LMTF Podcast Episode 17: The Future of Our Digital Society

IPhone house of cards square cropWe look at how we will communicate and relate in the future, how politics and media will look in an era of data abundance, and how all this will shape society. We also examine the role of intelligent machines and how they will be integrated into our society. Amber Davisson, David Gunkel, and Oskar Triebe join the regular panelists. Recorded 10 December 2017.

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Host: Daniel Valenzuela

Regular Panelists: Hos, Sara Thelen, Michael Currie

Guests: Oskar Triebe, Amber Davisson, David Gunkel


Welcome to Let’s Make The Future.

Our topic today is The Future of our Digital Society. We will start talking about how we will communicate and socially relate in the future, how politics and media will look like in an era of data abundance, and how this will shape society. In the second part we will focus on the role of intelligent machines in our society and how they will be integrated or even become part of the society.

Let’s start with a quick introduction round:  I’m Daniel Valenzuela currently based in Munich working on the future of factory work, Michael, Hos and Sara

Potential questions/wording:

  1. Question: Let’s start by looking on today’s situation. I would say, and correct me if I’m wrong, that information efficiency through internet and eventually through social media, completely changed how the media industry works. Through being able to quickly understand how media is consumed, companies started optimizing content and delivery, so that we often have a biased, sensationalist, almost addictive media consumption. What do you think were or are the major resulting effects on society?
  2. Question: So how do you think will that develop in the future? Will we see a continuation of these trends or will technologies or societal events disrupt how media works? How will user behavior be? Which role will media have? How will the market look like?
  3. Question: Let us get more towards data and privacy and in that context also politics. We all notice that when we do something in one corner of the internet and shows up in other corner. Even instances reg. “listening when 2 people are meeting” in Facebook due to intelligence. The intelligence is so strong also that it can detect by your behavior how your emotions are. This will be more understood by cognitive APIs. Powerful tool to know emotions, not only economically but also politically. But also the general fact that we not only give intelligent machines data to do something, but that we give data to create intelligence. In these examples one notices that acquiring data becomes a very profitable business, be it for advertisement or creation of intelligent machine services that might take people’s jobs. That’s why I wonder, If data will become our most valuable asset in the future. How do you think about this? And if it will become so valuable, how will we be able to appropriately get compensated for it, or rather deal and trade with it?
  4. Follow-Up Question, depending on the answer? How will power, responsibility and accountability be distributed in 1) a world with a lot of data and a lot of value for data or 2) where AI is programmed by one party, trained by another party, and used by a third party? What are the implications in each case? (user vs. company vs. government vs. countries) How will politics relate to this constellation?
  5. Let’s introduce a new factor to our societal mix: intelligent machines.

Outline of discussion

  1. Major influencers of society:
    1. Media
      1. What have been major implications of digitized media & social media so far? Where will media & social media be in the future? (e.g. what’s the role, what will the stage/usage be, what will the market look like, what will user behaviour look like?)
    2. Politics
      1. What will the role of data be in the future? Will it be our most valuable asset? How will data be used in the future?
      2. Will privacy exist in the future? In which form? (also: what are the (tangible) downsides to the erosion of privacy)
      3. How will power, responsibility and accountability be distributed in 1) a world with a lot of data and a lot of value for data or 2) where AI is programmed by one party, trained by another party, and used by a third party? What are the implications in each case? (user vs. company vs. government vs. countries) How will politics relate to this constellation?
  2. Machines becoming part of society
    1. Is the Internet’s decentralized, freewheeling, anarchic architecture, rooted in the need to avoid path-dependence and be robust against nuclear attack, its greatest strength?  Is it under attack?  Does it exist any more in this form?
    2. How will the mix of machines and humans look like from a societal lense? What are some good and bad scenarios? How can we make sure to arrive at a good one?
    3. How do blockchain (cryptocurrencies) relate to digital society?
      1. Bitcoin (anonymous) vs. a currency attached to our biometric signature, so everyone’s transactions are publicly attached to their name.  Kind of like how sweden publishes everyone’s tax return.  Maybe only works in an aggressively egalitarian and culturally homogeneous society?
    4. How does our society being digital influence social justice matters, like social mobility.

Guest Biographies

David Gunkel: He is an award-winning educator, scholar and author, specializing in the study of information and communication technology with a focus on ethics. Formally educated in philosophy and media studies, his teaching and research synthesize the hype of high-technology with the rigor and insight of contemporary critical analysis. He is the author of over 50 scholarly journal articles and book chapters, has written and published 7 influential books, lectured and delivered award-winning papers throughout North and South America and Europe.

David J. Gunkel is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Communication Technology at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of The Machine Question, Hacking Cyberspace, Thinking Otherwise: Philosophy, Communication, Technology and Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics After Remix (MIT Press).

Amber Davisson: is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Keene State College, USA. She is the author of Lady Gaga and the Remaking of Celebrity Culture (2013) and the co-editor of Controversies in Digital Ethics (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Theorizing Digital Rhetoric (Routledge, forthcoming). Her interdisciplinary scholarship on identity, politics, and digital technology has appeared in such journals as Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Transformative Works & Culture, Journal of Media & Digital Literacy, Journal of Visual Literacy, and American Communication Journal.

Oskar Triebe: I wouldn’t call myself an expert of anything. In fact I am sceptical of anyone called “expert”. I am just an informed and active citizen.”

Works at http://merantix.com/

Oskar is a Machine Intelligence Engineer at Merantix. He is a top 1% graduate from ETH Zurich and Stanford University. During his studies he founded and led the Stanford Digital Shapers organization. Before joining Merantix, he worked for a cyber security startup in Silicon Valley as an AI Engineer.

NOTES FROM MICHAEL CURRIE during the conversation

Loss of history with private web

Digital dark ages.


is radicalization good or bad?

big data, what we do with big data

sets of data, so large, can no longer be processed by humans

machine learning, unsupervised, deep learning, exceed the abilities of the designers

will these techniques become commoditized or will they be controlled by large corporations (via economies of scale)

self-sovereign data…

who owns the data?  posession is 9/10ths of the law.

what is the danger

I was asked to speak in front of a group of PR and marketing firms here in Southeast Asia, and they are very excited about AI.

the utopia is that goods and services arrive in front of you before you even realize you want them.

what are the negatives?


machine-mediated human communication

–> sweden discloses everyone’s tax returns

without compensation


in society mix of machines and humans

machines have agency

humans choose AIs as companions

as an extension of


you are the product not the customer

with AIs you are the charity case not the product or customer




even unconscious machines are dangerous

humans have




David Gunkel:

do robots and algorithms have rights?

these things are going to have social position?

do they have any claim?


Feedback from after-conversation discussion


Episode Machine Transcript (unedited and uncorrected)


Well come to let’s make.

This episode’s future trend discussion topic the future of our digital society with this David and.

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Well come to let’s make the future everybody and thanks for joining our topic today is the future of our digital society how will communicates and socially relate in the future of politics and media will look in an era of data abundance and how this will shape society in the second part will focus more on the role of intelligent machines how they get into our society how they will be integrated or become part of it let’s start with a quick introduction round I’m done you’ve answer a lot currently coming from Munich working here on the future or factory work this is or think Oh honey I’m a car I think from Michigan My name is Sarah Palin I’m also coming in from Michigan and I’m a sign language interpreter Hi I’m Michael Carey OK So that’s it with our regular panelists and luckily we have excellent company and today to help us dive deep into the topic of digital society My name is Imber Davis and I’m an assistant professor of communication at Keene State College my research is in the area of digital ethics I’m particularly interested in American politics and presidential campaigns so how individual citizens for to support it in the campaign process and then also how campaigns attempt to manage them and I’ve also done work studying revenge porn and that industry and the kind of legal questions but also the larger social norms that surround whether or not we should be looking at certain images and how we should interact with Finally I do work on online affordance says so I studied the design and creation of social media sites and the way that the cells hates conversations online My name is David gone goal I’m a professor of communication technology at Northern Illinois University also the Chicago area I am by two. Training that both a web developer and a philosopher sort of put these two worlds together to come up with a sort of synthetic or hybrid approach to looking at emerging and developing technology my area of specialization most recently isn’t robotics and the a bunch of books for MIT Press the machine question robot rights and things related to that so I think the second part of the conversation is more killer to my thing but I can certainly talk about digital effects and related social items we’ve got Oscar was also one of our guests Hey Oscar and it sounds like Oscar is here hello how are you and I’m fine you great Oscar Can you give an intro to yourself I’m asking for students come to your off to represent startups OK thing so I would say in the information efficiency through Internet and eventually also through social media changed completely how media works today because media companies are able to quickly understand palm media is consumed companies start optimizing content and delivery based on that is that we’re pretty much get by by is sensationalists almost addictive form of media consumption or consume media addictive we can I ask maybe you Amber what you think are the major resulting effects that we experience from a major change media to society so one of the things that I find interesting in these increased efficiencies is that a lot of users who are becoming increasingly media literate have figured out how to take advantage of those to create their own spaces in all kinds of ways right so I see members of the all right that are spending a lot of time picking up what we think of this kind of defunct technologies they’re looking at technologies that they see that other people have stopped using and they’re picking them up to start using themselves and so they become pseudo private spaces within like a public sphere and then I also see them creating private spaces on sites like Facebook right so they figured out how to use the private group settings to find alternative spaces where they can interact so as information is getting tailored you get certain groups that are figuring out how to take advantage that tailoring to create private spaces for themselves to have conversations within public platforms. What you know and sample of the defunct technology I may control for calling it a defunct technology Paris was very popular for a while it was just kind of new and need everybody was really loving it and then it kind of dropped off the radar and about the time it dropped off the radar I started seeing a number of members of both the ultra right and the men’s rights movement start using it and part of the reason they started doing so was that they were getting pushback for what they’re posting on You Tube So You Tube have been a space to post videos that were making a profit and also reaching out to larger audiences and then there was a crackdown in terms of certain regulations on You Tube in terms of pushing them out like violating harassment laws on You Tube and so periscope became a place to go where nobody was really paying attention to what they were doing area Internet thing ever do you think there’s a danger there people feel this pressure to be private in their conversations and conduct their activities in a place that’s not on the public web isn’t there a potential for that data to be lost forever I mean the lost to history that would have happened if we didn’t have access to historical figures letters books that they’ve written would be uncountable and it seems like the medium that we’re using to have conversations these days it’s one thing if it’s on the public web where it’s being archived by all kinds of different web crawlers But if it’s done in these more private places is there a danger that this will be considered you know the dark ages of history when people look back on it I think this may be of the dark ages of history for a lot of reasons that have very little to do with private versus public.

But I can definitely come in on the private and public aspect so I’m not necessarily seeing these groups exclusively make themselves private what I am seeing is that they’re distinguishing certain behaviors so a lot of organizing behavior is take place in pseudo private spaces so I’m thinking of sites like four chan which is an image board where information disappears almost as quickly as it’s posted right now everyone posts anonymously and none of that’s being archived right so I’m seeing them do a lot of back and organizing in those spaces and that back in Oregon. Ising is the kind of work that they don’t necessarily want the public to see with that said once the back and organizing work is done a lot of the campaigns that take place take place in very public spaces so you spend time in more private spaces organizing your message figuring out what it is you want to do and then you head out into public spaces almost as an army that is ready on Twitter to then want your message of launch your campaign and they’re not always entirely we think of anonymous faces and pseudo anonymous faces I would classify read it as a kind of pseudo anonymous space where people are doing a lot of work and I sing work so yeah we’re losing it we’re losing track of a lot of what’s happening and it’s requiring catching things just as quickly as they’re taking place which is hard and I know there’s a number of researchers myself included who are trying to figure out how to track behavior as it’s happening because if we don’t archive it it’s gone before we have a chance it’s not I always approach the Internet as an archive in my research and I can approach it that way anymore because so many of the groups I’m studying are using a lot of the archive spaces so I have to archive it that’s my job how you think about what develops in the future or do you have any thoughts on that as an academic I’m always uncomfortable commenting on the future but I will give my best given that that’s what the nature of this podcast is I don’t think we’re going to get any less polarized anytime soon but I do you think that some of the communities that are actively interested in polarization recognize that their behaviors can disrupt the other side so I’m thinking of the phenomena we call ship posting that takes place in a lot of political conversations so that’s about walking into a productive political conversation and injecting what we literally think of as shit into it right into will eventually make people angry enough to thoroughly disrupt the conversation it’s an act of polarization but it’s a moment whatever two sides are definitely interacting with each other right and oftentimes when we talk about the polarization of the Web we start to assume that everybody just kind of goes to their corners and stops talking to each other. And that’s not what I’m seeing I’m seeing active raids I’m seeing one side going to the other sites corner and attempting to just break down the conversation completely which is I mean probably just as bad if not worse than polarization because it means that even spaces where you feel like you can productively have a conversation with people you agree with have been completely disrupted so we’ve gone from we’re no longer talking to people we disagree with to we’re actually even afraid to have conversations with people we agree with Amber how much of this is small groups that are extremely vocal and active online attacking one another in these skirmishes that matter to them very much but not to broader society and how much of this actually does penetrate into tangible results in the real world that’s a hard one you’re going to have a very small number of disputes online that are going to bubble up and become really big it’s worth noting that the conversation about whether or not Hillary Clinton with sex during the last election began as a fringe rumor on the Internet that kept getting pushed by a very small group of people right until eventually you have the mainstream media reporting on it pretty actively and there are several cases of that the whole conversation about whether or not have a is a Nazi or not began as two trolls on four chan who thought it would be funny to call the Daily Dot and pretend to be white supremacists and say they were prominent white supremacists and explains the Daily Dot this news outlets have a was a Nazi right and that story once it happened a lot of other trolls picked it up and made a bunch of Pepper as a Nazi names and then the news media when they went to research this Daily Dot story suddenly find a bunch of Pepper as a Nazi means then you have the all right who picks it up and Pepe becomes a Nazi right so these little Internet rumors not all of them but every once in a while one of them catches and he watches create public discourse do you also see maybe on a more behavioral level influence in the real word when I bring up various political events in my classrooms I have my students repeat back to me rumors from the Internet. So I watch how remote from the internet bubbles up and showed up in mainstream media and that eventually walks into my classroom it’s becoming part of our daily conversations OK but also the style how you argue for example not in the spaces that I’m interacting but keeping in mind that mill lot of what I experience is in a classroom which is a fairly artificial space we still have a lot of norms and decorum in those kind of spaces that I think are going to prevent the active hostilities Also I spend a lot of time teaching students the kind of communication environment we’re hoping to Xisten So I think I experience less of it OK Coming back to her earlier part of her talk in most popular versus private spaces and people will be small private time to form so they can organize and talk more freely.

If you have a negative connotation of this happening which are very much understand if it’s your job to document this mix and what MacArthur But what is your opinion regarding versus private discussion on sort of the developmental democratic society what do you think about this do you think that this might be actually something that is necessary for the growth of the critical. Step further development of our society I think it’s absolutely necessary you know it is the kind of negative valence that I have for a lot of this and I should start by saying that I study some of the less pleasant parts of the web so I think some of the negativity that I have comes from the fact that I spend time. To really unpleasant things just to put it that way so I know it probably is coloring the way that I come to the conversation with that so there’s a long history of what we call public’s encounter public’s account or public is this kind of parallel space where groups who are not part of the majority can get together and refine their message they can share ideas and they develop a kind of solidarity so when they go out into the public they recognize that they’re not alone because the public’s fear can be deafening the majority can really feel like it. It’s the only opinion and so having those private spaces where you get together with others and you begin to realize that you’re not alone are so important for any kind of social movement whether we’re talking about ones that we like or ones we don’t like wait for any movement it is necessary to have a space where they get together and develop solidarity and also develop a message there’s a lot of language testing that goes on in private spaces right you develop you practice saying your opinions out loud and so you get better at articulating them better at explaining them and so that when you walk out into public spaces and those opinions are challenge you know what it is you want to say and so that whole notion of having private back and organizing to test strategies to develop ideas is used by pretty much every minority group and its importance in the negativity that I associate that probably has to do with the nature of some of the groups that I study Amber could I challenge you on that because it seems to me that what you’re describing is how accurate chambers are formed because you have groups of people they get together and reinforce each other’s beliefs and learn how to quote unquote refute the opinion of the majority and you know where to feel comfortable in their opinion and that has a positive connotation if their opinion is correct there is a positive in some way I’m not quite sure how to characterize it but it also could be very bad I when I was in university I was radicalized into becoming a vegetarian by some friends there and then read some literature and got that reinforced but you can imagine that people can get radicalized into far worse past times than vegetarianism and just in general is not contributing to the polarization of our politics the availability of finding that one percent of one percent of the population that believes your belief I think it’s too simplistic to call any of this good or bad I think these are ways that we develop messages and you’re right like there’s absolute the potential that this I mean not just the potential This is how radicalization happens right you’re absolutely right but whether or not that radicalization is good or bad as a much greater area I think I feel. Less comfortable making those kind of statements I will say that most of us I think at this point because you’re not just thinking about the echo chamber of the Internet you have to think about the way the mass media functions and all this right that you’re being told that this is the larger public opinion you’re being told that these are the major issues this is what matters rape and so somewhere between the mass media and then the echo chamber of the Internet you start to believe that you’re the only one who has the idea is that you have and so you just kind of sit there be quiet and I do think you have to find a safe space to voice your opinions before you’ll voice them within a larger conversation and also say that people being quiet is just as dangerous as people getting educated in echo chambers that statement makes any sense people being quiet is just as dangerous as people being radicalized because if we don’t know what people believe then we have no way to have larger conversations.

I also demanded very much exactly you know go ahead if you’re talking about the counter space in the public spaces of those being kind of white antithesis of each other or there’s one that’s happening more in the majority and there’s one like you said a safe more private space right like little bubbles like I almost think about them like if you had a big circle and then the counter public are like little bubbles attached to the circle if that’s a poetic is it for myself OK And so what I want to know is I feel like those bubbles those little outside peripheral bubbles have become almost the dominant topic in the larger public wobble lately like every time I turn on the radio or I turn on the news what I hear about most is what’s being said on Twitter or a trend and one of these outside bubble counter spaces so my question is how in what maybe even positive ways if you don’t want to be bad or good and what ways in general are these counter space is affecting the way the public discourse works so I would think about Twitter is a largely public space I will start out by saying that I would think about it as being a kind of public platform. And. As we think about what a site like Twitter as a public platform does to our larger discourse that is a complicated question right so we can talk about the affordance as of the site but it’s encouraging us to have our conversations in these short little outburst right we can also talk about the sheer number of voices on a site like that means that it’s almost overwhelming right you feel like you have a lot of opinion just coming at you when you’re trying to absorb it and a lot of that opinion is being shouted so as we think about the way these platforms are influencing our public conversation it’s partly about this question of public private and it’s also partly about this question of the affordance is of how they function so we can talk about Twitter where you have a feed of just kind of everyone you can talk about a site like Facebook that’s and trying to filter your feed and show you just what you will be interested and so those are going to give you two very different perceptions of what the public looks like either one of them is going to encourage you to communicate in a really particular way Twitter is going to encourage you to say things really concisely which means you’re not going to be making particularly well thought out rational arguments Facebook is going to encourage you to say things that are going to catch people’s attention very quickly and so that’s also going to so encourage you to make these very long well thought out arguments I think all of these sites are actively encouraging click bait and click bait doesn’t tend to live itself to rational or civil discourse so there’s affordance is and there’s ways of speaking on these sites that are doing things to the public sphere just as much as this question of public and private is doing something to us thanks that’s super interesting and we know maybe get more into the topic of data privacy in that context David might be also more technical and maybe you might be interested in saying something about that but maybe to use the setting we all have seen when we were in one corner of the internet doing one thing and later and another corner of the Internet we basically say stuff comes from complete different corner from based on your behavior basically tracking your behavior leveraging thought to give you personalized information and also even more there’s lot of instances where people assume that Facebook is listening to them because when they’re in the conversation or when they meet a person. It will suggest things that the other person is interested in which might not be due to listening actually but maybe also due to intelligence of Facebook algorithms you more than Facebook can understand your emotions just by a basically looking at your Facebook behavior all of this will become more dressing when you look at cognitive A.P.I. So I think Microsoft offers like a lot of services where you can basically on life video understand the motions of somebody so this will be obviously a very powerful tool economically and politically if you can do some people’s emotions so quickly so that’s the one thing when we give it to machines data to do something out of it but also there’s the other side where we give data to create intelligence think of for example a translator that you can the FUD as input is a corpus for a machine that can run translating into a person with loose their job so I’m all this data business we can agree that this is extremely valuable today and I wonder if we will increasingly become so and how we should deal with that so basically will data become our most valuable asset and if yes how will we compensate users for data or even more how will we trade with data how will we base our society on the straight economy on this but what you’re asking about are number of things first of all you’re asking about the existence of big data and what we do with that data and we say big data we’re not talking about data that somehow large we’re talking about sets of data that are so large that they can no longer be understood or even process like human beings and therefore need some machine implementation to even find the patterns in the data that exist and then the other component you’re talking about is the development of machine learning especially unsupervised learning where machines are able to find patterns in data that exceed the abilities of understanding of the human designers of the algorithm that beat the data into it so you have for example Facebook’s social recognition capabilities which use all the photos that you’ve ever quote on Facebook as a way of training as a I recognize human faces and that can do so at a rate and ability that exceeds what you and I are able to do as human beings or you have for example other kinds of things like Google to. Which originally was just using statistical machine translation but is now using the learning in order to learn how to translate on the fly from user interactions with the AI and with the Google service and so on the one hand this is all very convenient not very useful because it is creating applications that really make our lives easier more convenient and personalized On the other hand you have these giant warehouses of data at Google at Facebook at Amazon at Netflix that is data about us and because the way the laws are currently written both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world that data although it’s about US does not belong to us the data legally alongst to the individuals or the organization that collected the data so they are able to trade you is and exploit the data in ways that exceed our oversight and as a result we are in a moment now where the question that you ask is a very important question who owns the data who controls the data and how is it monetized and who gets the benefits of the months ization of data at this particular point in time when this is become the currency of the sort of AI world that we live in in the twenty first century. On this I actually Birkenau I start up so full of dates and we demand I know what we are able to do with this and seeing this and I’m seeing what’s happening for our dates on coming back again to the public private discussion the Internet used to be more of a private space and has increasingly become a public space that even Facebook there is a supposedly more private it’s a kind of public space and now this how many space on the Internet is more controlled by compliments which then in return own your data but at least in Europe there is this opinion that your data should be your date time and now the cheapie are is being if you change their images now it regulates in that your data is your data even if you’ve given it to the company you still have the right to get it back to us and to delete it so this will be enforced in me two thousand and eighteen and because most of the people and companies are not really ready for it is right. We could change the way that states has been handled I have started some friends and a organization to help people demand the right answer to companies to respond to this and there’s also several start ups racing towards this to make use of this for example they don’t want to make a fumble both building platforms to with just personal data on that you have claimed according to right and then make use of that answer to offer race to other organizations based on completely opt So I see a huge change happening in the space right now right now and I would agree in specially if you look at what’s happening globally a lot of the initiatives are coming out of Europe and out of the United States and I think one of the reasons for that is the different legal systems that exist in the E.U. and exist in the U.S. in the E.U. there is an attempt to get out in front of the problem before it becomes a problem whereas in the United States what the practice of common law will often wait until there’s a lawsuit before the courts decide things and sort it out so I think a lot of what is going on especially in the sort of progressive thinking of this kind of challenge is coming out of Europe and that of the U.S. And I think you’re exactly right there’s a lot of new things coming into the fold currently that I think are challenging some of the old assumptions about data and about the way we control another thing I want to point out is that we used to think the internet was about us right used to think that the Internet was a technology of machine mediated human communication that is when I use the internet I was always talking to another human being and the computer just mediated my interaction the Internet has passed the tipping point the majority of traffic on the Internet is now Machine data it’s not human data at all we’re the minority of users in the system it’s a chilling Can I add one thing to this question of the difference in the E.U. and the US and the US and that is that in the U.S. We have some very definite social norms are having privacy the general belief is that if you are attempting to assert your rights of privacy it is probably because you are doing something wrong so I think part of the reluctance of consumers to kind of push back and protect their privacy is a general negativity that we have surrounding the notion of privacy in the United States. If you are an honest person then you should just be living a public life and I say that not as something that I believe but as what is a general social norm there’s that component and there’s also the component that the United States privacy has very little legal basis it’s called the penumbra right by the Supreme Court meaning that it has no foundation in our Constitution or in our Bill of Rights and as a result it is an indirect right that is very hard to assert because it always is trying to draw on other rights to try to assert the right of privacy whereas in other nations there are if you’ll ations for rights of privacy that we don’t have thanks for all the input I mean that all proves how critical the question is just today about how also accountability responsibility is shared and how governments and private companies interplay and users into play here does anybody have any strong opinions about how this will look like in twenty thirty fifty years from now and I don’t know how important the difference in politics from Europe and US will be in the sense of how they make policies because I would assume that in the long term these would always converge are mostly policed I might be wrong as well but yeah Does anyone have strong opinions about the privatization of data I think the future I want to see is one that every individual is the owner of their data the data can be there sternal data that can be their network like friends teachers of friends or they can be like biological data it could be the heartbeat it could be their signals are coming out of the body so I think in a future I want to see is that these are all assets these are all extremely valuable assets of every individual but today they’re being used to beat out compensation which I think the reason is that via not developed enough organisations to really understand the value so the public doesn’t know the actual value they’re given away to these giant corporations so I wonder how realistic do you see this utopian future that I want to see well I wonder if the way to structure this hottest because I love that question I wonder if we just go around the room and answer. Dan’s question because I think that’s exactly what he’s asking and you’re answering it there so he’s asking what do we see in twenty to thirty fifty years and are as you’re saying your hope and maybe your prediction is that everyone will own their own data and my prediction is quite the opposite that in fact right now we’re I think very well compensated by the corporations for the fact that they’re using our data and we’re compensated by the fact that we get to use Facebook and Google for free and all the other services and it’s amazing I mean it’s a wonderful world that we have access to this amazing technology literally for free and sure they engineer it to be super effective but that just makes it that much better right and what I found interesting just as a slight preamble to my prediction here I was asked to speak in front of a group of P.R. and marketing firms here in Southeast Asia about artificial intelligence and to predict its future and they I can tell you are very excited about AI marketing of course and for them and I think for individual people the Utopia is that goods and services arrive in front of you before you even realize you want them so if it takes surrendering our personal data to corporations to get that to happen I just don’t really see why we should really ignore the fact that there’s a huge upside to that and that’s kind of wonderful to be in a world where that happens and I wonder if it’s pretty much impossible short of a to tell a Tarion government to stop the collection of this kind of data by private corporations to maybe we just go with it that’s my prediction I do want to take a moment and point out we talk about owning your that or not owning your data that a lot of those choices are not going to be available to the public at large I am worried as we have increasing capturing a private data what that’s going to mean for social mobility that certain people will be able to really control their data to manage their reputation to manage their social slipperiness and that other people will not be able to afford the necessary resources to do that and I worry about what that means in terms of how we make decisions about. Carts and loans and all kinds of other things in terms of how we decide who we’re going to hire in the future and who are not and then I also worry about what it means politically I study revenge part and so if you are a woman who has those images available of you on the Internet not just that but an entire history of people slut shaming you and talking about you in all kinds of negative ways that is available readily on line you are pretty much never going into politics that is not happening for you and we’ve actually seen a couple high profile case in the United States of women who ran for office and pictures of them were found on line that were years old and those pictures meant that they lost all political credibility and so in all kinds of ways I’m worried about what this archiving of data is capturing mass quantities of data is going to mean for the future of social mobility but I really don’t write automatically every side of that Amber that’s interesting Are you saying that even just something as you know humiliating and socially out there as revenge porn but something like medical data someone can make a judgment of how fit you are physically to run for office or some great as you got ten years ago if I am archiving all of your workout and all of your data in terms of how you’re taking care of your body perhaps I can then sell that to an employer who decides not to hire you how quickly to society adjust to this for example you would think that people knowing your income would be a terrible thing but Sweden discloses everyone’s tax returns on an annual basis and I tell people if they don’t know this they’re shocked and they think that it would lead to the breakdown of society or something but somehow it works so maybe they’re relatively homogenize small population but it does seem like I wonder if society would simply adjust.

Well no company so just to answer the question about the Topi and scenario that sort of working out or talking about here I think Michael’s exactly right court to Atauro so that very well he says when the service is free you’re the product we are the product of Facebook and Twitter and that is a different relationship to a service provider than we’re used to out of the industrial era and scaling to that understanding is going to take not only education but also some consumer development in the way that we understand our position with relationship to these organizations that collect our data and use our data but to get to the Utopia a couple of things would have to happen are they would have to have a massive user pushback in which users would organize and say we’re no longer giving Facebook our data we’re not going to participate and getting people to say we’re not going to participate seems like a really high bar to cross another option would be that some government regulation would be in place when Facebook and Twitter were called out to Washington recently you know it’s that kind of thing where you get the providers the service to be responsive to government oversight and regulation and again in different countries that has different credibility in the United States I think the very difficult thing to institute and to get to work well another innovation that we’re looking at is on the tech side I mean block change is one example of a decentralized self-regulating system to control data that would give each user their own crypto Pete right so you can do it either socially politically or you could do it technologically and the debate I think is which mix of those solutions will get you to the outcome that you desire anyone else with a prediction for the future I mean it’s an example of three but I think the Hortons Yeah I’m just meeting this because the amount of the time you’re generating today it doesn’t really impact on lives today but our abilities to digest a not and sneak use of this as a really fast pace as now as the kind of data that’s beyond releasing amongst ourselves consuming these kind of services as you nicely find out your products I think in the future just will have a huge impact on. Our daily lives for example like Amber said your health data will have an impact on your employment mill yours and your insurance how you handle your friends will also have then impact on your guard so for example who do you know like with whom do you behave in what way that might be pretty important information for your employer to determine what kind of candidate you are for a job and how will your chances are to increase the company’s networking abilities and so on so you’re not really realizing this but this will have a much greater impact than we actually think and now going to worse the future what kind of you just cited who live there and this is a pretty open question but I see two very big experiments being conducted today one in China and one Europe which couldn’t be more different there in China they’re trying to construct a score for everybody where it’s very publicly visible what kind of person you are defined based on your data and or centrally organizing and controlling this which will impact all your daily activities versus in your are very you are in control of your own dates and you can define for scopes of who can access your dates are for how long and you always also have a copy of that So how this could play out in Europe will be that the Generate you have both the law and now we can use these laws to build new ecosystems for people retrieve the data and have them in a system Bernie have easy way to control it and for our companies access to data which creates a company of the unities for companies to enter the data market so if a startup wants to build for example a better image other than unfaceable does if they were to convince other people who are only now there are only eight hour to give them access this they could actually do this verse is today there is no chance of doing so because Facebook is on Beta and I think I was in the US deciding now which side to go and there is some prominent lawsuits which are pretty important for example the one B.C.F. was hell. It’s a start up this was clearly little data to then make predictions about the person I’m not going to keep an eye on because they might be going away soon early actually won because they said yes this is dates and everybody should be able to access it so Europe is going different wave or it’s not public but people are able to give it through the start ups so it’s also lower in the barrier to entry and I’m really really curious to see what will go and I think the experiment in Europe will largely determine also how US will evolve so if the G.D.P. Our implementation will fail here and probably will go the other direction on Europe and the U.S. But if this succeeds then we might actually be looking towards and more positive future you pick something up that ember said earlier with regards to social mobility that maybe already leads us to the next part where machines are becoming part of society in the sense that insurance is for example and Industry for but all women are factoring as well in many many different areas also Michael you said marketing basically the human operator already interacts with machine intelligence that he has around him in basically we could say maybe a team which leads to the human operator thinking more like a machine and thinking less in terms of what Basically humans to distinguish from machine to and so you would have that insurance for example or Also health insurance those will exploit basically every piece of data that they have about you thought might go away then from a social nature and from intervention of the government that was originally intended maybe a David you can tell us a little bit of our power you think machines will increasingly go into our society and how they will impact this right so I tell my students that they are living through the robot apocalypse that had been predicted by decades of science fiction and I explained that the apocalypse doesn’t look like it’s been predicted it’s not these robots descending from the heavens like ray guns and attacking us and asking to be taken to our leaders but rather it’s a slow incursion where every day a new algorithm a new application comes into our world and. Automate some aspect of our daily lives in ways that we didn’t anticipate So the robot apocalypse is more like the fall of Rome where one day we’re going to wake up around to say how did all the barbarians get through the gates because we are inviting these things in and all sectors of our economy of our society our political spectrum because they’re so damn efficient and because they’re so convenient to making our life and our world a better place to live in but we’ve got to keep an eye on what is being automated who controls the automation and what that automation means for the kind of social world that we’re creating because I think wrote a very crucial moment where we have the ability to decide just what will be automated and in what way unfortunately a lot of the decisions are being made behind closed doors by organizations that have proprietary hold on the technology and as a result any kind of democratic conversation about the robot incursion is something that is difficult participate in not only for lack of education but also lack of access to information lack of access to technology the lack of access to political machinations to be able to have an impact can I just jump on that and ask a follow up because David you paint a picture where we’re already in the middle of this machine revolution what we’re doing right now is taking what you call Big Data and generating insights out of that to make people’s lives better in many ways but I wonder if this takeover by machines will take a qualitative sleep when we develop artificial general intelligence agency with these machines maybe they won’t need data quite so much to be useful to us and I wonder if at that point the massive economies of scale that we’re seeing drive the centralization of data and of power around data right now where you know Google and Facebook and Amazon are able to create these huge advantages insurmountable almost advantages over any start up like Oster trying to get at some data to be able to apply the machine learning algorithms I wonder if the future artificial intelligences will not require so much data I wonder if that will lead. Decentralization of this future in maybe a good way yes let’s commit this a couple of ways one is the question that you ask about artificial general intelligence and the impending singularity moment right that’s one of the ways people talk about this and individuals like Nicole strawman others have got a lot of traction talking about you know how many years in the future no until the Singularity comes and super intelligence is available to us I think that’s an important question but I also think it’s a distraction because if we only focus on artificial general intelligence will convince ourselves that we don’t need to do anything because of the not conscious yet they’re not the singularity yet so we can just sort of get on with our lives and not really do any sort of critical work at this moment and I think that really is a false sense of security because I think a lot will happen before we get a G.I. and all these smart systems and the Internet as things and all the data scraping that’s going on by the AI’s at this particular moment in time are creating a new social environment for us that if we don’t pay attention is going to radically alter our world in ways that we may not want to have altered so I think it’s important to focus on artificial general intelligence as a possibility but I think it also is something that we’ve got to say you know no one really knows when or if that will ever happen but there are questions we do need to ask right now that do affect the future and that will have a short term ten twenty or impact as opposed to a seventy five one hundred five hundred year impact yet even I read if you I mean I will say that the talk about A.G.I. is more of a distraction because what we should we be talking about in the future of a ice a concentration of power to create and control a I under rhythms so assuming that A.G.I. is still ten years away like it has theme for the pasta fifty years until for some money case and I think this is a lot more important because whoever controls these powerful a our own rhythms that you’re a team a lot of money you has a lot more power and might even be more powerful than governments so initiatives like opening a id. Trying to make sure that the ice built safely are important but also we should enforce more that AI researchers join and other groups than the biggest ones which are now picking up on the AI brokers So that’s we have less of that concentration of power and seals What do you think might be a way to prevent this power of concentration or do you think it’s too late yes a good question in fact that rebel philosophy Indiana in a couple months we’re going to be talking about this on a panel that’s dedicated to talking about clinical economy robots artificial intelligence and algorithms because I think a lot of the effort that people put into thinking about AI and robots looks at how do we control their decision making behaviors and will they in a slave humanity and all the sort of good stuff but I think we forget about the sort of power structure and the social power that is enabled by who owns the mechanisms you know if the big question during the Industrial Revolution was who owns the means of production I think the big question in the twenty first century is going to be who owns the means of data collection and usage and I don’t think we’re asking those questions enough I think we need to really develop a very chain sense of the political economy that is being organized around these technologies and begin to recognize how the concentration of control actually is being more centralized even though the networks in which the stuff operates is highly decentralized this is a great place to mention there’s a conflict and I start a call beats Mark and they’re doing exactly that to be centralized on our ship and privatized data and. They make is that doing so got an exam and was owned by people working on the land and making the food for themselves as we are against Facebook but then over time people have a society that each individual could on their piece of land and that’s the future they feature and they have so far raised like eleven million dollar and they have their own ship the clients. Also So I think this is a great example of some developments in that direction students actually really good point to point out of the blocks in technology is that it’s like a move towards and the centralization bridge is really interesting and there is a start of popping up like singularity nets which trying to develop such a network of AI station can interact in a machine to machine maybe five and human interaction to deliver tasks which I think might be good and turn insists you let’s say an essential provider of such technology because like there’s many different people build their own AI just good at three months in the Tuscon interactive who are better at these mother tossed and made this deliver and good service to people but I think most are still skeptical of how well is they’ll be implemented that space is so very young do you have some opinion on how blocking and eyes might interact to have remarked this way yeah that’s a good question that thinking about block chain and its impact in usage by element of AI is still so incredibly new what we’re just beginning to feel our way into it but the press that has recently circulated around the rise of the value and because I think is bringing block Cheney into the popular imagination in a way that makes it much more accessible to people but you know the whole point of law changes to come up with a way to leverage what makes the internet good the open exchange of digital data on a peer to peer decentralized network and to remediate some of the problems of that network which is trust and authenticity and control over data and you know I think we have yet to see how this actually plays out with crypto currencies and other forms of law change implementation but I think as a technological solution it’s absolutely ingenious and the people who are developing it and examining it’s possible futures I think are really cushioned brand new interesting directions of all kinds of places and medical data in crypto currency recently in our creation you see it being employed in all kinds of different and new ways that I had never thought of there’s a company and it is an organization called me for. Labs in our land aiming to make a platform like the next week for new use so that it’s a family centralized platform that adds some human intelligence to make sense of the news and future a lot of fake news do you think Amber bad would be an ideal approach to the current problem of the bubbles it’s interesting you mention that because as we’ve been talking about this last part I have been thinking about nice actually what you’re saying but about a man named David Imus I don’t know if any of you have heard of the Imus now several years ago this map maker in Oregon won the contest for it was a major cartography contest for his nap of North America was the best North American map is what he won for his map of the United States and most the time that is a contest that is won by makers organizations like National Geographic or we’re talking about major government organizations who are largely using data to generate maps and he took the data to generate the map and then he spent three years combing through the data and hand placing all the information so he took the data and he figured out had a statically to make that data more readable to a human being and it’s this beautiful but I bring the map into my classroom and I show my students it is this beautiful combination of what a machine can do and what a man can do when they’re working together the machine does what it does well it knows all of the information but it was Imus who figured out how to make that information something that we could digest and use in a really beautiful way and I showed it to my students because I think there’s something that happens when you can bring together human intelligence and machine intelligence machine intelligence is scary in a lot of ways it’s doing a lot of stuff for us that we probably should be doing ourselves rate and I think it’s also easy to disregard it because it’s not human and so we can say Oh it hasn’t reached that general intelligence and so we’re not there so it’s fine and instead I want my students to start meeting the machine halfway to start thinking this is what the machine does well and this is what I do this is the thing that I bring to the equation this is my part of the conversation and so for me I kind of hope that’s the future and so when you talk about this. For him it’s going to use human intelligence to start seeing fake news I think that is a beautiful moment going forward of here is what the computer can do well to capture all of this for us and help us see it and then this is what we can do well to start to filter it and make it something that another human being can understand so I guess for me that’s what I hope the future is some kind of collaboration between human intelligence and machine intelligence that is my optimistic utopian future nice I love the map I’m looking at it now it’s beautiful David spew have closing comment about our future society with machines among them there’s a component of this that we neglect and that we’re going to have to address now and even more so in the future and that’s the question of whether or not these robots and these algorithms have rights and social and moral legal standing most that we’ve been talking about so far has been about the agency responsibility and accountability that rests in the organization or the mechanism in the way we worry about the effect it’s going to have on us but these things are going to have social position and they’re going to have a role to play in our social world and the question becomes what is their social legal and moral status do they have any claim to anything that we recognize as being the right of the machine I think is going to be necessary for legal accountability because our laws require that players within the legal system have a kind of status of kind of legal rights but also for social interaction we need to know how these things factor into our world and what they mean for us so I think robot rights although it sounds crazy I think it’s probably very important component of this conversation that needs to be explored beginning now but even more so in the future thanks very much before we wrap it up David and Amber can you give some information to our listeners where they can find out more about your work all of my research is available on the Kenai edu website so that’s where my home is at this point you can check out so my work I wrote a book on Lady Gaga called Lady Gaga in the remaking of celebrity culture I have edited two volumes at this point so one on theorizing digital rhetoric and another on digital ethics Thanks David so you can find more about me and my were. Work at Google Web dot com which is my Web site and as for books the machine question which is an MIT Press book well and most recently robot rights which will be out in two thousand and eight you know also I can’t wait to read it OK I’m going to plug David’s book on remakes ethics which is also came out MIT a necessity What’s the name of that book David that book is called. X. And it’s that except to remain so if we have some more books in the reading queue now I should just say thank you very much to Amber and David and really Oscar as well who’s coming to us for the first time for participating today because I really found the discussion fascinating thank you I would like to thank you again all very much we had a really large panel today it was an extremely cool discussion so things and berthing stay with things Hans things Michael things my close listener things Oscar and thanks Sarah hope you all enjoyed it so I wish you a good night’s things everybody yeah thank you was wonderful Thanks Daniel thank you very much for being.


Let’s make the future featuring the voices of Danielle balance Wally.

Sierra. And Michael.

Jackson featuring.

Music Entertainer Christian Pelton.

Let’s make this.


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