Technology and Dystopia, Indiana Linuxfest 2013
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Technology and Dystopia, Indiana Linuxfest 2013

on

  • 255 views

How free software could save the world, the morning keynote at the Indiana Linuxfest 2013

How free software could save the world, the morning keynote at the Indiana Linuxfest 2013

Statistics

Views

Total Views
255
Views on SlideShare
255
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via as OpenOffice

Usage Rights

CC Attribution-ShareAlike LicenseCC Attribution-ShareAlike License

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment
  • Slide 1: What is Dystopia? What do I mean by dystopia? A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia, everything is wrong, the system doesn't value people and there is no real recourse. Fictional and real dysopias can be the result of pollution, overcrowding or depletion of resources. These problems lead to some combination of political repression, extreme censorship and/or suppression of history. A totalitarian regime may wield control via phyiscal force, propaganda or by pressuring citizens to relinquish personal control for the betterment of the group -- either for a spiritual goal or an economic one.
  • John Gaventa's seminal work on Power and Powerlessness chronicles 100 years of the struggle for power between the miners and the mining company in an Appalachian valley. He identifies three stages in the struggle for power. 1) Primary power is obvious. Physical power is primary. When miners know that the company controls who eats and who doesn't; that's a primary power structure. When someone is larger and stronger and they demand your lunch money, that's primary power. 2) Secondary power is a bit more subtle. Miners have the illusion of control over their destiny. Features of a secondary power structure include allowing elections for representatives, recourse for grievances and personal decision making -- as long as those things don't hurt the Company. Shorter work days or expensive safety measures aren't up for discussion. People know things aren't right, but they hold out hope for the issues that are currently "outside the scope" of the discussion. Going back to our lunch money example, when the vice-principal's kid asks for your lunch money and you know they have a habit of reporting kids who don't give up their lunch money -- that's secondary power. Your life will be worse if you refuse, but you still know you're being had. 3) Tertiary power is insidious. In Appalachia, miners are proud of being poor, they enjoy identifying as the kind of person who "works hard and plays hard" the kind of person who spends most of their paycheck on Friday night drinking. In this scenario, miners are voluntarily making the choices that are in the company's interest. There is no more rebellion. In our lunch money example, imagine a savvy modern-day Towm Sawyer who convinces the other kids to compete for the chance to give up their lunch money to him. That's tertiary power in a nutshell. These are abstract concepts, so more often than not you'll see a combination of different types of power being exercised at once.
  • Technology is a fantastic tool for exercising secondary power aka framing the debate, It's very easy to control what users do and don't see in the virtual world. Especially when the user doesn't know what to look for. There is the illusion of choices, but the array is limited. The way many people use web services contributes to the erosion of privacy which has the potential to encourage more conformity -- at least outwardly. I'm not a conspiracy person, but when everything you're doing is visible, it can be subjected to scrutiny. In the case of social media, I don't believe that anyone set out to eliminate or diminish our privacy, it just happened. One of the most universal features of totalitarian regimes - both real and fictional - is consolidation of power. In the case of tertiary power, the powerless no longer know they're being had. This is when we welcome our robot overlords with open arms.
  • In 1984, mainstream news tells blatant lies. Citizen journalists in China use Tor (anonymizing software) to write about local events to encourage social change and political reform. Many parts of China currently look a lot like the Appalachian company town I mentioned earlier. Sahana's Eden project (written in Python!) is software designed to help in the wake of a disaster. Any number of post-apocalyptic dystopias could be avoided by careful allocation of resources at a critical moment. Open Document Formats could help us avoid or return from a Farenheit 451 situation where no one reads anymore. Take a look at the Matrix or any of the singularity scenarios. What if the source code was available for those technological overlords? It wuld certaibnly make overthrowing them much easier than trying hack the binaries.
  • ** 1: Increase technological literacy. The more people who understand how technology works, the better they will be able to discern the goals and priorities of the software they use. ** 2: Support software that makes the source code available to users whenever you can. Transparency is critical. Think about voting machines or the way we store government data. What if the information you need to fight off zombie hordes is in an old unsupported format? ** 3: Whenever a technology has more than 60% of the market share, look around for alternatives. Especially if it's got anything to do with the flow of information, like sharing news or media. Social networks that encourage you to use everything through their site or too few outlets for books, music and movies should be regarded with suspicion.
  • hanks for listening! I would urge each and every one of you to work to increase technological literacy, work to promote and improve free software and support a diversity of news and media outlets. Even if we aren't about to usher in a terrible dystopic era, each of these goals is good in and of itself. More technological literacy means more ideas! And a larger pool of people to write software! More ideas from different types of people widens the range of problems we can solve with technology. Free software makes vendor lock-in less likely, which means more autonomy for users and autonomy is good. Working against monopolies, even benign ones, means more competition, more choices and more accountability. So, even if you don't think the robot overlords are on their way, I hope you'll still help save the world with software.
  • hanks for listening! I would urge each and every one of you to work to increase technological literacy, work to promote and improve free software and support a diversity of news and media outlets. Even if we aren't about to usher in a terrible dystopic era, each of these goals is good in and of itself. More technological literacy means more ideas! And a larger pool of people to write software! More ideas from different types of people widens the range of problems we can solve with technology. Free software makes vendor lock-in less likely, which means more autonomy for users and autonomy is good. Working against monopolies, even benign ones, means more competition, more choices and more accountability. So, even if you don't think the robot overlords are on their way, I hope you'll still help save the world with software.

Technology and Dystopia, Indiana Linuxfest 2013 Technology and Dystopia, Indiana Linuxfest 2013 Presentation Transcript

  • Technology and Dystopia: How Free Software Could Save the World Deb Nicholson Indiana Linuxfest 7.27.2013
  • Pollution
  • Overcrowding
  • Totalitarianism
  • The road to hell?
  • Good for the gander
  • When things fall apart
  • “Power and Powerlessness”
  • “Power and Powerlessness” By John Gaventa
  • Primary power
  • No pretenses
  • Might makes right
  • Lunch money
  • Secondary power
  • Subtle
  • One does not simply walk into Mordor
  • The vice-principle's kid
  • Expect the Spanish Inquisition
  • Moderate reforms
  • Tertiary power
  • Insidious
  • "They worked their men for a song -- and the men sung it themselves." An unnamed miner
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Rebellion?
  • dissappears
  • Technology
  • Technology changes everything
  • ...except the nature of power
  • Ignorance
  • … is very convenient
  • … is very convenient for the powerful
  • Framing the debate
  • “It's good to be the king.”
  • Who green-lighted the Terminator project?
  • Recommendation #1: Increase technical literacy
  • This also empowers people!
  • Diversity helps us build better technology
  • Consolidation is bad
  • Water
  • Air
  • 1984
  • News
  • Books
  • Social media
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Recommendation #2: Actively work against monopolies
  • How can you fight the unknown?
  • How big is the enemy?
  • How can we choose the right tools?
  • How can we choose the right tools?
  • ZOMBIES
  • OMG ZOMBIES
  • OMG ZOMBIES!!!
  • “cannot open your file”
  • Sahana
  • Recommendation #3: Choose free software and support open formats
  • Your browsing habits
  • May not get you killed
  • ...but then again, they might.
  • The panopticon encourages conformity.
  • Recommendation #4: We must preserve privacy
  • I usually confine my scariness
  • ...to the much drier topic of software patent aggression
  • Sorry.
  • More technical literacy also means more cool ideas
  • A vibrant marketplace is more fun
  • Transparency leads to a better world
  • More privacy means more weird
  • OMG ZOMBIES!!!
  • Sorry, again.
  • Help me make the world a better place!
  • CC-BY-SA Boat! by Kwame Nkansah Giant Eye by swanksalot Public Domain Nosferatu from Wikipedia CC-BY Red Sky by Michael Lehenbauer Smokehouse by Don O'Brien Girls in Papua New Guinea by OLPC Couple by Aditya Rahkman Robots by jerekey Cat and Mouse by steve p2008 Referee by Dan 4th Lion by Fountain Head Genoese Fortress by vanderfrog deb@eximiousproductions.com Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley by John Gaventa
  • Thanks! deb@eximiousproductions.com