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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday October 13 2019, @03:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the last-throes-of-public-culture dept.

Mr. Schneier and friends have created a new website to promote a change to the socio-economic technical milieu we are currently facing.

He suggests we need to have "public interest technologists" to help the situation.

He writes:

"We need technologists who work in the public interest. We need public-interest technologists.

Defining this term is difficult. One Ford Foundation blog post described public-interest technologists as "technology practitioners who focus on social justice, the common good, and/or the public interest.""

Is he right? How can this be implemented without becoming as riddled with government agents, spies and mafias as the key positions of our corporations and institutions are right now?

Full disclosure: this writer has been a public interest technologist for a while now and I have actually alluded to the need for something like what is being suggested on multiple occasions, 'a different kind of organization' is the way I put it, way back a few months ago.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by jmichaelhudsondotnet on Monday October 14 2019, @05:12PM

    by jmichaelhudsondotnet (8122) on Monday October 14 2019, @05:12PM (#907035) Journal

    Some people are saying this PIT is going to make a bad employee for a corporation, but someone working for the public interest would not work for a private interest so this is the wrong straw man.

    Others say this is an implementation of 'social justice', but I just see it as implementing fairness.

    The united states is in a crisis over consulting companies being given public intersest duties, like voting. Or maybe even the military having to hire consultants.

    You are not going to get a lot of technologists running for office, charisma is not necessarily the skillset of people who can audit low level code but not necessarily.

    I am not claiming I have the answer to this, but we are stuck at this no trust dilemma and where the cpus we run our lives on are being made in essentially black box factories in countries that have every reason to never let you have a true personal computer.

    In a society that is going to be based on technology, where it is our central cultural forum, there are some really, really super-high trust roles that if the wrong person gets in the job, everything the tech is intended to do will fail(like reddit, facegag or NORAD on 9/11)

    Moderation, mediation, auditing, verification, journalism, basically anything having to do with The Truth in technology, cannot be subject to capitalism, commerce or faction without vast calamity. Anyone doing these jobs is going to be a continual target, just like judges and journalists already are.

    I believe in a sane system, journalism and public interest technologists would be under the judiciary branch and it would be just like becoming a journalist or a judge, these are the jobs for the most trustworthy people in your society and they would be under special protection from law enforcement. Just like the judiciary informs the legislative what is constitutional, PIT would inform the legislative what the true capabilities of a given technology are so that they arent continually rolled by wildly insincere testimony from the NSA and the zuck de jour.

    The real problem is, as all of the naysaying knownothing denizen trolls of SN are going to throw because they are such low hanging fruit, is that the establishment of anything like this is exactly what the totalitarian and tyrannical elements of our government and business culture *do not* want. Their entire power and bribery dirty trick model relies on all of these slimy lateral power grabs.

    Who here has read songs of distant earth by Arthur C. Clark? A suitable analogy is if we were all on a spaceship and we had a computer debate and voting system to decide what the ship should do in some situations, who on the ship can be trusted to audit that system? If it isnt the captain, then they soon will be unless...something.

    Such is the conundrum at the very base of our entire attempt at civilization presently. but PIT is a real potential solution and anyone who scoffs at it probably has a rabid dog in this hunt. And they are demonstrably hunting you and your computer and your phone and ultimately the very innermost thoughts of your mind, do not forget even for a second.

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