State Of The Rat Technology

While we’re on the subject of mandatory filtering, here’s the sort of technology we are talking about in action:

 

Root-causing regulatory failure

The European Parliament’s JURI committee passed on Wednesday a deeply flawed proposed amendment to the copyright directive that could break the Internet for almost everyone. It is just the latest in a stream of misguided legislation responding to the lobbying of special interests trying to triage the effects of the Internet on their expectations of wealth and control. There is still time to contact MEPs to avoid its damage – see https://saveyourinternet.eu/

While the putative targets of much of this bad legislation are US new-wave corporations — especially Google and Facebook — the actual victims are repeatedly the Europeans who are our best hope of countering this US corporate power; citizen-innovators. Far from gutting Google’s guns and foiling Facebook’s finagling, the new rules — notably GDPR and now the new copyright rules — give them and their peers unintended power over European innovators.

A root cause of many of the problems with British and European legislation regarding the Internet is a failure to recognise that, in the meshed society it creates, the citizen can play roles previously reserved for the corporation. I can create published works, I can directly fund new ventures, I can build global-scale applications and so on.

Believing these and other capabilities to only be within the scope of corporations, legislation frequently fails to observe the impact of regulations on individuals. Penalties are disproportionate, recourse is onerous or absent, restrictions are asymetric. Consequently, only well-resourced corporations can hope to fully comply — an exclusionary gift to the large and established players and a further smack in the face of European innovators.

To make significant progress with any “Digital Charter” of the kind the UK government purports to love, we first need to recognise that the Internet has created a meshed society of opportunity for all and not just a new market for the winners of the previous age to re-sell their old goods and methods. Until the legislators consult open source developers, self-published writers and musicians and other small-but-scaleable innovators, new rules targetting the Internet will only result in reinforced oligarchies.

Never Give Robots Guns

Never give robots guns. Guns are for killing. Robots can’t make analogue decisions and those are the only ones that should ever control the taking of the life of another person. Robots make quantised decisions, not analogue ones. The quanta reflect the programming, and the programming arises from the approximation  and modelling of a human view.

When a technologist embodies their or their employer’s view of what’s fair into a technology, any potential for the exercise of discretion is turned from a scale to a step and humanity is quantised. That quantisation of discretion always serves the interest of the person forcing the issue.

Calls for better robots that make better judgement calls are misguided and pointless. A robot that can successfully make life-or-death decisions is a piece of bad science fiction. Any technology that attempts to perform human judgement quantises discretion and inherently dehumanises culture. That technology should never have a weapon.

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Background reading

[Microsoft]: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/194338-here-come-the-autonomous-robot-security-guards-what-could-possibly-go-wrong
[Halting]: https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/halting-problem-proves-that-a-lethal-robot-cannot-correctly-decide-whether-to-kill-a-human-7c014623c13f
[3-Laws]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics
[Goedel]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorems
[Motherboard]: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/how-the-pentagons-skynet-would-automate-war
[DoD]: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=123651
[DoD-Paper]: http://ctnsp.dodlive.mil/files/2014/09/DTP1061.pdf
[Moratorium]: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-moratorium-killer-robots.html


[Onion]: http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-law-enforcement-robot-can-wield-excessive-forc,36220/

Blue Lights

Child me lit up for blue lights, wanted to ride them,
saw the freedom to break rules and drive fast.
Missed that they’re arrest lights – police and cardiac;
find fear; lose liberty; run away with life.

I don’t want to ride the blue lights any more.
Blue is for skies and ribbons, for eyes and summer dresses.
The blue lights drain colour from our faces;
presage loss; predict shorter life; pin sadness in each flash.

I don’t want to ride the blue lights any more
and I don’t want you to either.

 

April 9, 2017

Will You Become A Patron?

Is the answer to the “gig economy” patronage? I hope to find out using Patreon!

Turning silver into gold

The Gig Economy

We’re moving more and more into what’s called the “gig economy”, where instead of a single, full-time, lifetime-long job, people engage in multiple activities. It’s certainly what I have been doing for the last few years; consulting on open source, serving on the boards of a variety of civil society organisations, arranging and conducting study tours, writing for several publications, writing on my own sites, speaking at events and more. Few of those have been paid work. Continue reading

Responding To Post Truth Politics

In his article Understanding Trump, George Lakoff offers a master class in the psychology of the Trump phenomenon. It is definitely worth your time to read it.

At the end, he outlines a game plan for responsing to Trump which I think is superb. But I think it applies to more than just US politics; it’s a way to respond to post-truth politics anywhere. Here is a quick edit of the final section of Lakoff’s essay that generalises it for use anywhere: Continue reading

What Is An API? The Clue Is In The Name…

At the end of my testimony in the recent Oracle v Google trial in San Francisco, Judge Alsup asked me to explain what an API is. My answer aimed to simplify the answer for a general listener while remaining recognizable to most programmers. Here’s what I said. Continue reading

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