Pandemic and techno-politics

This is the time to imagine new ways to organize society and develop the technologies that can facilitate this shocking transition.

In this particular 4th post of the diary I will touch a few topics:

  1. Proximity tracing technology weaknesses
  2. The method and purpose of proximity tracing development

Be strong and keep faith: there will be a new beginning.

Tales of resistance

No matter who, or what: we are dealing with (our) Nature

Nature will fill the gaps — be it animals or social life — and the gaps will widen if the one-solution-fits-all is adopted.

We must design for natural resistance to be within

Likewise, physical isolation measures are pointless unless they are carefully adapted to any peculiar cultural, natural and social contexts.

Also nation-wide measures are doomed by failure and this is evident in the current situation in Italy, where the general constriction of the population to the same isolation measures explodes in soft and hard violations of the new norms. Because a state of exception that is centrally managed will disrupt all territories in different and unpredictable ways, catering to different necessities and overlooking different shortcomings.

Federated governance will be a new norm.

The reason I’m writing this is not to throw predictions around, but to push critical thinking beyond the easy polarized stall of counter-practices in a state of emergency: it is important for humanist and social-democratic movements excluded from power right when we need them most. Capitalism will be bankrupt for a long while now and where the possibility for change won’t be made, barbarism will be the only thing left.

Going wall to wall, resistance vs. coercion, we’ll just create wartime platforms.

In light of the necessary fiscal spending measures to come then we need new methodologies and KPIs for prof.Mazzucato’s “entrepreneurial state”: public sector clearly needs to maximize a friction-less fiscal spending plan, but that should go to communities of practice that can deal with cultural and technical mediation.

Wasting money on the usual suspects won’t help, we need ethnographic research to individuate healing processes and facilitate their growth.

By the way: no, this is not done developing a mobile app. Speaking of which…

The proximity tracing state-of-affairs

In one of my past stories “New forms of rationality and liberation” I’ve shared one argument in support of the adoption of decentralized and privacy preserving proximity tracing as a viable solution to the COVID pandemic challenge: it may alleviate the weight of uncertainty when trying to control the spread of this infection.

Comparison table or tracing applications found in

The point of contact tracing is receiving notifications about positive tests of people we have met in the past weeks in the most privacy preserving way possible.

This is important to keep in mind when designing such systems: we don’t need anything other than notification, which will be part of the sort of self-measuring routine that most people having an active social life will do, in order to assess when a test is needed. Of course this application may come also handy for location monitoring and therefore be instrumental to the cautious re-opening of restaurants, bars and who knows maybe dance-floors one day.

For national policy to rely on these apps, they would need to be able to:

  1. Represent accurate information about infection or immunity
  2. Demonstrate technical capabilities to support required functions
  3. Address various practical issues for use, including meeting legal tests
  4. Mitigate social risks and protect against exacerbating inequalities and vulnerabilities

At present the evidence does not demonstrate that proximity tracing tools are able to address these four components adequately.

The proximity tracing shit-show

  1. It made obvious how ridiculous are the usual suspects participating to public-sector ICT tenders, which are generally well known in NL for lack of delivery and tendency to over-spending the national budget.

We need to change the way public spending is done. Public sector should go public, adopt indicators based on community development and stop lobbying behind the curtains with the usual corporate stooges.

Also its clear that development is so popular among a growing portion of tech-savvy population that it can make its way into a broadcast and more than a few thousand people will find it worth following.

Welcome to the public tender show! A whole new level of participatory budgeting, live streaming to your screens!

Not bad. Not bad at all. I see no reason why hackatons and e-Sports shouldn’t replace hours of football commentary on prime time TV. It’s all so fresh!

May this be the start of a new era of public-sector development in which free and open source is the standard and we dare to call failures with their name?

So… what now?

OK lets forget the corona app hype now for a moment.

Do one thing and do it well! — UNIX philosophy

 by the author.




Inventor, Ph.D. think &do tank

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