Watched CITP Webinar: Ed Felten - COVID-19, Technology, Privacy and Civil Liberties

CITP Webinar: Ed Felten - COVID-19, Technology, Privacy and Civil Liberties by Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) from Princeton University Media Central

Many systems have been proposed for using technology to help individuals and public health officials better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This talk will analyze the major proposed uses of information technology in the public health response to COVID-19, including aggregate reporting, contact tracing via direct proximity detection or location history matching, and creation of disease status passports. The public health value of these approaches will be considered along with their privacy and civil liberties implications. For several approaches, broad public acceptance is a prerequisite for success, making careful privacy and civil liberties protection an important contributor to public health goals.

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Remote Work Woes

Cisco says Webex video-calling service is seeing record usage too, even as competitor Zoom draws all the attention (CNBC)

People spent 5.5 billion meeting minutes on Webex in the first 11 business days of this month, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said on CNBC on Tuesday.

Just got an update from the service operation team where I work. WebEx has become unusable due to load. It’s a global problem. Hopefully, Cisco can add capacity to meet demand. I am concerned with how much the outsourced services like Zoom, WebEx, Teams, can handle the demand. The services are being stress-tested this week.…

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Beware of dependencies

Everything is Amazing, But Nothing is Ours (

"The other day, I came across a website I’d written over two decades ago. I double-clicked the file, and it opened and ran perfectly. Then I tried to run a website I’d written 18 months ago and found I couldn’t run it without firing up a web server, and when I ran NPM install, one or two of those 65,000 files had issues that meant node failed to install them and the website didn’t run. When I did get it working, it needed a database. And then it relied on some third-party APIs and there was an issue with CORS because I hadn’t whitelisted localhost.

My website made of files carried on, chugging along. This isn’t me saying that things were better in the old days. I’m just saying that years ago, websites were made of files; now, they are made of dependencies."

The last line really hit a chord with me: that’s exactly it. Worlds of scarcity are made out of things. Worlds of abundance are made out of dependencies. That’s the software playbook: find a system made of costly, redundant objects; and rearrange it into a fast, frictionless system made of logical dependencies. The delta in performance is irresistible, and dependencies are a compelling building block: they seem like just a piece of logic, with no cost and no friction. But they absolutely have a cost: the cost is complexity, outsourced agency, and brittleness. The cost of ownership is up front and visible; the cost of access is back-dated and hidden.

Everything is Amazing, But Nothing is Ours

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Why Paul Ford (Still) Loves Tech

Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry by Paul Ford (WIRED)

The things we loved — the Commodore Amigas and AOL chat rooms, the Pac-Man machines and Tamagotchis, the Lisp machines and RFCs, the Ace paperback copies of Neuromancer in the pockets of our dusty jeans — these very specific things have come together into a postindustrial Voltron that keeps eating the world. We accelerated progress itself, at least the capitalist and dystopian parts. Sometimes I’m proud, although just as often I’m ashamed. I am proudshamed.

When I think back to those early days of tech, I feel sad. Something has been lost. Innocence?

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