Wednesday, March 4, 2:00 PM in Folsom Library Conference Room (2nd-floor)
Privacy concerns in messaging apps, browsers, and operating systems
Incentive structures that make mainstream apps and software likely to have predatory data harvesting
Potential for different incentive systems to create less predatory systems like Firefox, Signal, Linux, etc.
Getting people to care about privacy and devote time and energy to protecting themselves
The onus this puts on individuals when it's up to the structures to represent the best interest of people
The speculative bubble around selling data
Fighting nihilism about the futility of fighting against large structures that harvest data
Is the problem technology? Capitalism? How technology props up capitalism and vice versa?
What it means to be autonomous. Can we be autonomous in a world dependent on manipulative tech?
What does the pace of automation look like? Past experts predicted that nearly all labor would be automated by now and current experts have made similar predictions for 2030, 2050, etc. What's a more realistic way of looking at automation?
What kind of jobs will be impacted? Manual labor comes to mind but what about creative and professional work? Wouldn't an automated doctor with access to millions of medical records that it can scan be better than a human doctor? Wouldn't a neural network that can go through millions of generations of songs produce better music?
What will happen to manual labor? The transportation industry is the second largest employer in the United States. Self-driving cars could affect millions of drivers.
What about office work? Will a larger proportion of office workers' time be spent training programs to do their jobs?
What would the economy look like if most American citizens are unemployable? How do we need to change our attitudes and societal structures to accommodate mass unemployment?
Who benefits from automation? The workers or the owners?
What role does technology play in automation versus the economic system propelling automation?
The nature of new media versus old. Is social media completely unprecedented?
Yes and no. The amount of information collected by social media platforms that maximize use-time is different as well as the lack of filter.
Digital communication being bad at conveying sentiment.
Individual experience with social media versus average.
Social media letting us indulge our desire to be angry at strangers.
Utility of social media versus the amount of information they take from us.
Different business models of social media (ad-based, subscription, etc.)
“Politics” of social media: centralized, free-for-all, community-based
Furries (still don't know what they are and I'M NOT LOOKING IT UP)
Giving extremists a platform. Free speech versus safety concerns. Freedom means freedom to express but also freedom from harm.
The historical relationship of science, technology, and the military. What were the motives of this relationship? How is it sustained? Who benefits?
The technological innovations produced by military spending. Does the benefit of useful military innovation outweigh the cost of destructive innovation? Is it fair that publicly funded innovation is now in the private sector? (e.g., computers, the internet, AI)
Autonomous military technology. Will the next war be fought remotely? What will engineers' and programmers' role in this be?
The police's adoption of high-tech surveillance and weaponry. The militarization of the police. What is the STEM industry's role in this relationship and the media's role in manufacturing public support for it?
Wednesday, January 22, 2:00 PM in the 2nd-floor Folsom Library Conference Room
Defined what we mean by technology and ethics.
Acknowledged how hard it is to define technology and ethics.
Acknowledged how many different lenses we can look at a social issue involving technology: through class, race, gender, power, etc.
How tech companies become more entrenched into the current social, political, and economic systems and begin to reflect them and their power imbalances.
How tech companies profit from fear.
Tech industry's relationship with the military.
We are all part of THE SYSTEM.
Ways RESET can grow and things we can do.
In the end, we decided to divide the efforts of the group into two:
1. Large public accessible conversations on social issues in technology. Similar to today's meeting but hopefully more accessible. We did a bad job at seating those who talk a lot away from those who talk a little and it created an imbalance. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating.
2. A smaller concerted activist effort for people who want to be more involved. This will involve more intense conversations, information campaigns, rallies, and protests.
Technology and social media's effect on our mental health and social norms.
Are we more isolated or connected (or both) because of technology?
Heavy users of social media report feeling more lonely, anxious, and depressed. Why is this? Who’s responsible: the user or the platform?
Technology usually minimizes the amount of face-to-face (or even voice-to-voice) interaction (e.g., self-checkouts, service apps). Is this making us afraid of each other? Is this making it harder to learn social norms and etiquette? (e.g., would a child who grew up with Siri and Alexa and never had to be polite to these AIs be polite to people to a food server?)
Technology’s effect on our attention span. (e.g. The first Lincoln-Douglas debate lasted 7 hours. Can we imagine anyone paying attention to two people talking for 7 hours? Most people don’t watch the presidential debates that last 2 hours.)
Conversely, technology allows us to communicate worldwide, have better access to mental health resources, and access near-infinite amounts of art and literature. How do we utilize this without succumbing to the problems highlighted above?
Wed, December 11, 2:30 PM in Folsom Libary Rm. 353B
London banning Uber
The implications of the “gig economy” on established employers w salaries and benefits
The near impossibility for Uber drivers or any contractors to form a legally-protected union
How the logic of capitalism can corrupt potential social goods. E.g., AirBnB had the potential to reduce waste by getting occupants for unoccupied realty but instead, landlords started evicting tenants because AirBnB is more profitable than rent
The video game industry and virtual reality subsuming real reality
Black Mirror is required viewing for next semester's RESET meetings
The nature of addiction. How addiction is viewed and categorized based on socioeconomic status. Socially productive ways of handling addiction (e.g., free drugs and needles to prevent people from endangering themselves)
What are some initiatives RESET can take on at RPI? Potentially: guest speakers, public forums, pushing for curriculum change (e.g., machine learning classes having a unit on algorithmic bias), alternative career fair.
How can RESET coordinate with other student groups across the country?
Would allow coordination of strikes, petitions, boycotts similiar to the Palantir protests across 16 colleges.
Create a national push for curriculum change in STEM education.
Allow students from different colleges to work together on issues of shared interest (e.g., women in STEM, cybersecurity, genetic technology)
Plan local or national meetups and events.
Unify the voice of students in STEM and future STEM workers, researchers, policy-makers.
Known groups or people from other colleges that have similar objectives or values with RESET that may be interested in an intercollegiate group.
Wed, December 4, 2:30 PM in Folsom Libary Rm. 353B
Cult-like co-living spaces in Silicon Valley where you live with your co-workers and work all the time.
Ideology of work and progress in the U.S.
Passionate and hard workers at tech companies (all companies for that matter) having no say when their company is sold and dissolved
More democratic ways of organizing a business: employee ownership, employee management, employee elections of management, etc.
Employee's lives not reflecting the success of their employer
Do we want a world that errs in favor of the owners and the business or errs in favor of the workers?
Is market freedom real freedom?
The elections woo! Cool fringe candidates and lame mainstream candidates
Growing disconnect between the generations and their desire for meaningful change despite older (boomer) generations being comfortable with the status quo
Racism...there's a lot of it
What is the role of students (STEM or otherwise) in the direction of the tech industry? Is the growing awareness of the ethical issues in science and technology creating a generation of future STEM professionals that will reform and use tech for the better? Or will they recreate the conditions that exist today?
Is the “build a billion-dollar company in your garage” dream gone? Are the realities of Silicon Valley becoming more apparent to young people?
How should students today voice their opinion on misuses and abuses of science and technology? Protests? Clubs? Open letters? Unionizing? Has this happened and is any of it effective?
What is a better direction for students to take STEM to? Are more democratic workplaces going to replace the hierarchical ones that dominate in Silicon Valley?
How can colleges and professors better educate students on these realities? Why are they so often left out?