Uncovering the impact of governance regimes on data sovereignty and surveillance

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Photo by Jonas Ferlin on Pexels

Technological innovation is the driving mechanism of modern economic organization. Since the industrial revolution, technically efficient products produced at scale have created the conditions necessary for vast accumulation of material wealth. The wealth central to these processes has enabled urban centers to expand their influence, becoming locations important for the trade of capital and labor. Contemporary cities are no different than those of an earlier era, but have transitioned to exchanging digital rather than physical goods, using repositories of extensive data drawn from internet-connected devices.

Having established their presence in the 1990s and maturing in the early 21st century, corporations producing digital services have prospered. Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, and many others, are platforms for a novel economy. This emerging economy relies on a new kind of labor, popularly labeled the “creative class,”¹ but who are mainly knowledge-based workers. Within lofty downtown offices and glass-laden condominiums, they are building products increasingly marketed to cities as solutions for perennially known problems. From city administration to waste allocation, power systems to water treatment, street crime to transportation, no service is left unaltered by information and communication technologies (ICTs). …


Inside industrial warfare at its finest

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Photo by Tesla.

Tesla’s Autonomy Day came and went, and investors and critics felt unimpressed by the ambitious presentation. We’ve all heard this story before; self-driving cars have been on the horizon for years. For many, the idea is pure fantasy, a misunderstanding of how difficult it is to search large datasets and engineer efficient intelligent machines. Driving isn’t easy, and it can take years to become reflexively familiar with all its challenges. Hydroplane, traffic cones, wild animals, road rage, drunks, and pedestrians all present horrific daily scenarios for victims and drivers, with more than a million traffic-related deaths globally each year.

As far back as 2013 is when Elon Musk first began toying with the notion of adding the mystic technology to Tesla Motors’s fleet. In particular, he mentions airplane autopilot systems as perhaps a good example of what is possible. Aeronautical use of pilotless steering has been around since 1912 when the Sperry Corporation created hydraulic connections to altitude monitors and heading indicators. A practical innovation considering flying through wide open air. Driving, however, is something altogether different. …


And other tales from the battlefront

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Photos by Wikimedia Commons

The post-debate glow surrounding Kamala Harris is beginning to fade. In what amounted to a rebuke of Biden’s elder stature, her confrontation over ‘70s era busing politics was the optic needed to prime her prosecutorial bona fides. In the wake, however, confusion over desegregated schooling is seeping into the weeds.

At stake are black voters, and coalescing an electorally cohesive bloc. Harris, whose racially mixed heritage excites donors and voters alike, is doing her best to wade through a rhetorical minefield with no apparent upside. School desegregation is not a high priority, as eighty percent of Americans prefer neighborhood schools, with half of black respondents agreeing. …


Riding the wave of neoreaction across the South Pacific

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Photo by Fidelia Zheng on Unsplash

When I first heard of Starlink launching sixty satellites into low Earth orbit, the consequences didn’t seem obvious. You think it’ll just be cheaper Twitch.tv streaming from Patagonia, or maybe lag free teleconferencing. What you don’t consider are all the side-effects of high-throughput, low-latency global networks.

As a crude example, most games today are a mishmash of mid and high latency multiplayer worlds. Average regional pings hover around 40ms, or 0.04 seconds, despite players sharing the same geographic area. In most modern games pings start around 70ms, sometimes reaching 180ms. Routers do their best but complicated network hops are often crowded; this is a glaring issue when Asian users login to US servers, with their pings starting at 300ms on-upwards. …


And the quiet Democratic Party revolution

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Photo by Biden 2020.

In a Tuesday fundraiser, former Vice President and frontrunner for the upcoming Democratic nomination uttered phrases that caught segments of the party by storm. His comments aimed at an audience of donors ready to hand over piles of fresh green cash, resources critically needed for a midwestern 2020 blitz. In statements transcribed by Atlantic writer Edward-Isaac Dovere, Biden reminisced of a more civil Senate, particularly regarding former segregationist and Mississippi Senator James O. Eastland. Additionally, reports say Biden intimated a southern drawl as he recalled having never been called “boy” but rather “son” by his then Congressional colleague.

The fracas soon following these privately said statements was overwhelming. Senator Cory Booker issued calls for an apology, immediately met with a likewise request from Joe. Senator Sanders joined the fray in a somewhat metered way, getting in a near yelling match with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle when she pressed the Vermont candidate on nuance. Senator Harris appeared hesitant to demand anything further, although expressing her displeasure with the quotes. Senator Coons from Delaware sidestepped the frenzy artfully as anyone, stating “Joe Biden speaks clearly.” …


Genetic engineering and global rivalries

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Photo by McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.

For nearly the past decade, the tool known as CRISPR has been sweeping the scientific world. The acronym stands for a process I won’t attempt to explain, suffice it to say it does its job with enough precision that the tiniest genetic sequences can be removed, inserted, or mutated into the desired combinations. The implications are stark, with all of the globe’s premier biochemists and microbiologists now in an arms race to find the best techniques and solutions for using the method.

CRISPR arrived on the scene in roughly 1993 and began its foray into gene editing at some of the largest and most well-funded laboratories. China, in particular, was the first to use the method on macaque monkey primates, creating what they called mutant founders. It didn’t take long for the emerging superpower to aim its interest towards human embryos. Although it’s unlikely human subjects were brought to term during this period, only a few years later did rogue genetic engineer He Jiankui make such a claim. While framing his research as genetic surgery, his ethical argument pivoted on the unavailability of vaccines or cures for HIV. Thus his targeting of the CCR5 gene, known to aid immunosuppressive viruses, could be seen as a sound intervention. …


How Congressional forces are gathering for the ultimate showdown

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Photo by Gage Skidmore.

O n Monday, Democrats will begin hearings to further investigate President Trump. Their mission is clear and concise, which is through public sessions, testimony, and document review, prove to the voting public that Trump both engaged in a conspiracy with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election, and when confronted with the prospect of his secretive dealings being revealed, obstructed Mueller and his team’s pursuit of justice.

This fight will be lengthy and intense. For nearly a year and a half as Trump ran for the Republican ticket, and then as the party nominee, there was total media coverage both ridiculing his shtick but also intensifying the partisan nature of the contest. Especially in places like California, where Trump never had a chance electorally, there was outright seething violence on a scale never before seen since the Vietnam era. It wasn’t returning soldiers being accosted by New Left activists, rather it was mostly everyday folks such as retailers, accountants, bus drivers, teachers, and retirees engaging in open mutual hostility. …


From flooding insurance to economic loss

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Photo by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash

From floods to high-speed winds, tropical cyclones have devastating consequences for coastal economic activity. Whether involving flood insurance or housing and infrastructure loss, damage from storm surge and extreme winds affects critical financial choices. This is an examination of the ways in which beach communities deal with the costs posed by powerful storms, and how those weather systems disrupt and damage local economies.

I’ll initially look at the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program and its purpose. Further, I will discuss NFIP’s effectiveness and financial stability, including major concerns with its policies and possible solutions. Next will be an investigation of economic losses due to storms, with predictive models that take into account ongoing climate instability. …


Tracking tech through an Adornian perspective

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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

In Theodor Adorno’s polemic titled The Culture Industry Reconsidered, the critical theorist confronts the real power of industrial communication and its effects. By interrogating the processes of production, manipulation, and commodification present in the manifestation of our technological era, there is a rigorous mapping of something altogether in-human inherent in capitalism’s ability to cavort with mass society. Cultural products, forged from the elements of contemporary technical innovations working alongside concentrated economic and administrative centers of power, creates a fusing of both the old and the new, high and low, but all together devoid of the humanness so often appreciated in times prior. …


A Latin American Story

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Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

Clientelism in the context of politics in Latin America is the practice of voters (clients) receiving gifts or payments in exchange for votes for political candidates (patrons). However, this phenomena effects how party politics is organized throughout elections, and particularly primes electorates toward personalistic populist rhetoric, which in many cases leads to or boosts competitive authoritarianism. Why is clientelism so effective? Why do patrons consistently use commodities and cash payoffs to herd support? …

About

Corey Recvlohe

Writer, focusing on politics and tech.

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