Newsletter

PCI sends a newsletter every month that’s a rundown on the latest on our projects, members and events. Each one starts out with a message from our Co-Founder and Chair Mei Lin Fung. Then, you’ll get original articles and updates from members of the PCI community followed by links to some of the articles that have everyone talking this month. Sign up today to get the latest!

June Update: Message from Mei Lin 

Dear Internauts,

As June begins, the world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. The toll of human lives lost and families forever changed continues to climb. The Internet has helped our societies stay connected and continue to function as we limit physical interactions to prevent further spread of novel coronavirus. It has also facilitated the spread of a shocking video illustrating the continued proliferation of another deadly disease in America: racism and systemic indifference to black suffering. At this writing, the streets of U.S. cities are literally aflame and platforms amplify cries for justice and peace. 

The world ahead will likely be very different from the one of just a few months ago. Unemployment numbers are staggering and many jobs will disappear or be very different in the months and years ahead — from an acceleration of automation to a new acceptance of remote interactions. 

Internet connectivity is essential to equality of opportunity in our increasingly virtual society. Nowhere is the need, or the disparity more clear than on tribal lands — which have experienced some of the highest rates of coronavirus contagion — where Internet connectivity is still lacking. PCI has supported efforts to increase tribal connectivity since its founding through the “Project Eagle Feather” initiative, led by Matthew Rantanan. Matt was recently honored by Internet2 with the Rose-Werle Award. We congratulate Matt for this well-deserved honor.

Another trend accelerated by COVID-19 is a recognition that the international organizations of the 20th century will have to evolve to meet the challenges of our time. This month, our Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy fellow Kristin Little describes her vision for PCI’s DCD Initiative and some of the work already underway to connect key players and reimagine how these organizations interact with each other and the people of the world. This includes a recent design thinking project “kickoff” event with Hasso Plattner Institute, working with the Digital Diplomacy Initiative of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IEEE Standards Association.  

As the Internet takes on an even greater role in our institutions, our workplaces, and our society, the mission of putting humanity at its center has never been more important. I thank you for being a part of this community dedicated to that aim and wish you well in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

Mei Lin Fung
Co-Founder and Chair

 

Contents of this issue

 
PCI UPDATES

CONGRATULATIONS MATTHEW RANTANEN!
Internet2 names Rantanen winner of 2020 Rose-Werle Award

Matthew Rantanen, director of technology for the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA), director of the Tribal Digital Village Network (TDVnet) Initiative, partnering and business development for Arcadian Infracom, and PCI Project Eagle Feather representative, is this year’s Rose-Werle Award recipient. The award honors extraordinary individual contributions who have made demonstrable impacts on the formal and informal education community by extending advanced networking, content, and services to community anchors nationwide. “Rantanen is being recognized for his contributions to leadership in extending high-speed broadband services and advanced technology to community anchor institutions on tribal lands.” Way to go, Matt!

READ MORE>> 

 

PCI Launches new Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Initiative

by: Kristin Little

Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy fellow Kristin Little introduces the new initiative and its goals, highlighting her collaboration with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking and the work ahead toward achieving the recommendations of the UN High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation

READ MORE>> 

 

After surviving COVID-19, PCI co-founder Vint Cerf chats all things Internet with the MIT Technology Review

Vint explores how his COVID-19 diagnosis helped illuminate just how critical adaptive technology is and where governments and the private sector can plug in to collect data, fight misinformation, and work toward bridging the digital divide and prioritizing comprehensive data collection.
“What I learned out of all of this is how fragile our infrastructure is in general, not just the health care system, but everything else — in people being able to work together in proximity to each other. … We will have this problem again, and we should be better prepared for it.”

READ MORE>>

 

PCI introduces Sarah Wright as Policy and Communications Coordinator

PCI is excited to welcome Sarah Wright as its Policy and Communications Coordinator. 

Sarah is an expert communicator who has worked at all levels of politics, from a global think tank to the halls of Capitol Hill and today, as a journalist covering hyperlocal politics and education for the Half Moon Bay Review. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, focusing her studies on where international policy and communications intersect science and technology.

She will lead outreach strategy, managing PCI’s social media, website, newsletter and other publications. She will also work in support of PCI policy initiatives to get out the word about the PCI community and its progress on its six “Areas of Focus.”

READ RELEASE>>

 

Will Computers Ever Think Like Human Beings?
Vint Cerf presents at the Royal Institution

In just an hour, Vint articulates where we are today and what’s ahead for artificial intelligence and machine learning with a focus on creating transparency, digital literacy, and ethics-based systems — and advocates for understanding our newest systems as we build them. “Attention to reliability, safety, and security are vital.”

WATCH HERE>> 

 

Q&A with PCI Fellow, Kristin Little

PCI’s new Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy fellow, Kristin Little, was interviewed by Jamai Blivin of the Close It Summit’s Shift Blog. They chat all things DCD and get to know Kristin’s background, project ideas, and interest in digital interdependence. 

READ MORE>> 

 
Share your work with the PCI Community! Send links to [email protected]
OF INTEREST

The new AI tools spreading fake news in politics and business

by: Hannah Murphy in Financial Times

“When Camille François, a longstanding expert on disinformation, sent an email to her team late last year, many were perplexed. … The bizarre email was not actually written by François, but by computer code; she had created the message ­— from her basement — using text-generating artificial intelligence technology. While the email in full was not overly convincing, parts made sense and flowed naturally, demonstrating how far such technology has come from a standing start in recent years.”

READ MORE>>

 

What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine

by: Siddhartha Mukherjee in The New Yorker

“What those of us in the medical profession have learned from the covid-19 crisis has been dismaying, and on several fronts. Medicine isn’t a doctor with a black bag, after all; it’s a complex web of systems and processes. It is a health-care delivery system—providing antibiotics to a child with strep throat or a new kidney to a patient with renal failure. It is a research program, guiding discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside. It is a set of protocols for quality control—from clinical-practice guidelines to drug and device approvals. And it is a forum for exchanging information, allowing for continuous improvement in patient care.”

READ MORE>>

 

Nearly Half Of The Twitter Accounts Discussing ‘Reopening America’ May Be Bots

by: Virginia Alvino Young via Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science

“Scrolling through your Twitter feed, it may not be obvious when you come upon a bot account — something that is more likely to occur in the era of COVID-19. Carnegie Mellon University researchers have discovered that much of the discussion around the pandemic and stay-at-home orders is being fueled by misinformation campaigns that use convincing bots.

To analyze bot activity around the pandemic, CMU researchers since January have collected more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or COVID-19. Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots.”

READ MORE>>

 

Welcome to the 21st Century: How To Plan For The Post-Covid Future

by: Tim O’Reilly via O’Reilly

Photo credit: Christopher Michel

“The 20th century didn’t really begin in the year 1900, it began in 1914, when the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand triggered long-simmering international tensions and the world slid, seemingly inexorably, into a great world war, followed by a roaring return to seeming normality and then a crash into a decade-long worldwide depression and another catastrophic war. Empires were dissolved, an entire way of life swept away. A new, more prosperous world emerged only through the process of rebuilding a society that had been torn down to its foundations.

So too, when we look back, we will understand that the 21st century truly began this year, when the COVID19 pandemic took hold. We are entering the century of being blindsided by things that we have been warned about for decades but never took seriously enough to prepare for, the century of lurching from crisis to crisis until, at last, we shake ourselves from the illusion that our world will go back to the comfortable way it was and begin the process of rebuilding our society from the ground up.”

READ MORE>>

 

Announcing the 2020 Mission Billion Challenge powered by MIT Solve

“The World Bank is announcing the launch of the second Mission Billion Challenge powered by MIT Solve, in partnership with the Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative and the West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) program.

The 2020 Mission Billion Challenge offers $150,000 in cash prizes for solutions that make identification systems and social protection programs more accessible and responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as informal workers, particularly at a time when countries seek to leverage digital technologies and platforms to deliver services to persons affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

LEARN MORE>>

May Update: Message from Mei Lin 

Dear Internauts:

What a difference a month can make. We at PCI — along with everyone around the world – are making our adjustments, realizing that “BC” (“Before Covid”) will not return. The Internet has been an extraordinary tool during this time of social distancing, allowing remote work, online learning and family get-togethers, even dating over Zoom and Skype. Unfortunately, this time has also exacerbated the digital divide for those who are not connected, and illustrated the importance of continued efforts to close that gap.

This month, we celebrate our founding chairman, Vint Cerf’s, election to the National Academy of Science and are thankful for his recovery from COVID-19. As Vint recently described so well:

“We are in a perfect storm of necessity, technology and mindset….While I am reasonably confident that we will survive this crisis, I hope we will take into account how important preparation and foresight will be moving forward to protect against future pandemics. There is no question in my mind that another will come and we must be more ready for the next than we have been for this one.

Building the connected world that we all rely on requires vision, tenacity, humility and unwavering optimism.”

In this month’s newsletter, you will find many reasons for optimism, from an effort to embrace “Clean IT” at the Global Solutions Forum to Marci’s work to help Congress conduct remote proceedings during the pandemic. We also welcome the perspectives of people like Pete Forsyth, who looks back on 20 years of work with Wikipedia and MIT Emeritus Professor, Ed Schein, who issues a call for social scientists to “step up“.

I am very pleased to share new additions to PCI: Kristin Little joins as our new Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Fellow and Sarah Wright brings her talents in communications and policy to the team.

We express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to two terrific PCI Community members who have gone out of their way to help us: Eileen Clegg who stepped up to help us with the transition of the newsletter, and to Cory Strandberg who took care of the PCI Community Call scheduling and logistics.

At this volatile time, in which we face so many known unknowns and unknown unknowns, our involuntary “Worldwide Pause” provides an opportunity to reflect and to prepare for what is to come.

And, as Vint says, we’ll see you on the Internet!

Sincerely,

Mei Lin Fung
Co-Founder and Chair

 

Contents of this issue

 
PCI UPDATES

CONGRATULATIONS VINT!
Cerf named to National Academy of Sciences

Congratulations are in order  to Vint on his election to the National Academy of Sciences “in recognition of… distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” Hear, hear!!

READ MORE>> 

 

PCI welcomes Kristin Little as first Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Fellow

PCI is pleased to welcome Kristin Little as our first Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Fellow.

Kristin will lead PCI’s Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy (“DCD”) initiative, which builds on the groundwork established by the United Nations’ High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation. In its “Age of Digital Interdependence” report, the panel envisioned “a future which is inclusive and empowering; a future in which digital technologies are used to reduce inequalities, bring people together, enhance international peace and security and promote economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.” The DCD initiative will support this vision by facilitating conversation and collaboration among governments, technologists and civil society.

READ RELEASE>> 

 

PCI co-founder, Vint Cerf, reflects on an Internet “that’s working”

The Washington Post spoke with Vint and other “Nethead” Internet pioneers about how the Internet is holding up as much of modern life is happening online:
“The basic architecture is 50 years old… everyone is online and the thing is not collapsing.”

READ MORE>> 

 

Update from the Global Solutions Summit

by: Mei Lin Fung

“The Global Solutions Initiative is a collaborative of world-renowned think tanks united in a mission to find policy solutions for major global problems. I was honored to “virtually” join this year’s Global Solutions Summit to discuss “Clean IT,” the need for new approaches to ensure that digital technologies can be part of the solution to climate crisis — not its accelerator.”

READ MORE>> 

 

Helping Congress Help Itself with “mock” virtual hearings (featuring Ret. Gen. Petraeus, 60 former members of Congress 

by: Marci Harris

Retired General David Petraeus, former Members of Congress, UK MP Chi Onwurah, and others joined a “mock” proceeding to discuss how Congress can keep working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE>> 

 

PCI Community Insights: Presentation from Bakamo

Bakamo CEO and co-founder, Daniel Fazekas, presented at an April PCI Community call, sharing insights from across Bakamo’s disinformation and gaming practices. Bakamo uses Luhmann’s System Theory to uncover hidden meanings expressed by people online. Fazekas described recent Bakamo studies to illustrate the company’s approach.

READ MORE>> 

 

A Social Science call to action

From Mei Lin:

“When I went to MIT, my first class professor was Ed Schein… when I saw his call for action, I wanted to share it with our community. During this Worldwide Pause,” I see his call to action applicable to us, that “Scientists on the digital frontier need to speak up”. How we do this to good effect is now the challenge we confront – and one that I daresay the People Centered Internet was founded to address.

READ MORE>> 

 
Share your work with the PCI Community! Send links to [email protected]
OF INTEREST

Volunteers create world’s fastest supercomputer to combat coronavirus

by: Alex Hern in The Guardian

[email protected], the distributed computing network, has recruited volunteers to loan spare time on their home computers to “fold proteins.” simulating the dynamics of the proteins that make up Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) to hunt for new prospects for drugs to tackle the disease.

On one day in March, the network logged over 2,400,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second – or 2.4 “exaflops” –  faster than the top 500 traditional supercomputers combined.

READ MORE>>

 

Trusting Everybody to Work Together (Looking back at 20 years of Wikipedia)

by: Pete Forsyth in The Signpost

“In twenty short years, Wikipedia has had a substantial influence on the way software functions and the ways we interact online. From the start, Wikipedia has given its users ready access to relevant data, and has encouraged them to take action. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken up the challenge, and they have produced an enormous amount of useful information.”

READ MORE>>

 

COVID-19 has taught us the internet is critical and needs public interest oversight

by: Tom Wheeler in Brookings

“The COVID-19 pandemic has graphically illustrated the importance of digital networks and service platforms. Imagine the shelter-in-place reality we would have experienced at the beginning of the 21st century, only two decades ago: a slow internet and (because of that) nothing like Zoom or Netflix.

Digital networks that deliver the internet to our homes, and the services that ride on those networks have leapt from an ancillary “nice to have” to something that is critical to economic activity and our daily lives. It is time to consider whether these companies are too important to be left to make the rules governing their behavior themselves.

READ MORE>>

 

From virtual parties to ordering food, how Americans are using the internet during COVID-19

by: Emily A. Vogels in Pew Research Center

“Roughly a third of Americans (32%) say they have had a virtual party or social gathering with friends or family, according to the April 7-12 survey. (Survey questions were posed to internet users on the Center’s American Trends Panel. Throughout this analysis, findings are reported as shares of the adult population.)

Besides turning to digital means to socialize, one-in-five Americans say they have watched a concert or a play that was livestreamed through the internet or an app. And with fitness centers, gyms and even some public parks closed, 18% of Americans say they have participated in an online fitness class or done an online workout video at home.”

READ MORE>>

March Update: Message from Mei Lin 

Dear Internauts:

I am writing to you inspired by the perspectives and experiences shared on a recent PCI community call in which participants shared their own experiences and work to respond to the global impacts of COVID-19.

While we don’t yet fully understand the changes to come in the next weeks and months, it is clear that during these periods of “social distancing,” the world is finding new ways to share information, conduct business, to comfort, and to connect with each other. As we watch Italians sing together from their balconies, Spaniards applaud medical workers every night at 10 PM, and “virtual” dance parties in New York, it is abundantly evident how important it is to maintain our connection to others, even in this time of “distance”.

Our PCI community clearly has much to offer as the world rallies to meet the challenges ahead. For those of you who could not join the “virtual fireside chat” with our founding chairman, Vint Cerf, and Ian Bremmer, I highly recommend a listen to the audio. As Ian and Vint note, our organizations and institutions must evolve to meet the challenges of our interconnected and interdependent world, as the coronavirus pandemic has made starkly clear.

One important component of this evolution of institutions is the need for “Digital Cooperation,” building upon the work of the United Nations’ High Level Panel, on which Vint served. The panel—chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma from Sept 2018 to June 2019—produced a list of recommendations that are now being developed further by eight working groups. We will be sharing more in the coming months about our efforts to support this work and help connect good ideas to impact on the ground.

Stay well, friends. Your skills, experience and compassion have never been more needed.

And, as Vint says, we’ll see you on the Internet!

Sincerely,

Mei Lin Fung
Co-Founder and Chair

 

Contents of this issue

THE PCI COMMUNITY AND COVID-19

PCI Community Voices on COVID-19

As people around the world face the challenges of responding to COVIC-19, we are pleased to share the tremendous insight,  perspectives, and resources contributed by PCI Community members.
READ MORE>> 

 

Sara-Jayne Terp: “Quarantine notes” from Washington State

Our dear friend, Sara-Jayne Terp, shares her very personal and practical daily observations of her days in self-quarantine and recovery from an (undiagnosed) illness with symptoms very similar to those described with COVID-19. (Sending very best wishes for recovery and deep thanks to SJ!)

Day 8 of 14 indoors:
Health/activity: Rough day. Was going to get up, do loads of things around the house, do some sideproject work but lungs and brain just weren’t working right this morning. Still in pajamas; slept away a large chunk of the day.

Friends: friends are calling, texting, chatting more. We talk about what to do with the wierd foods in our houses – lovely country friend (country = used to looking at pantry, going “wth do I do with this lot” because nearest store is at least 30 mins away) has loads of suggestions for the chickpeas (I’m going with curry).

Life: it’s an interesting exercise, being stuck at home with all your junk, unfinished projects and little jobs to do, and not being able to go out and ignore them. Facing them (and doing some of them) is a little like facing myself. Who am I when everything else is stripped away?
 
READ MORE >>

 

Amy Webb: How Futurists Cope With Uncertainty

Author and quantitative futurist, Amy Webb, provides “a simple tool you can use to see plausible future states early”:

“I’m writing to tell you a simple truth: you cannot make accurate predictions describing exactly what your industry will look like in 3, 6, or 12 months. I know you’re under pressure to do that right now. Your organizations want new financial projections and accurate timetables. Your senior executives and boards want concrete answers. Your goal right now isn’t predictions. It’s preparation for what comes next. We must shift our mindset from making predictions to being prepared…”
READ MORE >>

 

Marci Harris: Big rules changes required, and quick, for Capitol Hill to respond to coronavirus

with Daniel Schuman

PCI Board Member, Marci Harris, offered suggestions on how the U.S. Congress can continue operating if lawmakers are unable to physically convene:

“The rapid spread of coronavirus has made it unsafe and unwise for members of Congress — many of whom are among those most likely to become grievously ill — to convene in person.

Current rules, however, require members to be physically present to vote on the floors of the House and Senate. If our legislative branch is to respond effectively to this crisis and play its vital constitutional role as a check on the executive and judicial branches, it must act now to give itself the option to convene in a temporary emergency remote session.”
READ MORE >>

PCI UPDATES

The Unstable Globe: Takeaways from the “Virtual Fireside Chat” with Ian Bremmer and Vint Cerf

by: Eileen Clegg

American political scientist, Ian Bremmer, joined Internet pioneer and PCI co-founder, Vint Cerf for an inaugural “virtual fireside chat” to discussed today’s evolving geopolitical and technological landscape.

The two explored how our increasingly interconnected world is changing dynamics among countries, challenging international institutions, and (at least temporarily) benefitting authoritarian regimes. The globe faces challenges — including shifts in the influence of superpowers, polarization resulting from social media, and pandemics — that require a new technological, political, social and institutional coherence that has yet to manifest. 
READ MORE>>

  

 

Update from the first PCI Salon of 2020

by: Mei Lin Fung

PCI cofounder, Mei Lin Fung, hosted the first PCI salon of 2020, featuring leaders of efforts in Native American communities, including:

— Mariel Triggs, CEO of MuralNet, bringing broadband to tribal nations with dedication that included walking with a 60-pound pack along the bottom of the Grand Canyon to lay cable for Internet access. (Recent interview here)

— Darrah Blackwater, a 2019 Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Intern, who walked across China from Zhongshan to Beijing to help raise money and awareness for people with disabilities in China.

— Gerald Vizenor, currently Stanford Haas School’s Distinguished Visitor, whose poetry and scholarship has raised the voices of Native Americans globally.

Moderator Joy Mountford, described the evening: “They told very emotional, personal and compelling stories of connection with people.” She quoted Darrah, who declarared, “I do things that people say can’t be done.”

These salons in “Mei Lin’s Kitchen” provide close-up experience with people who are demonstrating the power of the individual to contribute and make a difference. 

 

People, Cities, Impact: Report From The United Nations’ World Urban Forum

by: Mei Lin Fung

 At this year’s World Urban Forum (WUF), I saw first-hand how the United Nations is working to build trust and relationships for those addressing emerging issues in cities around the world. The WUF operates as an open-ended think tank and advisory body to the UN every two years, with a focus on housing and cities. The February 2020 in Abu Dhabi meeting focused on Cities of Opportunity: Connecting Innovation and Culture.
READ MORE>>

 

Congratulations, JokkoSanté!

 

People Centered Internet congratulates community member, Adama Kane, whose health-focused digital payments app, Senegal-based JokkoSanté, won the USAID Inclusive Health Access Prize.

“JokkoSanté is a health-focused digital payments app that improves accountability in the local health system in Senegal by tracking medicines and enabling payments for health services,” according to the USAIDannoucement. “The desktop and mobile app allows patients to earn ‘points’ for turning in unused medicines rather than giving them to family members or friends, which has the potential to cause harm.”
READ MORE >>

Share your work with the PCI Community! Send links to [email protected]
OF INTEREST

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

by: Tomas Pueyo (h/t Albert Boulanger)

 

With everything that’s happening about the Coronavirus, it might be very hard to make a decision of what to do today. Should you wait for more information? Do something today? What?

  • How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
  • What will happen when these cases materialize?
  • What should you do?
  • When?

READ MORE>>

Call for Proposals: Cross Disciplinary Coronavirus Incubator
(h/t Albert Boulanger)

[S]oliciting published evidence (in the form of micropublications) and emergent hypotheses (in the form of conjectures)  that could lead to innovative research concepts to mitigate the spread and impact of a pandemic.

…particularly interested in the intersection of disciplines like: epidemiology, sociology, anthropology, economics, biology, zoology, immunology, political science, cognitive science, statistics and probability, and communications.

READ MORE>>

 

CBC Radio: COVID-19: Why reacting early and aggressively is the key to avoiding crisis

(h/t Guy Huntington)

If you wait until it’s a crisis and then say we’re going to respond to this crisis by implementing drastic public health measures, they will work, they will work predictably, but you’ve already missed the boat, because the time to intervene was before it got bad because you knew it was going to get bad, you knew that when it was quiet was the time for you to intervene.

READ MORE>>

🎶 Wash your hands! (du, du, du-du, du-du) 🎶

February Update: Message from Mei Lin 

Dear Internauts:

It has been quite a month for PCI, as our new board has gotten up and running and activities within our six areas of focus for 2020 are beginning to take shape.

We are very pleased to announce a new quarterly series of “Virtual Fireside Chats” with our founding chairman, Vint Cerf, which kicks off this month on February 25, with special guest, Ian Bremmer. 

I am also very happy to host the first in-person PCI salon of 2020 on “Native American Culture and Connectivity” at my home in Palo Alto on February 21, featuring speakers from our “Project Eagle Feather” community and Stanford Haas Distinguished Visitor, Gerald Vizenor. If you are in the Bay Area, I hope you will join us.

This month’s newsletter features contributions from the two presenters who recently spoke online with our PCI Community. Sascha Meinrath shared his decade of work to provide accurate data about internet availability around the world. M-Lab’s “Run Speed Test” logs 750,000 individual tests worldwide per day, producing the largest open repository of broadband data on the planet. Kristin Little, who has led evaluations for the World Bank for 15 years, and is an MIT- trained architect and urban planner, provides a wonderful look at how “People-Centered” approaches are the next phase in the evolution of “smart cities.”

We at PCI are thinking a lot about cities and how governments around the world can better engage with and respond to the needs of their residents. I was honored to be invited to speak at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) panel on “Governing and Managing Smart Sustainable Cities” at the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi on Feb 8–13th, where I argued that “smart cities” should be about enabling the people in those cities “get smarter and smarter,” evolving a natural environment that fosters the thriving of all.

Mei Lin Fung with co-panelists, Kristian Mjöen, Robert Lewis-Lettington, Okan Geray, Martin Brynskov

Also this month, I was pleased to join a workshop connecting stakeholders who are working to realize the “GIGA” initiative convened by the United Nations, ITU, and UNICEF to connect every school to the Internet by 2030. Bringing along partners such as the IEEE’s Special Interest Group for Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT), PCI is helping to strengthen GIGA’s efforts to develop local sustainable business models for expanding opportunities for children and communities around the globe to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

As a small-but-mighty network of people around the world working to ensure that the Internet works for people, our role at PCI is to bring people together to share good ideas, amplify good work, and provide paths of collaboration. Thank you for being a part of this effort.

As Vint says, “we’ll see you on the Internet!”

Sincerely,

Mei Lin Fung
Co-Founder and Chair

 

Contents of this issue

PCI UPDATES

A People-Centered Look at Smart Cities

by: Kristin Little

 

What good is a “smart city,” if it doesn’t improve people’s lives?

The trajectory of smart cities has evolved from a purely technology-centered approach to a government-centered approach. It is now becoming increasingly clear that “smart” technologies must be implemented for and with the people they are meant to serve. While many initial attempts at building smart cities have not evolved past the technology-centered phase, there is growing understanding that a people-centered approach is the future.  READ MORE>>

 

PCI Conversations: Sascha Meinrath, the M-Lab, and the need for reliable broadband maps

by: Eileen Clegg

Reliable information about access to broadband is essential to efforts designed to ensure equal access to broadband. The Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband map is missing the mark, however, because it relies on self-reporting by Internet service providers for information. That was the message of Sascha Meinrath, the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Pennsylvania State University, when he joined the January 19 PCI Community call. The reporting discrepancy exacerbates the digital divide and disadvantages rural communities. READ MORE>>

 
Share your work with the PCI Community! Send links to [email protected]
PCI EVENTS

PCI Salon: A Conversation With Gerald Vizenor (February 21, 2020)

People-Centered Internet invites you to a salon dedicated to Native American culture and connectivity, featuring author Gerald Vizenor on February 21, 2020 at 6:00 PM in Palo Alto.

Register for event
 

PCI Virtual Fireside Chat: A Conversation With Vint Cerf & Ian Bremmer (February 25, 2020)

People-Centered Internet invites you to a “virtual fireside chat,” featuring Ian Bremmer and PCI co-founder, Vint Cerf, at 2:00 PM ET on February 25, 2020.

In a 2016 paper produced for the International Monetary Fund, Ian predicted “G-Zero,” a time characterized by “a growing vacuum in global governance,” and asked “whether citizens across the world will remain passive throughout this process, or take on a proactive role in determining what future they want to live in.” In this (virtual) fireside chat, Vint and Ian will take stock of developments since then and ask: what is the Internet’s role? 

Register for online event
 
OF INTEREST

EDITORIAL: Did the Early Internet Activists Blow It?

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate

From Slate:

Author and former counsel for EFF and Wikimedia, Mike Godwin, looks back at thirty years of free speech on the Internet.

“When ordinary people are empowered to come together and work on a common, humanity-benefiting project like Wikipedia, unexpectedly great and positive things can happen. Wikipedia is not the anomaly my journalist friend thinks it is. Instead, it’s a promise of the good works that ordinary people freed by the internet can create.” 

READ MORE >>

 

ARTICLE: FCC Approves $20 Billion Rural Broadband Funding Plan

Photo by Marci Harris

From RouteFifty:

The Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband networks in rural America, in FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, called the “biggest step the FCC has ever taken to close the rural digital divide.” 

READ MORE >>

 

ARTICLE: DHS creates ‘tabletop in a box’ for local election security drills

From StateScoop:

The US Department of Homeland Security introduced “tabletop exercises” to give secretaries of state, election directors, IT leaders and other officials a war game-like environment simulating the threats posed by foreign governments and other adversaries that might try to disrupt an election.

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ARTICLE: Quantum entanglement over 30 miles of fiber brings super secure internet closer

From MIT Technology Review:

“Albert Einstein wanted nothing to do with it: he mocked the strange concept of quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” But a hundred years on, Einstein’s bugbear could help create a more secure internet, thanks to the most reliable technique yet for entangling nodes along miles of fiber-optic cable. “

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EVENT: FutureProof Conference from Ooda Loop (March 19, 2020)

PCI Community member, Bob Gourley’s Ooda Loop hosts the “FutureProof” conference on March 19, 2020 in Tysons Corner, VA “bringing[ing] together the hackers, thinkers, strategists, disruptors, leaders, technologists, and creators with one foot in the future to discuss the most pressing issues of the day and provide insight into the ways technology is evolving.”

January Update: Message from Mei Lin 

Dear “Internauts”:

It is my great honor to step into in the distinguished footsteps of PCI’s first chairman, Vint Cerf, who joined me in 2015 to co-found People-Centered Internet. We have some exciting changes ahead with the announcement of a new PCI board member and the unveiling of our six “areas of Focus” for 2020. 

Today, the vision that Vint and I share — of an Internet of, by, and for the people — faces significant challenges. Last year, Vint participated in the United Nations’ High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation from September 2018 to June 2019 and the panel’s report pulls no punches in its assessment:

“A patchwork of regulatory mechanisms, increased competition, and rapidly evolving security threats are preventing digital technologies from reaching their full potential to solve global challenges. At worst, they spell our doom through advanced autonomous weapons systems or hastily deployed artificial intelligence technologies.” — UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation

At the recent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez highlighted our responsibility to ensure that emerging technologies are used for the good of humanity:

“We have a collective responsibility to give direction to these technologies so that we maximize benefits and curtail unintended consequences and malicious use. And so far, we have not kept pace. There is an absence of technical expertise among policy-makers, even in the most developed countries.” — UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez

Our friend, Deputy Secretary General Fabrizio Hochschild noted:

“The Internet’s very success is its biggest threat — our challenge is in upholding an open free secure Internet as it is overtaken by commercial and political agendas. There is diffusing of positive and negative information at unheard of speeds. To retain open free secure internet that upholds human rights will require conscious effort across all stakeholder groups.” — UN Deputy Secretary General Fabrizio Hochschild

We at PCI have begun working closely with DSG Hochschild and the IEEE to seize the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary as an opportunity to strengthen global digital cooperation. Seventy-five years ago, the countries of the world came together to chart a path of peace and create a framework for establishing and maintaining agreements among nations. At that time, it would have been impossible to imagine that half of the world could be connected to each other, able to share knowledge, ideas, art, and even humor. The United Nations and the Internet share a beautiful potential: to bring us closer together to help us recognize our common humanity and opportunities to improve the well being of all people. But of course, that is only if we work to make it so. 

I am excited to welcome our new PCI board member, Linton Wells II, and I hope you will read Eileen Clegg’s article on Lin’s extensive background of public service. We as a board are pleased to introduce six “Areas of Focus” for PCI’s work in 2020. This month, we also join in celebrating Tribal Digital Village Network’s announcement that fourteen Native American tribes in Southern California are now directly connected to the state-of-the-art International Internet Exchange. TDVN receives support from Google through PCI’s Project Eagle Feather and is led by EAB member, Matthew Rantanan.

The PCI board and our extended community is dedicated to “working for an Internet that works for people.” As Jewish scholar Hillel the Elder asked in the first century BC: “If not now when? If not us, who?”.

Sincerely,

Mei Lin Fung
Co-Founder and Chair

 

Contents of this issue

PCI UPDATES

Introducing new PCI board member: Linton Wells II

by: Eileen Clegg

 

The People Centered Internet welcomes new board member, Linton Wells II, who has provided humanitarian leadership globally for decades. Lin now brings his policy acumen and collaborative research experience to PCI.   READ MORE>>

 

PCI Announces Six “Areas of Focus” for 2020

In the coming year, PCI will lead and support projects in six categories: (1) Internet Access & Connectivity, (2) People-Centered Apps & Content, (3) Ethics & Trust, (4) Diversity & Opportunity, (5) Digital Health & Security, and (6) Policy & Governance. These broad categories demonstrate the breadth of interests and expertise within our broad PCI Community and will provide structure for our activities as well as a framework for evaluating how our efforts contribute to each of these domains. 

As a volunteer-led organization, PCI supports mission-aligned projects by convening experts and stakeholders, producing papers and recommendations, and through project advising and fiscal sponsorship. We would love to hear about your work in these areas! Please share your announcements, new projects, and opportunities to collaborate with [email protected].

 

TDVN Connects Fourteen Tribes to International Peering Exchange

Tribal Digital Village, a tribal consortium-owned Internet service provider in San Diego County, announced the connection of fourteen Native American tribes in Southern California  to the state-of-the-art International Internet Exchange, Pacific Wave. Six more tribes are expected to join in the coming months. This new connection enables tribal libraries, scientific research facilities, and cultural preservation institutions to collaborate with partners across the state, the nation, and the world. 

Tribal Digital Village Network (TDVNet) is supported by Google through the People-Centered Internet’s “Project Eagle Feather,” and led by Matthew Rantanan. READ MORE>>

FROM THE PCI COMMUNITY

Video: CXOTalk —Data 2020: Trends and Challenges

featuring Dr. David Bray and Amy Webb

The increasing role of data in business, government, society, and culture has created technology and policy challenges for leaders in business and government. This episode explores the issues and challenges of data in the year 2020. VIEW VIDEO >>

 

Article: Beyond Cybersecurity: Internet policy and its relevance to our lives online

by: Jeremy Pesner

I am a technology policy professional. … While online privacy, safety and security will always be important, I’m more drawn to policies that promote the positive consequences of computer and the Internet, and that will help them continue to evolve in the coming decades. READ MORE>>

 

Community Update: Deborah Kobza Announces Formation Of Cognitive Security ISAO

PCI Community Member Deborah Kobza announced the launch of the Cognitive Security ISAO (Information Sharing and Analysis Association), headquartered at the International Association of Certified ISAOs (IACI – IACI-CERT at the Center for Space Education, NASA/Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The Cognitive Security ISAO’s mission is to “accelerate cognitive security resilience by advancing the capacity and capability to share malign influence and disinformation intelligence, and to create, disseminate and apply the countermeasures, tools, technologies, best practices and education to protect the global information ecosystem”. READ MORE>>

 

 
Share your work with the PCI Community! Send links to [email protected]
OF INTEREST

Interview: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: world’s next major conflict may start in cyberspace

In a Wired magazine interview, UN Secretary-General Guterres warns of “three risks of divides: a geostrategic divide, a social divide, and a technological divide”. Of the rift between China and the U.S., he said, “there is a risk of a decoupling in which all of a sudden each of these two areas will have its own market, its own currency, its own rules, its own internet, its own strategy in artificial intelligence. And that inevitably, when that happens, its own military and geostrategic strategies. And then the risks of confrontation increase dramatically.” READ ARTICLE >>   WATCH VIDEO>>

 

U.S.-Taiwan Tech Challenge seeks innovative responses to counter disinformation and propaganda

The U.S.-Taiwan Tech Challenge invites technologists from across East Asia Pacific to submit an application to present their solution against adversarial disinformation and propaganda to an audience of government, civil society, and private sector stakeholders. Eight organizations will be chosen to demo their technology. Up to three organizations will be selected as winners of the Challenge and will receive funding. Applications are due by January 21, 2020. 

 

 

Report: The Humanitarian “Digital Divide”

by: Barnaby Willitts-King, John Bryant and Kerrie Holloway, Overseas Development Institute

“Unlocking the potential of digital technology offers opportunities to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and coverage of humanitarian action – for instance, in collecting and analysing data, transfer of digital payments to recipients, or biometric verification of aid recipients. Technology also connects and gives agency to affected people.

However, there are increasing concerns about the dominance of technology globally and in development and humanitarian assistance, and the risks such technologies can present in situations of armed conflict. There are also worries that agencies engaging in digital transformation are not doing enough to be ‘intentionally inclusive’ or to avoid unintentionally excluding groups who may already be left out of current approaches.” READ PAPER >>

 

Resource: “SecurityPlanner.org”

by: Citizen Lab

Special thanks to community member, Bob Gourley, for pointing us to this excellent resource from CitizenLab.

Security Planner is an easy-to-use guide with expert-reviewed advice for staying safer online. It provides recommendations on implementing basic online practices, like enabling two-factor authentication on important accounts, making sure software stays updated, and using encrypted chats to protect private communications. More advanced users can receive advice on where to go for more help.” READ MORE>>