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A topic of perennial interest in technology studies is how technology shapes the way people think.  It is clear that the way people think affects technology, as in the example of how gender is encoded in architecture, recently noted in this blog.

It is less obvious that influence goes the other way too.  People tend to think that they have fixed or solid set of ideas and preferences and, then, design technology to conform to them.  This view is represented in the expression that technology is "just a tool."

Many Ontario municipalities are currently involved in debates over the adoption of e-voting.  I recently wrote a report that I submitted to the City Council of Guelph (where I live) urging against its adoption here.  I also delegated to the Council on this issue (24 April).  Since other speakers were covering matters such as security and accessibility, I decided to use my five minutes to raise the issue of transparency. 

A piece by Sewell Chan in the New York Times notes that Dutch authorities have pulled the plug on computerized ballots and ballot counting for their next national election.

The move was prompted by concerns over the integrity of the election in the face of hacking concerns. In particular, allegations of tampering in the recent US election have caused the Dutch government to re-examine their setup, which was found wanting:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

AI, you and your work

The adoption of computers has profoundly impacted work.  It gave rise to a new class of laborer, e.g., the "knowlege worker". It  also replaced certain kinds of work, e.g., through automation.  Trade-offs of this type are a normal result of technological changes.

Currently, artificial intelligence is assuming a greater role in work.  Three recent article illustrate this trend and the sorts of trade-offs that come with it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

AI, discovery, and censorship

My news feed put up an interesting pair of articles about applications of AI to what might be called knowledge discovery.

The first was an article by Adrienne Lafrance about the search for another Antikythera mechanism.  The Antikythera mechanism is an astronomical computer made in Hellenistic Greek times and found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in 1901.

An interesting article by Alice Hopton on CBC news discusses when people might be required to do without their smartphones.

The article describes Yondr, a small pouch in which smartphones may be locked during concerts, classes, and other social gatherings.  Yondr's inventor, Graham Dugoni, argues that some people's habit of recording concerts, rather than just experiencing them unfiltered, undermines the point of such events, which is: