Recordings in English

The European Union lacks a sense of its own history

Timothy Snyder

The European Union is among the largest economies in the history of the world and the most important zones of contiguous democracies today. What it lacks is a sense of its own history, which creates a surprisingly important opportunity for those who wish it ill, above all in Moscow. Here, a historical perspective is employed to explain what has made the European Union possible, and what will be necessary to defend its future.

Timothy Snyder is a historian at Yale University, specializing in Eastern Europe, totalitarianism, and the holocaust. In his most recent book, “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America,” he reveals the big picture on how the rise of populism, the British vote against the EU, and the election of Donald Trump were all Russian goals, and how these achievements reveal the vulnerability of Western societies. He is also the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” which explores the everyday ways a citizen can resist the authoritarianism of today. His other works include “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” and “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.”

This video is part of an ongoing series called ‘Timothy Snyder Speaks’ published online.

European Copyright Directive rejected by European Parliament

Catherine Stihler; Pavel Telička; Axel Voss

On July 5, 2018, the European parliament voted on the EU committee’s proposal for a new European Copyright Bill. The video clip shows the last two speeches before votes were cast: one by German MEP Axel Voss, a member of the European People’s Party Group, in support of the EU committee’s position, and another by British MEP Catherine Stihler of the Socialists & Democrats group against.

The new law, particularly articles 11 and 13, had faced serious opposition by prominent internet personalities such as Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf, digital rights activists, and YouTube content creators alike. Had the law been passed, it would have likely resulted in an even more widespread implementation of automated content filters on platforms for user-generated content. At the same time, article 11 would have led to mandatory licensing fees for preview snippets of linked content. In the worst-case scenario, this would have led to smaller news platforms being forced to shut down for being unable to afford those fees.

In the end, votes against the proposed copyright bill prevailed by a very slight margin of only 40 of a total of 596 votes (and 31 abstentions). 

An English translation of the German parts of the video is available at the bottom of the transcript.

For more information on the Copyright Directive and its potential impact, visit

https://saveyourinternet.eu/

An Insight, an Idea

Joi Ito, David Kirkpatrick

Joi Ito, the director of the MIT media lab, attended the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland). In this interview, he elaborates on what he calls the “power of pull,” that is, the possibilities that arise from using technology to bring together people and ideas quickly and efficiently while outmaneuvering the constraints that come with hierarchies and authorities.

Drawing on comparisons with the history of the early internet and its effects on communication, Ito argues that Bitcoin - and, to a certain degree, cryptocurriencies in general - will continue to empower individuals by reducing society’s need for centralized services and governance.

We are in jeopardy of losing our democracies

William Binney

This is a special keynote the whistleblower and former NSA intelligence official Bill Binney gave in Munich in January 2014 on the occasion of the annual Handelsblatt-Tagung “Strategisches IT-Management”.

During his speech, he outlined the procedures he helped to develop to manage the enormous amount of data gathered via automated analysis of electronic communication, ways to analyze metadata to generate profiles of suspicious groups, and how to use this information to predict potential dangers.

In the second part of his presentation, Binney emphasized that NSA operations (as well as the use of their data by other agencies) are fundamentally unconstitutional, as the US constitution does not only prohibit intelligence agencies from gathering information on domestic matters, but also from using or dispersing it for other purposes, such as criminal investigations.

With reference to the technical specifics of the fiber optic network used by phone companies, he deduced that all officials who claimed that they did not intentionally collect data on US citizens were deliberately lying and obfuscating their operations, and that secrecy and dishonesty have thus become general characteristics of the US intelligence agencies and their allies in other countries.

Throughout his talk, Binney linked these practices to the inner workings of totalitarian states, such as the GDR, and to the totalitarian reign of English king George III which had directly preceded the Declaration of Independence. He expressed his worries that not only the US, but democracies all over the world are endangered by an erosion of their fundamental principles.

 

Keywords: English, William Binney

"Freedom Box": Internet free of government control?

Eben Moglen, Peter Eckersley

What if there were a network of computers all over the world that operated outside government or corporate control? As Daniel Sieberg reports, that is the premise for the so-called “freedom box”.

Read more at CBS News

The Chinese Room Argument revisited

John Searle

In the midst of 2015’s debates on the risks and possibilities of artificial intelligence which were fueled by the progress of self-driving cars, autonomous robotics, and the signature of an open letter in favor of AI security, Google invited philosopher John Searle to elaborate once more on his Chinese Room Argument of 1980.

The Chinese Room Argument was designed to demonstrate the impossibility of creating true intelligence out of computer code by comparing it to a hotel room that contains detailed instructions on how to respond to sequences of Mandarin characters. While a person who follows these instructions impeccably could lead an observer to believe that a dialogue between two Chinese speakers is taking place, the user of these instructions would in fact not need to understand a single character. Therefore, Searle argued, the Turing Test is inadequate, as it does not take true understanding of the input into account, but rather judges only the quality of the output. At its core, the Chinese Room Argument defends the notion of intelligence as a unique property of biological entities, something machines can at best simulate but never replace.

For an in-depth discussion of the thought experiment and its reception over the last three decades, see e.g. the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Keywords: English, John Searle

'Excuse me' by - delta t, 1984

Minus Delta T

- delta t (Minus Delta t) has been - and still, in variants, is - a group of artists who created seminal works in performance and media art since 1978. Early members included Bernhard Müller, Mike Hentz and Karel Dudesek as well as Chrislo Haas or Gerard Couty. Aiming to initiate a processual and participatory form of art, many of them would re-join their expertise to develop emancipatory structures and novel modes of using new media technology for art experiments. The Iron Curtain had just fallen when in 1992, the “Piazza Virtuale” project connected 17 studios on three continents over satellite from its headquarter, hosted in containers in central Germany.

de: Die Gruppe verfolgte einen prozeßhaften und partizipatorischen Kunstbegriff, der zunehmend den emanzipatorischen Gebrauch der Medien umfasste. Ihr wichtigstes Projekt war Anfang der achtziger Jahre das »Bangkok Projekt« – es wurde ein Felsblock auf dem Landweg bis nach Bangkok transportiert, um Ereignisse im öffentlichen Raum auszulösen. Ab Mitte der achtziger Jahre begann Minus Delta t, sich umzuorientieren, die Medien wurden immer mehr als der zentrale Ansatzpunkt für eine Kunst, die einen gesellschaftsverändernden Anspruch hat, erkannt; Nutzung eines Busses ab 1985 als mobiles Medienlabor; die Gruppe nannte sich dann »Ponton« als Label für übergreifende Aktivitäten.” Mitglieder der ursprünglichen Gruppe sind später unter den Pionieren von Interaktionskunst in alten Medien mittels neuer Mit-Schaltungen des Diskurses unter Sendeformaten wie “Eye of Moby Dick” oder XYZ.

This sound piece is taken from their album “The Bangkok Project”, published at the Ata Tak label, Germany 1984. 

Excuse me!” - First released on the LP record The Bangkok Project, Ata Tak, Germany 1984.

The Yes Men and Edward Snowden at Roskilde Festival

The Yes Men; Roskilde Festival 16; Edward Snowden

During the Roskilde festival 2016, activist art group The Yes Men had set up fake signs stating that the festival would be collecting and infinitely storing all text and phone conversations of visitors on festival grounds.

Before the nature of the signs was revealed as a provocative prank, many festival-goers showed both despair and anger. The group’s stunt culminated in a live performance with a fake Edward Snowden who got on stage in the role of an almost tech-illiterate imposter, and finally a talk given by the real Snowden via web stream.

The whole process has been documented by The Yes Men as a 12-minute film about digital surveillance, the data stunt, and Edward Snowden’s talk.

Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age

Manuel Castells

Sociologist Manuel Castells examines the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements that have emerged in the Internet Age. He shares his observations on the recurring patterns in these movements: their origins, their use of new media, and their goal of transforming politics in the interest of the people. Castells presents what he sees to be the shape of the social movements of the Internet age, and discusses the implications of these movements for social and political change.

On Apple vs. FBI, privacy, the NSA, and more

Edward Snowden; Nick Gillespie

On February 20, Edward Snowden addressed a wide range of questions during an in-depth interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie at Liberty Forum, a gathering of the Free State Project (FSP) in Manchester, New Hampshire. FSP seeks to move 20,000 people over the next five years to New Hampshire, where they will strive to secure “liberty in our lifetime” by affecting the political, economic, and cultural climate of the state.

Snowden’s cautionary tale about the the dangers of state surveillance wasn’t lost on his audience of libertarians and anarchists. He believes that technology has given rise to unprecedented freedom for individuals around the world—but he says so from an undisclosed location in authoritarian Russia. And he reminds us that governments also have unprecedented potential to surveil their populations at a moment’s notice, without anyone ever realizing what’s happening.

In the midst of a fiercely contested presidential race, Snowden remains steadfast in his distrust of partisan politics and declined to endorse any particular candidate or party, or even to label his beliefs. But he stresses that the U.S. government can win back trust and confidence through rigorous accountability to citizens and by living up to the ideals on which the country was founded.