Are Facebook (and Google) public utilities?
The Anti-Dystopians #9 with Josh Simons
The Anti-Dystopians are back, and with a new spring look! (If you like our new cover and logo, be sure to give us a rating on Apple Podcasts or Spotify so we can let our stylist know 😉)
For this week’s episode, I talked to Josh Simons, a PhD candidate in Government at Harvard University and a Labour candidate for local office in the UK (who’s defending his dissertation next week!!). We discussed Josh’s research — what is machine learning and why is it (always) political? As our information infrastructure, should Google and Facebook be regulated as public or democratic utilities? And do we need a whole new understanding of corporations’ role in society if we’re going to tackle the tech industry?
Mentioned in This Week’s Podcast
Josh Simons (co-authored with Dipayan Ghosh) on Brookings Institute — Utilities for democracy: Why and how the algorithmic infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be regulated
Virginia Eubanks’s seminal work on Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor. Plus a review on the LSE’s blog
Cory Doctorow on How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism
Meme of the Week
What I’ve Been Writing
On the Minderoo Centre’s Blog Power-Switch, “Clubhouse in China shows that even “harmless” apps may put individuals in harm’s way.”
What I’ve Been Reading
Privacy International has been doing a series of really excellent long reads about the UK’s DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) use of surveillance and algorithms on benefits claimants
The Anti-Dystopians’ very own Kyra Jasper on CSIS about privacy issues with Singapore’s contract tracing app
Two great articles from Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman (who just won a well-deserved George Polk award for their excellent reporting on Facebook and the tech industry!). On Mark Zuckerberg’s personal involvement in Facebook’s “content moderation” policies Mark Changed The Rules: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures. And, also, Facebook Is Considering Facial Recognition For Its Upcoming Smart Glasses (the word you’re looking for is, “ARGH, NO!!!”)
If you’re wondering if the gig economy is still the worst, it is. Every single gig economy company that backed California’s Prop 22 has raised prices and also doesn’t provide healthcare, benefits or livable wages to workers
And the continuousness that is Amazon trying to stop workers from unionizing: Amazon Sends ‘Vote NO’ Instructions to Unionizing Employees, Tells Them to Use New Mailbox. (Follow Lauren Gurley for great reporting on tech labor news)
Remember how we had Mallika from No Tech for Tyrants on to talk about Palantir and the NHS a few weeks ago? Well, openDemocracy is suing over the NHS contract after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a trove of internal UK government documents about the contract . . . we don’t want to give any spoilers, but watermelon cocktails feature
For more humorous content, someone has created an eerie impression of AI Ethics conferences and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS has announced the creation of his city of the future (a line) with the energy of a tech bro announcing an underground tunnel
We Want to Hear From You!
If you have any recommendations or ideas for topics we should cover or folks we should interview, please get in touch to let us know.