Options Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from October 19, 2020 Options

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Upcoming events:

Mon. Nov 30th, 6pm - 7pm: Adrian Hon, author, "A New History of the Future in 100 Objects" (More info...)
Mon. Dec 21st, 6pm - 7pm: Guest host Station Manager Ken

Options October 19, 2020: Is it safe to use the new Covid Alert app? with Daniel Kahn Gillmor, aka dkg

Listen to this show: MP3 - 128K |  Pop‑up player!

Above, the Techtonic tips booklet. Pledge here ($75 one-time or $10/month, then click "1 DJ Premium").
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Above, the Techtonic tips booklet. Pledge here ($75 one-time or $10/month, then click "1 DJ Premium").

Tonight: Is it safe to use the new Covid Alert app? with Daniel Kahn Gillmor, aka dkg

LIVE EVENT this Thursday, Oct 22, starting 7pm Eastern. Sign up here for Skeptech: Smile for the Camera, a live event via Zoom! We'll hear from drone expert Faine Greenwood, Zoom magician Andy Deemer, and we'll watch a new paranoid video from WFMU's own People Like Us. I have a few comments, too, as host. Put on your tin foil hat, turn on that camera, and let's meet up on the fully surveilled service called Zoom! Tickets are just ten bucks, and all proceeds go to WFMU as part of our October Hellraiser. -mark

Speaking of the October fundraiser, it's your LAST CHANCE to get the Techtonic tips booklet shown above. Click here to pledge - make the amount $10/month or $75 one-time, and then click "1 DJ Premium." On the next page, under the MONDAY section, click "Techtonic tips booklet."

Next week, station manager Ken fills in as host, with a special interview guest: Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi.

Pointers for tonight:

Covid Alert NY

Covid Alert NJ

Contact tracing, pros and cons - with Daniel Kahn Gillmor (Techtonic, April 27, 2020 episode)

- - -

PAST EPISODES: techtonic.fm lists recent Techtonic interviews and Little Slice of Tech Pie segments.

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Album Images Approx. start time
  Is it safe to use the new Covid Alert app? with Daniel Kahn Gillmor, aka dkg
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack 
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  Mark's intro    
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  Interview with Daniel Kahn Gillmor    
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0:13:55 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Mark's comments after the interview    
Options
0:34:57 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  She Drives Me Crazy (Percusapella) GE remix    
Options
0:56:40 (MP3 | Pop‑up)


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Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:00pm ultradamno:

Mark! Techtonppetizers!
  6:00pm David in London:

Evening Technoids. Hail Mark Hurst!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm Handy Haversack:

Mark, David, ultradamno! And all the Techyon Drives!

So glad to hear my friend dkg on the best radio station on earth again.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm ultradamno:

Hiya Handy!
  6:02pm David in London:

Ah, ultradamno sweeps in for the coveted top spot. Hello mate.
Handmeister, greetings again.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm melinda:

hi Mark and group!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm ultradamno:

DiL, hello!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm Webhamster Henry:

Hi Mark & non-Facebook Friends!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm PaulRobeson1920:

Howwd’y!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm ultradamno:

I'm still kind of giggling about that part of the newsletter about the industry standard of app stores, Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm Webhamster Henry:

I signed up for Skeptech!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm Handy Haversack:

Skeptech ticket secured this very evening!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm ultradamno:

Will be stealing that bride of Frank comic
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm Webhamster Henry:

Zoom participants can record locally, it that's enables.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm Deborah:

Hello WFMUniverse!
Want to hear about the COVID app since I installed it today and tried to use it when I was out and about. Not much happened.
  6:06pm David in London:

I’m keen for Skeptech, but with a midnight start time for me, I may end up jibbing out.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm Handy Haversack:

David, speed is like a dozen transatlantic flights ... without ever getting off the plane. Time change. You lose. You gain.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm Deborah:

Stupid question, but I am an English prof., so forgive. How does the app know if I have been or am near someone who has COVID?
  6:11pm David in London:

Handy, I’ll just keep taking the pills.
  6:11pm Barbie:

I just turned off Bluetooth
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm Handy Haversack:

(Deborah, I think Mark's explaining that now -- once you sign up and get reported as having tested positive, then it can look back in time and see when other users were near that person.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm Deborah:

Got it, I think! No instant COVID report. I never use Bluetooth.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Webhamster Henry:

It isn't perfect - it's a heuristic.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Deborah:

Forget it. I don't need more COVID anxiety.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm ultradamno:

I am using bluetooth speakers to listen to this right now, but I'm not walking around and I'm thinking of getting faraday cage insulation for the house.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Webhamster Henry:

There's the problem of the Digital Divide as well.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm Ignatatus666:

Is this invasion of the Body Snatchers 2.0
Avatar 6:14pm tak:

over here in Portugal it's called StayAway Covid and not many people are reporting positive as they would ideally (about a third only)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm Handy Haversack:

So are we ultradamno -- having used it for the first time about three weeks ago. Though the only devices we have are speakers, and the only thing they ever play are WFMU and WFMU-derived experiences.
  6:15pm David in London:

Stories emerged here a couple of weeks ago about contract tracing data harvested by pubs and restaurants already being sold on to third parties.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/contact-tracing-data-harvested-from-pubs-and-restaurants-being-sold-on-s0d85mkrr
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm Handy Haversack:

(For the record, dkg and I first played D&D when I was six and he was five!)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm melinda:

Ooh, Staysh and Matt Taibbi next week, cool
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm Webhamster Henry:

But again, it's heuristic. It's not the absolute answer, it's a tool for collecting contact data which, compared to other contract tracing, is relatively painless and probab;y within the range of accuracy of manual contact tracing, which get tremendous amounts of pushback and has technical problems like managing multiple languages.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm Ignatatus666:

This contact tracing is an introduction to surveillance that the common person will say
Why not!
We can’t trust the information research nor science on Covid but here we are saying hey great idea because the media said so.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm Ignatatus666:

Did we not learn from China?
Avatar 6:17pm northguineahills:

Bluetooth, named after Harold Bluetooth, the Viking Norse king.
Avatar 6:18pm northguineahills:

Contact tracting worked for Singapore, but they're already a police state.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Good evening, Mark and Techtocyons.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm ultradamno:

I love those pointing at the cat punkins, but the more I look at them, the less I think they would have gotten very far on Outrageous Pumpkins.
  6:19pm David in London:

NGH, he fought with Boris the Unready in northern England.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Mark Hurst:

Hi all, thanks for joining in this evening!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Handy Haversack:

David, for what it's worth, so did I!
Avatar 6:21pm βrian:

If you don't know the time and place of the potential contact, you can't warn any persons who may have been with you.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:21pm Mark Hurst:

@Deborah @Ignatatus sorry to increase anxiety on this
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:21pm Ignatatus666:

DeBlasio and his KGB sheriffs knock on your door to apprehend you and your family because you chirped. Then you disappear like the Muslims in China
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:21pm Mark Hurst:

@Handy thanks again for the original intro to dkg!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Mark Hurst:

@DiL that is crazy (pubs already selling data to third-parties)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Handy Haversack:

My sincere pleasure, Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Ignatatus666:

@Mark I’m cool because I learn so much from your program. I look at the next step that can and will and actually is already happening.
Avatar 6:24pm Fredericks:

Harald Bluetooth
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:24pm Deborah:

@Mark Hurst: It is interesting. Academics are usually anxious anyway especially with college mostly virtual.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark! I'm late!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Mark Hurst:

Hi Bas, welcome to the show!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Handy Haversack:

Hey, Bas.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Mark Hurst:

@Deborah true, it's a challenging moment in so many different ways already..
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Webhamster Henry:

There might be a way to make a BTLE device that only does this tracking without being a phone or device without any other capabilities.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Mark Hurst:

@Ignatatus thanks!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Bas NL:

Hi Handy!
Avatar 6:28pm northguineahills:

Google thinks I'm a British female ex-pat over 50 that speaks Spanish. (the latter is correct).
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm Mark Hurst:

@ngh muy bien
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:30pm PaulRobeson1920:

Epicurus, Twenty Three-hundred years ago, wrote the path to Happiness was two fold. 1. Avoid all advertising. 2. Live with your friends. Eat every meal with your friends and so on... Advertising in cities is an ancient issue!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:30pm Webhamster Henry:

This is the client side I think: github.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I've received an alert about installing some COVID app for New York state. My Techto-spidey sense led me to decline.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Webhamster Henry:

This is the server: github.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Handy Haversack:

Good call, I think, Ken.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm PaulRobeson1920:

Epidemics too! Disease would strike down 50% of the whole city, about every 25 Years.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm PaulRobeson1920:

Same humans
Avatar 6:32pm northguineahills:

(my search history is rather obtuse on purpose, and otherwise only for obscure topics/artists so that can come to the attention to others to others that wouldn't find out about them otherwise.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm PaulRobeson1920:

Now we have computers in our hand! Oh boy!
  6:33pm Barbie:

With a tracking app you will be know to be pre existing, right?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm Webhamster Henry:

Here's the spec, as opposed to any reference implementation: covid19.apple.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Mark Hurst:

@Webham thanks! I'll make sure dkg knows that you've posted these links.
Avatar 6:34pm dkg:

@barbie -- these apps are generally not going to be limited to people who are infected. the point is to alert people who are *not* infected.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Mark Hurst:

Scratch that, dkg is here! Hi, dkg!
Avatar 6:34pm dkg:

@Mark, i can see them, thanks!
(and thanks, @Webham!)
Avatar 6:34pm dkg:

hi all :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Bas NL:

The whole concept of 'exposure' is still pretty unclear. What to look for?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm Handy Haversack:

I am Team River, dkg.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm Mark Hurst:

TEAM RIVER! (metaphorically, of course)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:36pm Webhamster Henry:

@Mark they might not be the actual source of these apps, but they might be the ones for the apps are based on, or ones used elsewhere. It makes sense for them to use the same reference code, otherwise there would be weird state-based anomalies and out-of-synch version updates.
Avatar 6:36pm dkg:

@webham your links are to generic reference implementations, i think. the NY app is at (i think!) github.com...
Avatar 6:37pm dkg:

@Handy, i've been out on the river with you -- the river is good for so many things, including disposal of technology
  6:37pm David in London:

Great explanation and commentary dkg
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Webhamster Henry:

@dkg thanks! I have it installed, but I could also compile from source and install it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm chris:

thanks, Mark and dig. sheesh, for a filthy hippie station, this sure seems a rational conversation. :)
Avatar 6:38pm dkg:

@Bas NL -- these tools are approximating "exposure" by trying to measure radio transmission as a proxy for distance. The difficulty is that we're not very good at doing that yet.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Webhamster Henry:

... and maybe test it. And throw in some database dumping code.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm chris:

err, *dkg*
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Handy Haversack:

I think I might be more than metaphorically on Team River!

That was such a great answer, dkg. Really glad to hear you do it to it.
Avatar 6:39pm dkg:

NIST recently organized a "challenge" called "too close for too long": tc4tlchallenge.nist.gov trying to spur better research into approximations of distance based on bluetooth radio signals.
Avatar 6:40pm dkg:

but that challenge is the sort of thing that you organize when in reality, no one really knows how to do the thing that you're trying to do. So yeah, accuracy of these tools is dubious. (though probably less dubious than the accuracy would be if you were using GPS, for example)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:41pm ultradamno:

Oh, I thought the dogs were in Studio T
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:41pm Bas NL:

Thanks dkg!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Webhamster Henry:

BLE proximity is not particularly accurate, but neither is the science about COVID contagion. Really, you don't want to be in a closed room with an environment that is good for getting those particles into our body. So the net has to be cast wide fro now.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Megaroni:

Keep on truckin’ Techtonic! Your show is much needed
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm melinda:

Looking forward to the Techtonic Tips handbook
Avatar 6:43pm dkg:

@Webham right -- the BT signalling is a (not great) approximation of an already not-so-great approximation :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm Webhamster Henry:

Although there i read a story this morning about a breath checking device that works instantly that would really be a big help in getting crowds back together. Too good to be true? We'll see!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm melinda:

I'm going to Skeptech too, woohoo
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm Handy Haversack:

I think part of the problem, WH Henry, is that these apps don't to a good job of distinguishing among exposure factors -- waling outside 25' apart vs. being separated by walls vs. being in the same room unmasked and panting.

Mark, I hope you didn't scare everyone off Skeptech with the thought they might see me!
  6:44pm Robert Tables:

@dkg FAQ for NJ app source code (at bottom of page): https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/nj-information/slowing-the-spread/covid-alert-nj:-technical-specifications-and-user-experience
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm Handy Haversack:

*^walking outside
Avatar 6:45pm dkg:

one better approach for QR code scanning is: github.com... -- much less of a risk for a centralized location database.
  6:46pm (another) Patrick in Hoboken:

My sister has the German app; she lives in Germany. She finds it okay but the data it provides isn’t that useful. In a densely populated area you may end up in close proximity with multiple people who are covid positive in a day, or they may be resident in the same building. Still, better it’s than nothing!
Avatar 6:46pm dkg:

I strongly recommend reading up on "CrowdNotifier" -- you can use a QR code system to alert crowds, but actually avoid having your data feed into a central database. It's pretty sad that this is not what people are doing.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Webhamster Henry:

Yeah! sell the COVID contact data to Google so they can push funeral service ads at you!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm ultradamno:

I blame Radio Shack. Everybody just got used to giving their address every time they bought alligator clips and now they just give it all away.
Avatar 6:47pm dkg:

That said, i've even had my ID scanned (reading the 2Dbarcode off the back) just trying to get a beer at a bar, pre-COVID -- i never went back to that bar, though.
  6:48pm David in London:

I would suspect that is the case here, too, Mark. Small independent pubs and eateries are probably not the bad actors, it’s likely the larger chain breweries and restaurants.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm Ike:

Off topic, but hey Californians, please vote NO on Prop 22 and tell all your friends and family! Thanks.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm Webhamster Henry:

@dkg looks like NY is a fork of the same code as NJ, but that's just a cursory look. It might just be a "branding" change.
  6:49pm ambit:

I mean - it's worth saying that in the UK (and EU) that if it's happening it's very legally questionable - see e.g. www.thetimes.co.uk...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm PaulRobeson1920:

If someone does not carry their phone/computer, what is contact tracing?
Avatar 6:50pm dkg:

@webham -- yes, i think they might both be forks of "CovidGreen"
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm Handy Haversack:

Mark, dkg -- thanks so much! Gotta start chopping veggies. dkg, hope to see you soon!

Be well, Techyon Particles!
  6:52pm David in London:

TTFN Handy.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm Bas NL:

What if we just all stay home for ten days?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm PaulRobeson1920:

Interesting
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm Webhamster Henry:

There was manual STD tracing in the past - might still be - you can imagine how embarrassing that was!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm PaulRobeson1920:

Hello? Judy? Yeah its me...
Avatar 6:54pm Fredericks:

Brings to mind Corporatism.
Avatar 6:54pm dkg:

it's not clear that the data for manual contact tracing will avoid being fed to the surveillance capitalists either though: most of the manual contact tracing systems today are likely to use salesforce as a backend, and might not be considered to be bound by the (admittedly meager) healthcare privacy regulations
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm Handy Haversack:

And don't ignore that manual contact tracing means paying humans to do a job, avoiding which is a goal of Big Data, \the U.S. govt., and pretty much any owner who has a chance to exert their class designs ...
Avatar 6:54pm dkg:

Bunnie Huang is thinking about these devices for BTLE contact tracing:
www.bunniestudios.com...
  6:55pm David in London:

Can we get the folks behind the Lightphone to get onto this new tracing device?
Avatar 6:55pm dkg:

You'd be hard pressed to find someone better than Bunnie to build it -- i don't know whether he has time to do so.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm Webhamster Henry:

@dkg great! Something I don't have to do!
  6:55pm David in London:

Wow, that was synchronous!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Webhamster Henry:

Jony Ive is independent now - he can do the case design!
Avatar 6:56pm dkg:

@Webhamster -- if you've got the skills and time to work on it, you should reach out to Bunnie, because i don't think he's done it yet.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Ignatatus666:

Perhaps DeBlasio and Cuomo can just make infected people wear an armband with a flashing light when they test positive.
Avatar 6:57pm northguineahills:

thanks Mark and daniel!
  6:57pm David in London:

Superb show Mark. Thanks. Will try and make Skeptech if I can.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Nymor:

Singapore uses a device TraceTogether
www.bbc.co.uk...
  6:57pm Chris:

https://hu.ma.ne
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm chris:

thanks again, guys. good stuff.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark, dkg!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Webhamster Henry:

@dkg OK. well, at least I can follow the project, should it occur.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm PaulRobeson1920:

Perhaps healthcare as a human right, like in Germany, would serve us well in The Americas.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm Ignatatus666:

Oh geez
ThT was a fun song
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm Webhamster Henry:

In other news, I haven't done a lot of webhamstering at WFMU for a while, but I did make those orange pumpkins!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Great comments tonight. Thanks to dkg for joining in!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm Handy Haversack:

Oh, man, I love this bit!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm listener 126464:

clap on
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm ultradamno:

I love that Brian Eno song Zamboni's On Fire.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Yay for the fiery death Zamboni!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Webhamster Henry:

That's Mad Max: Ontario!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Mark Hurst:

Apparently the Zamboni corporation issued a stern press release that it wasn't one of *their* machines
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Bas NL:

I'd fail at bulbology..
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:02pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Nice work on the meme-o-lanterns, WH.
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