There are several hackathon “tracks” that we will be fleshing out over in the weeks leading up to the event. (This is just a starting list):
- Ethical Algorithms (SF: panel on Saturday, 2pm)
- Usable Crypto (SF: a panel and the first ever live demo of the Pursuance Project on Saturday, 3pm) (Interview with Barrett Brown and Steve Phillips about Pursuance.)
- FOIA (SF: a presentation by Jason Leopold, Saturday, 5pm)
- Simple Secure Messaging 101
- Police Surveillance Equipment In Your Town 101
- RSS News Reader Revival
- Enter your cool project here!
Algorithms are analyzing our social media habits, determining credit worthiness, deciding which job candidates get called in for an interview, and judging whether criminal defendants should be released on bail, but the consequences of our being subjected to constant algorithmic scrutiny are often unclear. These systems leave no room for humanity, yet they define our daily lives. We seem to be in agreement now that we have a big problem here, but what can actually be done to “fix” these systems?
Meanwhile, the Internet Archive managed to implement AI while keeping users’ privacy as a priority, with it’s AI for IA implementations.
There will be a panel on Saturday from 2pm-2:45 pm discussing these issues with Kristian Lum (Human Rights Data Analysis Group – HRDAG), Caroline Sinders (Wikimedia Foundation, Formerly of IBM Watson Chatbot team) and Special Guests.
We need to make crypto easier to use so that more people will use it, but also, we seem to still have a problem getting folks to understand the need for using it at all. Tools like Signal proved that easy-to-use encrypted applications are in the realm of possibilities, so why aren’t more tools like it popping up more quickly?
There will be a panel on Saturday from 3pm – 4:30 pm with Barrett Brown and Steve Phillips entitled “Building a Better Opposition: Process Democracy and the Second Wave of Online Resistance – with the first ever live demo of the Pursuance Project.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
On Saturday, at the hackathon, BuzzFeed’s Senior Investigative Reporter Jason Leopold will provide a FOIA how-to, with a presentation of “Tips and Tricks,” he has learned along the way. Jason wrote about Aaron’s FOIA request filings in the weeks following his death, and was greatly inspired by them.
Simple Secure Messaging 101
If everything mentioned so far is sounding a bit intimidating, perhaps it’s best to start out at the beginning, and just make sure you are communicating securely. We’ll be teaching folks right from the beginning, including how to install Signal, OnionShare, and Tor Browser, and then use them together to upload a file to someone securely. Find me with my team of volunteers downstairs at the hackathon, and out front on the steps of the Internet Archive.
Right now, citizens have to play a guessing game with Law Enforcement in their town. Police Departments are not required to have a policy on the purchase and use of surveillance equipment unless there is public outcry for them to do so. Let’s get systematic and automated about filing public information requests, so we can determine what equipment our police departments have already obtained, and what they have done with it. Next, we will help to establish policies which require public notification when law enforcement intends to purchase surveillance equipment, and also policies for establishing public oversight of that equipment’s use.
Centralized news portals, such as Google News and Facebook, have failed us as a reliable source for news and vital information. Time to bring RSS feeds and RSS readers back in to play. Our future may very well depend on it. There were a ton of great programs that can be “revived” along with the feeds, which can contain audio and video and provide lots of dynamic content on their own. RSS combined with social media would be also pretty sweet; we just never gave it a chance. Time to rethink our dependence on centralized news and take back control of our information sources.