Technology is all over

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

By Paul Heidebrecht

Waterloo Region Record Logo

It is striking to see how widespread critical reflections on technology have become. Over breakfast last Thursday, I read about Ryan Gariepy’s take on efforts to regulate lethal autonomous weapons systems in the pages of the Waterloo Region Record newspaper. Ryan is the CTO and co-founder of Clearpath Robotics, a local tech sector success story that also happens to have been the first corporate signatory to the international campaign to ban killer robots.

New York Times Logo

That same morning, I read a fascinating article in the New York Times describing how efforts to organize workers at Google and drivers for Uber are drawing on lessons learned by labour groups a century ago.

When I checked my e-mail that afternoon, I saw that the University of Waterloo wanted to let alumni know that Jen Boger, Director of Waterloo’s Intelligent Technologies for Wellness and Independent Living lab, is helping the creators of technology avoid unintentional consequences through an approach called “Ethical by Design.”

Communitech Logo

I also caught up on items from some of my go-to sources, including the latest M-Theory post on the Communitech website from UWaterloo alum Melanie Baker entitled “The future is STEAM-powered” (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Melanie, a past guest in my Engineering and Peace class, has leveraged her degree and skills in English and Rhetoric into an interesting career in the tech sector.

MIT Technology Review Logo

A former Engineering and Peace student sent me a provocative article from the MIT Technology Review entitled “Meet America’s newest military giant: Amazon,” which discussed the competition over the Pentagon’s controversial $10B cloud computing deal.

I listened to a Women Talk Tech podcast featuring Arlene Williams, the Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement for the Engineering Change Lab. The Lab is working to catalyze culture change in the engineering community in Canada and help ensure technology is beneficial for all.

Finally, a colleague let me know about the Digital Citizen Contribution Program at Heritage Canada, which will provide financial assistance to researchers seeking to counter online disinformation and other harms and threats to Canada’s democracy and social cohesion. Applications are due on November 1—too late to make a difference for the federal election next week, but perhaps it will be helpful for the next one in October 2023?