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.

 

Habeas Data Book Signing With Cyrus Farivar!

NOTE THE TIME CHANGE. OUR MEETUP IS ON TUESDAY EVENING IN OCTOBER, NOT MONDAY.

Our speaker this month is Cyrus Farivar. Cyrus Farivar is the Senior Business Editor at Ars Technica and the author of The Internet of Elsewhere. He is also a radio producer and has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, The Economist, Wired, The New York Times, and others.

Cyrus will be here to read excerpts from and sign copies of his new book, Habeas Data, about 50 years of privacy law in America. This event is presented in conjunction with BookPeople, who will have staff on hand with copies of Cyrus’ book for you to buy.

https://cyrusfarivar.com/blog/2018-book-tour/
https://www.bookpeople.com/

You are being watched. Whether through your phone or your car or
your credit card, caught on a CCT camera or tracked through your online
viewing history, government agencies know where you are, and are quietly collecting your most intimate, mundane, and personal information.

Is this even legal? Habeas Data shows how the explosive growth of
surveillance technology has outpaced our understanding of the ethics,
mores, and laws of privacy.

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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, inside the Omni Hotel/Austin Centre. We will be in the MobilityX classroom on the ground floor. If you need help finding it, there should be someone on duty at the Capital Factory front desk to assist you.

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 $18 to $7. Details: https://capitalfactory.com/parking/

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Habeas Data Book Signing With Cyrus Farivar!

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018, 7:00 PM

Capital Factory
701 Brazos Street Suite 150 Austin, TX

14 Activists Attending

NOTE THE TIME CHANGE. OUR MEETUP IS ON TUESDAY EVENING IN OCTOBER, NOT MONDAY. Our speaker this month is Cyrus Farivar. Cyrus Farivar is the Senior Business Editor at Ars Technica and the author of The Internet of Elsewhere. He is also a radio producer and has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Public Radio I…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/2118243351839528/

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May 14th Meetup – The Tyranny Of Contract

Our speaker this month will be Christopher Brown. Christopher Brown is an Austin-based science fiction writer and technology lawyer. He is the World Fantasy Award-nominated author of Tropic of Kansas, a novel published by Harper Voyager in 2017 that Cory Doctorow called “spookily prescient…timely, dark and ultimately hopeful,” NPR described as “a modern dystopian buffet…the nightly news with the volume turned up to 11,” and Booklist said reads like “Cormac McCarthy meets Philip K. Dick.” His novel Rule of Capture, the beginning of a series of speculative legal thrillers about a criminal defense lawyer in an authoritarian USA, is forthcoming from Harper in 2019. He has taken two tech companies public as general counsel, including Austin fintech company NetSpend, led the corporate practice in the Austin office of Baker Botts, and served as a staff lawyer to the Senate Judiciary Committee, experiences he now brings to bear as a solo practitioner focused on the representation of mission-oriented start-ups.

Website: http://christopherbrown.com or brownlawatx.com

Twitter: @NB_Chris

Christopher is going to be speaking to us about the tyranny of contract, about how click-wrap agreements and NDAs have subverted the emancipatory potential of the Internet, indentured its creators, and enabled our current dystopias—and how new technologies may help us build a new paradigm. In the words of Prof. Joshua Fairfield: “If courts won’t protect consumers, robots will.”

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

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The Tyranny Of Contract

Monday, May 14, 2018, 7:00 PM

Capital Factory
701 Brazos Street Suite 150 Austin, TX

21 Activists Went

Our speaker this month will be Christopher Brown. Christopher Brown is an Austin-based science fiction writer and technology lawyer. He is the World Fantasy Award-nominated author of Tropic of Kansas, a novel published by Harper Voyager in 2017 that Cory Doctorow called “spookily prescient…timely, dark and ultimately hopeful,” NPR described as “a m…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/170417760341121/

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