Series: A Human-Centric Paradigm for the Web

Article Six (of Six)

Richard Whitt, Todd Kelsey

November 2020

“Your reaction to the datafication of life should not be to retreat to a log cabin in the woods, for they too are full of sensors; but to aggressively seek control of the data that matters to you. It’s good to have recommenders that find what you want and bring it to you; you’d feel lost without them. But they should bring you what you want, not what someone else wants you to have.” — Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

Where We’ve Been

In the previous five articles, we have examined the computational systems that increasingly govern our daily lives. Article one called for replacing the Web’s current SEAMs paradigm (feedback cycles of surveillance > extraction > analysis > manipulation), with a new HAACS ethos (enhancing human autonomy and agency, via computational systems). Article two introduced us to Carla, a typical Web user, and showed how corporate and governmental entities employing SEAMs cycles can reduce our human freedom in the world. …


Series: A Human-Centered Paradigm for the Web

Article Five (of Six)

“We can be controlled from the outside not simply by having our choice bypassed but by someone controlling the world we perceive.” — Maria Brincker

Series Recap: Our story so far . . .

Over the first four articles in this series, we have discussed the desirability of replacing the Web’s current SEAMs cycles (surveillance, extraction, analysis, manipulation), with a new HAACS ethos (enhancing human autonomy/agency, via computational systems).

· Article one highlighted the dynamics of fostering large-scale systems change in our social institutions.

· Article two introduced us to Carla, a typical Web user, and showed how “Userhood” and SEAMs cycles (surveillance > extraction > analytics > manipulation) reduce her agency in the digital world. …


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Further exploring CryptoData with the Data Tokenization white paper

Community Translation: Russian | Spanish

In mid-September, we published a short blog posting describing the Oasis Foundation’s vision for a responsible data society. At its core is the concept of using a blend of advanced distributed ledger technologies to give human beings much more control over their own data. These technologies combine two foundational elements: the public and easily-shareable nature of tokenized data, with secure computing environments. The end result is the capability to produce a new form of cryptodata.

It’s been gratifying to hear from many a growing sense of interest and excitement in this vision (including from hundreds of our ongoing Community Cup participants). As a result, we thought it would be suitable to provide some additional details about theses technologies, and the significant market and societal implications. …


Dr. John Snow: First Health Data Trust

Article Four (of Six)

“Trust and accountability: above all else, these are the pillars of public health.”

– Laurie Garrett[1]

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Dr. John Snow, Medical Data Detective

Recap: Our story so far

Over the first three articles in this series, we have discussed the desirability of replacing the Web’s current SEAMs cycles (surveil, extract, analyze, and manipulate), with a new HAACS ethos (enhancing human autonomy/agency, via computational systems). Article one highlighted the dynamics of fostering large-scale systems change in our social institutions. Article two introduced us to Carla, a typical Web user, and how “Userhood” and the SEAMs cycles reduce her agency in the digital world. Article three described how entities acting as personal digital fiduciaries, along with tech tools like Personal AIs, could greatly empower Carla and other Web end users. …


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Introducing Blockchain 3.0 and Cryptodata

A Vision for a Responsible Data Economy

At the Oasis Foundation, we have been developing a vision for a responsible data society. Data is becoming one of society’s most valuable resources, and yet our current approaches fail to do justice to its intrinsic value. Our computational systems today have become siloed and mis-incentivized — failing to respect the basic rights of human beings. As a result, society to date has been unable to fully realize the value of the world’s flows of data.

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In ten years, this scenario could be vastly different. By 2030, most chipsets will have the privacy technology needed to keep data fully confidential. …


HAACS in Action: Digital Fiduciaries, plus Personal AIs

Article Three (of Six)

“Trust can only be strengthened when people and systems actually have a reason to trust each other more.” -Lee McKnight, Syracuse University

Quick recap

In the first and second articles in this series, we looked at the desirability of replacing the Web’s exploitative “SEAMs” paradigm, which treats mere “users” to constant feedback cycles of surveillance, extraction, analysis, and manipulation. In its place was proposed a new “HAACS” ethos — fostering human autonomy and agency, via computational systems. We also noted how analog world concepts of trust and support, derived from the judge-made common law of fiduciaries, offer one way to elevate our rights in the digital world (or, D>=A). …


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Proposing a new ethos for digital stewardship and a responsible data society.

Today, nearly half of the world’s population are digital citizens — connected to each other via the internet. Collectively as consumers we own some 3.5 billion smartphones, and on a regular basis rely on an additional 20–25 billion connected devices (such as smart IoT sensors, connected appliances, and wearables). Combined, these technologies of digital surveillance and data extraction yield an astonishing amount of data every single day — by at least one count, some 2.5 quintillion bytes.

For the most part, users and businesses do not directly benefit from the production and use of all that data. Even though users do receive some “free” services in exchange for their personal data, their actual value to users is dwarfed by what they indirectly and often permanently give up in return. Plus, while some businesses directly benefit from all those data flows, most companies remain shut out of any meaningful opportunity to utilize personal data, especially in human-empowering ways. …


D>=A: Expanding our rights in the digital realm (Article 2 of 6)

Every historical crisis terminates in institutions. If we have no control over the crisis itself, which is pure hazard, we do have control over the institutions, since we can define them, choose the ones for which we will fight, and thus bend our efforts toward their establishment. Albert Camus, The Rebel (1956).

In the opening article of this series, we explored the necessity of creating enduring change in our failing social systems, in particular the exploitative ethos of the Web. Against the relentless online paradigm of “SEAMs” (Surveil, Extract, Analyze, and Manipulate) was posited a counter-paradigm of enhancing human autonomy and agency via computational systems, or “HAACS.” The article suggested that effective leverage points include creating human-centric infrastructures of trust and empowerment. …


A Human-Centered Paradigm for the Web:

COVID-19, and Pathways to Our Digital Empowerment

(first in a monthly series)

“Certainty hardens our minds against possibility.” — Ellen Langer

Seeking Autonomous Futures

Abiding in the long shadow of a still-raging global pandemic, with its pernicious economic and societal fallout, there is an opportunity to pause and consider where exactly humanity stands. By all accounts, our many intertwined social systems are not serving most of us very well. …


Action plans for creating Personal AIs

Perhaps Twombly should have read the terms of service.

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In the movie “Her” (2013), Theodore Twombly develops a romantic relationship with an AI virtual assistant, Samantha (personified through the voice of actress Scarlett Johansson). Theodore acquires the AI from Element Software as part of an upgrade to OS1, “the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system.” The virtual assistant has been designed to adapt and learn, evolving through its experiences.

Naturally, Theodore assumes that his OS1 purchase has given him his very own personal AI. Except that, it doesn’t. Setting aside unread the pages of tiny print that came with the program probably didn’t help. …

About

Richard Whitt

Richard is a former Googler with a passion for making the open Web a more trustworthy and accountable place for human beings.

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