Jump to content

A new tech thread


Recommended Posts

We are complicit in our employer's deeds

Published 2020-05-05 on Drew DeVault's blog

 

Tim Bray’s excellent “Bye Amazon” post inspired me to take this article off of my backlog, where it has been sitting for a few weeks. I applaud Tim for stepping down from a company that has demonstrated itself incompatible with his sense of right and wrong, and I want to take a moment to remind you that the rest of us in the tech industry have the same opportunity — no, the same obligation as Tim did.

 

As software engineers, we enjoy high salaries and extremely good job security. A good software engineer with only a couple of years of experience under their belt can expect to have an offer within 1 or 2 months of starting their search. It can seem a little scary and stressful, but if you’re a programmer already working at $company and you’re looking for a change, you’re better off than 99% of your non-technical friends. In tech, hardly anyone is “trapped” at a bad job; or at least we don’t have a good excuse for not trying for something better.

 

Tim calls out Amazon’s terrible, unhealthy working conditions and retaliation against staff who speak up or try to organize.1 Google conducts mass surveillance, kowtows to oppressive regimes, and punishes workers who stand up to them. Less obvious stuff, too — Apple builds walled gardens and makes targeted attacks on open standards, Facebook is a giant surveillance tool which routinely disregards the law, the same behavior which made Uber and Airbnb into the giants they are today, all while fostering a “gig” culture in which the poor have no stability or security. Mass surveillance, contempt of the law, tax evasion, oppression of the poor, of minorities… this is what our industry is known for, and it’s our fault.

 

This is why I hold my peers accountable for working at companies which are making a negative impact on the world around them. As a general rule, it costs a business your salary × 1.5 to employ you, given the overhead of benefits, HR, training, and so on. When you’re making a cool half-million annual salary from $bigcorp, it’s because they expect to make at least ¾ of a million that they wouldn’t be making without you. It does not make economic sense for them to hire you if this weren’t the case. Your contribution makes a big difference.

 

If the best defense we have for working at these companies is the Nuremberg defense, that doesn’t reflect well on us. But, maybe you would object, maybe you would have the courage to say “no” when asked to do these things. Maybe you would, but someday, a cool project will come across your inbox - machine learning! Big data! Cloud scale! It’s everything you were promised when you took the job, and have more fun with it for a few months than you have had in a long time. Your superiors are thrilled - “it’s perfect!”, they say, and it’s not until they take it and start feeding it real-world data that you realize exactly what you have built. Doublethink quickly steps in to protect your ego from the cognitive dissonance, and you take another little step towards becoming the person you once swore never to be.

 

The rapid computerization of society has decreased the time necessary to build novel machines one thousand-fold. This endows us with a great responsibility, because whatever we build with them, the changes they bring to society will be upon us much, much faster than any changes to come before. Every software developer possesses alone the potential of 50 engineers living just 100 years ago. We can apply this power for good or for ill, but it’s up to each of us to make a deliberate choice on the matter.

 

https://drewdevault.com/2020/05/05/We-are-complicit-in-our-employers-deeds.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

a15.jpg.e90a0c652669ebb5fcbdaa2c8198205b.jpg

 

https://www.cnet.com/news/europes-largest-3d-printer-just-made-its-first-two-story-house/

 

 

Instagram kept deleted photos and messages on its servers for more than a year

https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/14/21368602/instagram-kept-deleted-photos-messages-on-servers-year-bug-fixed

 

 

We need a full investigation into Siri's secret surveillance campaign

 

Quote

Now, in a 20 May letter to EU privacy regulators, the whistleblower, Thomas Le Bonniec, renounced his non-disclosure agreement with Apple and demanded that regulatory authorities investigate Apple. He told the EU that while working for Apple his work included listening to the private conversations of people all over Europe talking about their cancer, dead relatives, religion, sexuality, pornography, relationships and drug use, among other topics, in secret recordings made by Siri and sent to Apple without their knowledge. Le Bonniec said regulators needed to take action because big tech companies “are basically wiretapping entire populations”.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/14/apple-siri-secret-surveillance-campaign-investigation

 

 

Lawsuit: Zoom Lied About Security Measures, End-to-End Encryption

https://www.legalreader.com/lawsuit-zoom-lied-security-measures-end-to-end-encryption/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Secret Service Paid to Get Americans' Location Data Without a Warrant, Documents Show

Quote

Babel Street is a shadowy organization that offers a product called Locate X that is reportedly used to gather anonymized location data from a host of popular apps that users have unwittingly installed on their phones. When we say “unwittingly,” we mean that not everyone is aware that random innocuous apps are often bundling and anonymizing their data to be sold off to the highest bidder.

 

https://gizmodo.com/secret-service-bought-access-to-americans-location-data-1844752501

Link to comment
Share on other sites

iFarm Raises $4 million to automate urban farming with AI and drones
venturebeat.com/2020/08/20/ifarm-raises-4-million-to-automate-urban-farming-with-ai-and-drones/

BrainChip, Magik Eye working on biometric gesture, object recognition, classification
www.biometricupdate.com/202008/brainchip-magik-eye-working-on-biometric-gesture-object-recognition-classification

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great app on iPad called science alert. Can’t vouch for affiliations etc, but updated regularly. Each article only brief with further links. Should interest some here. Would post links etc but have no idea how to and little interest in finding out at the moment.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • lake pinned this topic

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...