After experiencing two insightful speeches about digital media and ethics, I decided stay for the final talk on technology and ethics. I took the stairs to Regents Hall and took a seat amongst the audience of students and professors to hear four insightful speakers. The first speaker was Susan Etlinger from Altimeter Group. She brought up some excellent points regarding ownership and stewardship of photos that are posted on the web. Photos that become a meme are no longer owned by anyone- they are out for grabs in the digital world. It was a scary revelation.
The next speaker was Brian Fitzpatrick from Google. He was the main focus out of the four speakers because many are concerned about their information being stored by Google and what they’re doing with it. He stated that he believes policy is not about ethics at all. He mentioned that Google was not legally allowed to say if they got information from the government, but now they can be more transparent with their users. You can now tell Google if you want to export or delete data which is the main reason why thousands and thousands of web links have been recently deleted. Fitzpatrick believes that in the age of internet, good business is not necessarily ethics based. Products are better and Google has to continue to be up to date because there are many up and coming businesses that will come around and succeed and potentially take over Google. He brought up an excellent point that almost everyone uses Google because it’s 1) a good product and 2) users trust it. If no one trusted Google, then they would use another search engine but they don’t. He told the audience that Google does not sell your information to other businesses which was a relief to hear (if it’s true).
The last speaker was Sandee Kastrul from i.c. stars. She did an excellent job finishing up the International Symposium by discussing leadership. She believes that young people need to “change state of mind” for freedom in order to effectively be a leader. Most people don’t associate leadership by making opportunities for others and serving our community, but those are the two critical key parts of a leader. Ms. Kastrul’s organization trains inner-city youth in business skills, leadership and technology. She said that technology and data are used to solve problems. Solving problems allows you to acquire intellectual capital which is pivotal in order to have status. Status is needed in order to make a change. The way to procure status is by having financial stability, connections and most importantly, intellectual capital. Another important piece of information she shared was regarding intelligence. She believes that the more intelligence you obtain, the more responsibility you have to share your knowledge to others. If you hold that knowledge only to yourself, it’s selfish. She ended her speech by asking two key questions: How will I take my element and turn up the heat or allow people to chill when they are heated? Also, How will YOU make a change? These two questions stuck in my mind as I ended my inspiring day at the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy Symposium.
After meeting Anita Sarkeesian, I questioned if I should leave the Fourth Annual International Symposium of Digital Ethics on a high not or visit the next concurrent sessions. Would they be as insightful and educational? I put my thoughts aside and entered Beane Hall to listen to the Concurrent Session moderated by my professor Seung-Chul Yoo. The three speakers were: Thorsten Busch from Concorida University, Haewon Chung from University of Ottawa and James H. Moor from Dartmouth College.
Mr. Busch talked about Digital Business Ethics in the Videogame Industry. To be honest, I had a hard time following him and he took up a lot of time which affected the two other speakers. Haewon Chung spoke about crowdscience and it’s purpose. Crowdscience uses crowdsourcing as scientific research. She explained that crowdsourcing is “the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call”. Wikipedia is an example of crowdsourcing. She talked about certain sites that are used in order to generate information from the public in order to help scientific research, such as figuring out protein structures in order to help discover new health issues. It was fascinating to learn how science is working with people in order to make the world a better place.
The key speech that I learned so much from was James H. Moor’s speech on The Ethics of AI. AI is brought up in a lot of science fiction movies but seeing how it works in the real world was very intriguing. Professor Moor explained that AI goes through waves. It was a big topic in the 1950’s-1960’s but died down since the 1970’s. Now, AI is having a huge comeback due to Big Data Movement and in collecting data for infrastructure. An example he used was the Target story discussed in class, (where the young women was given pregnancy coupons at the end of her transaction at Target and her father was upset and contacted Target. It turned out that his sixteen year old daughter was indeed pregnant) showing that computers are now taking information in order for decision making. He discussed what should computers be doing. Should computers drive cars? In order to come to that decision, questions regarding values and ethics are brought up. Do we trust computers? Do our values override computing? What track record does computer have versus humans? The more power computers have, the less valuable humans become. AI removes jobs because they can do more than humans thus it affects our economy. Human nature now changes.
Professor Moore also predicted issues AI might raise if we combine humans with AI (such as human’s playing computers in chess). AI will affect ethics because technology has trade-offs with consequences. It begins to question who we are and affects us emotionally.
I never knew much about AI but seeing how it affects everyday life and the future of it was astounding. I am happy to say that Anita Sarkessian’s speech and Professor Moore’s speech made my experience at the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy a memorable moment that I will remember for years to come.
Watching Anita Sarkeesian enter Regents Hall was a surreal moment. Seeing a woman who has been in the center of much controversy and news take time out of her busy life to be the keynote speaker for the Fourth Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics at the University I attend was amazing!
Anita seemed calm and collective as she stepped up to begin her speech about her research on women being portrayed in pop culture narratives. She began by stating that the gaming is a bigger industry than the movie industry and that gaming does include misogyny. She gave her personal story about the amount of threats and harassment she undergoes which proves her point further regarding how woman are treated/portrayed in these games. The aggression she deals with daily comes from men who believe that the gaming industry is a “Boy’s Club”. These individuals look down on other video games such as Guitar Hero or WII and don’t consider those “real video games” or the players who use them as “gamers”. That is not accurate.
Best moment at Loyola: Getting to meet Anita Sarkessian
She continued to explain the online harassment she has endured. These have taken in forms of 1) online impersonation and 2) creation of conspiracy theories. The online impersonation has been hoaxes created by men who view her as a threat to the gaming community. They create fake Facebook and Twitter accounts and state absurd comments in order to try to cease Anita’s Feminist movement. The conspiracy theories created about her have blurred the lines between what is true and false, which unfortunately create a false portrayal of her. This causes her work to be ignored and a false representation of her is out in the web. The individuals that create these elaborate and straight out crazy theories are doing this because they are aware that there is a change in the gaming community cycle. They become paranoid and alarmed and thus act in this terrible manner in order to try to be “heroes”. The information cascade they create causes Anita to repair the false information created about her and unfortunately once the false information reaches a certain mass, it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing she can do. Her trying to repair the information cascade makes her look like an “irrational feminist” who is justified in the amount of harassment she endures.
So what can we do as a society in order to stop women from being harassed online? Anita suggested legislation change needs to be implemented in order for the harassment to cease. Stalking laws need to be updated to include harassment online. This can be done by updating civil rights to criminalize threats online. A Cyber Civil Rights needs to be added to criminalize sexually intimate images as an invasion of sexual privacy. Civil Rights is not only a racial bias, but also a gender bias.
Anita Sarkeesian’s speech really hit home when it comes to the harassment women have experienced on the internet and how the law has really done very little in order to stop the violation women feel online. She brought up an excellent quote that really made sense, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train”. I certainly realized that my view on feminism could no longer be neutral after seeing all that Anita has done to educate others about women in popular culture.
I was never a fan of virtual worlds. I always enjoyed living in the real reality of my life. There’s so many complexities in everyday life that I could not deal with entering another world and dealing with those problems as well. Yet, I took a step out of my comfort zone and entered the world of LambdaMoo. When I first logged into LambdaMoo, I was amazed that an alternate screen would pop up and take me to another galaxy far, far, away. I was greeted with essentially a wavier explaining what I was entering and that if I was a journalist I would have to legally tell the other users before quoting them. Yep, that weirded me out. I then was told to type “new news” in order to get updates on an “Election Halted”. It basically talked about an election of a new wizard. I had no idea what was going on so I went back to the closet. From there I met a guest named Jen. When she asked my name, I gave a fake one.This related back to the class discussion on Anonymity and Privacy. I did not feel comfortable giving my real name in this virtual reality. Intstead, I chose the name Alison and had my interactions under a different name. “Jen” was kind and tried to help me enter the room of Paris. Time passed and I eventually started entering different rooms including the: Entrance Hall, Driveway, and the Street in from of the LambdaHouse. I was approached by a person named Dudley who kept asking for descriptions about myself. I continued to act as if I was Alison and created a whole different individual in order to remain anonymous. Overall, the site was really bizarre. I spent a majority of my time arguing with the screen regarding where I could go, how I could say certain things and wasted a ton of time just trying to move around from room to room.
LambdaMoo is, in my mind, similar to an interactive book. There was excellent description of each room which you could visualize in your mind but you could also talk to real people within this “book”. Today’s interactive sites are far better because it’s not only a description of words, but a “real” virtual reality on the computer. You can create an image of a person you wish you can be within this site and see the other virtual person you are talking to. The community in both sites seem to be a variety of people: some who are normal and helpful or other ones who are creepy. People are able to hide behind a screen and can say strange things because they are able to remain anonymous.
Do you also agree with my opinions of LambdaMoo and the community involved in it?
When the word “Big Data” is used in a conversation, I think of individuals who take information from bank accounts, social media sites or anything from the internet and selling personal information to companies in order to try to sell consumers more products. Once I entered the Chicago Architectural Foundation Exhibit on Big Data, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my bias was inaccurate. Chicago: City of Big Data was absolutely astounding. When you enter the building you are first encountered with an
Scale Model of Chicago
amazing scale model of the entire city of Chicago. Around the scale model are boards which state when certain buildings where built and by which company. One interesting fact I learned was that initially everything east of Michigan Ave was declared a public park. That’s why you’ll notice that buildings only line up on the west side of the street! There were also interactive screens that displayed how big data was used to determine how many people ride bikes around Millennium Park in certain months and even down to each hour!
Screen displaying data of bike riders in October
Once I stepped away from the scale model, I walked over to large placards explaining facts regarding how data fits into the design process. I learned that there were seven steps that make data meaningful for citizens and create solutions. The seven steps were: define the problem, collect the data, process the data, visualize the data (onto maps or into charts), analyze the results (finding patterns or trends in the data), reflect on solutions and share your ideas. These steps seem very simple but are the foundations in order to use the data effectively in order to change laws and make cities more advanced. It was fascinating to discover that in the past, data was hidden and behind the scenes in corporate servers. Now data is entering our everyday lives. It’s not purely based on tangible items you buy, but based on our behaviors, minds and even our body.
Interactive display of data points using a “point cloud”
I never knew that big data could be used to determine which schools need to be closed down or used to determine which construction logistics are most effective for safety in the area. I also never knew personal data only costs $0.0005 per person and that companies buy data in bulk which comes out to about $0.50 per 1,000 people. I believe that Big Data is used to create a utopian society, but selling personal information of others creates dystopian. This exhibit made me view information in an entirely different manner. There’s a big business obtaining data which I was not entirely aware of. Do you believe Big Data creates a dystopian or utopian reality? What would have to change in order for Big Data to make Chicago a utopian reality?
I was the “that” person in a classroom or social setting who swore to never use Twitter. I always found Twitter to be narcissistic and pointless. With the boundless amounts of social media in this world, Twitter was the social networking site I never wanted to be involved in. When my New Media and Communication class required each student to create a Twitter and post two “tweets”, I shuddered at the thought that I would have to create yet another social media account in order to express my opinions to an audience who I would most likely never encounter in my daily life. But alas, it was a graded assignment so I knew I had to put my opinions aside and create the dreaded Twitter.
When I first created my Twitter, I started to follow businesses and business leaders that I normally would on Facebook. I quickly realized that within the first couple minutes of me choosing who I wanted to follow, Twitter began to make recommendations and remove certain celebrities or organizations that they feel didn’t “fit it” with what I was interested in. In fact, when I clicked on the “Discover” link, the top part of the page stated certain tweets were “tailored for you”. Scary. In addition, I felt that the 140 words prevented me from expressing myself, which led me to feel frustrated.
Once I created my tweets, I felt that Twitter was quite unorganized and was just a somewhat fancier webpage with links to blogs/websites. As I started researching Twitter, I soon learned that others in the digital world shared the same opinions as me. An article from Bloomberg on September 17th of this year ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-17/peter-thiel-says-twitter-horribly-mismanaged-.html ) stated that Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook Inc, believes that Twitter is not living up to its potential due to its dysfunction from its top management. He stated that everyone at Twitter needs to be fired and the company needs to start all over again. Tough, yet powerful words.
Overall, I believe Twitter does have potential. I like how they have snapshots of what the article is about, yet I feel 140 characters limits individuals to express their full thoughts. Shirky’s article discussed how the internet (including Twitter) may fracture important critical skills that are developed while one reads from a book. When you read a book, you aren’t just reading words. You are also making inferences, engaging in your imagination while processing information and creating new thoughts in the longer span of time. Reading on the internet, especially little tweets, prevents you from having longer cognitive thoughts. Overall, I truly believe that Twitter holds you back from being enriched.
Do you believe Peter Thiel’s opinions are right regarding Twitter? How do you think Twitter can change in order to reach it’s full capabilities?