Friday Five for December 3, 2021

1. Event: Technology for a Sustainable Future

Join us on Wednesday, December 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a conference focused on the intersection of environmental sustainability and technology. Learn about innovative sustainability work happening at UCLA with Nurit Katz, UCLA's Chief Sustainability Officer. Examine possibilities and the social and environmental impacts of blockchain technology with a panel representing multiple viewpoints, moderated by Davida Johnson. After the panel, you will have the opportunity to learn more about BruinTech’s history and also host or attend a "Geek Out!" session in which IT staff members share their interesting hobbies, passion collections, or quirky obsessions.

1:00 p.m. - UCLA: A Living Laboratory for Sustainability

  • Nurit Katz, Chief Sustainability Officer, UCLA

2:00 p.m. - Panel Discussion on Blockchain Technology

  • David MacFadyen - Professor, UCLA
  • Deepak Rajagopal - Associate Professor; Director, Leadership in Sustainability Certificate Program, UCLA
  • Dr. Olivier Jutel - Lecturer, The University of Otago
  • David Gerard - Author, Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain

3:00 p.m. - BruinTech History & Geek Out Sessions

  • Volunteer and Board Member Acknowledgements
  • Perspectives: Computing and Information Systems newsletter published by UCLA 1971-1990
  • ..and more!

If you have an interesting obsession, hobby, or collection (cooking, historical artifacts, NFT artwork, etc) that you would like to share during our Geek Out! sessions, please complete this form.

Register for this eventA virtual gift bag containing beautiful zoom backgrounds will become available to you upon registration, within the confirmation email, along with the access details for the conference. Sneak peek below.

Please reach out to Relvyn Lopez at rlopez@it.ucla.edu with any questions or comments.

Register

2. “If Everybody’s White, There Can’t Be Any Racial Bias”: The Disappearance of Hispanic Drivers From Traffic Records

When sheriff’s deputies in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, pulled over Octavio Lopez for an expired inspection tag in 2018, they wrote on his traffic ticket that he is white. Lopez, who is from Nicaragua, is Hispanic and speaks only Spanish, said his wife.

In fact, of the 167 tickets issued by deputies to drivers with the last name Lopez over a nearly six-year span, not one of the motorists was labeled as Hispanic, according to records provided by the Jefferson Parish clerk of court. The same was true of the 252 tickets issued to people with the last name of Rodriguez, 234 named Martinez, 223 with the last name Hernandez and 189 with the surname Garcia.

This kind of misidentification is widespread — and not without harm. Across America, law enforcement agencies have been accused of targeting Hispanic drivers, failing to collect data on those traffic stops, and covering up potential officer misconduct and aggressive immigration enforcement by identifying people as white on tickets.

“If everybody’s white, there can’t be any racial bias,” Frank Baumgartner, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill, told WWNO/WRKF and ProPublica. Continue reading.

3. Same Old: What is the point of imagining new technologies without new ways of living?

Some of these technologies have come to pass, while some continue to be sold as fantasy. But what The Jetsons really has in common with today’s technofutures is an unchanging, uncritical view of society itself. For decades, popular imaginings of the future have promised difference, but delivered more of the same: not only by recycling technical functions (the self-driving car, the robot housemaid) but, more perniciously, their underlying social relations. These technofutures regurgitate essentially the same office or kitchen as in decades past, and the same kinds of users and workers to inhabit them.

Such recycled futures masquerade as innovation to suck the life out of other possibilities. Space colonies and voice-controlled kitchens take on an air of inevitability despite their many postponements and disappointments, while critical refusal of these futures, or truly alternative visions, are cast as implausible. It is telling that our dominant technofutures have traditionally focused on two sites — the office and the kitchen — for this process of social conservation. Combined, they present a distinctly mid-century suburban ideal: masculinized labor and femininized (unpaid) labor; the full-time company employee and the nuclear home. As Bertolt Brecht once put it: “I stood on a hill and I saw the Old approaching, but it came as the New.” Continue reading.

4. Jack Dorsey and breaking up the cult of the founder 

Trump’s election ushered in a new era of scrutiny for social media companies, Twitter included. As the extent of the information warfare playing out on tech platforms became clearer, Washington wanted Twitter and others to do something about the bots and the trolls and, depending on who you asked, the censorship — or lack thereof — of some conservatives.

These are the problems Agrawal now inherits — problems Dorsey and his co-founders couldn’t have imagined in Twitter’s earliest days. To Dorsey’s credit, Twitter has made progress on some of these fronts. In 2019, Dorsey embarked on an apology tour of sorts, taking seemingly every interview as a chance to lament Twitter’s failures and commit to making the platform a “healthier” place. Continue reading.

5. Zoom's New Attendance Tool Will Snitch on Attendees Who Are Late to a Meeting

According to Zoom’s support page, meeting participants who have been invited but who have not joined will be siloed into a “Not Joined” section where their names will appear alongside other lazy deplorables. Host and co-hosts of the meeting can also see if those no-shows had the decency to click the “Accepted,” “Declined,” “Maybe,” or “No” selections on their calendar response. If a user happens to mistakenly load into a Zoom meeting with an account other than the one they originally used to accept the invitation, Zoom says they will appear as both “Not Joined” and “Joined” leading to what I can only imagine will be a sudden tsunami of “accidental” out of network joins. Continue reading.