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Challenging cybersecurity as the reason to oppose the consumer Right to Repair

The so-called 'Right to Repair' is a consumer grassroots initiative that seeks to allow technology users and consumers the ability to repair, modify, or seek third-party servicing of their electronic devices in a world where the maker of those devices prefers, if not requires, customers to use only their 'authorized' services or stores/facilities. Read more about Challenging cybersecurity as the reason to oppose the consumer Right to Repair

“Tool Without A Handle: Spirituality, Virtue, and Technology Ethics - Part 2”

This post visits some additional concepts of virtue found in Christian teaching supplementing concepts from other traditions such as Aristotle (natural law tradition), Buddhism, and Confucianism, namely:

Consumer preferences are not always the same as consumer interests;
Winning is not the most important thing;
Solitude matters as much as engagement;

If the only values applied to Internet services are to “give people what they want,” “win followers and ads at all costs,” and “maximize reach and engagement” we will be vastly underequipped to deal with the problems those services – and the people who use them - would create, both presently and yet to come. And we will fail to respond to our present moment, one characterized by trauma, wounding, and loss that should indeed motivate us to pursue new thinking and new approaches. Read more about “Tool Without A Handle: Spirituality, Virtue, and Technology Ethics - Part 2”

New Role at Stanford

"Some personal news," as they say: After five wonderful years at CIS, starting tomorrow (December 1) I'll be transitioning into a new role as a Research Scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. I'll continue to be a CIS affiliate (with blogging rights on this blog!), and my work will continue to focus on encryption, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues. 2021 is poised to be a consequential year for encryption policy in the U.S. Read more about New Role at Stanford

Dark Patterns and the CCPA

This past spring, while the pandemic was worsening around us and the first shelter in place orders went into effect, I began an exploratory research project with  then graduate student researcher (now Stanford Ph.D graduate) Andreas Katsanevas and a team of fantastic undergraduates: Claudia Bobadilla, Nivedha Kelley Soundappan, Emilia Porubcin (all from Stanford), and Morgan Livingston (U.C. Berkeley). Read more about Dark Patterns and the CCPA

Ransomware can interfere with elections and fuel disinformation – basic cybersecurity precautions are key to minimizing the damage

Government computer systems in Hall County, Georgia, including a voter signature database, were hit by a ransomware attack earlier this fall in the first known ransomware attack on election infrastructure during the 2020 presidential election. Thankfully, county officials reported that the voting process for its citizens was not disrupted. Read more about Ransomware can interfere with elections and fuel disinformation – basic cybersecurity precautions are key to minimizing the damage

“Tool Without A Handle: Spirituality, Virtue, and Technology Ethics”

A review of Shannon Vallor’s excellent book Technology and the Virtues, which details perspectives on virtue from Aristotle, Confucius, and Buddhist perspectives, suggests the inquiry would benefit from engagement with Christian Neo-Platonic and derivative perspectives. I agree, though here I extend the engagement to a more general set of Christian perspectives on virtue.

To do this, a Christianity emphasizing humility is preferable to one emphasizing difference and retribution. The goal is to be a candle, not a torch. This Christianity is well aware humans are often guided more by mental shortcuts than by objective analysis and rational choice. The “ego is the enemy” as one author put it. Which is to say, importantly, that the person is not the enemy; the person is not the problem.

Within each person, of any status, race, sexual or gender identity, age, or religious practice, is the divine and the good. I think it’s a mistake to place blame on what technology is “doing to us.” In the “software” of our DNA is a superior human capacity, one that can hear divine goodness. Rather than ignore it and treat humans as inexorably enslaved to our prejudices, a principle of virtue should aim at not only changes in technology design but also at defining a social consensus of personal accountability to emotional growth. Read more about “Tool Without A Handle: Spirituality, Virtue, and Technology Ethics”

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