Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | August 2019
We often hear that we are our data meaning that our digital information and interactions are increasingly replacing our bodily presence. But as we are becoming our data this data is becoming less ours. We can blame it on the Internet, the big tech giants and/or on our giving away our valuable information in exchange for email services and funny cat videos. The truth is that our data is incessantly collected, combined, analysed, sold, stolen, etc., and, despite everyday headlines about more or less creative uses and abuses of our data, we remain only vaguely and abstractly aware about when and how it happens. Well, it happens now and here while you read this post in your cookie-stuffed browser while logged into your several social media accounts and plugged into a multitude of unassuming but data-vorous mobile apps. It is said that privacy is dead in the digital age. I do not believe it. Even if it were so, I do not think it should be this way. So what can one do to safeguard some of their privacy online? Here are few practical suggestions based on common sense and a couple of hours of online research.
Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | Published on Verfassungsblog, Debate «China‘s Social Credit Sysrem» | June 2019
I agree with Wessel Reijers that social scoring systems limit political freedom and instrumentalise citizenship to impose social control. While technologies have always been used for political ends, the latest technologies relying on big data and complex algorithms offer uniquely powerful and highly effective tools to survey people, quash dissent, and reinforce an authoritarian rule. What is new is a wide appeal of technologies as ‘fixes’ for pressing social and political issues. Building on their ‘success’ in commercial sectors (banking and marketing), predictive algorithms and scoring systems are enthusiastically adopted by governmental agencies throughout the world to help making decisions in areas such as criminal justice, welfare, and border control. The Chinese Social Credit scheme is nevertheless unique because of its ambition to aggregate data from a wide variety of sources to provide a set of prescriptive algorithms for “good citizenship” that is backed by state coercion.
Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | March 2019
In August 1955, Isaac Asimov published Franchise, a short story in which a computer decides the results of the US elections after interviewing one single citizen. It is the year 2008(!) and Multivac, the electing machine, has chosen Norman, a clerk in a small departement store from Bloomington, Indiana, to be the single, most representative, voter in the forthcoming US presidential elections. The idea of a single representative voter is somewhat seductive. It makes sense from an economic point of view as such arrangement would help saving all the millions spent (wasted) currently on electoral campaigns and elections. It might also make sense from a theoretical point of view if you think of the one voter as the embodyment of the popular will (a la Rousseau). However, Asimov’s tale is not one of perfect representation; it is one of algorithmic politics.
On the first day God created stuff
On the second day God created humans
On the third day humans invented the computer
On the fourth day humans discovered data
On the fifth day humans designed AI
On the sixth day AI re-designed humans
On the seventh day [insert your hopes, dreams, frustrations, fears, etc. here] happened.
C. Dumbrava | A citizens with a view | 13 November 2018
Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | Published in R. Bauböck (ed.), Debating Transformations of National Citizenship, IMISCOE Research Series | 2018
In his thought-provoking kick-off contribution, Liav Orgad (1) enthusiastically embraces the idea of a global digital citizenship that could remedy some of the deficiencies of the present system of territorial national citizenships and, potentially, transform the meaning of democratic citizenship. Technologies such as blockchain could allow people to create virtual communities based on shared interests and sustained by instantaneous consent, beyond the reach of nosy governments and regardless of national borders. By widening access to rights, expanding political voice and creating more secure and diverse identities, digital citizenship could address current challenges related to the imperfect attribution of status and rights (statelessness, disenfranchisement), widespread political apathy among citizens and artificial divisions created by national borders. To paraphrase the text of a famous cartoon: ‘on the internet nobody knows you are a foreigner’.
No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.
Source: The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI – MIT Technology Review
Be careful what you count for!
‘Perhaps fitness apps can create an ‘all or nothing’ mentality that can make it difficult to set realistic, achievable target’
Source: Are health apps actually bad for your health? – BBC Three
Researchers from the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science have now created a biohybrid robot — a robotic device that incorporates living tissue — that remained functional for more than a week
Source: The Cyborgs Are Here: Researchers Put Living Cells In A Robotic Finger
Miniature robots cloaked in platelets and red blood cells can clear bacterial infections in the blood
Source: Tiny Robots in Disguise Combat Bacteria in the Blood – IEEE Spectrum
Dueling neural networks. Artificial embryos. AI in the cloud. Welcome to our annual list of the 10 technology advances we think will shape the way we work and live now and for years to come.
Source: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018 – MIT Technology Review
World’s first clinical trial in which doctors transplanted stem cells into a fetus.
Source: We Can Now Treat Sick Babies With Stem Cells Before They’re Even Born
Experts suggest that having AI systems try to outwit one another could help a person judge their intentions.
Source: How can we be sure AI will behave? Perhaps by watching it argue with itself. – MIT Technology Review
In prisons, common services may include psychiatry and cardiology assistance
Source: Telemedicine Opening Doors to Specialty Care for Inmates – Scientific American
Chinese Surveillance Is Literally Getting in Workers’ Heads- by Futurism
Source: Chinese Surveillance Is Literally Getting in Workers’ Heads
Mann maintains that intellectual life in the 21st century is defined by a civil war between Wizards, who believe that technology will save us, and Prophets, who see various kinds of disaster on the horizon…
Source: The Wizard and the Prophet: On Steven Pinker and Yuval Noah Harari – Quillette
Immigration officials originally wanted artificial intelligence that could continuously track foreign visitors’ social media. They’re giving the job to humans instead.
Source: ICE just abandoned its dream of ‘extreme vetting’ software that could predict whether a foreign visitor would become a terrorist – The Washington Post
By combining a LifeNaut Bio File™ account with a LifeNaut Mind File™ account, there is a chance that future technology will be able to grow you a new body from your stored live cells and allow you to then download your conscious mindfile into that body.
via Learn More About BioFile – LifeNaut
People are copying pets to preserve a physical, and spiritual, connection to dead children.
Source: Pet cloning is bringing human cloning a little bit closer – MIT Technology Review
Blockchain will secure a DNA database for 50 million citizens in India. The move falls in line with a trend for governments turning to population genomics.
Source: Rise in Population Genomics: Local Government in India Will Use Blockchain to Secure Genetic Data – The Medical Futurist