts that are egregiously one-sided, following news sources known to have different political leanings, and unfollowing any accounts that share content I deem to be probably made up.  This has definitely greatly improved the quality of content on my feed, but I still recognize that I could be stuck in an echo bubble so I make a point to read news from as many different sources as possible, even turning to international news to give me as balanced a perspective as possible.  Being properly informed is a huge priority for me, and taking these steps has certainly helped me to achieve that end and is my way of avoiding entry into a “post-fact” world.

However, I know that not everyone shares the same caution – particularly those who are not as well informed or educated.  This can lead to massive problems from swaying elections to inspiring killings.  I agree with Kathleen Jamieson that “Russian trolls helped elect” President Trump through a coordinated campaign to spread fake news.  Even if Trump would have won without the foreign help, the possibility that an adversary could use social media to attempt to sway a US election is extremely troubling.  Even scarier is the way social media has promoted the genocide of the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar, where a horrifying amount of hate speech has spread throughout Facebook promoting their slaughter.  In cases like these, I believe social media companies have the responsibility to filter out offensive, false, and dangerous content.  However, I am definitely somewhat uncomfortable with giving them too much of this power because just as the Russians were able to use social media to achieve political ends, so could to technocrats leading these companies.  Therefore, I think a new law is needed regulating the standards for removal of objectionable content.  With such a law, the standards for unacceptable content would be set and it would become illegal to filter out legitimate views.  This would help social media companies achieve their goal of connecting the world without giving them too much power to influence events to their liking.

Reading09: Net Neutrality

Reading09: Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has always been a difficult issue for me. I usually tend to be skeptical of any sort of government regulation, but the idea of a multi-tiered Internet is not something I am comfortable with on the surface.  To be completely honest, my views on the subject tend to shift every time I think about it, so what follows will be the current iteration of my constantly evolving position.

According to Amy Nordrum in her IEEE Spectrum article, network neutrality is the idea that “ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast ought to deliver all online content to consumers in the same way, without granting preferential treatment to any particular content.” If net neutrality rules are enacted (they actually were by the FCC in 2015 before being repealed in 2017), ISPs would be forbidden from creating a system in which content creators would be forced to pay for higher speeds, which would essentially create a higher cost fast lane. The heart of the net neutrality debate centers on whether a multitiered system would help or hurt innovation.

I think there is definitely a strong case to be made that a multitiered system would be bad for innovation.  For instance, as noted in the Wired article, if internet providers blocked or severely limited video streaming in the mid-2000s, we might not have Netflix or YouTube today.  I agree that allowing internet providers to choose favorites is a definite threat to innovation.  However, I also agree with the argument that creating a fast lane is a completely reasonable practice with a lot of precedent.  Highways often have separate tolled lanes where the speed limit is higher, and shipping companies usually offer different shipping speeds at different prices.  Almost nobody is uncomfortable with those arrangements, so it is definitely reasonable to ask why the Internet is different.

Considering these arguments, I think I come out on the side of a limited form of net neutrality.  The scariest part to me about ISPs being able to price discriminate or even refuse to carry content is that it would theoretically give them the ability to suppress or promote certain content (or even speech).  Net neutrality would prevent this.  Especially given that the Internet is basically a requirement for modern life, I think all bytes should be treated equally.  And though I tend to be wary of more regulation, I think net neutrality is probably a necessity akin to antitrust regulations.

However, there is one element of full net neutrality that I think should not be implemented.  Some ISPs have created payment systems where their own content does not count against data limits.  For instance, AT&T does not count programs streamed through its own DirecTV Now service against customers’ monthly data limit.  I see no reason why a company should be forbidden from promoting its own content.  Under my version of net neutrality, AT&T’s program would be allowed, but it would not be legal for a different content provider to pay AT&T to have their content created similarly.  I think this would be a decent compromise to still give ISPs some freedom while keeping the Internet fair.


Reading08: Corporate Personhood

Reading08: Corporate Personhood

Put simply, corporate personhood is the concept that corporations should be afforded the same rights as individuals.  Importantly, this does not just mean that the individuals that own/make up a corporation should receive their individual rights when performing corporate activities; it means that the corporations themselves receive these rights as an entity separate from the humans associated with it.  This is an extremely powerful concept with far reaching implications.  Legally, at least as applied in the United States, corporate personhood means that corporations receive most, but not all, of the constitutional rights that individuals receive.  For instance, corporations are generally protected by the fourteenth and first (especially following the Citizens United decision) amendments but not by the fifth amendment. The most important legal ramification of corporate personhood is that it allows corporations to enter contracts and be sued/prosecuted – thus holding these collectives accountable for its agreements and actions.

However, the fact that corporations are not actually persons makes punishing them for wrongdoings somewhat strange.  You cannot jail an entity like you can a person, and even if you fine a corporation, the individuals within it will most likely be fine themselves.  Thus, it can be argued that because corporations cannot be punished in the same way as individuals, they should not receive the same rights. I do not agree with this logic because though it is correct that corporations cannot be jailed, they can be severely fined and even broken up and thus have strong legal incentives to not break the law (not to mention the desire to avoid a crippling public backlash). Therefore, I believe that as long as strong enough laws are in place to limit corporate abuses and these laws are actually enforced, corporate personhood should persist.

One interesting case study of corporate citizenship was the recent EU Google antitrust fine.  In July of 2018, Google was hit by a record $5 billion fine for allegedly abusing its Android market dominance in three key areas (according to The Verge): – “Google has been bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and it made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators to exclusively bundle the Google search app on handsets.”  I have mixed feelings about this fine.  On one hand, I am a strong supporter of antitrust legislation as I believe it is essential for ensuring markets remain competitive, and I think that competitive markets are the best way to protect consumers from corporate abuses.  I think that the second and third charges against Google probably do represent anticompetitive behavior, especially blocking phone makers from making devices running forked versions of Android. However, I do not think that there is anything wrong with a software company bundling one of its products into another one of its products.  To be completely honest, when I first heard about these fines over the summer I was quite enraged.  This seems like normal corporate activity, and I cannot see any reason why a company should not be allowed to do so.

Finally, I would like to address the question of whether corporations should be expected to have the same ethical and moral obligations as persons given that they receive most of the same rights.  While I would love to say that I think corporations should live up to a certain moral or ethical standard, defining this standard is extremely subjective.  When speaking of personal ethics, most people would say that not everything that is legal is also moral, and I think the same applies to corporations.  So no, I do not think that corporations should have to live up to a certain ethical standard – we should let the free market decide if a corporation is being unethical and punish those that are not.  The only standard that corporations should be forced to follow is the legal standard – just like individuals.

Reading07: Advertising

Reading07: Advertising

Humans are used to being watched by things like security cameras, speed cameras, and security officials themselves.  However, the recent rise of big data surveillance powered by machine learning presents something entirely new – the aggregation of small bits of freely provided information from an individual into an incredibly accurate portrait of their life and tendencies.  While frightening, such technologies offer extraordinary opportunities.  But in order for their continued use to be morally justified, a conscious effort needs to be made to educate people on exactly what information they are giving up, what it is being used for, and the capabilities of big data as a whole.

Most of the data used in this new surveillance is seemingly not invasive, so people have no qualms with its collection.  The issue is that people do not tend to understand what can be learned from seemingly irrelevant bits of data.  As the article on Facebook likes displays, bizarre predictors exist (such as liking curly fries being a signal for high intelligence), and the aggregation of such predictors can start to paint a creepily accurate picture of a stranger’s life.

The Target pregnancy advertising campaign illustrates the biggest problem with big data advertising– it tends to produce positive results using methods with which we are uncomfortable.  Though the following would not alleviate all concerns, better informing people that their data is being used for surveillance would at least eliminate the surprise many have felt when they realize their data is being used.  I think a big piece of the problem is that consent for data collection is often buried in the fine print that almost nobody reads.  This means that we are legally giving consent for our data to be taken without consciously knowing it, which I believe is a corrupted view of what consent entails.  I strongly believe that affirmative consent must be given for the distribution and use of someone’s personal data to be okay.  A positive change would be to force everyone to actively consent to data collection with some sort of check box reading something like “I acknowledge that the data generated by this action is the property of the Company and can be disseminated as the Company likes.”  The cost of not accepting these terms might be the inability to purchase or use a product, but at least this would ensure that everyone knows that their data is being mined.

We have already seen a concerted effort to regulate data usage in order to prevent abuses (especially following the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal from the 2016 US election).  In fact, the European community has taken the lead in doing so with its recent passage of the GDPR, which significantly increases the standards for the protection of consumer data and threatens stiff penalties for violators. Notably, it follows my insistence on informed consent and ensures that “companies will no longer be able to use long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese, as the request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent.”  Such regulation is exactly what we need to enable us to enjoy the incredibly possibilities of big data surveillance while maintaining respect for privacy, and the adoption of similar standards elsewhere is crucial as we move forward in our increasingly data-driven world.

The biggest counter-argument to a backlash against targeted advertising is that this advertising allows us to access content for free.  If we take the revenue source away from content creators and social media platforms alike, we will either lose access to the content or platforms or be forced to pay.  We see some of this happening with ad blockers, which are starting to create a tragedy of the commons on the Internet.  Everyone likes free stuff, and almost no one likes advertising, so anyone can get the best of both worlds by using ad blockers.  However, if enough people use blockers, then the revenue source is gone and the above will occur.  I don’t think there is anything unethical about using ad blockers, especially due to the privacy concerns I have raised and the fact that pages are figuring out ways to get around the blockers, but I think it is important for people to understand that content has costs.




Reading06: Snowden

Reading06: Snowden

Coming from someone who was appalled by the Chelsea Manning leaks, it should come as no surprise that I am not an Edward Snowden supporter.  Anyone who willingly compromises US national security as Snowden should certainly not be viewed as an American hero (and perhaps could even be labeled an enemy of the state).  However, there are important differences between Snowden’s disclosures and Chelsea Manning’s leaks that I believe make Snowden more justified than Manning.


Though he also released far too much data, Snowden showed far more purpose in assembling his leaks than Manning did.  Snowden felt strongly that the NSA surveillance program was both immoral and unconstitutional, and especially given his oath to support and defend the Constitution, he believed that the only moral thing to do was to come forward with the information to inform the public.  This conviction was only further justified when John Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence at the time, lied to Congress claiming that the NSA does not collect “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”  When a concerned individual like Snowden hears a lie like that and has been unsuccessful in his attempts to complain internally about the unconstitutionality of the program, it is easy to see why reporting seems like the only option.


In stark contrast, Manning showed absolutely no discretion and demonstrably less purpose in his leaks. She admitted that she was going through a very difficult period mentally while she was leaking secrets in an attempt to justify her actions.  Though there was certainly some troubling information in the Manning leaks, it does not seem as if the foremost purpose of her leaks was to combat a US injustice. If it were, then she could have simply leaked a few documents like the videos showing military attacks that killed civilian targets.  Instead, she indiscriminately leaked an enormous trove of data that put Americans in danger and left authorities struggling to protect them.


In the end, though I wish Snowden had done a better job limiting the scope of the documents he released, I am glad that he came forward.  I am inherently skeptical of the ability of any government to avoid abusing power, and in today’s age, information is power.  Therefore, I do not believe that the government should be able to collect data on millions of Americans without their consent or some sort of warrant.  Besides the fact that this is a clear violation of the 4thAmendment, it also places the executive branch of the government one step too close to authoritarianism.  As we now know from the Russian election manipulation campaign, a devoted party can do enormous damage when armed with information, so just imagine what the NSA would be capable of with their massive trove of metadata on Americans. Note that I am not advocating for surveillance programs to be shut down – they are an essential piece of our counterterrorism efforts today – but I just think that the government should have to follow the constitution that was put in place to restrain it.

Reading05: Chelsea Manning

Reading 05: Chelsea Manning


As a committed American, I was and still am startled by the blatant disregard for US National Security that Chelsea Manning displayed with her decision to leak top secret data to WikiLeaks.  While I am certainly not of the opinion that whistleblowing is always immoral, I believe that in this specific case, Manning was definitely in the wrong. Furthermore, I find her confession at her court-martial that she did not mean to put anyone at risk and had been “dealing with a lot of issues” when she decided to make the leaks to be a terrible excuse.  Regardless of her intentions or whatever issues she was going through related to her gender dysphoria, the effects of her actions were the same – she compromised the safety of Americans and foreign collaborators who were listed in the leaked documents.  Such an action is an egregious offense against the interests of the United States and should certainly be punished.


Those who defend Chelsea Manning typically fall into two camps, one of which has a much more rational position than the other.  The first camp justifies her actions based mostly on her status as a transgender woman forced to live in the macho environment of the US Military.  This position is absurd for the reasons I have already stated. Just because Manning faced significant personal doubts and hardship, it is not okay for her to lash out and endanger the lives of Americans and American collaborators.  I certainly do not want to diminish Manning’s struggle, but simply being a transgender does not give one the privilege to blatantly break the law.


The second pro-Manning camp has a stronger position.  They argue that the shocking content in some of Manning’s leaks made her decision the morally correct thing to do.  Regarding with some of the content she leaked, I think (but am still not 100% sure) that I agree with this position.  The leak of the videos of the 2007 Baghdad helicopter strike and the 2009 Afghanistan Garani air strike, both of which killed innocent civilians, could potentially be justified in an effort to keep the public informed of US Military actions and thus hold it accountable for such horrors.  However, these leaks went much further, and Manning seemed to place no filter whatsoever on what she released.  Manning released a trove of more than a quarter of a million documents. There is absolutely no way that she actually read through these documents, and her failure to do so shows a complete lack of responsibility.  If Manning had just found and released a few documents she felt the public deserved to see, then her actions could potentially have been justified, but the fact that she just unleashed a trove without reviewing it removes any possibility that she did the right thing, even if it turns out there was no threatening information in the leaks.  The fact that the Obama administration was scrambling to protect many people threatened by the info in the leaks going public only makes things worse.

Reading04: Codes of Conduct and James Damore

Reading04: Codes of Conduct and James Damore

Personally, I feel like the question of whether codes of conduct are necessary for companies is akin to asking whether laws are necessary for jurisdictions.  Just as laws should lay out a set of rules that citizens are expected to follow and the punishments associated with breaking them, codes of conduct should provide a set of expectations employees are expected to uphold and the consequences for failing to do so.  Such policies protect both companies and their employees by providing a written explanation of what behaviors are forbidden and precisely what will happen when violations occur, thus reducing the scale of potentially problematic gray areas.  This should comfort employees because it helps prevent arbitrary complaints from placing them in serious trouble given that the behavior was in line with the code.


However, the similarities between codes of conduct and laws do not just stop with their benefits.  Unfortunately, just as unjust laws can be enacted, unfair codes of conduct can be put in place.  Ideally, codes of conduct should include reasonable protections against violence and harassment without infringing on reasonable expression (and most do).  There do exist, however, some blatantly ridiculous codes of conduct that give all such codes a bad reputation.  For instance, the Geek Feminism Code of Conduct states “Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.”  While this may seem reasonable on the surface, it forbids some reasonable (and even some morally demanded) behaviors.  For instance, if someone on a message board stated that they needed a few hours before they would get back to work because they needed to shoot up heroin, it would be against the code of conduct to advise against this life-threatening behavior.  This sentiment is echoed in this anonymous anti-code of conduct blog(though I definitely do not agree with all its statements).  Thus, a code of conduct is only as good as its least reasonable requirement, and I believe that all codes of conduct should go through screening by a diverse set of individuals before enactment.


Before concluding, I wish switch gears and briefly discuss the controversial case of James Damore, the Google employee fired in August 2017 for an internal memo he circulated railing against the supposed ideological echo chamber existing at the tech giant.  Before any further discussion, it is important to note that Damore’s writing skills are exceptional.  This outstanding rhetoric allows him to relate even his most controversial ideas quite convincingly, so this is important to keep in mind.  That being said, I find most of his assessment to be a reasonable and even needed counterpoint in the liberal realm of Silicon Valley.  I particularly agree with his assessment that the conservative viewpoint has been silenced by political correctness.  I think a diversity of ideas is crucial, and such diversity is impossible if one side of the political spectrum is completely silenced.  However, where I think Damore went too far was his insistence that a major part of the gender gap in technology can be explained by biology. While I will allow that it is possible that certain psychological factors could predispose different genders to be more interested in certain fields, making blanket statements that suggest women as a whole are less suited to technology is both counterproductive and offensive.  So much more of the gender gap has been proven to come from environmental factors stemming from a child’s upbringing, that suggesting women are simply genetically less able to perform in a tech job is a dangerous idea.  Damore may be right that we shouldn’t necessarily strive for equality of representation, I feel it is absolutely essential to strive for an equality of opportunity and give any woman who wishes to enter the tech industry every chance to sharpen her skillset to make this possible.


Reading03: Immigration

Reading03: Immigration

In today’s hostile political climate, a rational debate about immigration is almost impossible to undertake.  This is an extremely unfortunate reality, as I believe the US immigration system is hopelessly broken and that such a rational debate is the only real way to fix it.  Regardless of what side of the debate one lies on, I think most would agree with my bleak assessment.  An immigration system that effectively allows millions to break the law without punishment is clearly not working.  Either the law should be changed to accommodate people here illegally or they should be prosecuted for violating the law.  Personally, I am in favor for some major changes to the permanent immigration laws, but my full position on this is beyond the scope of this blog.  Going forward, I will discuss my position on a program of legal immigration – the H1B visa.

H1B visas are meant to provide authorization for temporary employment in the United States for specialty workers.  In practice today, most of these workers are employed by the tech industry, with tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft being among the top users of the program.  While there are certainly many issues with the program (which I will go through), I first want to note that the worst thing we could possibly do on this issue as a country is to get rid of the H1B program entirely.  In the US, we have some of the best universities in the world, and these universities educate some extremely bright foreign students.  Equipping such students with incredibly valuable skillsets just to kick them out seems idiotic.  How could it possibly be advantageous for our country to simply train talent for our competitors?  Therefore, we should either keep (and probably expand) the H1B program in some form or disallow foreign students from studying here in the first place.  The second option would be devastating for academic collaboration and the exchange of ideas (and not to mention expensive for universities who rely on tuition from foreign students), so we should probably stick to the first.

That being said, the H1B visa program is far from perfect.  For one, it has been exploited by companies as a means for depressing wages.  Many companies have used the program to replace American workers with foreign H1B workers at lower salaries – something that is clearly not in the interests of skilled Americans.  Additionally, the random nature of the H1B lottery means that many deserving candidates are skipped over for these lower-wage “replacement” workers.  Replacing the lottery with some sort of Canadian-style point rating system and increasing the minimum salary for H1B recipients are probably two good places to start. I also believe that the program should be expanded by increasing the number of visas granted and making it easier for those on the visas to receive authorization for permanent (or at least long-term) residence.  This would help the US regain its competitive edge by discouraging the flight of talent elsewhere and encourage a continuation of the incredible innovation that our country has seen in the past several decades.