Aug 07, 2017

I've been thinking about civil disobedience in the modern era.

We have a party which maintains power through a huge variety of fuckery and they're not about to give up on the obsolete or corrupt institutions like the Electoral College which keep them in power. They will do everything they can to hold on to power through dirty tricks like gerrymandering and voter disenfrachisement.

They lie through their teeth constantly through social media platforms which provide a massive, free platform to spread the message.

At the same time, their leadership spits out anti-science nonsense of all kinds: climate change denial, maths denial, science denial within the EPA, vaccine denial, forensic science denial, etc etc.

One could reasonably say that you do not get to deny science in one realm yet benefit from it in another.

If you do not believe in the reality of climate change, should you really get to benefit from the science which designed and built the iPhone? If you think that vaccines cause autism, should you really have access to mass communication platforms like twitter, which are built on decades of scientific and technological innovation? If you think encryption (math) is something which can be regulated and restricted, do you really have a right for your email to deliver over SSL?

So, what might a scientist or engineer do as an act of civil disobience towards a party of science deniers? Here's a couple of ideas.

  • On a user registration page, ask the question “is climate change a hoax?” and deny access to any positive respondent.
  • Disable SSL when serving any content (login forms, private communications, or other) to Amber Rudd and any supporters of encryption legislation.
  • Introduce subtle and annoying bugs to @GOP leadership using your product built on social media APIs.
  • Use sentiment analysis to discover anti-science nonsense and tag it with a very visible bullshit 💩 label.

The fact is that we (technology providers) are enabling these assholes yet are under no obligation to do so. And to be clear, I'm not arguing against free speech. But if you're anti-science, the intellectually honest thing to do would be to live with the Amish.