The End of Trust is the first-ever nonfiction issue of McSweeney's, co-edited by McSweeney's editors and the staff of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; on December 11, we held a sold-out launch event in San Francisco with EFF executive director Cindy Cohn, science fiction writer and EFF alumna Annalee Newitz, and me.
Read the rest
I'm heading to San Francisco next week for a launch party on December 11th celebrating the release of The End of Trust, a collaboration between EFF and McSweeney's on internet surveillance and the future of the net; the event is at 7:30PM at Manny’s at 3092 16th Street (RSVP here), and I'll be on a panel with EFF exec director Cindy Cohn, moderated by the amazing Annalee Newitz!
Read the rest
The End of Trust (previously) is a special issue of McSweeney's, produced in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on the themes of technology, privacy and surveillance: it's in stores today, and free to download under a Creative Commons license.
Read the rest
The End of Trust will be McSweeney's issue 54, the first-ever all-nonfiction issue of McSweeney's, with more than 30 contributions on "surveillance in the digital age."
Read the rest
EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow died last month, and though his death had been long coming, it's left a hole in the hearts of the people who loved him and whom he inspired.
Read the rest
I met John Perry Barlow in 1999, and I was awestruck: here was the legend whose Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace
had profoundly changed my life, making me realize that the nascent internet that I'd dropped out of university to devote my life to could be more than a communications tool: it could be a revolutionary force for good.
Last week, cowards from both sides of the aisle caved into America's lawless spy agencies, and today bipartisan senators reprised that cowardice to ensure that the Senate would not get a chance to vote on amendments to the renewal of Section 702, the rule that has allowed the NSA to conduct mass, warrantless surveillance on Americans in secret, without meaningful oversight or limits.
Read the rest
With the rise of white nationalist groups whose allies in government extend all the way to the President of the United States, tech companies are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding where tolerance begins and ends -- where they have a duty to step in and silence certain kinds of speech.
Read the rest
Below you’ll find a wide-ranging interview with Cindy Cohn, who runs the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
It’s the third episode of my podcast, which launched here on Boing Boing two weeks back and which is co-hosted by Tom Merritt. The podcast series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my present-day science fiction novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.
Issues of privacy and government hacking in are central to After On’s storyline. And no organization is more deeply concerned with these matters than EFF, which positions itself as “the leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.”
Cindy has been working with EFF for most of its history, and running it since 2015. In our interview we discuss several chilling developments EFF is fighting. One is the legal campaign against Mike Masnick and his long-running blog TechDirt. This is widely viewed as a SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation.
Moneyed plaintiffs use SLAPP suits to arbitrarily silence opinions that displease them – a power none are granted in free societies, but which is readily accessible through cynical abuse of the legal system. Just last week, Masnick accepted $250,000 from donors ranging across the political spectrum to fight this odious practice, and just yesterday EFF named him a winner of its 2017 Pioneer Award, making this a timely conversation.
Cindy and I also discuss how Cisco helped China censor its Internet and oppress religious minorities; the controversy surrounding Facebook’s attempt to roll out a free but stripped-down Internet in India; the morality of tools that protect good people from evil governments but can also protect evil people from good governments; EFF’s own storied history, and much more. Read the rest
Below you’ll find an unhurried interview with Dr. Adam Gazzaley, who runs one of the West Coast’s largest neuroscience labs at UCSF. There, his team carefully crafts video games with the potential to cure a wide range of neurological ailments.
A direct heir to Adam’s research is now up for final FDA approval as a treatment for ADHD – potentially providing millions of parents with a game-based alternative to medicating their kids. Autism is also in his sights. And his research first became prominent for blunting the awful effects of dementia. That work landed him on the cover of Nature magazine - which is to sciencists what a mid-70s Rolling Stone cover was to classic rock guitarists.
This is the second episode of my podcast, which launched here on Boing Boing last week, and which is co-hosted by the inimitable Tom Merritt. Adam was a priceless resource to me as I researched the real science connected to my present-day science fiction novel After On. I should divulge that we became friends through that process, and that I’m now a minuscule shareholder in a company he created. I’m confident that that this didn’t bias my part of our interview, but do bear that in mind.
In addition to his research, Adam and I discuss the roots of consciousness – a matter of much speculation amongst neuroscientists, and of great significance to my storyline. We also discuss the one New York City borough he hasn’t yet inhabited, the alphabet soup of modern brain scanning tools, and the science fiction tales that inspired him as a tot. Read the rest
Writing science fiction can get you amazing access to thinkers, founders, and scientists whose work touches on the stories you tell. It’s one of the great things about my job. Sure, writing cover stories for Wired would get my calls returned faster! But countless science and tech leaders trace their interests back to tales they read as youngsters -- which has lent me great success in requesting research interviews for my stories.
Rob Reid's After On is available from Amazon.
Setting my books in the present-ish day, I try to keep things consistent with current technology and knowledge, so I conduct lots of these interviews. And I learn troves from them. But as I get excited about a new field, I become prone to giddy tangents about how it all works, or why it matters. Giddy tangents have a place in fiction – but a limited one, and they should be used sparingly.
I conducted dozens of interviews while writing my new novel After On (which came out out on Tuesday). Focusing on the storytelling meant leaving out huge amounts of newfound learning that just didn’t fit. Which was the right decision! But it also felt like a lost opportunity. And so I’ve created eight podcast episodes that deeply explore areas that fascinated me during my research. I’ll be posting them to Boing Boing on a weekly basis, starting with Episode One, which is all about augmented reality:
A quick word on how these episodes are structured. My co-host is grizzled podcasting veteran Tom Merritt, who has been presenting tech news and culture to the world for over fifteen years. Read the rest
Malcolm Gladwell has an article in this month's New Yorker that dismisses Edward Snowden's claims to legitimacy and legal protection, while elevating Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers breach to an act of heroism; Gladwell sets out criteria for legitimate whistleblowing that treats Snowden as a "radicalized hacker" and Ellsberg as a "good leaker," and says that Snowden should have gone through official channels, rather than disclosing to journalists. Read the rest
Execs representing the biggest tech companies in America are gathering for a meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in New York; these companies have it in their power to spy on us, locate us, censor us, and terminally compromise the free and open internet. Read the rest
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has published a heartfelt and defiant statement about the EFF's plans for the coming four years under a president who has demanded back-doors in crypto, promised mass surveillance and roundups of millions of people, and threatened the freedom of the press. Read the rest
We've all heard that there's a federal judge in California who ordered Apple to make a tool to help the FBI decrypt a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters -- but despite the FBI's insistence that this is a special circumstance, San Bernardino is just one of a dozen-odd cases where the FBI is making similar demands on Apple. Read the rest