Asst. Prof. Blase Ur Comments on Contact Tracing Tech for Chicago Tonight

As the world looks for safe strategies for living and working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, most experts point to widespread testing and contact tracing to rapidly isolate and treat outbreaks. In response, tech companies such as Apple and Google have developed smartphone systems that utilize Bluetooth to automatically retrace the steps of those infected and find people that were potentially exposed to the virus. But these approaches also raise concerns about user privacy and inequal distribution of resources. 

On the WTTW news program Chicago Tonight, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor Blase Ur joined (remotely) to explain this technology and discuss these issues. Appearing alongside Chicago civic technologist Derek Eder, Ur mentioned the technical and economic limitations that could reduce the effectiveness of this tech solution. 

“If the hardware, and even the software, is not up to date or compatible it won’t be possible to use the API,” he said. “And there is a very real correlation between the most vulnerable and those whose devices won’t be able to access this.”   

Ur notes that all one has to do is imagine the people they know in their family who aren’t using smartphones, and in many cases it is the older generation, who also happen to be particularly susceptible to the virus. 

On the privacy question, Ur also asked about what the “end of life plan” is for this system after the pandemic has been controlled, and questioned whether the companies involved could resist the temptation of adapting it for commerical uses.

“Will they say, ‘Oh well, it wasn’t so bad, why don’t we use it for advertising too?’ Once you build an infrastructure, it is not so easy to resist.”

You can watch the full Chicago Tonight segment here.

Related News

More UChicago CS stories from this research area.

Nightshade: Data Poisoning to Fight Generative AI with Ben Zhao

Jan 23, 2024
UChicago CS News

Research Suggests That Privacy and Security Protection Fell To The Wayside During Remote Learning

A qualitative research study conducted by faculty and students at the University of Chicago and University of Maryland revealed key...
Oct 18, 2023
UChicago CS News

Five UChicago CS students named to Siebel Scholars Class of 2024

Oct 02, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago Researchers Win Internet Defense Prize and Distinguished Paper Awards at USENIX Security

Sep 05, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago Computer Scientists Bring in Generative Neural Networks to Stop Real-Time Video From Lagging

Jun 29, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago Team Wins The NIH Long COVID Computational Challenge

Jun 28, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago Assistant Professor Raul Castro Fernandez Receives 2023 ACM SIGMOD Test-of-Time Award

Jun 27, 2023
UChicago CS News

Chicago Public Schools Student Chris Deng Pursues Internet Equity with University of Chicago Faculty

May 16, 2023
UChicago CS News

Computer Science Displays Catch Attention at MSI’s Annual Robot Block Party

Apr 07, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago / School of the Art Institute Class Uses Art to Highlight Data Privacy Dangers

Apr 03, 2023
Young students on computers
UChicago CS News

UChicago and NYU Research Team Finds Edtech Tools Could Pose Privacy Risks For Students

Feb 21, 2023
UChicago CS News

UChicago Scientists Develop New Tool to Protect Artists from AI Mimicry

Feb 13, 2023
arrow-down-largearrow-left-largearrow-right-large-greyarrow-right-large-yellowarrow-right-largearrow-right-smallbutton-arrowclosedocumentfacebookfacet-arrow-down-whitefacet-arrow-downPage 1CheckedCheckedicon-apple-t5backgroundLayer 1icon-google-t5icon-office365-t5icon-outlook-t5backgroundLayer 1icon-outlookcom-t5backgroundLayer 1icon-yahoo-t5backgroundLayer 1internal-yellowinternalintranetlinkedinlinkoutpauseplaypresentationsearch-bluesearchshareslider-arrow-nextslider-arrow-prevtwittervideoyoutube