Code, Consequence, and the Cacophony of Chatter

3 minute read

This is cross-posted on my new Substack, Code & Consequences. Subscribe there for more tech policy musings

For a good couple of months I’ve been considering starting some form of blog. I have a personal blog but I felt a desire to put something together that felt a little more concise and focused than random musings. I’ve been working in the tech sector for almost a decade and have been playing with technology in some form for most of my life starting with the old Toshiba laptop I accidentally bricked (sorry, dad). In that time, technology has played an even more dominant role in our lives.

The truth is, technological luddism is not a tenable option for even the most off-the-grid types. Existing in society at all necessitates the presence of a digital record of who you are from receiving medical care, banking, or simply buying a snack. In the United States (and arguably the rest of the world), there is no single approach that an individual can take to understand the vastness of their digital footprint.

A person walking with a stream of data stemming up from them into a
cloud. Image Credit: DALL-E / a person carrying a big cloud of data behind them

For You, From You

The amount of data that exists about any individual can give strangers, bystanders, and other beings of either natural or artificial intelligence an in-depth picture of who you are in some ways better than you may know yourself. Society as a whole still struggles with the idea of managing the perspective of one’s self while the technology industry marches forward. It’s only recently that we’ve begun having significant and serious conversations about how this affects individuals on a mental, physical, and societal level.

In the past couple of years, I’ve been shifting my own career work into a bridge between society, technology, and policy. Seeing first hand how technology can affect the deepest parts of ourselves and our communities regardless of how niche or intimate they might be, I became more focused on understanding and pondering these changes.

Of Code and Consequence

Code and Consequence is meant to be a more structured form of these types of musings; looking critically at the way technology is being used (and abused), it’s impact on society and the world, and thinking more critically about the way we decide to engage with the unprecedented speed of changes affecting humanity. I don’t want this, however, to be a pessimists’ retreat. Being adjacent to security, reliability, and other forms of risk engineering for some time, it’s easy to become paranoid and yearn to disconnect from everything. We are long from the place of blaming user error for critical failings in technological practice, the time has come to consider technology with safety, ethics, and integrity from the start.

Even more important is the role of society (read as: the “user” in “user error”) in driving these conversations. In order to build a technologically driven society, the users and impacted peoples of that technology must also be considered. Consequentially, there must be more that we consider when building, regulating, and driving The Market™.

What About You, Reader?

I’ve been privileged to meet so many like-minded people in this space. Creating a place to structure some of the conversations I’ve had at conferences, zoom calls, and random Twitter banter felt like a natural next step. What I hope to get from people who read this newsletter are more opinions, discussions, and ideas that I had not thought to consider. In effect, this is a sounding board of sorts for ideas that can change how we think about technology at a fundamental level be you a technologist or a policy wonk.

I hope you enjoy the occasional musings I may include and hope to hear from you on future ones.