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Minds for Sale: Ubiquitous Human Computing and the Future of the Internet
CSTS Hi-Tech Forum
The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, The Center for Science, Technology, and Society, and the High-Tech Law Institute co-sponsored a lecture by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, of Harvard Law School and Co-Founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
The Internet we know and love is at risk even as its freedoms are at a high water mark and rising. It's the changing slope of the curve that counts, and the most important factor is the uncontrolled environment represented by Net and PC: too much spyware, too many viruses, too little reliability for the applications people want and need. Waiting in the wings is a new generation of "information appliances" that in the past have been laughable (think WebTV) but now are killer: iPod, XBox, TiVo, most mobile phones, Zune, PSP. These appliances, and a general appliancization of the PC itself, represent a very different environment: the immutability of an appliance to the consumer and third parties (think television set), coupled with use of the latest Net innovations to make the thing eminently alterable by (and only by) its maker and licensees.
Cloud computing is not just for computing anymore: you can now find as much mindshare as you can afford out in the cloud too -- a new range of projects is making the application of human brainpower as purchasable and fungible as additional server rackspace. What are some of the issues arising as armies of thinkers are recruited by the thousands and millions? A fascinating (and non-scare-mongering) view was offered of a future in which nearly any mental act can be bought and sold.
Jonathan Zittrain's research interests include digital property, privacy, and speech, and the role played by private "middlepeople" in Internet architecture. He has a strong interest in creative, useful, and unobtrusive ways to deploy technology in the classroom.This talk mapped out the bad implications of an appliancized -- and Web 2.0 -- world, and offered suggestions to temper it.
About the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (link to: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/) at Santa Clara University is one of the preeminent centers for research and dialogue on ethical issues in critical areas of American life. The center works with faculty, staff, students, community leaders, and the public to address ethical issues more effectively in teaching, research, and action.
About the High-Tech Law Institute
Santa Clara Law School has a long tradition of leadership in the study of high tech and intellectual property law. The High Tech Law Institute (link to: http://law.scu.edu/hightech/) helps coordinate Santa Clara Law’s many programs, initiatives, and events that foster strong ties among our faculty, students, alumni, and the thriving high tech and IP community in our backyard.