April 11th Meetup – Rhythms and Collective Intelligence: The Neuroscience of Shared Intentions

Our speaker at our April monthly meetup will be David DeMaris. David DeMaris has worked in computer design software, computational neuroscience, computer vision, social robotics, music, visuals, theatrical sound design, and DJing. His Ph.D. work was on similarity and object invariance using time-varying oscillating networks.

David will be giving us a talk on the relationship between rhythms and collective intelligence, with an emphasis on the trends in the neuroscience of shared intentions. How does the brain coordinate diverse elements into intelligent higher level systems? Does the internet or goverment act like a mind? Is it sane or crazy? How should humans and AI relate? If the brain depends on rhythms, would rhythms make society and organizations function more smoothly?

The meetup will be at Capital Factory at 7:00pm on Monday, April 11th.

February 8th Meetup – Crafting Public Policy Governing the Use of Police Body Cameras

Our speaker this month will be Kathy Mitchell. Kathy is a volunteer with the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition working to require police to get a warrant to access cell phone location data. She was a policy analyst on Open Government issues for Consumers Union for several years and led public advocate negotiating of the last major rewrite of the Public Information Act. In 2006, she was the PAC Treasurer for a Prop that would have opened police misconduct records if it had passed. She has been in the trenches for more than 20 years trying to make sure the public can see government records and hold government accountable while protecting that same public from government intrusion in the form of unwarranted surveillance.

Kathy will be discussing the privacy and data retention issues surrounding the coming widespread use of Police Body Cameras both in Austin and at large. Very soon, Austin police officers will be equipped with video cameras (body cams) that will always be on during encounters with the public. But the city has yet to finalize a policy around data collection, data privacy, data retention/expunction and public access. There is a strong interest in public access, especially for video related to misconduct or incidents in which a civilian is hurt or killed. There is also a strong interest in privacy for everyone who may be the subject of body camera video. This talk will walk through some of the options that are on the table for an APD body camera policy that encourages accountability while also protecting privacy. We will also discuss the process by which such a policy could be enacted, and what will happen if we enact no policy at all.

A good resource for attendees to read beforehand: http://calibrepress.com/2016/01/barriers-to-officer-worn-video-the-ten-per-cent-challenge/

Legislation authorizing body cams and setting the legal framework for Texas: 84(R) SB 158 – Enrolled version – Bill Text

City of Austin APD Bodycam page

COA body cam vendor RFP, now closed but downloadable: COA Financial Services

Current body cam policy to be replaced by one that addresses key issues: http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Police/APD_Policy_2015-2_Issued_5-1-2015-updated.pdf (Go to policy 303 at page 125.)

Other references:



January 18th Meetup – Agoratopia: The Evolution of the Internet


What is the Internet’s future? Originally a research and development-focused network of networks, the Internet has evolved since the early 90s as an engine for commerce and platform for digital media, which is pretty much all media post-digital convergence. As social media emerged to support networks of conversation, sharing, and community, and as the commitment of mindshare shifted from mass media to shared media, marketing interests saw that they needed online strategies to capture attention and drive purchases. The marketing model has become so pervasive, it is influencing online behavior of “civilians” – as Doug Rushkoff noted in the PBS documentary “Generation Like,” “the teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media,” and teens are learning to market effectively to each other via social platforms. In all of this, tracking of behavior is pervasive.

Jon Lebkowsky will lead a discussion of this trend, the evolution of Internet as marketplace as well as participatory panopticon.