WeeklyTech #112

Wired for Tyranny? The Concerning Rise of Digital Authoritarianism

In the West we often take technology for granted. We grow frustrated when the internet at home or the office goes down, even if only for a few moments. We grow impatient when we can’t quickly find what we are looking for online. We become outraged when technology companies seem to routinely misapply their content moderation policies. We speak out defiantly for all to hear on social media when we think our freedoms are being curtailed. We expect our elected officials to stand firm in the face of immense pressure for unfettered efficiency in order to safeguard our digital privacy and freedoms, even as we regularly and freely post intimate details about ourselves online for the world to see.

As members of a democracy, we have grown accustomed to having a say in how our society is structured and how it should be governed. We rightly believe that our leaders should be held accountable, and that government does not have unlimited power over us as individuals or our communities. We believe the government is designed and ordained by God to protect our natural rights and freedoms (Romans 13:1). And we may even expect the technology industry to uphold similar values given the influence of Western values, the intensity of market pressure, and the calls for public accountability. Regardless of where these companies operate around the world, we may presume they will uphold basic human rights even if there is little consensus on these matters, especially within the oppressive of authoritarian regimes.

The Rundown

YouTube is now banning even more antivax content – Ben Brody | Protocol

YouTube will now ban videos that claim a variety of vaccines are ineffective or dangerous and will take down channels linked to anti-vaccine activists including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

🔒Amazon Should Invent With Care – Shira Ovide | New York Times

Amazon has achieved something remarkable in the seven years since it introduced the first home speaker with its Alexa voice assistant. The company has convinced millions of people to put an Amazon computer (or two or 10) in their homes and has changed their habits.

Google Search’s Next Phase: Context is King – Dieter Bohn | Verge

By leveraging its new Multitask Unified Model (MUM) machine learning technology in small ways, the company hopes to kick off a virtuous cycle: it will provide more detail and context-rich answers, and in return it hopes users will ask more detailed and context-rich questions. The end result, the company hopes, will be a richer and deeper search experience.

A Whiff of Civil War in the Air – David French | The Dispatch

It’s important to understand that there is no policy fix for malice and misinformation. There is no five-point plan for national harmony. Popular policies don’t unite us, and there are always differences and failures to help renew our rage. Instead, we are dealing with a spiritual and moral sickness. Malice and disdain are conditions of the soul. Misinformation and deception are sinful symptoms of fearful and/or hateful hearts.

On the Internet, We’re Always Famous – Chris Hayes | The New Yorker

The most radical change to our shared social lives isn’t who gets to speak, it’s what we can hear. True, everyone has access to their own little megaphone, and there is endless debate about whether that’s good or bad, but the vast majority of people aren’t reaching a huge audience. And yet at any single moment just about anyone with a smartphone has the ability to surveil millions of people across the globe.

The end of vice – Bryan Walsh | Axios

50 years after President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs, American attitudes toward and laws about activities that have long been classified as vices are changing — and with it, the assumption that it’s the government’s role to police public morality.