Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/9/21: Unintended Consequences

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Two recent events in the news illustrate how unintended consequences in technology applications can have life or death consequences for those whose personal information is captured for what initially seemed to be useful purposes. Here’s why.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/2/21: Summer Encore 6 – No Reasonable Person

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Do you consider yourself a “reasonable person”? If so, you may have a very different sense of what that term means than, say, lawyers like Sidney Powell – or to companies like Apple, Amazon, or Google. All of those entities are facing lawsuits and their defenses are based on the fact that “no reasonable person” would actually believe what they have said. See what you think.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 8/26/21: Apple Scanning Photos on User Devices

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Apple has announced that it’s next software update for iPhones and iPads will contain software that will scan photos on a user’s device before thye are uploaded to a user’s iCloud account for any images that contain Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). CSAM is a problem on today’s web and Apple’s new initiative sounds like a useful approach, and one that is more private than scanning all of a user’s photos stored in the cloud. Some are applauding Apple but over 7000 security experts and over 100 civic, human rights, and privacy organizations definitely are not. Here’s why.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 8/19/21: Summer ’21 Encore 5- A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

On today’s Summer Encore, a remembrance of how some of the first users of the web 25 years ago envisioned what the web could be – which is a whole lot different, perhaps unfortunately, from what it has become 25 years later.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 8/12/21: Summer ’21 Encore 4 -Computerized Cars- What We Don’t Know

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

New cars come with lots of amazing features – including over 100 sensors and cameras and, by the way, over a hundred million lines of computer code. Here are as few things all those sensors and lines of computer code are doing, probably without the car owner’s knowledge or consent.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 8/5/21: Summer 2021 Encore 3- Science and Fiction

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Arthur C. Clarke once observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. While that once may have been true, it probably isn’t any more. We’re so used to amazing scientific and technological innovation these days that we take the next one with a grain of salt. But, some of today’s “exploratory fiction” writers suggest that we may not want to shrug our shoulders about new technology. Instead, perhaps we ought to really think about if and how we are going to live with it. Here’s a Summer Encore to help us think about that idea.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 7/29/21: Summer 2021 Encore 2 – Retraction Watch

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

We’ve been hearing a lot about anti-vaxers because of Covid but what we haven’t been hearing so much about is exactly why some folks are so opposed to not only Covid vaccinations but vaccinations in general. Turns out that in many cases their concern is based on a 1998 science paper that was retracted 12 years later, in 2010, after it was found to be, quite simply, wrong. And despite the journal it was published in pulling it from its archives because it was proven wrong, lots of people have no idea that paper is no longer considered scientifically correct or defensible. So how could any of us who aren’t scientists know about that? Well, we could make a stop at retractionwatch.org and find out that this paper – and a whole lot of others – have been retracted or withdrawn, often by their authors, when they have been proved incorrect. That’s the way science works. And while we are there, we could also take a look at well over a hundred papers on Covid-19 that have been retracted after being shown to be incorrect.

About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 7/22/21: Summer 2021 Encore 1 – Dark Patterns

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Seen any dark patterns lately? If you use the web, the answer is almost certainly yes. That’s why we all need to know what dark patterns are, how they work, and how we can avoid being caught in them

Here are links mentioned on this edition:

Dark Patterns – the website from which some of today’s program quotes from

Link to the academic paper quoted today
About the host:
Jim Campbell has a longstanding interest in the intersection of digital technology, law, and public policy and how they affect our daily lives in our increasingly digital world. He has banged around non-commercial radio for decades and, in the little known facts department (that should probably stay that way), he was one of the readers voicing Richard Nixon’s words when NPR broadcast the entire transcript of the Watergate tapes. Like several other current WERU volunteers, he was at the station’s sign-on party on May 1, 1988 and has been a volunteer ever since doing an early stint as a Morning Maine host, and later producing WERU program series including Northern Lights, Conversations on Science and Society, Sound Portrait of the Artist, Selections from the Camden Conference, others that will probably come to him after this is is posted, and, of course, Notes from the Electronic Cottage.