Presented by:

Seth Schoen is a Senior Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, where he has worked for over 17 years. As the first Staff Technologist at EFF, Seth has helped attorneys and the public understand technology as it relates to litigation and public policy. He has published research on computer forensics, exposed Internet service provider misbehavior, and developed privacy software. He has testified before three Federal regulatory agencies and in several courts, trained judges in Latin America, and spoken in more than 10 countries.

Seth has been a speaker at several previous editions of LinuxFest Northwest.

Limitations in our technology and communications systems frustrate users, and idealistic technologists imagine many axes along which these systems could be improved. Will we ever design the perfect software tools?

An ongoing area of research in computer science (and economics and philosophy) is the discovery of inherent trade-offs in certain systems. In some cases, it can be proven that no system can have all the properties we might want. For example, Kenneth Arrow proved that no voting method is always fair (in a certain sense of fairness), while Gustaf Arrhenius showed that no ethical theory of a certain kind consistently resolves all questions about what's for the best. Computer scientists have found similar results, like the CAP theorem about three desirable properties of a distributed database. No system can promise all three of them!

There are hints that communications systems may have similar unavoidable trade-offs among speed, reliability, and privacy (among other things). Perfecting one property may always come at some cost to another; we may never reach technologies that are ideal in particular ways. The progress of such research suggests the importance of getting used to engineering trade-offs in system design -- and making them more explicit.

Date:
2018 April 28 - 02:30
Duration:
45 min
Room:
G-103
Conference:
LinuxFest Northwest 2018
Language:
Track:
Humans
Difficulty:
Medium

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