Loomio has already come up a few times on this show. It's an open-source civic platform designed to help people make decisions collaboratively, and it's been used by everyone from Pirate Parties to City Councils. 

In this episode I met up with with Loomio's Rich Bartlett to discuss the relationship of software to social change -- how platforms like Facebook and Slack embed coded ideas about how people should relate to and interact with each other, and how Loomio is trying to design for new modes of interaction and consensus springing up in and around the social movements. 

We discuss how a truly decentralised, horizontally organized society might look and talk through Loomio's attempts to build the software to power it. Finally, we talk about how to upgrade what Rich calls our 'cultural operating system'. Where does change really start: with our social organization, with our software or with ourselves?

'Watch as Silicon Valley replaces everything with robots... Authorities release a geolocation app to real-time snitch on immigrants and political dissent... Government services fail....   Upheaval, polarization, politics as bankrupt as the financial markets–yet under crisis lies possibility.' 

These words are cut from the pages of Inhabit.Global, a pamphlet-platform-programme outlining what its members call an 'operation in a cyberwar'. Collectively and anonymously produced by a network of actors across North America, Inhabit.global presents a call to arms for a new autonomous, decentralized movement.

This interview introduces two Inhabit members to discuss the sharp end of decentralized autonomy as the network seeks to become a force for global change in the style of Anonymous, Lulzsec and other '4th generation warfare' non-state actors.

Starting from the principle that 'only the tech industry is allowed to change the world', the Inhabit.global network proposes repurposing the technologies around us to produce real social change. We discuss: what happens when AI replaces the middle class (lawyers, programmers, doctors); the politics of cryptocurrency and money as a protocol; and whether we still have the power to produce real change.

Who controls your online accounts and identities? For most of us, the answer will be some combination of Big Social -- companies like Google and Facebook -- as well as a host of smaller platforms and services, all of them parceling up and selling our information for profit.

But after a series of high-profile hacks, trusting social media corporations to store and safeguard our personal information looks an increasingly bad idea. And many are understandably wary about letting platforms look after their cryptocurrency investments. Custody of our digital assets, it seems, is shaping up to be a key issue for network citizens.

Enter Dark Crystal, a project based around Scuttlebutt (interviewed in a previous episode) and recipient of a recent grant from Ethereum Foundation. Dark Crystal enables users to store private keys -- from Bitcoin to email encryption and beyond -- with and inside their communities and social networks.  To do this, i makes use of the mathematical magic behind Shamir's Shared Secret, allowing groups of friends to safely store different 'shards' of a key,  bringing it together as and when needed.

In this episode, we meet Peg and Kieran from Dark Crystal to discuss the implications of the project: what happens when custody of our most precious digital resources can be taken away from banks and megacorps and entrusted to friends, family and community? And do projects like Dark Crystal signal the beginning of a new, cryptography-based 'information commons'?



Embedded in an increasing number of the devices and objects surrounding us, computers are turning the everyday world into a radically programmable attack surface.  This is the subject of computer security & cryptography legend Bruce Schneier's latest book, Click Here To Kill Everybody.  In this episode we meet up with Bruce to explore how the profusion of insecure devices, capable of being put to a variety of unpredictable purposes, is radically shifting the balance of power. Via cyberattacks, smaller states get the ability to content with the great powers -- and an entirely new class of 'non-state actors' are being granted the power to disrupt nations.

Phenomena like the Mirai Botnet, Bruce argues, are just the beginning: we discuss a host of potential attacks on life and property, from car and thermostat hacking to ransomware against hospitals -- and how 'surveillance capitalism' is one of the most important vectors behind this worrying new paradigm.


Advanced Persistent Threat is a  STEAL THIS SHOW special series looking at the 2016 Bangladesh Bank Heist. Had it succeeded, this would easily have been the biggest bank robbery in history -- and it was carried out almost entirely in the digital realm, using a variety of exploits and malware, in order to leverage access to the SWIFT banking network and the US Federal Reserve.

In Part One, we look at exactly what happened in the Bangladesh heist, and walk through how it was carried out. To help us through the complex story, we hear from Cheryl Biswas, Strategic Threat Intel Analyst in Cyber Security at a Big Four consulting firm.

After covering the how of the robbery, we consider whether trusted systems like SWIFT can remain secure in an information environment replete with radically heterogeneous, eminently hackable devices.

Cheryl Biswas wishes to make clear that she speaks here on her own behalf Her views do not represent those of her employer.

This episode was completed in part with funding from Film Agency Wales.



 

In this episode, I reflect on STEAL THIS SHOW episode S04E03, with Cory Doctorow. One of the big themes to come up in the conversation was the European Copyright Directive -- which, if passed early next year, will threaten the future of the Web as we know it. But does this threat to the future of the the traditional Web mean the moment of decentralized services like IPFS and Blockstack has finally come?


In our second interview with Emin Gün Sirer (the first one being lost to a catastrophic file system failure!), we discuss the current state of cryptocurrency, and just what Emin means when he says that Satoshi Nakamoto is 'dead.' We discover the secret shared lineage between BitTorrent and Cryptocurrency, and how they both tackle the 'chaos of the commons'. Of course TRON's recent acquisition of BitTorrent, Inc. comes in for some scrutiny -- Emin remains, let's say, skeptical. And, finally, we look at Emin's work on and around the all-new Avalanche protocol, which he sees as the most significant contribution to cryptocurrency since Bitcoin itself. 

Emin Gün Sirer is a co-director of The Initiative For Cryptocurrencies & Contracts and associate professor of computer science at Cornell University. Known for significant contributions to peer-to-peer systems and computer networking, Emin was behind the first Proof-of-Work system for cryptocurrency, Karma, which debuted before Bitcoin. Having since become a respected commentator on and contributor to Bitcoin itself, Emin is now working on Avalanche, a new cryptocurrency protocol based on an entirely new model, promising fast, reliable transactions with significantly lower power overheads.

Hello to new Patreon supporters: Brett Gaddy, Alexander Sirazh and Liquid Reign! Thanks for your support, guys. We really appreciate it! 



In this episode we meet Zenna, Andre and Zack from Scuttlebutt, a P2P-based social 'network of networks' based around a BitTorrent-like distribution technology. 

After figuring out what Scuttlebutt is (and is not) we discuss: the roots of Scuttlebutt in New Zealand, the system's politically anarchist/libertarian ethos, how Scuttlebutt survived (or shrugged off) a right-wing deluge; and how SSB's technical architecture eliminates the need for moderators.

With social networks like Facebook, Twitter and 4Chan increasingly becoming propagation tanks for viciously partisan net cultures, we talk about what makes Scuttlebutt different: it's a network that resists aggregation, massification,  and centralisation. Scuttlebutt is succeeding where Diaspora failed precisely because it doesn't seek to replace the social media behemoths: Scuttlebutt is tiny by design, happy to be human, and based around the ethos of 'solarpunk' -- a vision of a future we actually want, where high technology is put in service of humans and the environment.


Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully)
Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak Season SponsorPrivate Internet Access

Episode Sponsor ZCash Company

 

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez, Adam Burns, Daniel, Grof.

Sponsorship slots are currently full. For future sponsor opportunities, please email [email protected]

In this episode we meet Cory Doctorow, sci-fi author and co-founder of Boing Boing. Cory's most recent book, Walkaway, is a story of refusing a life of surveillance and control under a high-tech oligarchy and the struggle to live in a post-scarcity gift economy where even death has been defeated. Over this one hour plus interview we discuss:
  • Whether filesharing & P2P communities have lost the battle to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and why the 'copyfight' is still important
  • How the European Copyright Directive eats at the fabric of the Web, making it even harder to compete with content giants
  • Why breaking up companies like Google and Facebook might be the only way to restore an internet -- and a society -- we can all live with.
After taking a detour into Cory's views on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin's chances of ''bailing out' an economy saturated with fictitious money,  we move onto discussing Walkaway and a future of 'Fully Automated Luxury Communism' versus one of mega-rich plutocrats (think Bezos) controlling the economy -- and our lives -- via massive machine empires.  How do we exit from a scenario in which machines make everything plentiful -- but none of them are owned by us?

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Lucas Marston (Hollagully) Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch, Nelson Larios, George Alvarez, Adam Burns, Daniel, Grof.

Sponsorship slots are currently full. For future sponsorship opportunities, please email [email protected]