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.
“The actions of a handful of individuals are unlikely to steer corporate policy, but the trend could signal a looming recruiting pipeline problem if the companies don’t change tack.”
Written by Frank Pasquale on Real Life.
“The debate over the terms and goals of accountability must not stop at questions like “Is the data processing fairer if its error rate is the same for all races and genders?” We must consider broader questions, such as whether these tools should be developed and deployed at all.”
“The dispute over how to reform or restrict algorithms is rooted in a conflict over to whom algorithmic processes should be accountable. If it’s to a community of engineers and technocrats, then accountability will usually mean more comprehensive data collection to produce less biased algorithms. If it is accountability to the public at large, there are broader issues to consider, such as what limits should be placed on these tools’ use and commercialization, if they should even be developed at all.”
It’s all too quotable.
Frank Pasquale also recommends reading Safiya Umoja Noble and Virginia Eubanks:
“Scholars like Noble and Eubanks need to be at the center of future conversations about algorithmic accountability. They have exposed deep problems at the core of the political economy of information, in data-driven social control. They diversify the forms of expertise and authority that should be recognized in the development of better socio-technical systems. And they are not afraid to question the goals — and not simply the methods — of powerful firms and governments, foregrounding the question of to whom algorithmic systems are accountable.”
“Google has the ability to associate anonymous data collected through passive means with the personal information of the user. Google makes this association largely through advertising technologies, many of which Google controls.”
“Their reams of data converged on a breathtaking statistic: Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.”
“The uptick in violence did not correlate with general web use or other related factors; this was not about the internet as an open platform for mobilization or communication. It was particular to Facebook.”
“The data broking company, which provides advice on pregnancy and childcare, sold the information to Experian Marketing Services, a branch of the credit reference agency, specifically for use by the Labour Party. Experian then created a database which the party used to profile the new mums in the run up to the 2017 General Election.”
“Google’s search service cannot currently be accessed by most internet users in China because it is blocked by the country’s so-called Great Firewall. The app Google is building for China will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws, restricting access to content that Xi Jinping’s Communist Party regime deems unfavorable.”
“The Chinese government blocks information on the internet about political opponents, free speech, sex, news, and academic studies. It bans websites about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, for instance, and references to ‘anticommunism’ and ‘dissidents.’ Mentions of books that negatively portray authoritarian governments, like George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, have been prohibited on Weibo, a Chinese social media website.”
“Facebook was doing literally exactly what it was built for. That’s why it was worth six hundred billion dollars. You didn’t build history’s most profitable data harvesting machine by accident.”
John Oliver tells it how it is about Facebook.
Channel 4 spoke with Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor who has become a critic of the company over issues including the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. He said Facebook stood to benefit from extreme content.
“It’s the really extreme, really dangerous form of content that attracts the most highly engaged people on the platform,” he said. “Facebook understood that it was desirable to have people spend more time on site if you’re going to have an advertising-based business.”