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Unaccountable.

Put differently, when Toyota recalls hundreds of thousands of cars for potential defects in which exactly zero people were harmed, we consider that responsible stewardship of their product. And when the people working at Uber straight up murder a person with an autonomous vehicle, they’re allowed to say “but software”. Because much of software as an industry, I think, has been pushing relentlessly against the notion that the industry and people in it can or should be held accountable for the consequences of their actions, which is another way of saying that we don’t have and desperately need a clear sense of what a “duty of care” means in the software context.

Mike Hoye on duty of care.

This is, of course, an intentional by-product of thirty years of techbro mantrums and whining and refusing to grow up and, y’know. Realize that Actions Have Consequences, Actually…

2019-10-25T07:53:59+11:0013th February, 2020|Tags: tech|

… and you can too!

Obviously I wholeheartedly endorse this list of reasons why you (yes, you!) should totally have a website

Also amused to find out The Thing I Have Been Doing With My Blog Since The Early 2000s apparently now has a cute acronym: POSSE.

2019-10-25T07:48:25+11:0012th February, 2020|Tags: tech|

.com bubble up.

Like nuclear take but maybe giving control of like two thirds of the internet to the company that thought buying the rights to Crazy Frog was a good investment was not, like. That great an idea…

2020-02-14T08:19:58+11:0010th February, 2020|Tags: tech|

Digital superstition.

While this phenomenon has been called a hoax, a scam, and a new iteration of the chain letter, it’s also something like a superstition. People are legitimately concerned about the power of giant companies like Facebook, and it’s kind of believable that it’d be able to make these kinds of rules and you, the user, would be stuck with them. Thinking there must be some legal way out of this unequal relationship—that the law wouldn’t let one company act with impunity in this way—isn’t so irrational. And so these words keep popping up and, since there was no change in the first place, they seem to “work” and do no harm—like knocking on wood—so everyone forgets for a couple of years.

Katharine Trendacosta on digital supertitions.

This is about those panics that periodically go around social media where people believe making a post with a certain set of words in it will exempt them somehow from ToS enforcement or other unwanted behavior; the AO3’s version of this is the “don’t post to another site” tag, for example. The linking of this with superstitious practices like knocking on wood is pretty interesting—what are these posts, after all, but the digital equivalent of saying “bless you” to keep someone’s soul in when they sneeze—and now I’m imagining, like. All the weird little rituals and phrases people might be saying in ten or fifty or a hundred or a thousand years…

2019-10-23T08:53:50+11:005th February, 2020|Tags: culture, social media, tech|

Fauxpitalism.

But Uber has already plainly announced its roadmap: Self-driving cars. The much-lauded independent driver-entrepreneurs will be replaced by completely automated service providers as quickly as possible, and not only will those new self-driving cars not have drivers who need to be paid, they will all be owned by Uber itself. When this transition happens over the next decade, we’ll have entire markets of independent contractors displaced by the transition, precisely at the point when the social safety net is being dismantled. In the meantime, politicians across the political spectrum have been presenting these “gig economy” non-jobs as the future of work.

Anil Dash on fake markets.

A quick history of every intentionally engineered “mistake” that got us from eBay to Uber…

2019-10-09T15:54:07+11:0026th January, 2020|Tags: tech|

Government 101.

It’s not like Congress would say “we want to regulate your data collection practices” and Facebook would say “hmm no we’d rather you didn’t” and Congress would say “okay you have good lawyers we give up.” Facebook’s main leverage against the FTC—“we don’t think we did anything wrong and if you insist on restricting our data collection we will see you in court”—just wouldn’t work to stop Congress from making a law, because it is irrelevant. Congress can make a law about data privacy even if no one has broken any previous laws. In fact that’s the best reason to make a law! “There is a bad thing that is happening, and there is no law against it, so we should make a law against it”: That is a perfectly sensible line of reasoning!

[…]

The idea of passing a law to ban bad stuff is not to give the FTC more power to negotiate stricter settlement conditions. The idea of passing a law to ban bad stuff is to ban the bad stuff. If Congress passed a law restricting social media companies’ data collection practices, then the FTC wouldn’t need to include those restrictions in a consent decree with Facebook, because those restrictions would be in the law. Facebook would be bound by them, not because it agreed to them, but because they would be the law. Twitter and Google and other yet-to-be-invented internet services would also be bound by them, even without agreeing to them, because they would be generally applicable national rules about internet privacy passed by the legislative body in the name of the people, rather than the product of negotiations with one company.

Matt Levine on the law.

It’s almost like there’s been half a century of a concerted effort towards getting the public to stop thinking about the government as a tool through which it may use its collective will to curb the excesses of multi-million-dollar corporations and instead replacing that with an arrangement whereby the entire legislative and executive branches of government are replaced by the judicial. I mean. Almost. You remember that thing about the GOP not letting Obama appoint a SCOTUS judge? It’s almost like this is exactly the reason why. Who needs the affect of a representative democracy when you can have a panel of life-appointed plutocrats running the country as a kritocracy where he who has the most expensive lawyers almost always by-default wins?

2019-12-18T09:52:56+11:008th January, 2020|Tags: government, politics, social media, tech|