Listened The role of humans in the technological age from Radio National

Forget the humans versus machine dichotomy. Our relationship with technology is far more complicated than that. To understand AI, first we need to appreciate the role humans play in shaping it.

Listened Talking the hard questions of privacy and freedom with the Yale Privacy Lab podcast by Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing

Talking the hard questions of privacy and freedom with the Yale Privacy Lab podcast

Cory Doctorow takes a dive into the world of encryption, privacy and ‘free’ software. Always so many questions to consider.
Liked From Macs to iPods and apps: how Apple revolutionised technology by Alex Hern (the Guardian)
Even by the time of the Macintosh, Apple’s strengths were becoming clear. The company was not the trailblazer: the Apple II was not the first microcomputer, and the Macintosh was not the first with a GUI. Instead, it was the company that brought concepts to the mainstream. And that is what it did almost 20 years after the Macintosh, with the product that remade Apple and put it on the path to becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company: the iPod.
Bookmarked Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium by Craig Saper (The Atlantic)
Millions of publications—not to mention spy documents—can be read on microfilm machines. But people still see these devices as outmoded and unappealing. An Object Lesson.
Craig Saper discusses the rise and fall of microfilm. From its beginning in the 19th century to its demise with the rise of digital storage. It is always interesting to trace the history of particular technology, such as PowerPoint, PDF and email. It helps make sense where we are today.
Bookmarked 'Data is a fingerprint': why you aren't as anonymous as you think online by Olivia Solon (the Guardian)
More recently, Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational privacy researcher, showed how the vast majority of the population can be identified from the behavioural patterns revealed by location data from mobile phones. By analysing a mobile phone database of the approximate locations (based on the nearest cell tower) of 1.5 million people over 15 months (with no other identifying information) it was possible to uniquely identify 95% of the people with just four data points of places and times. About 50% could be identified from just two points.
Olivia Solon demonstrates some of the problems that we face with privacy. This touches on some of the challenges that Michael Golumbia addresses in his post on personal data. Both authors come to the same conclusion, we are expecting too much of the consumer.

via Ian O’Byrne

Liked Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet | John Harris by John Harris (the Guardian)
Whatever its other ethical contortions, Silicon Valley has an environmental conscience. Facebook has pledged to, sooner or later, power its operations using “100% clean and renewable energy”. Google says it has already achieved that goal. So does Apple. Yet even if you factor in efficiency improvements, beneath many of these claims lies a reality in which the vast and constant demand for power means such companies inevitably use energy generated by fossil fuels, and then atone for it using the often questionable practice of carbon offsetting.
Harris also touches on James Bridle’s new book.
Replied to The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it | Brett Scott by Brett Scott (the Guardian)
Financial institutions are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash, ATMs and branches. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative. They seek to make people “learn” that they want digital, and then “choose” it.
I also feel that if everything is done by card then it makes it easier to profile users.
Liked Facial Recognition Technology Has No Place in Schools by Doug Levin (
Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother, was intended as an act of science fiction, not a prediction. Other countries – like China and the UK – are already moving down the path of facial recognition in schools. In the U.S., we would do well to follow a different path.