Labor And Responsibility

Are employees responsible for the effects of their labor? 1,400 Google employees believe so, and have gone so far as to demand greater control over the company’s impact on the world.

“Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment,” they said in an open letter to their employer after recent revelations regarding project DragonFly. In the letter, they detailed oversight that would include an ethical review system, the appointment of an ombudspeople, a transparency plan and a publication of “ethical test cases”.

Similar in their response to Project Maven, clearly many Googlers don’t want to become direct tools of government or military power. But can workers reasonably expect to be able to determine the fate and impact of their production? The answer may depend on the nature of the industry.

In his techno-political article, Do Artifacts Have Politics, political theorist Langdon Winner discusses the politics inherent to technologies. “The things we call “technologies” are ways of building order in our world,” Winner says. “Many technical devices and systems important in everyday life contain possibilities for many different ways of ordering human activity.”

DragonFly is a direct concession to the practice of censorship. Its implementation into public use would perpetuate and directly enforce a blinding of the public eye to any information that Chinese authorities wouldn’t want their citizens to be aware of. If Google is willing to concede to such practices for China, then one could imagine them doing so for any other country.

Winner further discusses how practicality and efficiency of operation overshadows moral obligations. However, he also highlights the importance of a strong ‘public management’, when dealing with technologies and systems that could have a significant impact on quality of life. Any control over the flow of information will always have a significant impact on the quality of life. If any of the said employees are citizens of countries that oppose the Chinese government’s intensity of censorship, and refuse to risk such practices invading their own country, then by Winner’s logic, they would have every right to invoke and enforce a public management of Google’s products and practices. Including their own labor.

While employees in the tech field are speaking against the questionable practices of their leaders and CEOs, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act to the Senate on Wednesday, August 15th, 2018. Aside from requiring business entities in the United States to holistically act on behalf of the best interest of people affected by business practices, the bill also requires that 40% of directors for business entities be elected by employees.

For as long as information is available to a citizenry, it is up to them to determine what’s permissible in their country. If access to that information is somehow threatened, then their ability to take responsibility for themselves and their country is revoked as well.

 

August 13th Meetup – The Future of Internet Freedom: Why It Will Fail, and How We Will Save It

Our speaker this month is Dr. Brandon Wiley. Dr. Brandon Wiley is the President of Operator Foundation (https://operatorfoundation.org/), a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization founded to promote internet freedom, open communication and global internet security through technology development, deployment, and education. Operator develops hardware and software technologies to facilitate access to credible and relevant information and open communication around the world. Dr. Wiley is a well-renowned expert on peer-to-peer, decentralization, and Internet freedom technology. He is the co-author of the book “Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of a Disruptive Technology” and has spoken at numerous technical conferences, such as Black Hat, Defcon, and SXSW Interactive. He is a Google Ideas Research Fellow, an Open Technology Fund Rapid Response Research Fellow, and a member of the program committee for SXSW Interactive.

An ACTLab graduate, Brandon Wiley will be giving a talk titled: “The Future of Internet Freedom: Why It Will Fail, and How We Will Save It.” Dr. Wiley’s presentation on cyber liberties will span the theoretical framework of why cyber liberties and obtaining creditable news sources remains paramount in our current geo-political climate. He will also demonstrate custom designed wireless hardware devices created by The Operator Foundation that utilize the Iridium satellite network when internet blackouts occur.

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Join us for the discussion from 7:00PM-9:00PM, followed by drinks and camaraderie from 9:00PM-10:00PM at Firehouse Lounge (605 Brazos St).

Capital Factory is located at 701 Brazos Street, on the 16th floor of the Omni Hotel. Once on the 16th floor, there should be a sign at the front desk directing you to our meetup. If there is no sign, and no one is on duty at the desk, we are usually in the room to the left of the front desk.

Talk will be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/user/austintechlive

Parking for the Omni Garage can be purchased in advance using Spot Hero. This will allow you to obtain a QR code that allows for entry to the garage at a greatly discounted rate vs what you’d have to pay on-site. Details: https://spothero.com/austin-parking

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The Future of Internet Freedom: Why It Will Fail, and How We Will Save It

Monday, Aug 13, 2018, 7:00 PM

Capital Factory
701 Brazos Street Suite 150 Austin, TX

39 Activists Went

Our speaker this month is Dr. Brandon Wiley. Dr. Brandon Wiley is the President of Operator Foundation (https://operatorfoundation.org/), a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization founded to promote internet freedom, open communication and global internet security through technology development, deployment, and education. Operator develops hardw…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/438264756650687/

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Local Presentation on Net Neutrality

EFF-Austin President, Kevin Welch, will be discussing the importance of Net Neutrality on June, 28th, 2018.

Though a hot topic, it may help to freshen up on the who, what, when, where and why of the subject.

Who/When/Where

The idea of Net Neutrality was developed by American lawyer Tim Wu, in his 2003 paper, Net Neutrality. Since then, the FCC as adopted its principles and used them as guidance for regulating Internet Service Providers.

In 2017, FCC chairman Ajit Pai argued that Title II, another piece of legislation in the evolutionary line of Net Neutrality,  had hampered infrastructure investment. “Among our nation’s 12 largest Internet service providers, domestic broadband capital expenditures decreased by 5.6% percent, or $3.6 billion, between 2014 and 2016, the first two years of the Title II era,” he stated. “This decline is extremely unusual. It is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era.”

Pai and his cohorts proceeded to begin repealing Net Neutrality Laws that same year, thus bringing us to the ongoing battle to keep it alive.

Why

Essentially, the goal of Net Neutrality is to ensure that the internet remains a fertile grounds for innovation and growth.

Wu explains that in the habit of ignoring long-term growth ISPs have “shown a tendency” to ban new and emerging applications/network attachments, out of “suspicion or an interest in price discrimination.”

He stresses that ISP operators and prospect holders have a cognitive bias that makes it unlikely for them to come to the ‘right decisions,’ in terms of the development for the optimal path of innovation, that could minimize the excesses of innovative competition.

What

Net Neutrality is an attempt at striking a balance, as Wu states in the original paper: “To forbid broadband operators, absent of a showing of harm, from restricting what users do with their internet connection, while giving the operator general freedom to manage bandwidth consumption and other matters of local concern.”

Plain and simple, this translates to making sure that users and customers are able to continue using their service without ‘discrimination’ against their apps, programs etc, while ISPs are able to still police only their own local network.

Wu explains that ISPs have every right to police their local networks, but most importantly, that there shouldn’t be ‘restrictions’ across the ‘inter-network’.

Because of Net Neutrality regulations, we are able to freely and efficiently use the internet as the public utility that its become. Join us for our presentation, for these ideas help uphold the structure of the internet and its ability to nurture growth and development. Information on the event can be found here.