Techno Sapiens: The Ghost in the Data Edition

Welcome to Techno Sapiens, a biweekly series of six podcasts hosted by Future Tense fellows, Christine Rosen, senior editor of the New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, and Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer who has worked for Google, eBay, and Dropbox, among others. Each podcast will examine how technology—now and in the future—will impact us as a species, and how we relate to each other.

On today’s first episode, Christine and Marvin debate the pros and cons of big data with American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Chris Calabrese. As Twitter, Facebook, and all the other tech companies hoover up our information, learning more and more about us, is it time to ask: If we have nothing to hide, do we have nothing to fear?

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • OkCupid’s blog, OkTrends, is full of interesting data sets about American relationships.
  • Opower is a company that helps energy utilities tell their users how their energy use compares with their neighbors.
  • The 2008 National Research Council report argued that data mining does not help us find terrorists.
  • The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s report also suggested that the National Security Agency program collection of American phone call data has been almost useless in catching terrorists.

Contributors:

Christine Rosen was a Future Tense fellow. She is a writer and senior editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, where she covers the social impact of technology, bioethics, and the history of genetics.

Marvin Ammori