We’re building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren’t even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.
Tagged with “government” (13)
Code for America was founded in 02009 by Jennifer Pahlka “to make government work better for the people and by the people in the 21st century.”
The organization started a movement to modernize government for a digital age which has now spread from cities to counties to states, and now, most visibly, to the federal government, where Jennifer served at the White House as US Deputy Chief Technology Officer. There she helped start the United States Digital Service, known as "Obama’s stealth startup."
Now that thousands of people from "metaphysical Silicon Valley" are working for and with government, what have we learned? Can government actually be fixed to serve citizens better—especially the neediest? Why does change in government happen so slowly?
Before founding Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka co-created the Web 2.0 and Gov. 2.0 conferences, building on her prior experience organizing computer game developer conferences. She continues to serve as executive director of Code for America, which is based in San Francisco.
Melissa Block speaks with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras about her new film, Citizenfour that charts her meeting with Edward Snowden and his subsequent revelations about government surveillance.
The NSA reaches out
Of her eight great-grandparents, seven were murdered at Auschwitz.
“So my family’s history burned into me a fear of what occurs when the power of a state is turned against its people or other people.”
Seeking freedom from threats like that brought her parents from Hungary to America.
By 1976 they had saved up to take their first flight abroad.
Their return flight from Tel Aviv was high-jacked by terrorists and landed at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
Non-Jewish passengers were released and the rest held hostage.
The night before the terrorists were to begin shooting the hostages, a raid by Israeli commandos saved most of the passengers.
Anne Neuberger was just a baby in 1976.
“My life would have looked very different had a military operation not brought my parents home. It gives me a perspective on the threats of organized terror and the role of intelligence and counterterrorism.”
When she later entered government service, she sought out intelligence, where she is now the principal advisor to the Director for managing NSA’s work with the private sector.
The NSA, Neuberger said, has suffered a particularly “long and challenging year” dealing with the public loss of trust following the Snowden revelations.
The agency is reviewing all of its activities to determine how to regain that trust.
One change is more open engagement with the public.
“This presentation is a starting point."
“My family history,” she said, "instilled in me almost parallel value systems – fear of potential for overreach by government, and belief that sometimes only government, with its military and intelligence, can keep civilians safe. Those tensions shape the way I approach my work each day.
I fully believe that the two seemingly contradictory factors can be held in balance.
And with your help I think we can define a future where they are.”
The National Security Agency, she pointed out, actively fosters the growth of valuable new communication and computing technology and at the same time “needs the ability to detect, hopefully deter, and if necessary disable lethal threats.”
To maintain those abilities over decades and foster a new social contract with the public, Neuberger suggested contemplating 5 tensions, 3 scenarios, and 3 challenges.
The tensions are…
1) Cyber Interdependencies (our growing digital infrastructure is both essential and vulnerable); 2) Intelligence Legitimacy Paradox (to regain trust, the NSA needs publicly understood powers to protect and checks on that power); 3) Talent Leverage (“the current surveillance debates have cast NSA in a horrible light, which will further hamper our recruiting efforts”); 4) Personal Data Norms (the growing Internet-of-things—Target was attacked through its air-conditioning network—opens vast new opportunities for tracking individual behavior by the private as well as public sector); 5) Evolving Internet Governance (the so-far relatively free and unpoliticized Internet could devolve into competing national nets).
Some thirty-year scenarios… 1) Intelligence Debilitated (with no new social contract of trust and thus the loss of new talent, the government cannot keep up with advancing technology and loses the ability to manage its hazards); 2) Withering Nation (privacy obsession hampers commercial activity and government oversight, and nations develop their own conflicting Internets); 3) Intelligent America (new social contract with agreed privacy norms and ongoing security assurance).
Initiatives under way from NSA…
1) Rebuild US Trust (move on from “quiet professionals” stance and actively engage the public); 2) Rebuild Foreign Trust (“extend privacy protections previously limited to US citizens to individuals overseas”); 3) Embrace Collective Oversight (reform bulk collection programs in response to the President’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board).
As technology keeps advancing rapidly, the US needs to stay at the forefront in terms of inventing the leading technical tools to provide public services and maintain public security, plus the policy tools to balance civil liberties with protection against ever-evolving threats.
“My call to action for everyone in this audience is get our innovative minds focussed on the full set of problems.”
A flood of QUESTION CARDS came to the stage, only a few of which we could deal with live.
Anne Neuberger wanted to take all the questions with her to share with NSA colleagues, so Laura Welcher at Long Now typed them up.
I figure that since the questioners wanted their questions aired on the stage to the live and video audience, they would like to have them aired here as well.
And it would be in keeping with the NSA’s new openness to public discourse.
Ms. Neuberger agreed…
This week on Tech Weekly with Aleks Krotoski we discuss the reasons behind a rush by the UK government to get new data laws on the statute before the summer recess of parliament. Aleks speaks to Jim Killock executive director of the Open Rights Group about the dangers of rushing such important legislation and why this might endanger our civil liberties and rights as consumers.
Aleks is also joined by the Guardian tech team in the form of Samuel Gibbs and Shiona Tregaskis to discuss Amazon’s recent application in the US to test out its drone delivery system Prime Air and Guardian games editor Keith Stuart give his top five tips for those who have just returned to the world of gaming and are nervous about picking up a controller.
Finally Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur meets Boris Sofman, founder of the robotics company Anki. Boris discusses the recent launch of his Anki Drive toy cars and why the technology running is not so different to the technology behind Google’s self-drive car.
Where do the boldest innovations, with the deepest consequences for society, come from?
Many business leaders, entrepreneurs, and libertarians claim that the private sector leads the way always, and government at best follows by decades and at worst impedes the process with bureaucratic regulations.
Mariana Mazzucato proves otherwise. Many of the most profound innovations—from the Internet and GPS to nanotech and biotech —had their origin in government programs developed specifically to explore innovations that might eventually attract private sector interest. Ignoring this entrepreneurial risk taking role of government has fuelled a very different story about governments role in the economy, and also fuelled the dysfunctional dynamic whereby risk is socialised—with tax payers absorbing the greatest risk—- but rewards are not. Mazzucato will argue that socialization of risk, privatization of rewards is not only bad for the future of innovation eco-systems but also a key driver of inequality. What to do about it?
Mazzucato is a professor of the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the subject of knowledge, and its relationship with power.
The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub — so why can’t governments? In this rousing talk Clay Shirky shows how democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.
Clay Shirky argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible — with deep social and political implications.
Kevin Kelly discusses 6 trends he believes will make the web look as different in 20 years as the web does from TV today. These aren’t super new ideas though, they are things that are pretty clearly here today already, but Kelly articulates them very well in this talk. I generally dislike attempts to definitively explain the future but I recommend listening to this talk for the effective articulation of principles like access-based business models, augmented reality and Natural User Interfaces.
Our long-term interaction with the web will be defined by six trends. These trends will will involve dramatic changes that will make computing more like what we are used to seeing in many of today’s movies. Kevin Kelly explains why he believes that soon the internet will beneficially surround us in ways that most users don’t imagine today.
In 2009, Apps For Democracy invited people to freely create applications using raw data generated by the federal government. Within 30 days there were over 40 working applications produced, and Apps For Democracy continues to be a success. However the 2005 L.A. Times wikitorial regarding the War in Iraq ended up at the opposite extreme in less than 48 hours, as debates turned into "flame wars" and indecent disrespect.
Clay Shirky discusses the difference between these efforts to engage the public, and briefly unpacks three important points to keep in mind when attempting to harness collaborative participation: The nature of the "Contract with the Users"; the need to accomodate the unpredictability of the users; and the danger of "Heisenberg’s press release".
Shirky also weaves in an experiment by Uri Gneezy and Aldo Rustichini published in The Journal of Legal Studies on how the absence of clarity or firmness of clarity affects users behavior.
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