Archive

Sleepwalking into Surveillant Capitalism, Sliding into Authoritarianism

We have increas­ing­ly smart, sur­veil­lant per­sua­sion archi­tec­tures. Architectures aimed at per­suad­ing us to do some­thing. At the moment it’s click­ing on an ad. And that seems like a waste. We’re just click­ing on an ad. You know. It’s kind of a waste of our ener­gy. But increas­ing­ly it is going to be per­suad­ing us to sup­port some­thing, to think of some­thing, to imag­ine something.

Social and Ethical Challenges of AI

One of the chal­lenges of build­ing new tech­nolo­gies is that we often want them to solve things that have been very social­ly dif­fi­cult to solve. Things that we don’t have answers to, prob­lems that we don’t know how we would best go about it in a social­ly respon­si­ble way. 

Forbidden Research: Why We Can’t Do That

Quite often when we’re ask­ing these dif­fi­cult ques­tions we’re ask­ing about ques­tions where we might not even know how to ask where the line is. But in oth­er cas­es, when researchers work to advance pub­lic knowl­edge, even on uncon­tro­ver­sial top­ics, we can still find our­selves for­bid­den from doing the research or dis­sem­i­nat­ing the research.

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Target Conservation Efforts

The smart­phone is the ulti­mate exam­ple of a uni­ver­sal com­put­er. Apps trans­form the phone into dif­fer­ent devices. Unfortunately, the com­pu­ta­tion­al rev­o­lu­tion has done lit­tle for the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our Earth. Yet, sus­tain­abil­i­ty prob­lems are unique in scale and com­plex­i­ty, often involv­ing sig­nif­i­cant com­pu­ta­tion­al challenges.

Applying Algorithms to Minimize Risk

The United States plants more than 170 mil­lion acres of corn and soy­beans a year, more than any coun­try in the world. And the pri­ma­ry mech­a­nism in the US that we use to sub­si­dize agri­cul­ture is actu­al­ly called the Federal Crop Insurance Program. So, the crop insur­ance pro­gram in the US is also the largest such pro­gram glob­al­ly, with over $100 bil­lion in lia­bil­i­ties annu­al­ly. So it’s a very big program.

Data and Oil

I come here today because I’m excit­ed about data but also because I’m ter­ri­fied. I’m ter­ri­fied that we are hav­ing progress with­out cul­ture in the world of data. And as we’ve seen with these failed indus­tries before, progress with­out cul­ture does not work.

Towards a Quantum Computer

From vast data cen­ters to mobile phones, the pow­er of com­put­ers con­tin­ues to trans­form our lives. But there are some prob­lems across arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, in the design of new mate­ri­als, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and clean ener­gy devices that they will sim­ply nev­er solve. So even if we turned our entire plan­et into a giant super­com­put­er we wouldn’t be able to solve these and many oth­er impor­tant prob­lems. The good news is that if we could build a com­put­ing device based on fun­da­men­tal quan­tum prin­ci­ples, we could.

Data & Society Databite #41: Ifeoma Ajunwa on Genetic Coercion

The mythol­o­gy of genet­ic coer­cion is thoughts that genet­ic data, espe­cial­ly large-scale genet­ic data­bas­es, have the abil­i­ty to pin­point cer­tain risk of dis­ease. They pro­vide agency to act to pre­vent such dis­ease, and it can be used to cre­ate accu­rate per­son­al­ized treat­ment for dis­ease, and it should also be entrust­ed with the author­i­ty to dic­tate the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the genome for future generations. 

Jen Lowe at Deep Lab

Almost a year ago, I put my heart­beat online, and along with my heart­beat an account­ing of all the days I’ve lived, and the days I sta­tis­ti­cal­ly have yet to live, along with my aver­age heart­beat for each day. So I was play­ing with the idea of pri­va­cy. Here’s this very inti­mate mea­sure, in a way. But I’m not wor­ried about shar­ing it because there’s not much you can learn about me from my heart rate.

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