A reading list of articles and other links I use to inform my work at Small Technology Foundation, posted every weekday. Continued from the Ind.ie Radar, and Ind.ie’s Weekly Roundups. Subscribe to the Laura’s Lens RSS feed.
Google’s Top Search Result? Surprise! It’s Google
Written by Adrianne Jeffries and Leon Yin on The Markup.
“We examined more than 15,000 recent popular queries and found that Google devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls ‘direct answers,’ which are populated with information copied from other sources, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.”
Cummings, of SpanishDict.com, said something similar. “Google delivers the traffic for the whole internet. Unless your name is Facebook, you rely on Google,” he said. “It’s very risky to speak out at Google because you don’t know what type of retaliation you’ll face.”
Car Companies Want to Monitor Your Every Move With Emotion-Detecting AI
Written by Todd Feathers on Motherboard.
“Very soon, Cerence announced, it plans to deepen that data mining operation with in-cabin cameras linked to emotion-detecting AI—algorithms that monitor minute changes in facial expression in order to determine a person’s emotional state at any given time.
But safety is only one attraction of in-cabin monitoring. The systems also hold huge potential for harvesting the kind of behavioral data that Google, Facebook, and other surveillance capitalists have exploited to target ads and influence purchasing habits.
Eyeris CEO Modar Alaoui likewise told Motherboard that while his company’s technology is primarily designed to improve safety, “we do foresee at some point that [automakers] will try to leverage the data for several use cases, whether it be for advertising or [determining] insurance” premiums.”
Facebook Cannot Separate Itself From the Hate It Spreads
Written by Chris Gilliard on OneZero.
“Even a cursory look at Facebook’s “mistakes,” as they refer to them (or “Facebook’s business model” as it is known to most everyone outside of the company), includes redlining users, enabling age discrimination in hiring, offering “Jew haters” as an advertising category, promoting the “boogaloo” movement, fueling genocide in Myanmar, and aiding Duterte’s rise in the Philippines. It’s not so much that the problem of hate on Facebook is new, so much as that each new revelation is met mostly with an apology and a “promise” to do better moving forward. Facebook has been apologizing and promising this way since at least 2007. Yet the “mistakes” continue.”
“A company whose business model necessitates that it consistently discharge poison into the environment should be dismantled.”
The Loss Of Public Goods To Big Tech
Written by Safiya U. Noble on Noema.
“Investments in anti-democratic technologies come at an incredible cost to the public at a time when deeper investments should be made in public health, education, public media and abolitionist approaches in the tech sector.”
Thousands of contracts highlight quiet ties between Big Tech and U.S. military
Written by April Glaser on NBC News.
“Tech Inquiry’s research comes as technology companies have ramped up efforts to win large military and law enforcement contracts, despite employee activism against the work.”
“It’s important to recognize that the marketing that happens inside of these companies, assuring workers that what they’re doing is good and that their surveillance program is used for disaster relief and not drone targeting, for instance, is much like the marketing targeted at the public,” [Meredith Whittaker] said.
Technological Elites, the Meritocracy, and Post-Racial Myths in Silicon Valley
Written by Safiya Umoja Noble and Sarah T. Roberts on UCLA Published Works.
“What we learn from consistently studying the discourses of Silicon Valley is that its successes come at the expense of a growing number of communities. The costs to these communities are masked by investments in an imagined post-racial, post-gender, post-class reality that is seemingly sympathetic to inclusion, but resists it in material, quantifiable and cultural terms.”
‘Normal’ Was Actually Not Great for a Lot of People
Written by Alice Wong on Esquire.
“In this critical time, when scarcity is a reality, you see the hierarchy. Certain groups are valued over others. This is the world that so many disabled and chronically ill people already live in. Our lives are still seen as expendable. Now the magnitude is much greater.”
“My hope for coming out of this pandemic is that we don’t return to the status quo. Many don’t realize that “normal” was actually not great for a lot of people. Just because all of the nondisabled people go back to work—or to Burning Man, or to Coachella—that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about accessibility.”
Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm
Written by Kashmir Hill on The New York Times.
“We’ve been active in trying to sound the alarm bells around facial recognition, both as a threat to privacy when it works and a racist threat to everyone when it doesn’t,” said Phil Mayor, an attorney at [American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan]. “We know these stories are out there, but they’re hard to hear about because people don’t usually realize they’ve been the victim of a bad facial recognition search.”
Building the Woke Web: Web Accessibility, Inclusion & Social Justice
Written by Olu Niyiawosusi on A List Apart.
“Not having access to the internet is expensive, locking you out of essential services and a surfeit of helpful information. Giving people full access to the splendors and knowledge of the online world should be imperative for everyone who works on it.”
“People with disabilities are more likely to be a captive audience to apps and websites using their data inappropriately or engaging in other unethical practices. This may be because they rely on a particular site to interact with other people with disabilities, because they lack the tools to visit other sites, or lack other suitable websites or apps to use.”
“All the tenets of intersectional feminism, web accessibility, and diversity and inclusion are inextricably tied up in making the web a better place, for all and by all.”
Humans are not the virus: don’t be an eco-fascist
Written by Sherronda J. Brown on gal-dem.
“Eco-fascist rhetoric works to obscure the responsibility of white colonialism and its long history of destruction, as well as imperialist presences in predominantly black and brown countries”