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Tech Inquiry: Curating Data to Map the Military-Surveillance-Law Enforcement Complex

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Tech Inquiry maps international ecosystems of surveillance and weapons, and the influence industries surrounding them. It draws upon a curated database of government purchasing across more than thirty countries, alongside lobbying records, tax filings, reporting, and manually tagged associations to identify, explore, and analyse relationships between corporations, governments, and nonprofits. In this address, Tech Inquiry’s founder and developer, Dr Jack Poulson, will discuss how Tech Inquiry was built, the public data sources and technologies it uses, and what this reveals about connections between surveillance and weapons industries and government agencies in the US. His talk will explore case studies of cellphone location-tracking, facial recognition, and social media surveillance and how these relate to the US military, law enforcement, and vigilantism.

Jack Poulson completed his PhD in Computational and Applied Mathematics at UT Austin in 2012 before serving as an Assistant Professor of Computational Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech then as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University. After two years as a Research Scientist in Google’s AI division working on recommendation systems and natural language processing, he resigned in protest of the company rolling back its international human rights protections and transitioned (back) into the nonprofit sector. His work focuses on data curation of the interface between tech companies and weapons manufacturers with the U.S. government and supporting civil society and tech workers in opposing related abuses. 

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