Since the beginning, humans have made tools in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The simplest hut shelters you from at least some of the elements; a bow and arrow spares you from doing hand-to-hand combat with a sabertooth tiger; a writing implement lets you tell future generations how to do the same.
And yet, even now, there are no guarantees. Internet transmissions are inherently leaky. Becoming “smart” can make the most banal object hackable: your toaster becomes part of a botnet; your baby’s crib is a spy. Digital platforms have created new kinds of precarity, as they disrupt workplaces and algorithms handle scheduling and benefits.
This issue looks at how we use technologies to stay safe—and the novel dangers that these same technologies create.
It’ll get worse before it gets better.
An essay about a system that destabilizes by design.
An inquiry into the history of hacking, and its lessons for making a safer internet.
The gig economy wasn’t built in a day.
An investigation into the small networked devices that are killing car engines and ruining people’s lives.
What would our technology look like if it aspired to keep everyone safe?
A brief history of the secret plan to track every printed page.
The Party Decides
A story about how to hack democracy.
What’s the price of precision?
Notes from the front lines of organizing and community technology in Detroit.
A conversation about how to make information free.
How can we build a better social network?
My Blue Window
A conversation about state power and the construction of blue life.