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What Sci‐Fi Futures Can (and Can’t) Teach Us About AI Policy, open­ing and clos­ing com­ments

AI Policy Futures is a research effort to explore the rela­tion­ship between sci­ence fic­tion around AI and the social imag­i­nar­ies of AI. What those social mea­sures can teach us about real tech­nol­o­gy pol­i­cy today. We seem to tell the same few sto­ries about AI, and they’re not very help­ful.

Decentralize, Democratize, or Die

You might be more com­fort­able think­ing about deploy­ing math and code as your tac­tic, but I want to talk to you about the full suite of tac­tics that we use to effect change in the world. And this is a frame­work that we owe to this guy Lawrence Lessig.

The Conversation #64 — Peter Gleick

We have even in the United States seri­ous and grow­ing water scarci­ty chal­lenges. We have con­t­a­m­i­na­tion prob­lems with chem­i­cals that we have not ade­quate­ly reg­u­lat­ed here in the United States. We have con­flicts between states in the United States about who gets to use what water to do what. We have evi­dence that cli­mate change is already influ­enc­ing water demand, affect­ing water avail­abil­i­ty, chang­ing extreme events. There are a whole suite of water‐related prob­lems, here, unre­lat­ed to these basic human need chal­lenges that’re press­ing in oth­er parts of the world.

REACT to Close the Digital Gender Divide

I found that research glob­al­ly is point­ing out that women are 50% less like­ly to be con­nect­ed to the Internet. And not just that. Even when they’re con­nect­ed they’re 30 to 50% less like­ly to use it for per­son­al empow­er­ment. So much for Web For All, right?

Your Body is a Honeypot
Loving Out Loud When There’s No Place to Hide

We have to ask who’s cre­at­ing this tech­nol­o­gy and who ben­e­fits from it. Who should have the right to col­lect and use infor­ma­tion about our faces and our bod­ies? What are the mech­a­nisms of con­trol? We have gov­ern­ment con­trol on the one hand, cap­i­tal­ism on the oth­er hand, and this murky grey zone between who’s build­ing the tech­nol­o­gy, who’s cap­tur­ing, and who’s ben­e­fit­ing from it.

Discovering Health Innovations in Humanitarian Settings

During the war in Afghanistan, the mil­i­tary decid­ed to air drop food pack­ages as part of its win­ning hearts and minds cam­paign. Unfortunately, the food pack­ages were very sim­i­lar in appear­ance to the clus­ter bombs they were drop­ping at the same time. If mil­i­tary decision‐makers had spo­ken to com­mu­ni­ties, aid work­ers, mil­i­tary per­son­nel on the ground, they’d have fig­ured out there were smarter ways to deliv­er food and win the trust of the Afghan peo­ple.

Forbidden Research: Messing with Nature Part I: Genetics

When it comes to a field as fast‐moving and as high of stakes as genet­ic engi­neer­ing, how do we pro­ceed wise­ly? How do we bal­ance our own wild­ness and civil­i­ty as we devel­op increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful ways to inter­act with the liv­ing world?

The Conversation #17 — Laura Musikanski

What’s key…is that we all need to work togeth­er. There’s no way for all of us to know about each oth­er. We’re in that part of this new way of being that there’s too many play­ers. It’s too chaot­ic. There is no cen­ter, there is no hub. But we need to find ways to work togeth­er, and to lose the idea that any one of us is the solu­tion. Because if any one of us were the solu­tion, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

The Conversation #11 — Lisa Petrides

Obviously there’s human rights that have to do with water and air and safe­ty and shel­ter, but I think edu­ca­tion is right there with it because it real­ly is a pub­lic good. I have such a hard time with peo­ple who say, for exam­ple, who don’t have chil­dren and say, Well why should I pay those tax­es. I don’t have any­body in the schools. It’s not ben­e­fit­ting me.” And I think how can you pos­si­bly say that? Those are the peo­ple that are ser­vic­ing you, whether they’re ser­vic­ing your roads or your super­mar­ket or your med­ical offices.

The Conversation #6 — Jan Lundberg

If we are look­ing at what oil real­ly pro­vides to soci­ety, and what keeps us going for essen­tial ser­vices and goods, then our life sup­port sys­tem is in jeop­ardy. We are not prepar­ing for peak oil. We are not reor­ga­niz­ing our­selves for a degrad­ed ecosys­tem. So we are head­ing head­long into col­lapse, and this is some­thing that is not being dis­cussed. It is taboo to imag­ine that the whole growth scheme some­how comes to an end or that there is some­thing like peak oil that doesn’t trans­late into some tran­si­tion of renew­able ener­gy to make pos­si­ble a green con­sumer soci­ety with this lev­el of pop­u­la­tion.

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