Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund – Part 10 of 12
Re Our Subscription to Addiction – Public Knowledge – Reboot
Our Subscription to Addiction
2023 Emerging Tech
Emerging Tech brings together public interest advocates, policymakers, and companies to discuss the promise, pitfalls, and policy implications of cutting-edge tech.
Public Knowledge hosts Emerging Tech to bring together public interest advocates, policymakers, and companies on the cutting edge of technology. The event helps inform policymakers about the promise, potential pitfalls, and policy implications of fast-moving tech dominating headlines and impacting our society in new ways.
We invite industry experts from across the country to join us for an all-day discussion as well as a reception and tech showcase, where guests can experience the latest technologies first-hand and get to know the people driving the next iteration of the internet.
In 2023, the event focused on generative AI, XR technologies, and the decentralized web. Science fiction novelist, journalist, and technology activist Cory Doctorow keynoted the event. Doctorow recently released his book, “Chokepoint Capitalism,” on how both Big Tech and Big Content captured creative labor markets — and how we can win them back. Doctorow proposed that the best way to stop the internet’s long decline into “five giant websites, each filled with screenshots of the other four,” is to restore power to users. Doctorow explained that doing so creates a web where “we freely choose our online services from a wide menu and stay with them because we like them, not because we can’t afford to leave.” Learn more about this topic in his Electronic Frontier Foundation blog post.
Speakers from Unanimous AI, Mozilla, XR Association, and Stanford University joined Public Knowledge moderator and Competition Policy Director Charlotte Slaiman in a conversation on Warring Worlds: Competition and Openness in XR. Panelists discussed the potentials, pitfalls, and policies that lawmakers, innovators, and consumer groups need to consider as they delve into the world of XR. You can watch the panel here.
Speakers from Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, and Harvard Kennedy School joined Internet Archive moderator and Director of Partnerships Wendy Hanamura in a conversation on Decentralizing the Web Stack: Can It Fix Some of Our Biggest Problems? Panelists discussed the capabilities of a decentralized web stack and challenges to large-scale, open source digital networks. You can watch the panel here.
Speakers from OpenAI, SeedAI, Aspen Digital, and Latham & Watkins joined Public Knowledge moderator and Policy Counsel Nicholas Garcia in a conversation on Demystifying Generative AI: Understanding the Tech To Make Better Policy. Panelists discussed the fundamentals of this groundbreaking tech, as well as how we might regulate its powerful potential. You can watch the panel here.
Multiple companies and organizations joined the event to showcase some of the latest technology discussed in the panels. This showcase gives guests the opportunity to experience these emerging technologies directly so they can begin grasping both the practical and policy potential of these devices and how they might impact our society. You can glimpse the tech showcase here.
In 2023, we were joined by:
Dope Nerds, a Baltimore-based small business that exhibited VR hardware that featured immersive edu-tainment experiences on-the-go presented by founder Ursula Spencer.
Google, which demonstrated its augmented reality (AR) application Google Lens that uses a mobile device’s camera and computer vision to extend search to the world around you as well as Bard, the company’s generative AI assistant that operates similarly to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
OpenAI, creators of the popular ChatGPT powered by a new GPT4 model, which demonstrated its flagship tool driving much of the excitement around generative AI.
Project Liberty, which featured a decentralized social media platform called “MeWe” that uses a Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) developed to power the new generation of decentralized social media applications allowing users to easily communicate with each other.
XR Association (XRA), which exhibited virtual reality (VR) hardware that enabled attendees to jump into immersive experiences, including the frenetic rhythm game Beat Saber and even Meta’s flagship VR social application Horizon Worlds.
Reach out to Michele Ambadiang, our Events and Development Manager, to sponsor this event, join the panel discussions, or participate in the tech showcase in 2024 to share your own world-changing technology. View our YouTube channel to experience more of this momentous event.
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PKTrains is Public Knowledge’s program to develop diverse early career talent from all backgrounds with with a learn-by-doing approach, working side-by-side with Public Knowledge’s advocates in fellowships and internships.
What is PKTrains?
For almost a decade, Public Knowledge has been a leader in training diverse early career advocates for a future in public policymaking, putting them in positions to have their voices included in the making of laws and regulations.
Public Knowledge’s training program is an immersive experience where early career fellows learn by working side-by-side with Public Knowledge’s lawyers and advocates, in the halls of Congress, before agencies like the FCC, FTC, and DOJ, in coalition meetings, and with the press. Public Knowledge fellows have moved on to leadership positions at Common Cause, National Hispanic Media Coalition, elected office as a state senator, with federal agencies, including an FCC commissioner’s office, Capitol Hill, and other policy institutions. The fellowship program is a driver of diversity in the tech policy field. Two-thirds of the 22 fellows hired into Public Knowledge’s program from 2013-2020 were female, almost two-thirds were people of color, and over one third were from families where at least one parent was born outside the U.S. At least three identified as LGBTQ+.
Learn more about the PKTrains program in our brochure.
Why Does America Need Public Interest Advocates?
Access to an open internet is critical to participation in a democratic society. Today, the public faces increasing challenges to fair and open access to the internet, from corporate consolidation and control, to overbroad application of copyright law, and many other threats. The public needs to be represented in Washington to promote better policies in everyone’s interest. That is why we are training a new cadre of smart and savvy public interest advocates — to balance corporate power by forcefully representing the public for years to come.
How Does Public Knowledge Train Advocates?
Public Knowledge trains public interest fellows with a learn-by-doing approach at our location in Washington DC. Graduate fellows are immersed in internet, communications, and intellectual property policy making. They take a leading role on an issue or issues, plan strategy, participate in educational meetings on Capitol Hill, agencies, and with other public interest groups and allies, and engage with the public through press and social media. Fellowships culminate in an understanding and facility to advocate for the public interest that will position them to be leaders in the public interest community. Public Knowledge also hosts summer interns who assist on the same projects.
What Kind of Mentoring and Learning Opportunities Are Provided to Fellows?
Fellows are provided with mentoring and substantive advice from two sources: the director of the fellowship program, and a staff advocate in the subject area where they are working. Each mentor meets with the fellow regularly to help develop projects and skills, balance priorities, and develop professionally. Public Knowledge hosts outside speakers to talk with the fellows, interns, and staff. We convene staff dialogues on emerging issues and how they relate to Public Knowledge’s work and the public interest.
This is the video i referred to in the podcast A member of staff who is no longer with us. His legacy:-
Reboot is a publication and community reimagining techno-optimism for a better collective future.
Technologists have long imagined their work in a vacuum. Hurry up, it’s time to build! they proclaim, moving fast and breaking plenty along the way.
Rather than hacking away at half-baked solutions, we aim to redefine what “success” in tech means altogether. At Reboot, we believe:
- Technology is part of a system. We analyze tech in the context of the institutions and ideologies it shapes and is shaped by.
- Technologists should also be thinkers, writers, and advocates. Society thrives when we all have the courage to state the future we want to live in.
- Optimism is an action, not a belief. We’re neither accelerationists nor Luddites: we are agents chipping away at a better world.
To that end, here’s what we’re building:
- Newsletter: We share weekly essays and interviews by community members.
- Magazine: We publish Kernel, a biannual print magazine.
- Events: We host live Q&As with authors of the best books on tech and society.
- Community: We run a fellowship, in-person meetups, book clubs, and more.
Reboot was cofounded by Jasmine Sun and Jessica Dai in 2020. They currently serve as co-editors-in-chief. In addition, our editorial board comprises of Ashwin Ramaswami, Jacob Kuppermann, Hal Triedman, Humphrey Obuobi, Lila Shroff, and Tianyu Fang.
We operate as a fiscally sponsored nonprofit run by an ever-growing team of volunteers, and supported by a community of thousands of students, educators, writers, engineers, historians, activists, and scientists.
Meet the Editorial Board – Re Kernal
I’m thrilled to introduce the six new people joining Reboot’s editorial board: Ashwin Ramaswami, Jacob Kuppermann, Hal Triedman, Humphrey Obuobi, Lila Shroff, and Tianyu Fang.
Many of them have already been involved in Reboot as community members and contributors; and all are thoughtful, brilliant, and passionate people who I trust to broaden our coverage, deepen our rigor, and expand our perspective with their work.
I asked each editor to share a bit about themselves, plus a favorite piece of tech writing. (Exciting bonus: everyone here is open for pitches!)
he/him · twitter · ashwin at joinreboot dot org
Hi, I’m Ashwin!! I’m from Johns Creek, GA and am currently pursuing a J.D. degree at Georgetown Law. I come from a computer science background at Stanford. I love to learn about religion and Eastern philosophy and read science fiction.
My work touches on topics including public interest technology, law and policy, digital humanities, cybersecurity, and philanthropy, which I hope to cover. I also like thinking about open source software communities and governance; power dynamics around big tech and AI; and what the history of ancient technologies, from writing to agriculture, can teach us about the development of technology today.
I just read “Restricted Code,” and it’s fascinating—I like how it explains the real transformative potential of Sanskrit grammar in a clear way, but at the same time cuts through the AI/Sanskrit hype and connects India’s contemporary focus on AI/Sanskrit to colonialism and other phenomena.
Hi! I am a writer, editor, and ecologist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. In my day-to-day, I am an assistant editor and communications coordinator at The Long Now Foundation and a BIJOCSM organizer at IfNotNow. In past lives I’ve been a music critic, an advocate for fossil fuel divestment, and a master’s student in environmental science. I also have two cats named Lila and Lenu, and will send a picture of them to anyone who emails me with a pitch.
At Reboot, I aim to cover—and am interested in pitches on(!)—the climate & our techno-social responses to it, the strange excesses of the online musical economy, unexpected fragments of tech history, and whatever else seems of interest.
“The Salt of the Cosmos” from Tal Milovina is one of my favorite pieces of writing at the intersection of the environment and technology. It’s dazzling both formally and conceptually—using lithium as a connecting thread, it draws lines between different parts of the digital experience from the hyper-material world of resource extraction to more nebulous, almost hallucinatory visions of decentralized communities and ghosts in the machine.
Hi! I’m a technologist, writer, activist, and musician based in Denver, Colorado. In my day job, I work as a Senior Privacy Engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation.
As a Reboot contributing editor, I hope to cover security, privacy, histories of technology, the political economy of the tech industry, and technological ideologies. I’m open for pitches on those topics (and any others!!!).
I absolutely LOVE the Quanta essay about June Huh, the 2022 Fields Medalist. I like a lot of things that Quanta produces, but this piece stands out to me, because of the care that goes into showing June Huh not as a stratospheric genius (which he clearly is), but as a thoughtful, curious, and humble thinker. I also love the way that it shows mathematics research as a messy process, full of roads-not-taken and unexpected isomorphisms, rather than the sterile proofs that we often become acquainted with in math classes. Finally (and this is typical for Quanta), I really love the graphical illustration/explanation of the cutting-edge of math research. As a practice, it feels very respectful to the reader’s intellect.
he/they · twitter · humphrey at joinreboot dot org
Hello there! I am a designer, organizer, and technologist based in San Francisco. For the past few years, I was running public data program at a criminal justice nonprofit called Recidiviz; now, I run LETS Studio, a creative studio that supports democratic, community-led innovation in the Bay Area. I’ll also be starting a Masters of Public Policy at UC Berkeley in the fall.
For Reboot, I’ll be convening hearts and minds around the idea of “civic infrastructure,” a term I use to describe the tools and spaces—both digital and physical—that communities use to coordinate social change.
“Nameless Feeling” by Ludwig Yeetgenstein is the kind of read that shocked me into paying attention to something that I never thought to challenge: the idea of “vibes,” and the existential risk of failing to look beyond them. Technically, it does an excellent job of tracing a phenomenon from its technological origins (machine learning algorithms) to its social implications (passive attraction to hand-wavy feelings); by the end, I felt resolved to move more intentionally in my daily life and pay attention to the details. Good writing feels like it should change you somehow, and this definitely did it for me.
Hi, I’m Lila! I’m a writer and a rising junior at Stanford. Currently, I am working on Responsible AI governance efforts as a Policy Fellow at Credo AI. At Stanford, I am an inaugural member of the Technology Ethics and Policy fellowship, and this past year, I co-led a student group at the Human-Centered AI Institute exploring AI and the future of creative expression. I love fiction writing and am currently working on a short story about memory, aging, and art.
I can’t wait to cover all things arts, media, and policy. I am very open (and eager) for pitches, think: artists exploring technology in provocative ways, media creation tools you wish existed, and fiction that changes the way you think about technology.
I love Vauhini Vara’s award-winning essay “Ghosts,” an early attempt at experimenting with AI in creative writing, and her debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist, which charts a gripping parallel history of technology. What I appreciate about Vara’s work is that she is both an incredible fiction writer and a tech journalist—and she uses her skills in each of these domains to inform her work in the other. I can’t wait for her forthcoming essay collection, Searches, a collection of personal and cultural essays that explore “the rapidly changing ways we express ourselves online, the future of language in the age of AI, and how late-stage techno-capitalists profit from it all.”
Hi, I’m Tian. I’m a writer, researcher, and technologist. Previously, I was part of Chaoyang Trap, a newsletter about life on the Chinese internet. Currently, I’m studying political science at Stanford University.
I’m broadly curious about online culture, tech history, and technocratic ideologies. At Reboot, I’m excited to cover global implications and transnational productions of technology. If you have an idea—even if it’s just a sentence or two—please reach out!
The history of technology teaches us two lessons. First, what now seems novel isn’t really new; and second, what we take for granted now was never an inevitable outcome. From this perspective I enjoyed Ben Tarnoff’s Internet for the People, a highly readable and critical assessment of the advent of the web—one that made me curious about the alternative internets we’d be living on had different policy choices been made.
And two reintroductions…
I’m a PhD student in computer science at UC Berkeley; I work broadly on (the societal implications of) machine learning and artificial “intelligence.” With Jasmine, I co-founded Reboot back in 2020; since then, I’ve been in a variety of roles including newsletter editor, Kernel managing editor and editor-in-chief, and “try to properly pay taxes to the state of California” person. I really enjoy good fruit and the performing arts.
Pitch me (after September) about anything! Some more specifics: I’m always curious about how the cultures and social dynamics of intellectual communities shape the substance of the work that gets produced. Personal essay/narrative, especially braided with/ reflecting on work you’ve done in the past. I’d especially encourage academics—students or otherwise—to think about research-informed opinion pieces with general-audience relevance (all those hot takes you can’t put in something peer-reviewed…). Things I enjoy but know less about: beauty/aesthetic, fashion, food, ~ identity ~….
It probably means something that, more than five years later, the first title that comes to mind is “It Was Raining in the Data Center” by Everest Pipkin. It was summer 2018, when Medium was still the place for new, exciting essays; I was nineteen, bored to tears at my first tech job. I remember being blown away by the possibility of understanding the internet, which I mostly thought of as amorphous and intangible, as connected to real, physical systems with material stakes. Reading this was the first time I really understood what the project of creative and critical nonfiction writing was about, the first time I really felt like there might yet still be something interesting in technology.
Hi! I’m a cofounder and co-editor-in-chief of Reboot. I’m currently most excited about designing better social and information ecosystems, which I work on in my day job as a product manager at Substack. In the past, I’ve held roles across the civic innovation ecosystem: tech policy research at Schmidt Futures, disaster resilience products at One Concern, public interest tech curricula at Stanford, and sustainability advocacy at the ICDI. I graduated from Stanford with a degree in sociology, and am happily based in San Francisco.
I’m most interested in publishing profiles, personal essays, and interviews related to theories of change: the people, movements, products, and policies attempting to make tech meaningfully better. I believe it requires far more rigor and courage to defend something than to critique it, and am excited to hear from anyone who’s up for the challenge.
A book that’s stayed with me is sociologist and computer scientist Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas. She applies a UX designer’s meticulous eye to show how platform affordances shaped 21st century activism from Hong Kong to Gezi Park, sharing generalizable takeaways that are valuable for organizers and tech builders alike. (I also discuss my other favorite pieces of tech writing in this essay.)
These are the eight voices you’ll be hearing from in the newsletter and shaping its vision over the next year. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with—please share or sign up if you’re excited as I am 🙂
💝 closing note
I want to extend one more thank you to Reboot’s prior core team: Emily Liu, Matthew Sun, Ivan Zhao, Jake Gaughan, and Lucas Gelfond. In their work on launching and running the student fellowship, Kernel Magazine, and more, this group has contributed countless hours and incredible ingenuity to make Reboot the organization it is today.
In other news: Are you a (human) illustrator with experience creating small digital portraits? We’re looking to hire someone to create signature avatars for our editorial team! Please reply or contact me if you have leads.
Onward and upward,
Jasmine & Reboot team