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Forbidden Research Welcome and Introduction: Ethan Zuckerman

As we dug into this top­ic, we real­ized research gets for­bid­den for all sorts of rea­sons. We’re going to talk about top­ics today that are for­bid­den in some sense because they’re so big, they’re so con­se­quen­tial, that it’s extreme­ly dif­fi­cult for any­one to think about who should actu­al­ly have the right to make this deci­sion. We’re going to talk about some top­ics that end up being off the table, that end up being for­bid­den, because they’re kind of icky. They’re real­ly uncom­fort­able. And frankly, if you make it through this day with­out some­thing mak­ing you uncom­fort­able, we did some­thing wrong in plan­ning this event.

Building Personable Machines

When Darius asked me to speak I had to think a lit­tle bit about what I would say to peo­ple who make soft­ware agents, which I think is real­ly real­ly cool. And to me, in think­ing about it, I think what is a bot to me? A bot is fun­da­men­tal­ly a piece of soft­ware that involves per­son­al­i­ty. And I’ve had a long-running inter­est in build­ing phys­i­cal robots that have per­son­al­i­ty of vary­ing degrees. So I pro­posed to give a talk about that.

Star Simpson at the Freedom to Innovate Summit

One of the most sur­pris­ing out­comes since then is to find just how many peo­ple I know who are engi­neers [have] had some expe­ri­ence with the law. It’s unbe­liev­able the num­ber of peo­ple who’ve come to me and said, Look, the same thing hap­pened to me when I was a teenag­er, when I was in col­lege, a lit­tle after.”

Hal Abelson’s Remarks at the Freedom to Innovate Summit

Maybe what we ought to do is start advo­cat­ing that hack­ing is a reli­gion. We can expand, right? We can car­ry around our lit­tle cir­cuit boards with lights and maybe extend to e-meters or something.

Jacob Appelbaum at Aaron Swartz Day 2015

Let’s not only lib­er­ate the doc­u­ments of the world, let us act in sol­i­dar­i­ty to lib­er­ate all of human­i­ty. Let us cre­ate infra­struc­ture that resists mass sur­veil­lance. Let us enable peo­ple to leak doc­u­ments. And let us also work to infil­trate those orga­ni­za­tions that betrayed us.

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