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News Clips - August 24, 2007

From August 17 to August 23, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 150 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Zipcar goes to college
The Wall Street Journal | August 22
For generations, carless college students have had to rely on their own feet -- or bikes, buses and friends' clunkers -- to get around. But, now, a new wave of car-sharing companies is giving kids easier access to wheels. ... Companies such as Zipcar Inc. and Revolution LLC's Flexcar -- which allow customers to rent cars for hours or days -- see a lucrative new market in students, a population that has been largely ignored by traditional rental-car companies such as Hertz Corp. and Avis Budget Group Inc. ... The car-sharing companies, however, are now cutting partnerships with schools nationwide ... Zipcar, the world's largest car-sharing company, says it is launching at between 10 and 15 new schools this fall, including Yale University and Carnegie Mellon University, bringing its total to more than 40. ... Carnegie Mellon, which has very limited parking on its urban campus in Pittsburgh, says it hopes its faculty and staff will use its Zipcar program and leave their personal cars at home. The university already provides them free use of Pittsburgh public transportation, but they often bring their cars to work anyway to run personal errands. "Some people love their car; they're going to take their car no matter what," says Tim Michael, the school's assistant vice president for campus services. "But if we can provide options like car sharing, it would give them a new opportunity to do the right thing: being sensitive to the environment, using more of a shared resource." Carnegie Mellon is starting out this fall with two cars: a Mazda 3 sedan and a Toyota Prius hybrid.


I, Robot
Business Week | August 20
Nearly one million robots are chugging away around the world right now, doing work that is normally referred to, in robot circles, as "the three Ds"—too dull, dirty, or dangerous to appeal to humans. But anticipating the day these machines take on white collar tasks, the great thinkers of the robotic world are cogitating a lot right now about kansei. It's a Japanese term that describes a group of perceptions and faculties currently beyond the reach of machines, such as intuition, pleasure and pain, curiosity, emotion, sensitivity, attachment, and creativity. ... For a rudimentary example of what an emotional robo-colleague might look like, meet Pearl, a lovely, red-lipped robot who resides at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh. ... Empathetic robots have not been much of a concern up to now. Who cared what a robot looked like when it was screening chemicals, painting Hondas, or exploring the toxic wreckage of Chernobyl? But the next generation of smart machines is meant to work beside us in offices, hospitals, and malls. "It has now become necessary for robots to interact on a higher level with humans to be of use," says Hashimoto. "Robots need to be tuned into human sensibilities." That will be especially true for the kind of robots that have long captured the imagination of the public—walking, talking 'bots with two legs, two arms, and a head that has some semblance of a face. This so-called humanoid architecture is not necessarily the most efficient robot design, but "the physical world is designed for humans. If robots are to exist in this world, they must move like humans," says David Bourne, a senior scientist at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute.


E-voting predicament: Not-so-secret ballots
The New York Times ( | August 20
Ohio's method of conducting elections with electronic voting machines appears to have created a true privacy nightmare for state residents: revealing who voted for which candidates. Two Ohio activists have discovered that e-voting machines made by Election Systems and Software and used across the country produce time-stamped paper trails that permit the reconstruction of an election's results--including allowing voter names to be matched to their actual votes. ... Lorrie Cranor, director of the Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, says that "you need to have mixing either in the recording of the orders of the voters or the votes, or preferably both." "Audit trails are really important, but so is privacy," she said. "Many of the vendors of (e-voting machines) have actually put ID numbers on the paper records, which also could be used to reconstruct which voter is associated with a vote."


Bernanke finds lessons in the Great Depression
Bloomberg | August 17
Ben Bernanke is a self-described Great Depression buff, which is a good prerequisite for his current line of work as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Whether the Fed was primarily responsible for the severe and sustained economic contraction of the 1930s, as asserted by economists Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, or just bears partial responsibility, is still a subject of lively debate among economic historians almost 80 years after the fact. ... Some economists who have studied the Great Depression challenge Bernanke's premise that the credit squeeze played a role separate and distinct from that of money. "It's a plausible story but it's empirically hard to find a separate effect outside the monetary angle," said Allan Meltzer, professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who is completing the second of a two- volume history of the Fed. "The monetary side brought the credit side down," as money and credit are offsetting entries on the bank balance sheet.


Wall Street wants rate cut now
Forbes (AP) | August 16
Financial markets to Federal Reserve: Cut rates ... now. With worries about credit taking the Dow Jones industrials down by sometimes hundreds of points a day the past few weeks, investors seem to be trying to force the Fed into giving them the interest rate cut they want - and well ahead of the Fed's next meeting Sept. 18. In good times, it's not readily apparent to the casual observer that the central bank is actually one of the biggest underpinnings of the stock market. But when the market is squeezed and wants help, it is often the Fed that gets the call for some sort of lifeline. ... But the central bank has by many accounts become more adept at its job, having learned from its mistakes. "In the past, say in the '50s, '60s and '70s, the Federal Reserve was perhaps responsible for a greater share of fluctuations in employment and in inflation than it is now," said Marvin Goodfriend, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and former policy adviser and director of research at the Richmond Fed.

Education for Leadership

Groups work to clean up Panther Hollow
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 21
Mary Schoen takes about 15 pounds of equipment when she goes to the lake at Panther Hollow in Oakland. She's not there to hike or walk her dog like other visitors. ... Schoen, a doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, is working with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to restore Panther Hollow to its former glory. ... Jeanne van Briesen, professor of environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon , is overseeing water-sample collection. She said she was looking for a research project for some of her students when the conservancy asked whether she knew anyone doing work in Panther Hollow. ... Two Carnegie Mellon University students, Mary Schoen and Amanda Hughes, have been collecting samples several times a week for the past two springs and summers. They start in the morning, usually around 9, and then take the water back to the lab at Carnegie Mellon for testing.

Arts and Humanities

Top young historians
History News Network | August 19
Scott A. Sandage, 43. Basic Facts. Teaching Position: Associate Professor, Department of History, Carnegie Mellon University. Area of Research: Cultural and Nineteenth Century American History. Education: Ph.D. Department of History, Rutgers University, 1995. Major Publications: Sandage is the author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America (Harvard University Press, 2005), which was awarded the 34th Annual Thomas J. Wilson Prize, for the best "first book" accepted by Harvard press. The paperback edition was published in 2006; a Japanese translation was released in 2007, and there are forthcoming translations in Chinese and Taiwanese, 2007-2008.

Information Technology

Phake phishers net real adversity
Post-Bulletin (AP) | August 18
The e-mail appeared to be a routine correspondence between two friends. "Check this out!" it read, then listed a Web address. But the note was fake, part of an online ruse called phishing that has become a scammer's favorite way to get sensitive information from unsuspecting computer users. ... But Lorrie Cranor, who directs an anti-phishing group at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, said controlled laboratory studies can be just as useful. ... The school has developed an online tool accessible only from its labs called "Anti-Phishing Phil" to lead participants through scenarios based on actual phishing attempts. The experiment hopes to determine which methods work the best at deceiving users. ... Cranor's research has found that successful phishing attempts rely on human vulnerabilities such as greed, curiosity, ignorance and fear.


Driverless car could take a spin at Castle
The Modesto Bee (Merced Sun-Star) | August 18
If you see a big black sport utility vehicle swerving across the grounds of the Castle Commerce Center, don't be alarmed when you realize no one's behind the wheel. The former Air Force base could serve as the test site for a new driverless vehicle prototype designed by a team of students and teachers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. ... "Our hope is to come to Castle, and we're very excited about that prospect," said Chris Urmson, the team's technology director. "The old base looks like a great place for Boss to show his stuff." The Carnegie Mellon team is preparing The Boss for the Urban Challenge, a November robotic vehicle race sponsored by the Department of Defense. To win the competition's $2 million prize, The Boss must complete a 60-mile suburban course in less than six hours without human guidance.


City getting serious about going greener
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 17
What began as a project to reduce the environmental cost and waste in city government became an imperative for all sectors of the city after a Carnegie Mellon University study last year showed municipal emissions to be a 4 percent slice of a pie dominated by residential, commercial and institutional emissions. These include carbon dioxide and methane. ... Rebecca Flora of the Green Building Alliance and Caren Glotfelty of The Heinz Endowments started the first discussions with Mr. Peduto, late Mayor Bob O'Connor and state Sen. Jim Ferlo. After Mr. O'Connor's death, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl became a co-chairman. ... Ms. Flora's students at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon researched and analyzed the data and wrote an inventory with recommendations. They chose 2003 as the base year for subsequent comparisons because it was the year for which they could get the most complete information.

Regional Impact

Initiative aims to make Pittsburgh 'greener'
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 19
The Pittsburgh Climate Protection Initiative -- a grassroots program created to help the city come up with a plan to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- is holding public brainstorming sessions in the South Side, Mt. Washington and Highland Park. ... The suggestions will guide the 31-member Green Government Task Force, a group of business executives, politicians, educators, researchers and environmentalists charged with creating a plan to reduce Pittsburgh's energy use. ... Pittsburgh generates about 6.6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to a study done for the initiative by Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. Researchers analyzed data on energy consumption and solid waste generation in the city.


Carnegie Mellon MBA class gets down and dirty
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | August 21
Seventy first-year graduate students in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University got as dirty as coal miners yesterday gutting four, century-old houses. Another 170 got rained on hauling pallets, pushing wheelbarrows, lugging mulch and collecting litter. ... It was the street-level component of a day rooted in ethics -- day one of Orientation Week at Carnegie Mellon . After a two-hour lecture on ethics and decision-making, 220 first-year students in Carnegie Mellon 's master's of business administration program and 20 in their second year fanned out to engage in good works. "Business relies on the community for its success," said Dr. John Hooker, who conducted the morning lecture. "If the community doesn't survive, business doesn't survive.


Ethics board to quiz Pittsburgh mayor
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 21
Pittsburgh's Ethics Hearing Board will question Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today about accepting two days of free golf from the Penguins and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at a celebrity tournament in June. ... "My forecast is that not much will come of it," said Robert P. Strauss, an economics and public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  Strauss said municipal ethics boards in Pennsylvania generally are "slow to act" and routinely avoid punishing public officials for ethical lapses because local laws, such as Pittsburgh's Home Rule Charter, give them little power to act.


PA university presidents sign anti-boycott letter
The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh | August 15
Twenty-four presidents of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including four in Pittsburgh, were among 300 presidents to call upon a union representing British academics to boycott their institutions if it persists in its efforts to boycott Israeli institutions. ... Among the Pennsylvania signatories are Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University.


U.S. Treasury plan backfires: IMF targets dollar instead of yuan
International Herald Tribune (Bloomberg) | August 23
The U.S. Treasury took two years to persuade the International Monetary Fund to police global currency markets - and just two months to trash the initiative once the IMF adopted it. Treasury officials recruited the Fund to be a currency cop as China and other countries meddle with exchange rates to gain a trade advantage. Instead, the organization took aim at the dollar, calling it overvalued in an Aug. 1 report. The Treasury objected, and on Aug. 2 an aide to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. told Congress that it was impossible to measure a currency's fair value. ... Armed with the Treasury's arguments, Beijing may now emulate Washington by rebuffing IMF attempts to alter its exchange-rate policies. China, along with Iran, voted against the fund's new surveillance program before Rodrigo de Rato, managing director of the IMF, introduced it in June. "The U.S. criticism will certainly weaken the authority of the fund to comment on China's currency," said Adam Lerrick, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "The Chinese are likely to argue that the fund is wrong about their currency, too, and point out that even the U.S. doesn't trust the fund's views."


The truth about why women are paid less- even if they ask for more
Guardian (The Washington Post) | August 21
About 10 years ago, a group of graduate students lodged a complaint with Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh: their male counterparts in the PhD programme were teaching courses on their own, whereas the women were working only as teaching assistants. That mattered, because doctoral students who teach their own classes get more experience and look better prepared when it comes time to go into the job market. ... In a final set of studies, Bowles's team had 367 volunteers play the role of job candidates and left it up to them to decide whether to ask for more money than they were offered. Women were less likely than men to negotiate when they believed they would be dealing with a man, but there was no significant difference between men and women when they thought a woman would be making the decision. The applicants, in other words, were accurately reading how males and females were likely to perceive them.,,330604788-111638,00.html


Caravaggio's anchor
Business Standard | August 20
Investors not only use psychological anchors to price assets but they also overestimate individual capabilities. ... But the problem does not end here with value anchors. Don Moore, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, illustrates the generally accepted conclusion that people believe themselves to be better than average, when effects are isolated to common behaviour and abilities, and that people believe themselves to be below average with respect to rare behaviour and uncommon abilities.


Risk is back
The Telegraph | August 20
Capitalism without failure, says Allen Meltzer, professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University, is like religion without sin. It just does not work. Measured against the stock market crashes in history, this one may not count as a failure, or even a crash.


Introspective security
Information Age | August 13
Trading in information is by no means a new phenomenon. The murky underworld of corporate espionage has long been a staple of novel writers and TV dramatists. But rarely has the corporate community freely acknowledged its existence, or indeed the prevalence of a more prosaic ‘leakage’ of information from organisations – public and private – that sees customer credit card details passed to criminals, customer lists and product designs sold to rivals and individuals’ identity details exposed on websites. ... This is a deeply problematic proposition. After all, says Dawn Cappelli, senior technical researcher at Carnegie Mellon Engineering Institute’s Computer Emergency Response Team, “you have to trust your staff”, not only to be honest, but to be conscientious. Reconciling this operational necessity with the ongoing requirement to protect an organisation’s most precious assets – its intellectual property (IP) and the customer and partner data it gathers – is not easy.