Each episode, host Nikita Aggarwal goes between the covers with authors of books about technology. New episodes every second Thursday. Follow us on Twitter @TechnologyProse @nikitaggarwal
John Danaher on Automation and Utopia
John Danaher, Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway, discusses his new book, Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World Without Work.
On the season finale of Technology & Prose, John Danaher joins host Nikita Aggarwal to talk about the meaning of work (1:13), the automatability and automation of work (2:36), why we should welcome automation — the case for technological unemployment (10:02), the gig economy, Uber, and the limits to improving the conditions of work (13:25), building a post-work future - the ‘cyborg utopia’ and the ‘virtual utopia’ (19:25), problems with cyborgization (22:44), the meaning of utopia (28:00), the concept of virtual reality (29:53), constructing a virtual utopia, the ‘utopia of games’ (34:40), psychedelics and other sources of human flourishing in a post-work future (41:25), Big Tech, universal basic income (UBI) and the political economy of virtual utopia (42:34).
Manyika et al, A Future that Works: Automation, Employment and Productivity
Frey and Osborne, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?
Robertson, Robo Sapiens Japanicus
UK Supreme Court decision in Uber v Aslam
Gallup, State of the Global Workplace Report
Harari, Sapiens and Homo Deus
Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia
Macintyre, After Virtue
Check out John’s blog and podcast, Philosophical Disquisitions
Recorded on 29th March 2021.
Sushma Raman on The Coming Good Society
Sushma Raman, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses her new book, The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights (co-authored with Bill Schulz).
On this episode of Technology & Prose, Sushma Raman joins host Nikita Aggarwal to talk about the meaning and role of human rights in the Good Society (1:45), the tension between strengthening existing rights and recognising new rights (4:30), Big Data, surveillance and the right to privacy (5:54), intercultural perspectives on the right to privacy and human rights (11:35), human gene editing, DNA sequencing, the use of ‘shed DNA’ and rights in our DNA (14:20), the rights of synthetic embryos (SHEEFS)(21:25), sentience and the recognition of rights, animal and robot rights (23:30), the current state of human rights (25:48), the ‘right to transition’ and the pros/cons of recognizing new rights (28:40), grassroots activism, international human rights organizations and the locations of human rights power (31:17), technology and human rights at the Carr Center (33:30).
The Capabilities Approach https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/capability-approach/
Universal Declaration of Human Rights https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
Sheila Jassanoff and J. Benjamin Hurlbut, A Global Observatory for Gene Editing https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03270-w
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award https://rfkhumanrights.org/
Justice Matters podcast https://carrcenter.hks.harvard.edu/podcasts
Recorded on March 18th 2021
Aaron Roth on The Ethical Algorithm
Aaron Roth, Professor of Computer Science at UPenn, discusses his recent book, The Ethical Algorithm: The Science of Socially Aware Algorithm Design.
On this episode of Technology & Prose, Aaron Roth joins host Nikita Aggarwal to talk about the importance of ethical algorithm design (1:34), differential privacy and designing privacy-preserving algorithms (6:09), the costs and trade-offs of designing for privacy (10:38), application of differential privacy by Apple, Google and the 2020 US Census (14:13), GANs and synthetic data (18:22), designing fair algorithms, the ProPublica COMPAS investigation, the value and challenge of formalising ethical norms (20:30), modelling fairness/accuracy trade-offs (28:26), multi-objective optimisation (32:36), algorithmic game theory and designing for cooperation (34:13), incentivising organisations to adopt ethical algorithm design, privacy and fairness regulation (40:28).
Dinur and Nissim, Revealing Information While Preserving Privacy
Goodfellow et al, Generative Adversarial Nets
Angwin et al, ProPublica report on COMPAS
Northpointe’s response to ProPublica
Kleinberg et al, Inherent Trade-offs in the Fair Determination of Risk Scores
Recorded on March 5th 2021.
William Magnuson on Blockchain Democracy
William Magnuson discusses his latest book, Blockchain Democracy: Technology, Law and the Rule of the Crowd
On this episode of Technology & Prose, William Magnuson, Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M, joins host Nikita Aggarwal to discuss Satoshi Nakomoto and the genesis of bitcoin (1:40), the history of the internet, the Cypherpunk movement and early cryptocurrencies (4:00), the 2008 financial crisis and the socio-political drivers of bitcoin (9:57), bitcoin and blockchain as technologies of democracy, the role of miners and cryptocurrency exchanges (12:44), Mt. Gox and crime on the blockchain (17:04), Silk Road and the regulation of bitcoin and blockchain (24:40), international bitcoin regulation (28:58), law enforcement on the blockchain, ‘anonymity’ of bitcoin, design changes to reduce criminal activity (30:24), blockchain beyond bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, permissioned/private blockchains (33:15), the environmental costs of bitcoin and blockchain (36:05), proof of stake vs proof of work, increasing energy efficiency of the blockchain (38:51), how (not) to buy bitcoin! (40:49).
The Bitcoin White Paper
Recorded on February 26 2021.
Sam Woolley on The Reality Game
Sam Woolley discusses his new book, The Reality Game: How the Next Wave of Technology Will Break the Truth.
On this episode of Technology & Prose, Sam Woolley, Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at UT Austin, joins host Nikita Aggarwal to talk about computational propaganda (comprop), mis- and disinformation (1:43) how the term ‘fake news’ has been weaponised by despots (4:46) the ‘Reality Game’ and how comprop has distorted the truth, increased polarisation and decreased trust in institutions (6:30) the key perpetrators of comprop (9:05) grassroots v astroturfing and the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate manipulation (10:20) the history of comprop from Ukraine and the Arab Spring to Trump, Brexit, and Cambridge Analytica (12:16) the role of social media platforms in spreading comprop (15:05) why platforms haven’t taken enough action to tackle comprop (18:10) free speech, section 230 CDA and why governments need to do more to regulate comprop (24:30) recent action by Twitter and Facebook to de-platform Trump and tackle health disinformation (30:13) addressing the demand-side of comprop, why conspiracy theories travel faster than truth, designing technology with human rights in mind (31:58) Deepfake, VR/AR, audio, haptics, and the future of comprop (36:19) the need for more solutions-oriented work on comprop (40:04).
Recorded on 11th Feb 2021.
Nick Diakopoulos on Automating the News
Nick Diakopoulos discusses his latest book, Automating the News: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Media.
On this episode of Technology & Prose, Nick Diakopoulos, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Computer Science at Northwestern University, joins host Nikita Aggarwal to talk about how AI is being used in the news media (1:43) the use of AI for story discovery and the Lead Locator project (5:15) hybrid human-AI journalism (8:23) defining “newsworthiness” and the risk of selection bias in data-driven journalism (10:53) data science skills and the need for more interdisciplinary journalism education (14:54) the impact of social media platforms and search engines on news curation and journalistic values (16:58) regulating social media platforms and the use of AI in the news (20:38) clickbait, virality and the values embedded in news algorithms (24:11) advertising versus subscription news business models (26:06) the opportunities of newsbots (27:56) mis/disinformation and the risks of newsbots (34:28) algorithmic accountability reporting, website scraping under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, platform APIs (38:09) the newsroom of the future and the impact of automation on jobs in the media (40:00).
The Computational Journalism Lab @ Northwestern https://cj-lab.org/
Northwestern University Knight Lab https://knightlab.northwestern.edu/
Newsbots: @AnecbotalNYT ; @TrumpsAlert
Bandy and Diakopoulos, Auditing News Curation Systems: A Case Study Examining Algorithmic and Editorial Logic in Apple News
Bandy and Diakopoulos, #TulsaFlop: A Case Study of Algorithmically-Influenced Collective Action on TikTok
Diakopoulos et al, Generating Location-Based News Leads for National Politics Reporting (The Lead Locator Project)
Recorded on February 4th 2021