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The Anti-Dystopians

The Politics Podcast About Tech

Is social media really destroying democracy? Should Facebook be considered a public utility? How does crytpocurrency affect state sovereignty? And what exactly is surveillance capitalism? For all your political questions
2/10/2021

The Digital Periphery: Technology, Migration and Racial Capitalism

Season 1, Ep. 8
On this week’s episode, Alina Utrata talks to Dr. Matt Mahmoudi, who just completed his PhD inDevelopment Studies at Cambridge University as a Jo Cox scholar of Refugee and Migration Studies. They talked about Matt’s research about how technology is affecting migrant and refugee communities in New York City and Berlin, how seemingly innocuous technology, like free WiFi kiosks, can become de facto digital borders, what racial capitalism can tell us about Shoshana Zuboff’s “surveillance capitalism”, and if a decolonial neo-Luddite approach to tech is possible. Plus, why New York City should ban police use of facial recognition scan.Articles and scholars mentioned in this podcastA post by Matt on his research on The Sociological Review, Race in the Digital Periphery: The New (Old) Politics of Refugee RepresentationBooks:On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance by Cedric J. RobinsonExtrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller EasterlingRace Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class by Robin KelleyNotes Towards a Neo-Luddite Manifesto by Chellis GlendinningThe Invention of the Passport by John TorpeyUtopia for Realists by Rutger BregmanTwo Cheers for Anarchism by James ScottArticlesLeaked Location Data Shows Another Muslim Prayer App Tracking UsersWe Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State (review by John Naughton)The Subprime Attention Crisis by Tim Hwang (review by Alina Utrata)PodcastPrevious Anti-Dystopians podcast on gender, colonization and the limits of surveillance capitalismMore information about Amnesty’s campaign to #BanTheScanNowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
2/2/2021

Social Media and Social Movements: The Rise of the European Far-Right

Season 1, Ep. 7
For this week’s episode, Alina Utrata talked to Julia Rone, a post-doc at the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at Cambridge University. They discussed the rise of the European far-right online—what's the relationship between online disinformation and political mobilization? Why is the far-right so much better at mobilizing online than the far-left? Can platforms or content moderation policies really stop them? And is any of this about “social media” or is it just about social movements?Tweet at Alina.Tweet at Julia.Sign up for the Anti-Dystopians newsletter.Articles mentioned in this podcastJulia Rone’s publications:On the Minderoo Centre’s blog Power-Switch:Democratizing digital sovereignty: an impossibletask?Public networks instead of socialnetworks?On the London School of Economics blog:Collateral Damage: How algorithms to counter “fake news” threaten citizen media in BulgariaWhy talking about ‘disinformation’ misses the point when considering radical right ‘alternative’ mediaAcademic Articles:Far right alternative news media as ‘indignation mobilization mechanisms’: how the far right opposed the Global Compact for MigrationThe people formerly known as the oligarchy: the cooptation of citizen journalismMore from our colleagues at the Minderoo Centre:Josh Simons on why Google and Facebook algorithms are political (and should be regulated as public utilities): Utilities for Democracy: Why the Algorithmic Infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be RegulatedJennifer Cobbe on the issues surrounding algorithmic reach and recommendations: Regulating Recommending: Motivations, Considerations, and PrinciplesJohn Naughton’s excellent Observer column on why the Facebook Oversight Board is just some corporate theatre masquerading as political theatreAlina Utrata (me!) on Should you have a right to a Facebook account?Other articles:Rene DiRiesta’s famous phrase “free speech is not the same as free reach”Kristoffer Holt on the definition of alternative news mediaLeonie De Jonge on different media models and their affect on the radical right in EuropeGoogle threatening to leave Australia altogether over proposed legal changes—would they become a “Bing” country?French President Sarkozy on “civilizing” the internet and Macron’s IGF speech on the need for more state involvement in Internet governance and regulationBooks:Michael Sandel’s excellent book the Tyranny of Meritocracy, and a wonderful Talking Politics episode with him (in case you don’t have time to read the full thing!)The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom by Shawn M. Powers and Michael JablonskiNowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
1/18/2021

Corporations, Content Moderation and Community-Centered Tech

Season 1, Ep. 6
2020 was one hell of a year (literally). Alina Utrata, Mallika Balakrishnan and Kyra Jasper break down some of the things that happened in 2020’s technology politics—from the Trump Twitter ban, to content moderation, contact tracing and conspiracy theories, to how we design digital spaces that empower communities and bottom-up approaches to digital justice.Follow Alina Utrata on Twitter.Follow Kyra Jasper on Twitter.Sign up for the Anti-Dystopians newsletter.Articles mentioned in this podcastAxios roundup of all of the digital platforms that have banned Trump or Trump-related content (so far).An anarchist’s approach to social media, or how can we empower communities to shape their own digital spaces? Plus, some critiques of the Wikipedia model.For how digital platforms have affected trans folks, the Guardian on Facebook’s authentic names policy and Ina Fried on Wikipedia’s gender identity style guide.On the power of Facebook’s lookalike audience and group recommendations. Stop the Seal groups on Facebook, ads for military gear next to insurrection posts (is this a . . . feature, not a bug?), and racism in Facebook targeted housing adsOn WhatsApp’s new policy—why it’s bad (spoiler alert: it’s giving Facebook your data) and a nice New Yorker feature on Signal co-founder Moxie Marlinspike.More on Maria Ressa and Facebook in the Philippines, Vietnam’s threat to shut down Facebook unless it agrees to censorship, andSingapore’s COVID-19 contact tracing app.The SEC is investigating Zoom for complying with Chinese censorship requests over Tiananmen square commemorations—and more on Zoom’s censorship of Palestinan events.Elon Musk saying that his goal is Mars indentured servitude. Also of note, the space battle shaking down between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (it centers around satellite internet for rural communities). Plus, in more inspiring news, the Institute for Self Reliance on community-based broadband networks (they have a great podcast too).And how Selena Gomez emailed Sheryl Sandberg about white supremacy on Facebook.Plus, some lockdown reads! David Runciman’s How Democracy Ends (it’s actually more optimistic than the title would have you believe, I promise). And Ruha Benjamin’s absolutely brilliant book Race After Technology. Nowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
12/21/2020

No Tech for Tyrants

Season 1, Ep. 5
Alina Utrata talks to Mallika Balakrishnan, one of the original founders of the collective No Tech for Tyrants. They discuss tech activism, problems with Palantir and how centering the conversation around the people and communities that tech and policies impact can help us frame discussions of technology and politics.Tweet at AlinaTweet at MallikaArticles Mentioned In this PodcastA report, co-authored by Mallika, by No Tech For Tyrants and Privacy International about UK government contracts with Palantir and associated Motherboard coverage. You can sign the NT4T petition here.For more information about No Tech for Tyrants check out their website here and here.More reporting on how Palantir’s technology was used by ICE and on trouble between the NYPD and Palantir.Speaking of Palantir, you can check out our previous podcast episodes where we discuss the founder of Palantir Peter Thiel or Biden’s pick for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, who used to work for Palantir.More on the firing of Timnit Gebru, the prominent Black scientist studying the ethics of artificial intelligence at Google, and on the links between Big Tech and academic research.What we can learn about Facebook by thinking like an anarchist, or at least by reading Yale professor James Scott’s work.On Nicholas Kristof’s article about Pornhub, and reporting by Samantha Cole about how it has impacted performers on the site. Another interesting article about how GoFundMe said it would stop processing payments for militias.Nowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
12/11/2020

Biden and Big Tech

Season 1, Ep. 4
Anjali Katta and Alina Utrata talk about the Big Tech issues a Biden Administration will inherit, from the FTC and DOJ anti-monopoly cases against Facebook and Google to the DoD’s cloud computing contract JEDI. They also discuss links between many Biden Administration officials and the tech industry. To sign up for the email newsletter of the Anti-Dystopians, click here.CORRECTION: When talking about the Microsoft antitrust case, Alina meant to say "Netscape" instead of "Netflix." Articles and books mentioned in this podcast.The American Prospect’s big feature on“How Biden’s Foreign Policy Team Got Rich”focusing on Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Michele Flournoy. More on WestExec strategic consultants (including ODNI nominee Avril Haines and potential CIA nominee David Cohen)by Politicoandthe Revolving Door project. Plus some progressives wrote an article arguing againstMichele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense in the Project On Government Oversight.Director of National Intelligence nomineeAvril Haines’ link to Palantir, along with reporting aboutNYPDandNHScontracts with Palantir.FantasticProPublica reporting on the JEDI cloud computing contractand links between DoD and Amazon. Plus an excellentCarnegie Endowment for International Peace report on Cloud Computing security, and a report by Rishi Sunak on howcritical undersea cable networks are incredibly insecure.The extraordinary amounts of moneyUber &co spent to avoid giving benefits and protections to drivers, and how Jake Sullivan ended up (sort of) working for Uber.PlusCory Doctorow on Saudi investment in Uber, and Vox on howSilicon Valley is awash with money from Saudi Arabia and China.The FTC/AG suits against Facebook and their Mark Zuckerberg email quotes might explain whyGoogle employees have been instructed not to talk about antitrustin their emails, or ever.Public Citizen’s investigationinto FTC’s revolving door problem with Big Tech, plus theFTC officials who work at Facebook now. And, of course, all theFacebook folks on the Biden transition team.Biden’s new coronavirus czarJeffrey Zients(who was acting director of Office of Management and Budget and a former Facebook Board member)Wikipedia page mysteriously deleted that he “fell in love with the culture at Bain & Co”after joining the Biden campaign. Finally, theBiden agency review teams has lots of tech players, Kamala Harris’s campaigns’links to big techandChiara Cordelli’s new book The Privatized Stateon how government contracting/outsourcing is not good for us.Nowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
11/25/2020

Data flows: gender, colonization and the limits of surveillance capitalism

Season 1, Ep. 3
Alina Utrata talks to Stefanie Felsberger, a PhD candidate at Cambridge University, about her research on surveillance, data flows and mensuration tracking apps. They discuss how colonization impacted the development of surveillance technologies, why we think (or shouldn’t think) about data as a commodity instead of labor, and how the ownership of knowledge about female bodies has translated into power—from the witch burnings to period apps.Tweet at Alina.Tweet at Stefanie.Contact us.Articles mentioned in this podcast:Stefanie Felsberger’s article “Colonial Cables – The Politics of Surveillance in the Middle East and North Africa.”The woman who tried to hide her pregnancy from Big Data (and failed) and why pregnant women are such a high value target for advertisers. And if want to know more about the Smart Period Cup.Amazon experimenting with paying some consumers for their data. They’ve also entered the healthcare market.The US military is buying location data from every day apps, including a Muslim prayer app and Muslim dating site.More on testing and importing technologies in low rights environments, or how colonization spurred the development of surveillance technologies. For some more contemporary examples, how technologies developed by US military contractors in Yemen were used to disburse G20 protesters in Pittsburgh in 2009.More on surveillance tech used to target the Black Lives Matter protests here and here. And an ACLU overview on surveillance tech available in the US, as well as who has stingray tracking devices. And on the use of police drones to surveil protestors.Virginia Eubanks on how marginalized groups are often governments' test subjects (her full book on the subject here or here.) Relatedly, how Baltimore became the US’s lab for developing surveillance tech.How the UNHCR is collecting iris data from refugees in Jordan.On Chinese companies role in Africa and the Middle East, watch part II of this documentary.On the NSO Group and how their tech was linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the hacking of Jeff Bezos’s phone.More academic books and articles:Jarrett, Kylie. 2016. Feminism, Labour and Digital Media: The Digital Housewife. New York and London: Routledge.Lupton, Deborah. 2016. The Quantified Self: A Sociology of Self-Tracking. Cambridge: Polity Press. EPub.Federici, Silvia. 2004. Caliban and the Witch. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.Browne, Simone. 2015. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Fuchs, Christian. 2013. “Theorizing and Analyzing Digital Labor: From Global Value Chains to Modes of Production.” The Political Economy of Communication 2, no. 1: 3–27.Kaplan, Martha. 1995. “Panopticon in Poona: An Essay on Foucault and Colonialism.” Cultural Anthropology 10: 85-98.Mitchell, Timothy. 1988. Colonizing Egypt. Berkley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.Nowhere Land by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4148-nowhere-landLicense:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/