Back to the Future Day; the root anxiety in the “uber for” economy debate; and more.
Today’s civic tech must-reads: danah boyd, founder of the Data and Society Institute, on “What World Are We Building,” in which she reminds us how technology mirrors and amplifies existing patterns in society: “Data is power. And, increasingly, we’re seeing data being used to assert power over people. It doesn’t have to be this way, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that, unchecked, new tools are almost always empowering to the privileged at the expense of those who are not.”
Building on Susan Crawford’s recent critique of Uber, technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci says the deeper issue is whether we want a future where even more jobs are turned into contingent, cheap labor that is on-call all the time.
On Civicist, guest contributor (and longtime PDM friend) Douglas Rushkoff argues that Uber’s bid to be a platform monopoly is dangerous.
Culturing tech: Today is “Back to the Future Day,” the date in the Back to the Future II that the characters traveled forward to, and at Civic Hall we will be mark it with all-day showings of the first two movies in the series followed by a 6pm workshop led by Civic Hall civic imagination fellow Andrew Slack. His larger Back to the Future Campaign, which calls for a revival of positive future visions, also launches today.
Even the White House is commemorating Back to the Future Day, connecting with scientists and technologists “for a day of asking questions, sharing, and nerding out together.” Topics will include time travel, self-driving vehicles, women in STEM, and brain mapping. The Obama administration does believe, however, that where we are going we will still need roads.
In partnership with the Harry Potter Alliance, Andrew Slack’s fellowship has also launched Odds in Our Favor which is working with groups on economic equality issues throughout the country. People can submit their own personal stories around the topic of economic inequality here.
Marking the release of the Star Wars trailer, leading conservative Bill Kristol tweets that he was “rooting for the Empire from the first moment,” saying “it was a benevolent liberal empire, after all.”
Meanwhile, back in the real world: Twenty-two top tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Twitter, are against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a new report from Fight for the Future reveals. Comcast, HP, Cisco and Verizon back the bill, which is now on the floor of the Senate.
The Tides Foundation is taking nominations for the annual Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest. The $10,000 award goes to “one individual who has created or led an effort to create an open source software product of significant value to the nonprofit sector and movements for social change.”
Coming in November: A conference on “Responsible Use of Open Data: Government and the Private Sector,” co-sponsored by NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication; the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology; and the Information Law Institute. Lots of great speakers, including Amen Ra Mashariki, NYC’s Chief Analytics Officer; data scientist Cathy O’Neil; and Chris DiBona, Google’s Director of Open Source and Science Outreach. (h/t Matt Stempeck)