Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu What your smart devices know (and share) about you
Once your smart devices can talk to you, who else are they talking to? Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu wanted to find out — so they outfitted Hill's apartment with 18 different internet-connected devices and built a special router to track how often they contacted their servers and see what they were reporting back. The results were surprising — and more than a little bit creepy. Learn more about what the data from your smart devices reveals about your sleep schedule, TV binges and even your tooth-brushing habits — and how tech companies could use it to target and profile you. (This talk contains mature language.)
Catherine Crump The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you
A very unsexy-sounding piece of technology could mean that the police know where you go, with whom, and when: the automatic license plate reader. These cameras are innocuously placed all across small-town America to catch known criminals, but as lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump shows, the data they collect in aggregate could have disastrous consequences for everyone the world over.
Christopher Soghoian How to avoid surveillance ... with the phone in your pocket
Who is listening in on your phone calls? On a landline, it could be anyone, says privacy activist Christopher Soghoian, because surveillance backdoors are built into the phone system by default, to allow governments to listen in. But then again, so could a foreign intelligence service ... or a criminal. Which is why, says Soghoian, some tech companies are resisting governments' call to build the same backdoors into mobile phones and new messaging systems. From this TED Fellow, learn how some tech companies are working to keep your calls and messages private.
Zeynep Tufekci We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads
We're building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren't even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.
Andy Yen Think your email's private? Think again
Sending an email message is like sending a postcard, says scientist Andy Yen in this thought-provoking talk: Anyone can read it. Yet encryption, the technology that protects the privacy of email communication, does exist. It's just that until now it has been difficult to install and a hassle to use. Showing a demo of an email program he designed with colleagues at CERN, Yen argues that encryption can be made simple to the point of becoming the default option, providing true email privacy to all.
Jennifer Granick How the US government spies on people who protest — including you
What's stopping the American government from recording your phone calls, reading your emails and monitoring your location? Very little, says surveillance and cybersecurity counsel Jennifer Granick. The government collects all kinds of information about you easily, cheaply and without a warrant — and if you've ever participated in a protest or attended a gun show, you're likely a person of interest. Learn more about your rights, your risks and how to protect yourself in the golden age of surveillance.
Hasan Elahi FBI, here I am!
After he ended up on a watch list by accident, Hasan Elahi was advised by his local FBI agents to let them know when he was traveling. He did that and more ... much more.
Tristan Harris How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day
A handful of people working at a handful of tech companies steer the thoughts of billions of people every day, says design thinker Tristan Harris. From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube autoplays, they're all competing for one thing: your attention. Harris shares how these companies prey on our psychology for their own profit and calls for a design renaissance in which our tech instead encourages us to live out the timeline we want.
Mathias Jud Art that lets you talk back to NSA spies
In 2013, the world learned that the NSA and its UK equivalent, GCHQ, routinely spied on the German government. Amid the outrage, artists Mathias Jud and Christoph Wachter thought: Well, if they're listening ... let's talk to them. With antennas mounted on the roof of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin's government district, they set up an open network that let the world send messages to US and UK spies listening nearby. It's one of three bold, often funny, and frankly subversive works detailed in this talk, which highlights the world's growing discontent with surveillance and closed networks.
Alessandro Acquisti What will a future without secrets look like?
The line between public and private has blurred in the past decade, both online and in real life, and Alessandro Acquisti is here to explain what this means and why it matters. In this thought-provoking, slightly chilling talk, he shares details of recent and ongoing research — including a project that shows how easy it is to match a photograph of a stranger with their sensitive personal information.