Notes from the Electronic Cottage 10/22/20: Free Speech Week 2020

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

It’s Free Speech Week in the US this week, which brings up an important question: what does Free Speech actually mean in the digital age? Is our traditional idea that the answer to bad speech is more speech still relevant? Today, we’ll look at our First Amendment context for Free Speech. In following programs, we’ll look at different responses to this question in the digital age.

Links to sites mentioned in today’s program:

Free Speech Week
Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books, 2010-2019
First Amendment Museum – Free Speech Week

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 10/15/20: Ring Doorbells and Police

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Been recorded on a video camera lately? If you don’t think so, you might be wise to not be so sure. If you’ve walked down a street lately, there is a reasonable chance that someone’s doorbell was watching you pass by and recording your movements as long as you were within the doorbell camera’s field of vision. Think that is a great idea here in the land of the free? Quite a few police departments, well over 400 across the country, seem to think it’s such a good idea that in many cases they are using taxpayer dollars to help pay for these “Ring” video doorbells. And, by the way, Ring is owned by Amazon. Oh yeah, and the police can “request” video recorded by homeowners’ cameras without a warrant. Good idea? See what you think.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 10/8/20: Science and Fiction

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

The great science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once observed that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” While that may have been true in days gone by, it doesn’t seem so true to day. Science fiction movies like “Minority Report” from 2002, TV series like “The Last Enemy” from 2008, and novels like the 2020 “Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution” deal with futures that are filled with technology but that technology is not of the “Gee-Whiz” type of the old Flash Gordon movies, or even of the Star Wars movies. All of the tech in these more recent stories is technology that is more developed than today’s, to be sure, but that is nonetheless entirely recognizable for those of us alive today. The question is how will these not-so-far-in-the-future technologies affect our daily lives and those of our grandchildren. Fiction may have something to tell us about science.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 10/1/20: Tech and Government 1

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

In our digital age, large tech companies wield a lot of power. So, of course, does the government. The relation between those two large parts of our everyday lives can be confusing and even downright murky. Let’s consider those relationships for a bit.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/24/20: DNA Today 2

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Having one’s DNA analyzed to see where one’s ancestors may have come from can be fun and maybe even informative. But there are other potential results to ponder before splitting into that tube. At least, that is the opinion of the Department of Defense, and it might be worth giving a listen to what the DOD has to say about this technology before sending a DNA sample off. See what you think.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/17/20: Some Surprises & an Unsurprise

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

A few tech topics for today. First, what was the biggest selling physical format of music was in the first half of 2020? Second. what did IBM tell the US Department of Commerce about the export of facial recognition technology software? Third, why did a group of German researchers entitle a recent paper examining smart watches for children STALK? Curious? Listen up.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/10/20: CBP & License Plate Readers

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Maine is the only state that borders only one other state, which means that we have very long national borders with the ocean and with Canada. That, in turn, means that most, if not all of Maine, is within 100 miles of a US national border, and that fact gives the Customs and Border Protection Agency the ability to do a lot of things in the name of border protection that would not happen beyond that 100 mile border. One of those things is the ability to use license plate reader technology on any car on Maine roads without any warrant or warning. CBP’s recent “Privacy Impact Assessment for the CBP License Plate Reader Technology” describes the risks to our personal privacy of that program. The link is here It’s worth reading. Here’s why.

Notes from the Electronic Cottage 9/3/20: Computerized Cars- What We Don’t Know

Producer/Host: Jim Campbell

Many of us that drive daily have little idea of what our cars are doing. We don’t mean how the engine or transmission works: we mean how all the information about how we drive and where we drive that is being collected, some of which is being sent through a cellular connection that we don’t even know exists to companies that we similarly don’t know exist for purposes that we don’t know anything about and haven’t agreed to, at least consciously. Might be worthwhile to know a bit more about the data that is being collected about our driving without our knowledge and monetized by others, so lend an ear here.