👓 Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data | NBC News

Read Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data (NBC News)
Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.

The story somehow just gets worse and worse and still they just apologize and continue on as usual… It’s shocking to see so many who raised ethical issues along the way are remaining silent now, ostensibly because they are still on the gravy train and are enriching themselves by staying silent.

📑 YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Annotated YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant by Mark Bergen (Bloomberg)
When Wojcicki took over, in 2014, YouTube was a third of the way to the goal, she recalled in investor John Doerr’s 2018 book Measure What Matters.“They thought it would break the internet! But it seemed to me that such a clear and measurable objective would energize people, and I cheered them on,” Wojcicki told Doerr. “The billion hours of daily watch time gave our tech people a North Star.” By October, 2016, YouTube hit its goal.  

Obviously they took the easy route. You may need to measure what matters, but getting to that goal by any means necessary or using indefensible shortcuts is the fallacy here. They could have had that North Star, but it’s the means they used by which to reach it that were wrong.

This is another great example of tech ignoring basic ethics to get to a monetary goal. (Another good one is Marc Zuckerberg’s “connecting people” mantra when what he should be is “connecting people for good” or “creating positive connections”.

A brief reflection on Kate Bowles’ keynote at OER 19

Kate Bowles gave a great Keynote at the Open Education Resources 2019 (OER19) conference in Galway last night. In it she indicates how politicians, economists and even universities themselves measure their growth at the level of imports/exports and even compare it with mining in a cynical way to describe the movement of their educational resources and students.

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote:'What do iron ore, coal and Australia'sinternational education sector have in common? They're the top three exports for Australia, with recent international trade data showing that the international education sector contributed AUS$32.2 billion (US$24.7 billion) dollars to the economy in 2017' --ICEF Monitor, 2018

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote: '81 per cent of Australians grasp that international education makes a major contribution to national prosperity. This overwhelming public support rises again--to 85 per cent--when Australians learn exactly how much income this sector brings into the Australian economy each year.'--Universities Australia, March 2019
A slide from

“What a chilling thing to say about young people crossing the world to learn.” –Kate Bowles (in response to the slide immediately above)

The fact that businesses, governments, and even universities themselves would take such an ugly standpoint on teaching and learning is painful. It reminds me that one of the things that I think the open IndieWeb movement gets right is that it is people-centric first and foremost. If you can take care of people at the most base level, then hopefully what gets built upon that base–while still watching it carefully–will be much more ethical.

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web”.

As a result of this people-centric vision, I’m seeing a lot less of the sort of ills, unintended consequences, and poor emergent behaviors caused by the drive toward surveillance capitalism within the giant social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

I’m reminded of a part of the thesis that Cesar Hidalgo presents in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order from Atoms to Economies of the idea of the personbyte and what that looks like at a group level, then a corporate level, and I wonder how it may grow to the next level above that. Without ultimately focusing on the person at the bottom of the pyramid however, we may be ethically losing sight of where we’re going and why. We may even be building an edifice that is far more likely to crumble with even worse unintended consequences.

Here’s her talk in full. I highly recommend it.

Quoted from email about "Policy change in regards to Social Media use for social learning from Centre for Innovation, Leiden University" by Tanja de Bie, Community Manager (Centre for Innovation, Leiden University via Coursera)

The Centre for Innovation of Leiden University has always strongly supported social or collaborative learning in online learning:  the interaction between learners facilitating learners, whether that is in discussion forums, peer review assignments or in our Facebook groups, contributes to a deeper understanding of subjects, and prepares learners to apply their knowledge.

However, the Centre for Innovation has a responsibility to our teachers, learners and volunteers, under GDPR and our own Privacy Policy. Based on this we conducted a review of different platforms that we made use of for collaborative, social learning and have decided to move away from those that do not allow us to meet our obligations and promises to those in our care.

Therefore we have decided to close all Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups and Instagram accounts currently under control of the Centre for Innovation, per the 29th of March 2019, and have adjusted our courses accordingly.

You can direct any questions or remarks in regards to this policy to MOOC@sea.leidenuniv.nl.

Kind Regards,

On behalf of Centre for Innovation, Leiden University,

Tanja de Bie, Community Manager

At least part of Leiden University is apparently making the moral and ethical call to close all their Facebook related properties. Kudos! They’ve already got a great website, perhaps they’ll move a bit more toward the IndieWeb?

🎧 The Daily: Silicon Valley’s Military Dilemma | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Silicon Valley’s Military Dilemma from New York Times

Should Big Tech partner with the Pentagon? We examine a cautionary tale.

Some great history and questions about ethics here.

I’m surprised that for it’s share of profits that Down didn’t spin off the napalm division to some defense contractor?

Of course some tech companies are already weaponizing their own products against people. What about those ethical issues.

👓 Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company | Medium

Read Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company by Sahil Lavingia (Medium)
I left my job as the second employee at Pinterest–before I vested any of my stock–to turn Gumroad into a billion-dollar company. And…

A great little essay. We need more entrepreneurs building things like this rather than chasing the dream of being a unicorn. We need more stories like this, because this is how the world really works, not the other way around.

🎧 Close Encounters | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to Close Encounters | On the Media from WNYC Studios

The Lincoln Memorial debacle showed how vulnerable the press are to a myriad of social and political forces. This week, we examine how the outrage unfolded and what role MAGA hat symbolism might have played. And, a graphic photo in the New York Times spurs criticism. Plus, a reality show that attempts to bridge the gap between indigenous people and white Canadians. 

1. Bob's thoughts on where the Lincoln Memorial episode has left us. Listen.

2. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], tech writer, on the zig-zagging meta-narratives emerging from the Lincoln Memorial episode, and the role played by right-wing operatives. Listen.

3. Jeannine Bell [@jeanninelbell], professor at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law, on MAGA hat symbology. Listen.

4. Kainaz Amaria [@kainazamaria], visuals editor at Vox, on the Times' controversial decision to publish a bloody photo following the January 15 attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Listen.

5. Vanessa Loewen, executive producer of the Canadian documentary series First Contact and Jean La Rose, CEO of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, on their televised effort to bridge the gap between indigenous and settler Canadians. Listen

So many interesting failures of journalism in this story which were fueled primarily by social media. Old media would have left it for a bit longer, particularly since it involved minors.

I increasingly want to get my news once a week well after a story has begun and most of the facts have shaken out. Rarely is something so timely that I need it immediately. I saw a few mentions of this story as it was developing, but it all had the stink of click-bait, so I kindly moved on. It’s amazing to hear the underlying pieces and fuller story after-the-fact.

The best section of this episode (and probably the most thought provoking story I’ve heard recently) was that of the interview with Kainaz Amaria on how we report on wars and famines that affect other countries and particularly countries involving poor people and those who are non-white. While the recent photo of the Yemeni girl (in conjunction with Jamal Khashoggi) may have helped to turn the political tide with respect to US participation in the crisis in Yemen, we definitely need a better way to engage people in the US without trampling over the dignity of the people living in those communities. Interestingly I’ll also point out that we all know the name and almost all of the details concerning Khashoggi, but almost no one knows the name of Amal Hussain and this fact alone is a painfully stark one.

The final portion of the episode was also truly enlightening. I’d love to see the documentary they made and hope that someone might make an American version as well.

🎧 “The Daily”: The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies from New York Times

A scientist in China claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited human beings. How should the U.S. respond?

🎧 IndieWebCamp Berlin 2018 Session Summaries | Marty McGuire

Listened to IndieWebCamp Berlin 2018 Session Summaries by Marty McGuireMarty McGuire from martymcgui.re

Listen to a summary of all the sessions at IndieWebCamp Berlin 2018!

Session notes: https://indieweb.org/2018/Berlin/Sessions

Narration by Marty McGuire
Edited by Aaron Parecki

This is a repost of https://aaronparecki.com/2018/11/18/7/indiewebcamp-berlin.

Interesting to see this served from Aaron’s domain when it looks and sounds just like another of Marty’s podcast. I’m guessing they collaborated at camp to put it together. I love the idea of not only having this as a quick audio summary of all the sessions, which I’ll now have to go back and watch a few, but of having this as a simple section at the end of day one at IndieWebCamps.

The sessions on Microformats, Displaying Responses, Data Ethics, Making your website work offline, and Location sound like interesting things to take deeper looks into. I particularly like the idea of separating the legal and the ethical portions completely away from each other and doing the ethical portion first and then secondly filtering that through any legal loopholes. Ideally the legal filter won’t actually be filtering anything out if the ethical is done properly, and if it does, then perhaps the legal has some issues.

👓 Peaceful Transfer of Power Update | Kevin Drum

Read Peaceful Transfer of Power Update by Kevin Drum

This morning I mentioned how excited Republican legislatures have become about stripping state officials of power just before those state officials happen to become Democrats. But I missed one. It turns out that many years ago Florida handed authority over concealed-carry permits to the state’s agriculture commissioner. Why? Because sometimes law enforcement playfully tries to actually enforce the law, and the NRA would prefer that not happen. Instead, they want concealed-carry permits rubber stamped by an elected official. But then this happened:

The agriculture commissioner’s office attracted unwanted attention in early 2018 after it was found that for 13 months, the department’s Division of Licensing stopped using results from an FBI crime database that ensures those who apply do not have a disqualifying history in other states.

This was fine with the NRA, of course, but even in Florida it turns out that voters were unamused. As a result, they elected a Democrat as agriculture commissioner. A Democrat! This is the NRA’s worst nightmare, no now they’ve proposed that concealed-carry permits be transferred to…

…the state’s CFO.

The what?

Yeah, Florida has a CFO. It’s an odd office that was created just a few years ago, and the CFO doesn’t really seem to do all that much. But he is a Republican, so he’ll do. Democrats have counterproposed that concealed-carry permits be handled by law enforcement, which actually makes sense, but so far Republicans are having none of it. They’re dedicated to stripping the ag commissioner of authority and giving it once again to a Republican.

There’s no telling how hard they’ll kowtow to the NRA on this, but for now it looks like we have four GOP states that are desperately trying to strip elected officials of power in lame duck sessions before Democrats take over. Naturally, I have an updated map:

👓 What are our ethical obligations to future AI simulations? | Philip Ball | Aeon Essays

Read What are our ethical obligations to future AI simulations? by Philip Ball (Aeon)
Say you could make a thousand digital replicas of yourself – should you? What happens when you want to get rid of them?

👓 Top cancer expert forgot to mention $3.5M industry ties—he just resigned | Ars Technica

Read Top cancer expert forgot to mention $3.5M industry ties—he just resigned (Ars Technica)
For years, José Baselga didn’t mention industry links in dozens of top medical pubs.

👓 Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals | New York Times

Read Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals (New York Times)
A senior official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has received millions of dollars in payments from companies that are involved in medical research.

This makes me think that researchers should have a page on their websites (like impressum, about, or other similar pages) that lists all of their potential research conflicts? What to call it? A Disclosure page, a Financial Ties page? It could have a list of current as well as past affiliations, along with dates, and potentially the value amounts paid (which are apparently available publicly in separate filings). In addition to posting their potential conflicts and disclosures on their own websites, researchers could easily cut and paste them into their publications (or at least their students, post docs, fellow researchers, or secretaries could do this when they’re apparently too busy to make a modicum of bother to do it themselves.)

I’m kind of shocked that major publishers like Elsevier are continually saying they add so much value to the chain of publishing they do, yet somehow, in all the major profits they (and others) are making that they don’t do these sorts of checks as a matter of course.

📺 Gene Editing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | HBO via YouTube

Watched Gene Editing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver from HBO via YouTube

Scientists are developing new ways to alter the genetic code of living organisms. John Oliver explores the risks, rewards, and wolf-related hazards of gene editing.

👓 An ethical framework for the digital afterlife industry | Nature Human Behaviour

Read An ethical framework for the digital afterlife industry by Carl Öhman, Luciano Floridi (Nature Human Behaviour)
The web is increasingly inhabited by the remains of its departed users, a phenomenon that has given rise to a burgeoning digital afterlife industry. This industry requires a framework for dealing with its ethical implications. The regulatory conventions guiding archaeological exhibitions could provide the basis for such a framework.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

four categories of firms:
(1) information management services,
(2) posthumous messaging services,
(3) online memorial services and
(4) ‘re-creation services’

…the online security company McAfee claims that the average Internet user puts a value of US$37,000 on their digital assets.

they all share an interest in monetizing death online, using digital remains as a means of making a profit.

For example, financially successful chat-bot services represent not just any version of the deceased, but rather the one that appeals most to consumers and that maximizes profit. The remains thus become a resource, a form of (fixed) capital in the DAI [Digital Afterlife Industry] economy.

To set the direction for a future ethical and regulatory debate, we suggest that digital remains should be seen as the remains of an informational human body, that is, not merely regarded as a chattel or an estate, but as something constitutive of one’s personhood. This is also in line with European Union legislation’s terminology regarding ‘data subjects’. Given this approach, the main ethical concern of the DAI emerges as a consequence of the commercially motivated manipulation of one’s informational corpse (that is, the digital remains of a data subject). This approach suggests we should seek inspiration from frameworks that regulate commercial usage of organic human remains. A good model is provided by archaeological and medical museums, which exhibit objects that, much like digital remains, are difficult to allocate to a specific owner and are displayed for the living to consume.