mstem

Recent blog posts by mstem

Thinking ethically about our relationships with social robots

Liveblog of Kate Darling's Berkman Center lunch, A discussion of near-term ethical, legal, and societal issues in robotics.

Kate begins with the observation that there aren't nearly enough experts in robotic law. Those that are interested in the emergent field need to become more expert, and many more need to join them in the pursuit.

Here are some of the emerging issues:

Clay Shirky: Planning Shan't Trump Reality

Clay Shirky's on stage with Ginny Hunt at Harvard's Institute of Politics discussing the lessons we can take away from the Healthcare.gov boondoggle (#netrevolution).

Clay's first point is that of all the criticism of Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act, no one has argued that it's a bad idea to rely on the web as the central component of citizen interaction with a government program. All of the other communications options, from phone to fax, have been considered second-rate fallback options.

This change has happened almost imperceptibly, but it is nevertheless a marker of where we are.


There's a lesson to be learned from the website's poor performance, especially given Obama for America's campaign success with technology.

Internet technology and politics have hooked up every 2-4 years since 1992, when Clinton hosted an internal campaign listserv on MIT servers. Now, the internet and politics have gotten married.

Introducing the Participatory Aid Marketplace

A summary of my Media Lab Master's thesis, cross-posted from my personal site, because, well, there are a lot more people over here.

Unlike my thesis readers, who may or may not have made it through all 244 pages, you get to experience the condensed version. The full PDF is here, if you're into reading and citations.

Participatory Aid

People are using information and communication technologies (like the internet) to help each other in times of crisis (natural or man-made). This trend is the evolution of a concept known as "mutual aid", introduced by Russian polymath Peter Kropotkin in 1902 in his argument that our natural sociable inclinations towards cooperation and mutual support are underserved by capitalism's exclusive focus on the self-interested individual. My own reaction is to the bureaucracy's underserving of informal and public-led solutions.

Killing People Still Morally Wrong

These are the moments that make the other moments of attempted unity more difficult, more hollow, for many among us. Before giving into the polarized reactions that the Trayvon Martin story has elicited from its onset, we might practice a little empathy for those for whom the case represented a great deal more than George Zimmerman's fate.

My thoughts race tonight to the family of Trayvon Martin, who fought so hard through personal emotions and the initially indifferent public reaction to deliver attention (and by extension, they hoped, justice) to their loss. But tonight especially, my feelings go out to everyone for whom this judgement is just vindication of the existing fear and trepidation we force them to feel for simply existing as they were born.

Kickstopper: When crowdfunding pipes money to projects you abhor

Like Facebook and other corporate social platforms, Kickstarter has been asked to further refine its policies governing which speech it will and will not accept on its platform.

Kickstopper

The catalyst for the conversation is a DoSomething.org petition with over 50,068 signatures (in just over a day) against Ken Hoinsky's successfully completed Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Hoinsky's initial $2,000 goal was surpassed, reaching $16,639 before the campaign ended.

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