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Mediamocracy scribbles on the intersection between tech, law, culture and society.

A call for an AI Ethics and Social Impact Analysis

We ask artificially intelligent systems to make order in our messy modern realities, but very rarely do we question what type of order. This is a call for an historical awareness of the social systems that we are building: Which social, cultural norms, values and interests do they represent, reinforce and enact?

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CPDP 2017: Ethics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

– by Gry Hasselbalch (based on panel debate participation, Ethics, Observational Platforms, Mathematics and Fundamental Rights, CPDP, Brussels, 2017)

A few years ago a social media company decided to do some experiments on its users. Filling their news feeds with positive or negative stories, they were measuring hundreds of thousands of people’s emotional reactions. When the story surfaced there was of course a public out cry and the company found it self in a situation where it had to show that it cared. So a spokesperson apologized publically. However, she didnt apologize because what they did had been ethically questionable, they were just sorry that it had been “poorly communicated”.

Legally you can do a lot with data right now, and a lot is done with data, that is not necesarilly in the best interest of the individual. And this is the point where we revisit ethics – when the laws, social awareness and formal systems in place are not enough.

Continue reading “CPDP 2017: Ethics in the Age of Intelligent Machines”

Is True Online Privacy Only for the Rich?

by Gry Hasselbalch and Pernille Tranberg

First appeared in DailyDot 23rd October

BLOG: How come Facebook knows that I have a mother with Alzheimer’s, a woman asked the other day. She was sure that she hadn’t provided the social medium with such sensitive information. But when quizzed a bit further, she confirmed that she had googled the illness and been browsing the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. Both websites “gossip” about visitors’ behavior behind their back to other websites, including Facebook, via third-party cookies.

Continue reading “Is True Online Privacy Only for the Rich?”

Modern Alchemy: Solving the AI Mystery

– by Gry Hasselbalch

“Algorithms you get me like no other”. A person is leaning into a hole in an otherwise empty plain wall. Outside is a big sky with billions of distant stars. “30 songs you didn’t know you loved yet”, continues the Spotify ad. A spot for your eyes to dwell and escape as you rumble through the dark sizzling summer hot tunnels, squeezed between other subway commuters.

The Spotify ad billboards you see in the New York subway these days tell you how mystic personalization algorithms will change your life. They are higher mystic beings that somehow know you better than you know yourself. They will foresee your future, transform it into something better (a starry boundless sky), you can “get lost” in their universe and escape from the plain wall of every day life. Their science is the alchemy of today. Creating gold out of rocks.

Continue reading “Modern Alchemy: Solving the AI Mystery”

Who decides what privacy is?

Blog (updated 15 June 2016): There’s a battle of words going on, the battle is about the definition of “privacy”, and it’s been going on for centuries. Somehow we’ve led ourselves to believe that the definition of privacy that we all think we share is something intrinsically connected to the individual. But actually it’s not. Although privacy as such is in fact only something the individual can claim (corporations and states cannot), the individual has always been very absent in the very construction of the concept.

Continue reading “Who decides what privacy is?”

Virtual reality is coming and it’s sending your data to Facebook

– by Gry Hasselbalch

In 2015 one of the most promising virtual reality products Oculus Rift reached the headlines of the world tech press. Oculus Rift has been described as expensive, but worth every penny. For the few that were able to test the device before its release, they primarily described is as an amazing experience, – a top score seeing that “experience” and the perfection of this  is the core criteria for judging any virtual reality product. And the market predictions for this new virtual extension of reality were skyrocketing  going from 600K units in 2016 to 2 million in 2017. It was sold out immediately in pre order. However, after its recent release it is now being more carefully scrutinized by users and the reviews have been less exstatic primarily due to concerns regarding the privacy of its users.

An Ethics for the Digital Age

– by Gry Hasselbalch

This January the European Data Protection Supervisor presented his new “Ethics Advisory Group”. A group of experts that will help him “reconsider the ethical dimension of the relationships between human rights, technology, markets and business models and their implications for the rights to privacy and data protection in the digital environment.” He is not the first European decision maker or thought leader to bring forward ethics as a guiding principle in the digital age. Over the last year digital ethics, and in particular data ethics, have become the “talk of the town” in Europe. Based on the realisation that laws have not followed pace with the development of digital technologies, technologists, academics, policymakers and businesses are today revisiting cultural values and moral systems when groping for a new ethical framework for the digital age.

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Opacity in machine learning algorithms

– by Gry Hasselbalch

In her new article “How the machine ‘thinks’: Understanding opacity in machine learning algorithms” (January 2016) Jenna Burrell from UC Berkley School of Information discusses methods to investigate opacity in algorithms. Once a technical, opaque word belonging to the sphere of computer scientists and programmers, “Algorithm” has today become a commonly used buzz word in business discourse. So much so that discussions about “big data” in an informed business community will always include a reference to the “Algorithmic Economy”. A new business adventure based on finding patterns in data, creating profiles, predicting and responding to data, making meaning out of data and transforming it into value.

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About the new EU age limit

BLOG: The long-awaited EU data protection reform agreed on by the Europan Union late Tuesday night stipulated among others that companies cannot process the data of children and young people under the age of 16 without their parents’ consent.

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Standing in the Rip Current of the Algorithmic Economy with Closed Eyes

– by Gry Hasselbalch

How can we question the ethics of a service if we don’t have access to the details of how it is designed to act on data? How can we put a health warning on a product if we don’t know the ingredients?

Continue reading “Standing in the Rip Current of the Algorithmic Economy with Closed Eyes”

A toy that wants to “phone home”

– by Gry Hasselbalch

Toy manufacturers are today creating intelligent toys that remember, find patterns and respond to data from children. We need a data ethical approach to innovation in the development of an “Internet of Things” for children.

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Machines in school: One more version of “free”

– by Gry Hasselbalch

“If it’s free then you are the product”. This statement normally applies to consumers paying for online services with their data. Another version of this is developers using big industry machine learning technologies for free to build and create services they don’t own the real value of.

Continue reading “Machines in school: One more version of “free””

Society of the Destiny Machine and the Algorithmic God (s)

– by Gry Hasselbalch, May 14 2015

Our destiny is a product. Fate is developed upon and innovated with. Fate is part of an actual machinery. It can be sold and traded with. Fate is something the Destiny Machine produces.

Continue reading “Society of the Destiny Machine and the Algorithmic God (s)”

“You’re going in the wrong DIRECTION!”

BLOG: Surveillance is the default. We need a change of direction. But waking up society can be a challenge. Did we hit the trucks yet?

It’s a Steve Martin and John Candy farce. Passenger: “He says we are going in the wrong direction”. Driver shrugs: “ah he’s drunk. How would he know where we are going? He he… what a moron!”

Den anden digitale kløft: Køb og sælg dit privatliv på nettet

(Read an English shorter version of this article here: THE SECOND DIGITAL DIVIDE: PAY FOR PRIVACY AND TRADE WITH PRIVACY)

BLOG: I fremtiden kan du købe forskellige grader af privatliv på nettet. Hvis du har råd til det.

Continue reading “Den anden digitale kløft: Køb og sælg dit privatliv på nettet”

The Second Digital Divide: Pay for Privacy and Trade with your Privacy

– by Gry Hasselbalch

If you weren’t already aware of it, you are being profiled online and your personal data traded in a billion dollar data industry. Don’t worry, most people don’t know much about this. The personal data market is incomprehensible to the average consumer mostly because the trades with their data happen without their direct involvement. And this seems to be the main problem when great minds have to come up with innovative solutions to today’s privacy invasive online business models. The fact that consumers are not involved directly in the trade. That they don’t get their cut of the cake. “Pay for Privacy” and “Trade with Privacy” become the norm, presented as the most fair solutions. But fair to who? Perhaps it’s more a question of a change in fundamental perspective?

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Maciej Cegłowski’s talk on the evolution of the surveillance pr default business model

BLOG: If you still didn’t read Maciej Cegłowski’s talk from May 2014 on the evolution of the surveillance pr default business model of the internet, please do so now. It cuts straight through the narratives of industry, government and other interest groups in the surveillance- privacy – internet debates of today and exposes them for what they are: specific views with specific interests heavily embedded in very specific power structures. Enjoy!

“My point again: it’s silly to pretend that keeping mass surveillance in private hands would protect us from abuses by government. The only way to keep user information safe is not to store it.” – Maciej Cegłowski

Continue reading “Maciej Cegłowski’s talk on the evolution of the surveillance pr default business model”

Recap of Computers, Privacy & Data Protection Protection Conference, Brussels 2015

BLOG: “It’s like preaching to the converted” one participant tells me when I arrive one day into the CPDP 2015 conference. And so it is. The meta narrative of the conference is so univocally clear and concurred that the Twitter feed #CPDP2015 is almost at a stand still. Expect from occasional ill received peeps from US representatives about compliance with EU data protection standards and so on and so forth, privacy is generally viewed as a business opportunity, an EU competitive differentiator and a legal right (yes, one still need to emphasise that).

Continue reading “Recap of Computers, Privacy & Data Protection Protection Conference, Brussels 2015”

Next: “The Selfie Drone” – which laws apply?

– by Gry Hasselbalch

The drones are arriving. Not only as military devices. But as a new business model, a different way of conducting journalism and a new research tool. The tiny device will fly high above and with images add a new perspective that reveals a world of detail that would not have been possible from a ground perspective. According to the media and journalism scholar Kathleen Bartzen Culver presenting at this weeks panel “Drones at the margins” at the annual CPDP 2015 conference it is estimated that the US will have between 20.000 – 30.000 drones by 2020 and that drones will be a 90 billion dollar industry in the future. Evidently so called ‘drone laws’ and policies are emerging aimed at framing the conduct of people and institutions with the devices. Continue reading “Next: “The Selfie Drone” – which laws apply?”

Conversations about privacy: Data ownership makes perfectly good sense in an open society

BLOG: Words are powerful. Used to justify specific ways of looking at the world and the nature of things, they have real consequences. I am currently looking at the societal conversation about privacy and the way in which these conversations inhibit us to think innovatively about society at large. Here’s another clash of discourses that impede us in our conversations about privacy: The conversation about “data ownership” in the digital age.

Præsentation1

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Be unpredictable

AWARENESS RAISING: One of the greatest challenges today is the societal habitualization to the digital surveillance society. If surveillance and prediction is the norm, accepted as the natural state of affairs, people stops questioning it.

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Language, power and privacy

Talk at the Indie Tech Summit, Brighton, July 2014
This is the direct transcript of my talk (thank you to the Indie Tech team for doing all the work!) DONT WANT TO READ? SEE THE TALK HERE

Continue reading “Language, power and privacy”

Tillid

“Tillid” har været år 2013’s buzz-word. Alle taler om ”tilliden til internettet”, som noget, der skal genskabes og genopbygges. Og den ”mistillid”, der er fulgt efter sidste års afsløringer om masseovervågning, præsenteres som et kerneproblem. Men måske vi skulle vente lidt med at genskabe tilliden til internettet.

This post is in Danish, because it was written for the Danish version of the Day we Fight Back campaign 11 February 2014.  Read the English translation here

Continue reading “Tillid”

The internet is broken – but we are still asked to “trust” it?

– by Gry Hasselbalch

“Trust ” was the word of the year. Everyone talks about “trust in the Internet ” as something that needs to be restored and rebuilt. And the mistrust in the internet that followed last year’s revelations about mass surveillance is presented as a core problem. But perhaps we shouldn’t aim to reestablish trust in an internet that is fundamentally broken, before we have actually fixed it.

Continue reading “The internet is broken – but we are still asked to “trust” it?”

“Privacy is a cultural construct”… Now, what’s next?

It is not as important to look for a new definition of the very contents of the concept of privacy as it is crucial to find acceptable common standards for the organizing principles of privacy today.

Continue reading ““Privacy is a cultural construct”… Now, what’s next?”

Privacy is the latest digital media business model (English translation of op ed in Politiken, August 2013)

– by Gry Hasselbalch

If you mentioned privacy and data protection in a discussion about digital media business innovation, data portability and social sharing a few years ago, you would most certainly have been viewed as a spoilsport. But do the same today and you might actually assert yourself as a great innovator.

Continue reading “Privacy is the latest digital media business model (English translation of op ed in Politiken, August 2013)”

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