Tag Archives: Ed Felten

Living in Trump World

The cover story for this week’s U.S. 1 Newspap1-4 Cover & Front (1-11).indder offers four suggestions for “Living in Trump World.”

Cybersecurity aka soon-to-be-Princeton-resident-again Ed Felten 

Obamacare re  Uwe Reinhardt and Heather Howard

Climate change, re Palmer Square based Climate Central, which also had some pertinent and dismaying comments about Trump’s cabinet picks.

Influencing Congress, re Sam Wang’s views on redistrcting.

Richard K. Rein, in this column entitled Trump Won, You Lost, There’s Still Lots to Do, offers more suggestions for ‘how to fight back.” What struck me was his suggestions  that the organizers of the January woman’s march come up with a particular cause. Because it is a grassroots effort, joined by many different organizations, one clear message is not coming through.

Rein hopes for that clear message:

 What’s the point of this protest? Without one, the Trumpian response will be a Tweet to the effect that “a million women gather in Washington because they lost and don’t know what to do.

He suggests:  increasing the federal minimum wage to $12.50 an hour (it’s been stuck at $7.25 since 2009). What particular cause do YOU suggest? 

Ed Felten warned against the Mosaic Effect in testimony on November 20 before the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The feds could protect our privacy by changing the rules.

I was thinking that I might have bamboozled the snoops by combining my buying account with my husband’s. Just let them try to figure out the profile of someone who buys toys and lug wrenches and also lipsticks.

In case I am not as smart as I think, maybe I should consult with Ed.

Surveillance Knights: Doctorow and Felten

doctorow hermann felten

Liberation can turn into surveillance, they warned. Two anti-surveillance knights of the internet, science fiction author Cory Doctorow and Princeton University tech guru Ed Felten, spoke at Labyrinth Bookstore today, co-sponsored by the Princeton Public Library.

The Internet is the nervous system of the 21st century, said Felten. Just as language helped cave men collaborate, the Internet helps us organize at lower costs. It transcends what a single person can do. It is a mistake to try to control the Internet and fit it into something small, said Felten. “It was architected to let people try things and discover what worked.” If over controlled and regulated, we will lose that freedom.

YouTube needs to be free from regulation. Every minute, 96 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube, most of it personal, says Doctorow, and that’s OK. Each of the seemingly banal interactions  — like the ubiquitous cute cat videos — is important. “Relationships are built up on these little moments,” said Doctorow.

What these like-minded experts said can be found in their writings, but Felten used a homey example to explain his objection. When the Keurig coffee maker patent expired, you could buy private label pods. Then Keurig engineered its new coffee makers so only its own pods worked. “That’s like patenting shoelaces, so you need European rights to tie your shoelaces in Germany.”

Doctorow cited software that can deactivate engines if the car is stolen. It might be sold to vendors of subprime car loans. Wireless pacemakers can be hijacked. For instance, one demo showed a pacemaker hooked up to a strip of bacon — and it fried the bacon.

As efficient and valuable as the Internet is, the Doctorow/Felten meeting demonstrates that nothing beats personal networking. PPL’s Janie Hermann (between Doctorow, on the left, and Felten) encountered Doctorow at a library convention over two years ago and learned that he was a buddy of Felten’s. Since that meeting several attempts were made to bring the two together for a conversation in Princeton, but schedules never matched. Three weeks ago Hermann learned that not only did Doctorow have a new book coming out but that he would be in the area for New York City Comic Con. She zoomed in on the rare opportunity and with very little notice was able to connect Doctorow and Felten at last, but the library’s community room was not available. Dorothea von Moltke from Labyrinth Books stepped in to offer her space for what turned out to be a standing room only event.


Felten: Dollars, Euros — and Bitcoin

feltenThere are 12.4 million Bitcoins in existence — but …

the Federal Reserve doesn’t know much about Bitcoin.

And one of Bitcoin’s major banks just did a face plant.

Yet  Ed Felten, former technology guru for the FTC, now returned to Princeton University to teach, says Bitcoin is one of his top predictions for what will work in the future. He was interviewed about this on C-Span, link here.

Felten speaks at the Princeton Regional Chamber lunch on Thursday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m. His topic: “Dollars, Euros — and Bitcoins: the Future of Digital Currency.”