For the past couple of months, we’ve been keeping an informal internal “mailing list” with interesting articles and events about anything to do with the internet and emerging technologies.
We thought we would start to share this list externally too. As this is still just an experiment, any feedback is much appreciated (What would you like to see more of? What a bit less? Any tips for articles or events to include?). Our first edition is focused around the launch of GDPR.
You can also sign up to receive the below list as a bi-weekly newsletter here (why not sign up for some new newsletters to help fill your post-GDPR inbox!). This newsletter is part of Engineroom, a Nesta-coordinated project which helps set the research agenda and vision of the Next Generation Internet initiative, the European Commission’s new ambitious flagship programme which seeks to build a more democratic, inclusive and resilient internet by 2052. Read more about the project here.
Some interesting reads we enjoyed
- The Internet of Women: The #MeToo moment isn’t just revealing sexism in the media industry. It’s also showing how the internet is “feminizing” the industry itself by Moira Weigel in Logic Magazine.
- Europe the superpower: G.D.P.R., a New Privacy Law, Makes Europe World’s Leading Tech Watchdog by Adam Satariano in the New York Times on why the GDPR shows Europe is emerging as the global superpower when it comes to regulating Big Tech.
- Big Tech Monopolies: Tech Platforms and the Knowledge Problem by Frank Pasquale in American Affairs - very interesting essay by the always great Frank Pasquale on the Jeffersonian/Hamiltonian divide in how we treat Big Tech and its growing monopoly power.
- Deep Fakes: The US military is funding an effort to catch deepfakes and other AI trickery by Will Knight in the MIT Technology Review - the US DoD through DARPA is making moves to build new tech that can better identify “deep fakes”, AI-enabled manipulation of, for example, videos almost indistinguishable from the real thing (imagine, for example, a fake video which makes it seem a world leader is declaring war on another country). Why we need a better definition of ‘deepfake’ by James Vincent in Verge on why we need to make sure we have a proper definition in place for “deepfakes” that ensures the concept doesn’t go down the “fake news” route.
- Radical cities: Barcelona is leading the fightback against smart city surveillance by Thomas Graham in Wired - great read-up on Barcelona’s radical mayor Ada Calau and her government’s plans for citizen-centric tech. Includes a write-up of Nesta’s DECODE project, which wants to give back control to users over their own personal data.
- Scooter wars: Scooter-Sharing Brings a Weird Twist to the Gig Economy by Taylor Lorenz in CityLab - very fun and quite wild read about the economics emerging around electric scooter charging.
- China’s social credit system: China's social credit system has blocked people from taking 11 million flights and 4 million train trips by Tara Francis Chan in Business Insider - though China’s social credit system is still technically in beta, first numbers released through Chinese media show that doesn’t mean it’s not holding back with the “nudges”.
- Facial recognition tech: Though Sky’s facial recognition tool which helped users identify celebrities attending the Royal Wedding had its novelty charm, we predictably see the tech develop into less… quaint directions. Some examples this week: Chinese Schools are piloting face-recognition software to make sure students pay attention in class by Sidney Fussell in Gizmodo. Russia’s NTechLab has developed facial recognition tools that can accurately guess a subject’s ethnicity: A new ‘ethnicity recognition’ tool is just automated racial profiling by Paris Martineau for The Outline. What could possibly go wrong? We need norms and regulation: Few rules govern policy use of facial-recognition” by Tom Simonite in Wired.
- Future of Work: Work in the Digital Age by Policy Network - interesting collection of essays on different aspects of the future of work- from precarious jobs in the gig economy to the impact of automation. Interesting contributions from Juliet Schor, Robert Went and many others.
- Blockchain power drain: Bitcoin’s energy use got studied, and you libertarian nerds look even worse than usual by Eric Holthaus in Grist. Concerns about bitcoin’s excessive energy use disappeared from the headlines almost as fast as the drop in the crypto-currency’s share price, but lack of attention doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. This article describes the first peer-reviewed study into Bitcoin’s energy consumption, which the paper predicts will require more than the total globally available energy supplies by 2021 (even at current slower growth rates).
- Weaponisation of information: The Oxygen of Amplification by Whitney Phillips for Data+Society - new report by think tank Data+Society on how the media (inadvertently or not) has been amplifying the voices of far-right hate groups since the US elections, based on in-depth interviews with journalists and other media representatives.
Other bits and pieces we enjoyed
- Algorithmic justice: Incredibly interesting talk by IT for Change’s Anita Gurumurthy at the Data Justice Conference held at Cardiff University last week:
- Amsterdam City Council: On May 24, the newly elected council of the city of Amsterdam (a coalition of the Greens, Liberals and Labour) published it’s rather radical new plans for the next four years. We’ve translated the digital and participatory democracy policies they’ve planned for you:
Data ethics and the NHS: Interesting Twitter thread by the great Julia Powles on her ongoing dialogue with DeepMind: