This is a three hour episode. The first hour is music only. One hour in, TVR2C regular programming begins and the interview with Mr. Kshirsagar begins at about 1 hour and 30 minutes in.
In this show Stevie speaks with technology policy expert Mihir Kshirsagar. Mihir is the technology policy lead at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy and formerly was Assistant Attorney General of New York and was in the AG’s Bureau of Internet & Technology as the lead trial counsel.
Mihir and Stevie speak about the biggest issues in technology policy including big data and data security, as well as some of its history, and the role that both governments and tech companies have to play. Here’s some of the topics:
- Antitrust in tech — what is “antitrust” and why is it an issue in tech right now
- Mihir explains his biggest concerns in technology policy today as:
Generally, the rise of big data. There’s always been data, but the ability to parse massive amounts of data and make meaningful decisions off of it is unprecedented.
Data security and privacy
Platforms/intermediaries (middlemen) in tech, specifically the requirement to communicate or access the internet through an intermediary such as Facebook or Google, vs direct connection
- In the final part of the interview, Mihir discusses his recommendations for the typical consumer of news about tech companies and emerging technology. Essentially, don’t let it scare you! And don’t let anyone convince you that it doesn’t concern you. It does! These companies and tech are ubiquitous, and changing the landscape of communication and access to information and services, to name just a few.
The main part of the show is an interview with sociologist Ruha Benjamin, Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she studies the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine. Additionally, she is the founder of the JUST DATA Lab and author of two books, People’s Science (Stanford) and Race After Technology (Polity), and editor of Captivating Technology (Duke). She writes, teaches, and speaks widely about the relationship between knowledge and power, race and citizenship, and health and justice. These are the topics discussed in the interview.
The interview is in three parts, beginning about 53 minutes in.
In this show, Dr. Annette Zimmermann joins Stevie in the WPRB studio. Annette is a political philosopher with Princeton University’s Center for Human Values and Center for Information and Technology Policy. We discuss artificial intelligence — what it is and what it isn’t — ethics, fairness, and how these topics come together in our world today. In particular, the current focus of her research is in the area of algorithmic injustice. This is the way through which algorithmic decision making systems (e.g. an AI computer program) could result in imbalanced outcomes for different societal groups.
Interview begins at 50 minutes.
Annette Zimmermann and her colleague (and previous guest of the show) Bendert Zevenbergen recently wrote a post for the CITP blog Freedom to Tinker on AI Ethics: Seven Traps. The piece is meant to be a “resource for readers who want to understand and navigate the public debate on the ethics of AI better, who want to contribute to ongoing discussions in an informed and nuanced way, and who want to think critically and constructively about ethical considerations in science and technology more broadly.” Indeed, it’s a great follow-up read for those interested in exploring these topics further.
Also mentioned in the show was prior work by ProPublica on algorithmic injustice. You can find articles on the topic here and a bit more here.
Featured Image: Barrett Lyon, The Opte Project Mapping the Internet (2003), MoMA. Opte is a free, open source project, initiated by Lyon with the goal of making visual representations of metaphysical spaces.
In this show, Stevie brings Bendert Zevenbergen in to the WPRB studio. Ben is a professional specialist at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values and Center for Information and Technology Policy, as well as Oxford University’s Internet Institute. In the past, Ben was a practicing information technology lawyer in Europe.
Throughout the show they discuss the Internet (what is it really), why regulating it is hard – try as some government’s might, power dynamics in tech and tech policy, and much more along these lines. Interview begins at 51 minutes in.
In this show, Stevie was back on the mic after a long hiatus, loading up with science news and fresh music.
Featured image credit: Smithsonian
In this show Stevie spoke with paleontologist Evan Saitta, expert on dinosaurs and fossilization. We discuss dinosaurs broadly, as well as what what we know, how we know it, and what are the really difficult questions. Stevie also learns how Jurassic Park lied to her, and how we know some dinosaurs have feathers. Towards the end of the conversation, Evan discusses his fascinating work actually making fossils in the lab!
This was WPRB’s 2018 pledge drive!! Brian and Stevie started out the show with science news – ancient sloth hunts uncovered and a study shows that freedivers from Southeast Asia evolved to have bigger spleens. Then Professor Sam Wang, founder of the Princeton Election Consortium and co-host of the Politics and Polls podcast, joined Stevie on the mic to discuss gerrymandering in the US and specifically in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Then we get in to the more general topic of the scientific study of elections.
Additionally, you’ll hear Brian and Stevie talk past shows and why they love WPRB.
Science news and events started out the show. 45 minutes in, Professor Adam Elga came on the mic to speak on some thought problems in philosophy that are pertinent to his research. For instance we start with the problem of contingency: how concerned should we be that much of what we believe is contingent on, for example, the circumstances of our birth?
We then build up the conversation to his current research on cascading failures – this is when systems that depend on each other fail in a kind of domino effect. Think the 2008 Financial Crisis. This gets us in to topics like the Tragedy of the Commons, the Prisoners’ Dilemma, and his (and his collaborator Daniel Oppenheimer’s) new concept of Risk Pollution.
More information on the topics we discussed in the show, provided by Adam Elga:
- Problem of disagreement:
- Problem of contingency:
- Cascading Failures:
- This is an unpublished topic being worked on by Adam Elga and Daniel Oppenheimer (Carnegie Mellon). Once it is published, you can find more information here.
Trouble with the Mixcloud embed? The live show can be found here.
Science news and events started out the show. Brian spoke on new research on concussions and Stevie on the Chinese space station that fell to Earth recently. 45 minutes in, Professor Matt Weinberg came on the mic to speak on his work as a theoretical computer scientist. He researches mechanism design – these are algorithms that take user incentives in to account. He considers human decision making and economics to design algorithms to guide the user to interact with the algorithm in the optimal way. He uses the example of online dating, ad auctions on sites like Facebook and Google, and cryptocurrencies.
This show had tons of great science news and an excellent discussion with Aaron Wolf, doctoral researcher on neanderthal genomes and specifically how neanderthal and modern human genomes mixed (i.e. they reproduced) in ancient times. To begin, Aaron walks us through what we know about neanderthals and our modern misconceptions of them, and how they came about. From there, he discusses how the neanderthal genome was mapped, and why we think that most living humans have about 2% neanderthal DNA — and what that DNA is for.