New Food Economy: Why blockchain won’t fix food safety—yet

These days it’s hard to read about the future of industry—nearly any industry, really—without hearing how the blockchain is going to completely disrupt it. Blockchain is best known for being the digital accounting backbone of the volatile digital currency Bitcoin, but in many other contexts it is being promoted as a catch-all solution for transparency, efficiency, and trust. And the food industry is no exception. Some companies, including giants like Walmart, Nestlé, and Dole, are hopeful that the high-tech tool can be used to address longstanding problems around food safety and traceability. Read more…

Civicist: Hearing on Algorithmic Transparency Reveals Rift in NYC Tech Community

In a packed room at City Hall on Monday, Council Member James Vacca heard testimony from city officials, technologists, and civil rights advocates on his proposed legislation for transparency in the use of algorithms for city services. Vacca said that the legislation is, to the best of his knowledge, the first of its kind in the United States. Although most of the testimony was in favor of the proposed legislation, the hearing revealed a schism between the tech community as represented by the trade nonprofit Tech.NYC—whose dozens of members include giants like Facebook and Google, as well as smaller companies like Meetup and Civic Hall—and the technologists who testified as individuals.

Read more…

Civicist: How Meetup Counters Algorithmic Sexism

Bias against women in the technology sector is still unfortunately pervasive. In a recent survey, only eight percent of female technologists said that they had never experienced gender bias in the workplace. The same study cited other problems in the sector with regards to women, including underrepresentation and a lack of networking opportunities and mentorship. These biases can make their way into the systems that increasingly shape our world, but the technology company Meetup has tried to design their recommendation system so that women are not pigeonholed or left out because of their gender. Read more…

Civicist: Coding for a World Run by Liquid Democracy, Powered by Blockchains

What a time to think outside the nation-state, as North Korea taunts “American bastards” with intercontinental ballistic missiles; as the Trump administration escalates immigration arrests to an unprecedented rate; as migrants and refugees pour into Central and Eastern Europe; as the United Kingdom trudges towards Brexit. It is a time to long for an alternative government, and to despair of one. Read more…