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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #38 - Fifty shades of digital sovereignty

futuribile / curating futures
futuribile / curating futures - Issue #38 - Fifty shades of digital sovereignty
By Marta Arniani • Issue #38 • View online
Aloha,
“Digital sovereignty” is the Graal of European tech policy for the years to come. It’s the priority everywhere. In the coming Digital Europe programme. In Monday’s letter to the President of the European Commission from Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Denmark, and Finland. In the Data Governance Act. But what is digital sovereignty? A new survey conducted in eight European countries found that “sovereignty” alone - without digital complications, is understood differently and sometimes poorly across borders. A primer by the Internet Policy Review highlights how digital sovereignty can mean something different according to the context and highlights how it is also a matter of holding institutions accountable with regards to the digital sphere. Digital sovereignty has a strong unifying potential for the EU as a whole - under political and economic lenses, as well as for local communities, increasing their sense of agency and participation in digitally-mediated matters. Without the public opinion’s understanding and backing, it risks being another technocratic bottom-down concept pushing citizens away from Brussels.
Aloha,
Marta Arniani

 100 years ago, the theatre play "R.U.R." (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Josef Čapek introduced the word "robot" to the English language and science fiction as a whole. To celebrate the centenary, a multidisciplinary team put together a play written by an AI with the language model GPT-2, which premiered last week online. Reviews aren't flattening - apparently, the AI narration is dull and narrows down romance to sex, but it serves the researchers' goal: starting a conversation on what AI can and cannot do.
100 years ago, the theatre play "R.U.R." (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Josef Čapek introduced the word "robot" to the English language and science fiction as a whole. To celebrate the centenary, a multidisciplinary team put together a play written by an AI with the language model GPT-2, which premiered last week online. Reviews aren't flattening - apparently, the AI narration is dull and narrows down romance to sex, but it serves the researchers' goal: starting a conversation on what AI can and cannot do.
The Chinese aesthetics of innovation (a pause from dystopian reports)
Wolks electric wagen. While Western societies dream of electric vehicles that look like… the electric version of classic cars, in China there is a massive widespread of tiny EV, nicknamed “elderly transport vehicles”: affordable, chargeable on normal plugs, small and standing in a grey regulatory area that saves drivers a license and insurance. The future of EV does not necessarily look like an elitist Tesla.
Soft robots. Chinese researchers built a soft robot that can dive in the Mariana Trench (the most profound ocean area, almost 11km). Although the robot so far took little swims under pressure without performing any tasks, the prototype is remarkable. So far, deep-sea robots have been designed as solid compact tanks to resist water pressure. Scientists instead got inspiration from the hadal snailfish’ skull - the deepest living fish, which is partially open, to decentralise electronics in a way that proves more resistant to pressure. The future of robots does not necessarily look like Boston Dynamics creatures. Paper in Nature.
Deep-sea soft robots
Deep-sea soft robots
Jobs of the future (a thread)
Dr. Emily Pawley
Let’s play “think of climate crisis jobs that aren’t “wind turbine and solar panel installer!”

I’ll start:

Social workers to help resettle climate refugees

Who else do we need?
Automating with a grain of salt
Public authorities go for in-house systems. As documented in my work on digital welfare, public administrations’ reliance on third-party vendors and the lack of in-house competencies are a recipe for unfair and opaque systems. The Wall Street Journal reviews how some European public authorities are starting to get their hands dirty with building algorithms or hire people who understand them.
About face: a survey of facial recognition evaluation. Two researchers surveyed over 100 face datasets constructed between 1976 and 2019 of over 17 million subjects. The historical analysis reveals that these datasets are contextual and not neutral, shaped by factors like political motivations, technological capability, and current norms. “Those working to improve this technology must acknowledge its legacy as a military and carceral technology, and their contribution toward those objectives.” Amen. 
Trust in the Blockchain Society - A must-see smartphone documentary
Trust in the Blockchain Society - A must-see smartphone documentary
Shots
/// In March the EU will issue a draft law on vaccine passports. Meanwhile, experts convened by the Ada Lovelace Institute invite to focus on scientific progress on vaccines efficacy instead of soft surveillance.
/// YouTube playlist of easy tutorials on how to identify, verify and analyse information online.
/// Seeing is not understanding: how to encourage data literacy early and prepare today’s kids to read data visualisations.
/// Reddit Is America’s unofficial unemployment hotline.
/// A succulent long interview about the relationship between the Black community in America and software, including civil rights, policing, and social platforms’ role.
Oh, dear!
Just in case: how to defeat a Boston Dynamics robot in mortal combat (link in image)
Just in case: how to defeat a Boston Dynamics robot in mortal combat (link in image)
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That’s all for this monthly tour of tech discovery under a socio-cultural lens. Share online, and forward to support my work, hit reply for feedback.
Aloha,
Marta
Did you enjoy this issue?
Marta Arniani

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