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Volokh Conspiracy

Baker's Law of Evil Technology

"You'll never know how evil a technology can be until the engineers deploying it fear for their jobs" in Episode 241 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


This episode's should be titled "Baker's Law of Evil Technology," as it explains Twitter's dysfunctional woke-ness, Yahoo's crappy security, and Uber's deadly autonomous vehicles. Companies with lots of revenue can afford to offer benefits that they don't much care about, including protection of minority voices, network security, and, um, not killing people. But as Uber's travails show, all that gets tossed out the window when corporate survival is at stake. And here's Baker's Law in action: Airline algorithms that deliberately break up families sitting on the plane so they can charge to put the kids back in the same row.

I do a mini-interview of Adam Candeub, who has disclosed that the supposedly populist, supposedly Silicon-Valley-skeptical Trump Administration has proposed a massive and antidemocratic subsidy for conservative-censoring social platforms. Worse, it's written into the virtually unamendable NAFTA 2.0. I rant (briefly) about it and pray that Congress kills the provision in the lame duck.

Merrick Garland may now be available. But, we ask Jamil Jaffer and Gus Hurwitz, is a Facebook Supreme Content Court a good idea?

Speaking of Facebook, even 98-lb weaklings seem to be kicking sand in the company's face. I lay out the latest, incredible tale about how an app that finds all your friends' bikini pics ended up spurring an international breach of US confidentiality orders – at the behest of the UK Parliament's serjeant at arms. And when I say it's an incredible tale, I mean just that; the story told by the participants is extraordinarily hard to believe.

Jamil and Gus note that Commerce has begun identifying an enormous list of "emerging" technologies to be restricted for export. Is this a kind of defense-industrial policy? And will it work? The panel disagrees.

Paul Rosenzweig reports that Airbnb now has its own (woker-than-thou, naturally) foreign policy. He thinks it may violate a host of state anti-BDS laws.

Nick Weaver gives us the latest Bear Facts. Both Cozy and Fancy are back with a vengeance – and not much concern about avoiding attribution.

Download the 241st Episode (mp3).

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