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.


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.


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.


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.

New Cryptocurrency At The Foundation Of International Seasteading Group

Blue Frontiers, an international seasteading organization is relying on cryptocurrency to support its experimental society, as they discussed at SquareRut, a local Austin Kava bar.

Varyon, the groups’ self-engineered cryptocurrency, is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which may serve as more than a monetary maintenance system. Josh Lopez, a Blue Frontiers engineer, suggested the possible use of blockchains for civic duties and participation such as voting and discussion. Lopez explained that this can help breakdown desires among theoretical citizens and ensure that each ‘citizen’ is able to have their voice recognized and integrated in the determination of their societal structure.

Seasteading is a new and developing phenomenon that is the use of large man-made platforms that act as artificial islands, sustaining cities and communities that exist on large bodies of water. The goal is for inhabitants to be able to live within their own nation state, independent of traditional governments.

One of the primary goals of Blue Frontiers is to give people more power over their society and governance and to be able to work with one’s fellow man to shape the world that they want to live in. A quintessential aspect of Blue Frontiers is to be a better option for people who feel as though the may live in a corrupt or unfavorable society. This is intended to be an opportunity for citizens to find the “historically functional components’ of government “and use them,” according to Lopez. “If it works, it works.”

It all begins with investing in that society’s currency, the current minimum of which is 1 ETH, according to spokesperson Nathalie Mezza-Garcia. “We are currently tuning our white paper so that our token supports features that can make this translation easier,” she explained in reference to purchasing Varyon.

Civic duty and participation go beyond discussion and the determination of abstract societal structures such as law. There are a variety of contributions to the preparation of Blue Frontiers’ ‘Pilot Project,’ which will take place in the French Polynesian Islands. While some applicants are currently working together to physically build and engineer the technology that will ‘keep them afloat,’ others are contributing in a variety of ways, from simple photography to collaborating with the the French Polynesian government to ensure a harmonious coexistence between their own community and the surrounding natives.

This is one of many budding instances of people or organizations using cryptocurrency as a foundation for the development of an evolved world. But how will the community remain safe from possible enemies? “Alignment,” Lopez explained. The French Polynesian government is already working with the organization, and there are plans to further outreach to other countries.

Technology driven civic duties, currency and ‘land’ structures aside, economic safety zones are one of the most definitive aspects of Blue Frontiers project, and could serve as their shield from danger. These areas will allow professionals from a variety of fields, from medicine to engineering, to practice their craft without regulations and rules that may hinder research and development in their original or home countries. Local natives will also be able to participate in these economic zones, experimenting and understanding technology and other products/practices that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

April 9th Meetup – Analytic Framing – When Machines Write The News

Our speaker this month will be Glenn W. Smith. Glenn W. Smith, a longtime journalist, consultant, and think-tank thinker, is currently holding seminars with journalists around the country on the power of framing in politics, especially framing in communications regarding the environment. The author of The Politics of Deceit, Smith now writes for the Austin American-Statesman and the Quorum Report. He used to write regularly for the Huffington Post (in its original incarnation!), and his work has appeared in the Texas Observer and other publications.

Smith was a senior fellow at cognitive scientist George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute in Berkeley. He co-authored several papers with Lakoff on the power of framing in what passes for our political “conversation.” With that background, Smith has been helping journalists better understand framing — that language can often carry meanings or unseen propaganda.

During these seminars, Smith encountered a new threatening trend in journalism: publishers and editors, in their efforts to attract eyeballs, are editing copy based upon analytics. In other words, framing is being turned over to machines. Human judgment be damned. It’s not that editors and publishers haven’t always favored popular terminology. Still, good writers and editors use their judgment to avoid passing along propaganda without filter. But, do algorithms care?


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 validated at the Capital Factory front desk, reducing the cost from $16 to $5. Details: https://capitalfactory.com/parking/


Analytic Framing – When Machines Write The News

Monday, Apr 9, 2018, 7:00 PM

Capital Factory
701 Brazos Street, Suite 1601 Austin, TX

24 Activists Went

Our speaker this month will be Glenn W. Smith. Glenn W. Smith, a longtime journalist, consultant, and think-tank thinker, is currently holding seminars with journalists around the country on the power of framing in politics, especially framing in communications regarding the environment. The author of The Politics of Deceit, Smith now writes for th…

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