November 12th Meetup – PLAN: An Open Source, Offline-First, Secure Communications Platform

Our speaker this month is Drew O’meara. Drew is the architect and lead developer at the PLAN Foundation and is a passionate advocate for community-centric FOSS technologies and platforms. Once a U.S. nuclear submarine officer, Drew also serves as CTO of SoundSpectrum, an audio visualization software company that has shipped software for 15 years, including licensing software to Apple Inc. Drew specializes in the design and engineering of real-time 3D graphics, communications, and distributed systems.

With the arrival of digital decentralization and encryption technologies, we’re closer than ever to a world where free, powerful, and easy-to-use tools allow communities with few resources to self-organize. Yet, our ability to freely communicate is increasingly and alarmingly dependent on a handful of data services and infrastructure providers; many of which are corporate entities, often with uninspiring motivations. Although these services offer value, fundamental questions arise: who owns our data, who has access to it, and what digital rights are assured, if any?

Introducing PLAN, a FOSS communications and logistics planning tool for individuals and organizations, making use of a unique technology stack. Under the hood, PLAN’s open plugin architecture integrates p2p/decentralization, end-to-end encryption, and IRC-inspired flexibility — all in a realtime visual 3D interface that historically only entertainment titles have enjoyed.

In this session, Drew will present PLAN’s technology stack and security model to ignite discussion around how they’re using “trustless” distributed technology to power tools for community organizers with limited resources. We will discuss forthcoming distributed storage and security idioms that are emerging in this new era of privacy-first and community-supported software. PLAN is currently in active development and is authored and supported by the PLAN Foundation, an Austin-based non-profit software foundation. Visit http://plan.tools for more information.

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

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PLAN – An Open Source, Offline-First, Secure Communications Platform

Monday, Nov 12, 2018, 7:00 PM

Capital Factory
701 Brazos Street Suite 150 Austin, TX

9 Activists Attending

Our speaker this month is Drew O’meara. Drew is the architect and lead developer at the PLAN Foundation and is a passionate advocate for community-centric FOSS technologies and platforms. Once a U.S. nuclear submarine officer, Drew also serves as CTO of SoundSpectrum, an audio visualization software company that has shipped software for 15 years, i…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/745230885816593/

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Smart Technology Policy – Leveraging Industry Experience To Create Better Laws

The rate of technological innovation accelerates at an exponential pace every year, and yet it seems the laws we pass to regulate these new technologies struggle to keep up, leaving our rights and the smooth functioning of our society at risk. From the abolition of net neutrality and demands for encryption backdoors in our secure communications to such outlandish and ill-advised proposals as link taxes and impossible-to-implement copyright filters, we see our politicians proposing policies that leave experts in their respective fields shaking their heads in dismay. The lack of elected officials with professional backgrounds and experience in the technology sector leaves our legislators woefully unprepared to fully understand the implications of the laws they are passing, forcing them to defer to well-funded industry groups who may not always have the public’s best interest in mind. To ensure that our laws around emerging technologies are written with the expertise necessary to enshrine and preserve our rights, it is vital that industry leaders in these fields answer the call to civic service.

Join EFF-Austin for a tech policy panel discussion on October 12th from 3:30pm-4:30pm at B.D.Riley’s on 6th with the Steven Kling for Texas Senate and Joseph Kopser for Congress campaigns, where we will discuss over beers how their backgrounds in the technology sector give them the knowledge and expertise to craft the laws that the 21st century will require.

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Smart Tech Policy Panel With Joseph Kopser and Steve Kling

Friday, Oct 12, 2018, 3:00 PM

BD Riley’s
206 E 6th St Austin, TX

7 Activists Attending

The rate of technological innovation accelerates at an exponential pace every year, and yet it seems the laws we pass to regulate these new technologies struggle to keep up, leaving our rights and the smooth functioning of our society at risk. From the abolition of net neutrality and demands for encryption backdoors in our secure communications to …

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/1806972862705910/

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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.