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The tech ecosystem we have now is shaped by concentrated power. The natural monopolies of the telecommunications sectors were not, in fact, disrupted when networked computation was commercialized, and the internet took shape in the late 1990s. Big Tech simply replicated this monopolistic form, acquiring data and infrastructural monopolies via the surveillance business model, which incentivized mass surveillance and profiling, and the growth-at-all-costs mindset that got us where we are today.
This concentrated tech power resides in the hands of a handful of corporations–Big Tech – which are based in the US and China. And as they extend their reach and authority on the wings of the current AI hype, they are shaping an ecosystem that is increasingly hostile to new entrants and small players. Indeed, most startups or small tech endeavors must–in order to function–license infrastructures and use frameworks and libraries controlled and shaped by these large companies.
So how can Signal and others fighting against the mass surveillance of this industry sustain and grow in this environment? Join Signal President and AI scholar Meredith Whittaker, and members of the Signal team to discuss how Signal is pushing back against the conjoined threats of mass surveillance and enhanced social control.
In collaboration with:
Meredith Whittaker is Signal’s President and a member of the Signal Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a scholar of AI and the tech industry responsible for it, and the cofounder and Chief Advisor to the AI Now Institute.
She has over 17 years of experience in tech, spanning industry, academia, and government. Before joining Signal as President, she was the Minderoo Research Professor at NYU, and served as the Faculty Director of the AI Now Institute which she co-founded. Her research and scholarly work helped shape global AI policy and shift the public narrative on AI to better recognize the surveillance business practices and concentration of industrial resources that modern AI requires. Prior to NYU, she worked at Google for over a decade, where she led product and engineering teams, founded Google’s Open Research Group, and co-founded M-Lab, a globally distributed network measurement platform that now provides the world’s largest source of open data on internet performance. She also helped lead organizing at Google. She was one of the core organizers pushing back against the company’s insufficient response to concerns about AI and its harms, and was a central organizer of the Google Walkout. She has advised the White House, the FCC, the City of New York, the European Parliament, and many other governments and civil society organizations on privacy, security, artificial intelligence, internet policy, and measurement. And she recently completed a term as Senior Advisor on AI to the Chair at the US Federal Trade Commission.
Kiran Jonnalagadda is a tech enthusiast and community builder, passionate about technology and its societal impact. He co-founded Hasgeek in 2010, where he has created a space for technologists to thrive, share knowledge, and network.
With a background spanning tech policy, community development, open source initiatives, and more, Kiran is also a researcher and writer. He was previously with the Internet Freedom Foundation as a Trustee, Program Manager for Comat Technologies’ Go Rural initiative, and Researcher at the Centre for Internet and Society. He has been actively involved in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement as well as the SaveTheInternet.in movement for net neutrality in India.