Horizon Europe

As the UK government sorts out the argument with EU over the border between Eire & Great Britain, rejoining Horizon Europe becomes a possibility although it seems that Rishi Sunak is not so keen. In an article on Linkedin, called “Horizon Europe, more than just cost”. I note that in the final year of Horizon the UK rresearch entities were granted €5bn. The most important point made by my article was that the value of Horizon is as much the contribution of the other partners, some of whom must be from a 2nd country. The value of Horizon to researchers is the leverage of the domestic investment as much as the grants. …

Virtual Worlds, Day 3.

On day three of the EU’s citizen’s assembly on Virtual Worlds, after a short meeting in groups, we reassembled in the plenary hall. We were introduced to a speaker panel, which they referred to as a knowledge committee which included three Belgian improv artists. The whole session is available at for review on the Commission’s streaming platform.

The commission speaker emphasised again the EU’s principles, guiding their regulatory strategies. The rights and principles are:

  1. Putting people and their rights at the centre of the digital transformation
  2. Supporting solidarity and inclusion
  3. Ensuring freedom of choice online
  4. Fostering participation in the digital public space
  5. Increasing safety, security and empowerment of individuals
  6. Promoting the sustainability of the digital future

But no explicit reference to the rights of information and privacy and thus not addressing encryption vs surveillance or am I is being too suspicious. Some are worried that the legislature will use the coming AI Regulation to demand encryption breaking measures on messaging products.

The regulatory aquis is being built on the GDPR and the recently passed Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act. The Commission outlines its programme on its web site, and I have sought summarise the legislative  programme in another note.

Amongst the experts was Prof. Catherine Hesse, and Dr Mariette van Huijstee, the other speakers can be discovered on the stream. They both spoke of the changes that virtual worlds make on their users, including on the way the brain works, of the environmental impact and on whether it will create new levels of inclusivity. On the last topic, Sara Lisa Vogel, a virtual world performance artist, presented from their digital home, stated they find the disguise and anonymity a benefit and it enhances their life as otherwise they find themselves subject to racism in particular.

CC 2008 John Lester BY – via wikiversity

I found the platform’s quality of content, on the whole poor although my syndicate group moderator was awesome; there were no economists, or the one that might have been, focused on other things.

I feel that the citizens are being guided to chose safety before privacy as can be seen by the surveillance enabling provisions of the AI Bill. The real life dystopian example, is China’s Sesame Credit scheme, China’s sesame credit system [or on Medium], where access to services is based on your social media record and public statements.

Safety is also about protection against fake news and foreign state actors. CoFoE had a lot to say about this and it makes me wonder if we must transfer responsibility onto the carriers, although the Digital Services Act reset the notify and takedown rules in Europe and placed a duty on web sites to remove content they know to be illegal.

Absent from conversations over the weekend is the question of investment which made me ask what Horizon Europe and NESSI are doing?

During the plenary Q&A, there was a question on how the topic was chosen; given that I am concerned about the scoping of this as Virtual Worlds and not the future of the internet. I think this question is important. True virtual worlds may have been done, and are limited by what can be described using a real world metaphor, although Sara Lisa Vogel, an artist made a powerful plea that living as an avatar in a virtual world can be liberating and help escape oppressions from the real world.

Let’s see if it gets better over sessions two and three to be held in March and April. …

Virtual Worlds, an EU citizens assembly

I have been granted Observer status to the EU’s second 2nd Generation citizens’ assembly, this is on Virtual Worlds. I felt my expertise might be useful. The first day (half day), was a plenary session, the final exercise in the afternoon was a brainstorming session in which all the invited citizens joined in. They were asked to identify the three best things and the three worst things, they have observed since 1992, the year the world wide web was invented.

from NWN Beneath the Cobbles, made by me

The brainstorming session asked people to identify good and bad things from the Internet by time, on the collective results suggested things were getting worse. Whether this is because it is getting worse or caused by the fact that the younger people can’t identify older benefits or disbenefits.

I made the following observations;

  1. I remember my first purchase using Internet technology. In 1992, I ordered some software from an American software vendor, using e-mail or maybe by phone. There was no PayPal, and download speeds prohibited I download. The software was delivered by mail. I forget how we paid for it.This was about two years after I had asked sales staff at Sun Microsystem to demonstrate a remote login from London to New York.
  2. I remember in the late 80’s attaching a VT100 via a modem in my home to Pyramid Technology’s benchmarking systems, starting a personal 40 year internal debate as to whether working from home is good or bad.
  3. I remember installing and playing Neverwinter Nights in about 2006, probably my first experience of a virtual world, although I rarely played cooperatively. The WAN connectivity was not good enough although once we got the ISDN line in, my children enjoyed playing a bunch of co-operative games over the years.
  4. I remember my conversations about transferring to Google as a search engine. It had in-list driven “page rank” scoring; I abandoned Alta Vista’s in memory localised search. Google was probably my first cloud application.
  1. I recall the time spent installing anti malware products and learning about strange networking configurations just to get the computers in my home to work together mainly playing games. Did learning the skills for the more esoteric parts of Windows self-administration help me? Certainly the transition to Windows 7 and then beyond was not a good experience.
  2. Today I spend too much time curating my social media feeds to ensure that those that wish to control me don’t get what they need from what I say. There is a chilling effect created buy those for whom home surveillance is a way of life.
  3. When repairing my phone recently, this had to be done by the original equipment vendor, and their prices are not fair. We need the coming “right to repair”.

Other issues raised include the growing amount of fake news and click bait and the psychological manipulation exercised to create site stickiness.

At least one person, spoke of remote conferencing as an advantage and disadvantage. In many cases without this technology communication and collaboration would not occur, but on the other hand, true communication needs physical presence. Huge amounts of communication between people is non verbal.

It was also identified networks based on technology create exclusions as well as increasing the amounts of communication and the creation of new networks. These exclusions maybe social, or based on protocols such as the transition from myspace to Facebook. This observation reminded me that my secondary school old boys’ network would not have been created without social media providers and that building that network used three social media platforms, Friends Reunited, Yahoo, and finally Facebook. …

Online Safety Bill progresses into the Lords

This article is repost of a the Open Rights Group newsletter. Please look at this, it's really quite short but I am quite shocked at just how far the government plans to go, prior restraint, ministerial decrees on acceptable content, encryption breaking surveillance, and more. Please use the read more button to see what the Govt is up to and how you might help in stopping the worst of its proposals.

On WOTCs permissive licences

On WOTCs permissive licences

Earlier this year, Wizards of the Coast, the owners of Dungeons & Dragons, bought D&D Beyond, the premiere and largest web store for the rules of D&D and they are now trialling a new version of the rules called One D&D; they are also planning to release a virtual table top solution and have a new movie in production. Also recently at a Hasbro earnings call, one of their executives stated that D&D was now a lifestyle brand and was under-monetised. This has created a sense of fear amongst 3rd party creators that WOTC will revise their intellectual property sharing agreements to the detriment of themselves and non-Dungeon Master players who have been identified as under spenders. Depending on where you look, this has created a lot of noise; I think there’s a lot of fear being generated, and it interests me to consider the issues in the context of the software industry practice. I think that software industry grew the open source models and the interaction by games vendors such as Wizards with software continues to inform good & bad practice, There's more overleaf ...

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

The Times broke a story (£) on Sunday that the UK would start to seek to improve relations with the EU and seek a “Swiss style” deal with the EU. This has caused some bad reactions in the parliamentary Tory party and the detritus of the Leave campaigns, with even that political zombie, Nigel Farage, offered us his advice.

A number of so-called experts add their voices on the impracticality of a “Swiss” style deals for reasons  of the size of UK economy, the absolute lack of will by the EU to repeat the Swiss treaty model and, for some, the democratic deficit that single market membership without the right to appoint CJEU judges, MEPs, commissioners and having a seat (and veto) at the Council would entail.

Opinion both expert and popular is now of the view that the UK must rejoin the single market; even some previously silent Remainers are finding their voices.

The Government spooked by the reaction from some of their backbenchers and Brexit supporters are trying to calm the political seas. The fact is that the language of a Swiss style deal is an attempt to linguistically soften the blow to the Brexit project. The idea, based on some truth, that the Swiss have more say than the rest of the EEA countries on sovereign issues is something that the Tory advocates of the single market are seeking to persuade rump Brexiters as acceptable.

Any road to change will be via the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation agreement. We will have a single agreement, unlike the Swiss, which will be developed to include the customs union, single market and CJEU supervision of regulatory compliance.

Image Credit: from wikipedia, cropped and passed through an ‘inks’ filter originally by John Fielding CC 2012 BY-SA …

What I said about #lab22!

What I said about #lab22!

i have finished my write up of Labour Conference ’22. The articles can be found using a wordpress search on tag:lab22, This tag also includes some articles I wrote before the conference previewing its agenda.

I have written a piece on most of the debates and speeches and added a couple of pieces on left/right power the European Movement meetings and the conduct of the chair[s].  …

Adversarial Justice, maybe not all its cracked up to be.

Adversarial Justice, maybe not all its cracked up to be.

I am working my way slowly through “Stories of the Law“, by the Secret Barrister and came across this,

Such as whether adversarial criminal justice is all it is cracked up to be. Whether to much – truth, dignity – is sacrificed on its alter. Whether a system that does not have as its stated aim the pursuit of truth, but instead rewards the best game player in a winner-takes- ll contest, can really be said to deliver justice in a sense understood by anyone outside of legal circles. And whether, if we have abandoned –  or never even prized – truth as a guiding principle of our trials, we’re doing the gross injury to Enlightenment principles with the result that all of us – defendant , victim and society – are wronged.

The Secret Barrister

I wrote this too soon. In the following paragraph, SB, makes the argument that inquisitorial systems have one fundamental weakness

Such cases demonstrate the fallacy of assuming the state is able to neutrally seek truth as opposed to aligning on its own theory and embarking on ex post facto buttressing of that narrative. And this is a criticism often levelled inquisitorial systems by those who work within: not withstanding their oxymoronic designation as ‘neutral’ prosecutors, the prosecutor and the police may bow to natural inclinations to take a partisan position against the suspect and construct a case against him.

The flaw runs deeper than the motivations of individual investigators, however: inquisitorialism is compromised by the inherent susceptibility of the state machinery to political influence not at the level of high conspiracy, but the subtle pressures the government bring to bear on the administration of criminal justice. The ubiquitous ministerial intuition that cost savings can be made without public outcry by shearing the justice budget, cutting a few corners here and there,  has been demonstrated at length. You do not need to be modelling a tin foil hat to recognise the politicians incrementally dispense with systemic safeguards, increasing the incidence of wrongful convictions, to bank transitory credit for being ‘tough on crime’; often as a reflex to media campaigns to improve conviction rates for particular offences.

The Secret Barrister

Featured image : Richter benutzt dunkelbraun-goldenen Hammer vor weißem Hintergrund CC 2.0 Marco Vetch 2018 BY …

Reeves and Immigration

There I am sitting in my living room, considering that maybe Starmer and Reeves domestic policy promises weren’t so bad, playing with my phone when a clip from Sky News comes on with Rachel Reeves, saying that the problem with the Tory immigration policy is there aren’t enough deportations. This is the moral sink that competing on competence takes you. Labour’s Conference Policy at lab19 and lab21 is clear and based on an anti-racist, internationally legally compliant, rights based, compassionate, and humane approach. We must do better than this.  …