No One Can Predict the Future
1:56AM Aug 1, 2020
Good evening. As we approach the final few days of this epic streak of hope, talks. I have my mock tail here. That was inspired by the last talk on robots and cocktails. And it's, I'm here to help, or I'm here to introduce the last one of the last speakers of the evening Xiao Wei Wang, a coder a writer a PhD student and an artist, so she's. There are many, many things. They're beaming in from the west coast. Talk about some fascinating research on technology surveillance and other matters in rural and urban China, and in specific, we're going to be hearing a little bit about why and how predictive policing continues to be used when in the words of a police officer that I believe they interviewed no one can predict the future. This material I believe is from a forthcoming book out in October, the dazzling name that leaves you wanting more. It's called blockchain chicken farm and Other Stories of tech in China's countryside. It has received a starred review on Kirkus Reviews, which is a big deal. Congrats. The book is partly a travel log, as they go to different areas from rice patties to pig farms and the book seeks to blast many of the misconceptions that some of us might have about technology and innovation in rural and urban parts of China. The book is really. But one artifact of a truly amazing corpus of work. I invite you to check out their website, after the talk. Just Google their name. But in the meantime, I turn it over to our speaker who will be talking for about 3035 minutes and then we'll open it up for some q&a.
Hi everyone, thanks for coming to my talk. My name is Shai Wang, and I'm creative director at logic magazine, a quarterly print publication about tech and culture. But today, I'll actually be talking about rural China with snippets from my upcoming book blockchain chicken farm and Other Stories of tech in China's countryside. It's actually part of a book series put out by FSG originals in logic. It's coming all the, all of these books are coming out in October. The other three books are voices from the valley, interviews with anonymous tech workers. What tech calls thinking and subprime attention crisis, until like most folks around the world travel really isn't in my near future, so I thought I'd take this chance to also give you a taste of travel to some of the more remote parts of the world, that make up the Internet, and in recent years I've seen more and more stories about mining about the infrastructure that makes up the internet. All of these things located in rural areas. It can often feel like the easy answer is to just stop consuming or to log off entirely. But I think that this attitude of logging off or just stop consuming hides the possibilities for building new worlds. Instead, I believe that seeing how entangled we are in these systems of computing, culture, and capital point to possibilities for intervention for how we might create create our own new systems. In 2012 right before Xi Jinping took power. I had a chance to travel to Mongolia. And throughout the city you can see former Soviet monuments of its past but you can also see the city's future, which is this enormous copper mine. The largest copper deposit in Asia, and accounts for nearly 14% of Mongolia's national gross domestic product, the mine is so bad that there's no vocabulary for this kind of scale. So far from the gilded cities of Shanghai or San Francisco, the copper produced here is stuffed into phones into copper wires coursing through the materials that make up our cell phone towers and all across Mongolia, the new pockets of golden copper are being discovered, Mongolia might be a developing country with the world's third largest mining company, Rio Tinto proclaims that some of the most exciting developments in Golden copper mining are present in Mongolia. So in the deserts, and in the grasslands Mongolia develops open to corporations from the west, a country of nomads become a country of capitalists, you can still see horses actually at the edge of cities of towns and cows grazing freely under billboards, with homes packable and transportable herders seasonally guard coal mines, depending on the paths that they take their grazing animals on and on the train back to China, every person my age that I meet is a mining engineer or works on mines in the backseat of a large bulletproof Cadillac SUV I sit with an administrator from the US Embassy. She says to me. You may talk about anything in your workshops, except mining. The official American line is that mining is a good thing. And we hide to the rural from our field of vision in our daily lives as city dwellers. We had the sights of extraction, whether it's industrial agricultural, or copper mining. And we call these edges of the world, the ends of the world, left behind places where every element of our daily lives are produced the left behind places giveaway to our urban lives through material, and through labor.
So when studying rural China, I had to not only understand how the periphery forms the center of our urban lives through resource extraction, but I had to also understand the relationships between tech and how it transforms labor across cities and the countryside. How capitalism relies on inequality, to exist, and inequality becomes solidified through racism and classism, I think we're often used to thinking about tech in terms of what it directly does on the ground, for example how it surveys us. But there's also the broader ecosystem of how tech begins to shift our ways of thinking and understanding the world, as well as how tech as a form of rhetoric and theater starts to shape our values. So, one thing I've been thinking about lately, is how contact tracing, and constant surveillance is heralded as a thing that will save us from COVID. In the case of labor technology not only shapes how we do work, but what we expect work to be like, and what kinds of work are made, meaningful with China faces now is a potential agrarian transition, which is a term used by economists and agricultural policymakers. So agrarian transition is the process in which farmers are pushed out of the countryside and small scale farming is replaced by industrial agriculture, which requires less manual labor. As a result, there's a surplus of labor as farmers attempt to rescale or find new jobs, like in the cities. The same thing occurred during the Industrial Revolution in the West, so technologies such as the steam engine mills in the telegraph were only partially responsible for industrialization and capitalism, labor, especially factory labor played an equally important role in the industrial revolution could have never happened without the agrarian transition. So the Industrial Revolution displaced people from the countryside and created a large reserve of labor. Well the transition might sound easy, or logical, the social, environmental, and political ramifications of agrarian transition are enormous. Even after an agrarian transition development in urban areas can peak, meaning that capital and economic development have to find other ways, and other places to expand to in China agrarian transition is complicated by the who co system. The who call or household registration is part of a government system that incentivizes people to stay in certain geographical areas by incentivize, I mean, force. If you were lucky enough to be born in Beijing, you'd receive Beijing kuko and numerous benefits, including access to almost fully reimbursed healthcare in Beijing which has some of the best hospitals do receive education for children that top schools that are located in Beijing. But on the other hand if you have a who ko or household registration in an urban area, you're given title to a piece of land that you can farm, which you're still technically stewarding from the government. And if you do decide to migrate to the city, your children's access to Beijing's wonderful schools is limited the amount that you can get reimbursed for hospital visit in Beijing is next to nothing. But despite all these disincentives so leave over 300 million people have left their rural homes in search of work in nearby cities, creating China's economic miracle over the past 30 years. And such rural migrants take jobs that urbanites people living in cities typically refuse. Everything from building constructions such as creating the odd inspiring Olympic architecture of Beijing to making iPhones and a Foxconn factory.
But in recent years there have been some attempts to address this mass migration to cities by creating economic opportunity in the countryside, such as the case of Taobao villages. This is tied into the landscape of China's countryside where most farmers are smallholders. So by smallholder you just are a. What we imagined farming to view which is a person with a small plot of land tending to their vegetables. This is unlike the US, where industrial farming is the default. So, what exactly is a taba village. Well, Alibaba is most well known for Taobao comm a huge ecommerce site, which is deemed China's eBay, except everything on Taobao calm is new. As of 2017 Taobao had 600 million monthly active users compared to Amazon's 300 million monthly active users, and everything can be found on Taobao, I mean everything. So there's gold plated lighters and the shape of people in coital position, umbrellas and an array of animal shapes and decorations red dates the size of an egg sheep's brain, as well as banned books and banned video games, I love this Resident Evil example because people started using hand drawn covers to try and bypass the image recognition. Because Resident Evil was banned in China briefly. Each of these listings on Taobao com come from individual sellers Taobao is free to use but sellers pay for ads, which is seen as a form of digital rent and taba villages are a phenomenon in China's countryside where over 70% of the village does small scale manufacturing and then sells their goods on Taobao. In 2014, there were 213 of them, and by 2016, the numbers had grown to over 1001 type of village I visit is a strange mixture of fields and farms where farming is done seasonally. It's a kind of farming gig economy, I guess, the village that I visit makes costumes for stage plays and TVs. So you can see the family workshop in the front and then agricultural fields in the back, and during Christmas and Halloween, people are making costumes for manufacturer and export. And then in the back. You know in the offseason people are farming. And in this village. They make costumes for stage plays in TVs, and they actually get to visit one of the entrepreneurs in the village. He's one of the first entrepreneurs, and he started off his business by borrowing money to buy a computer. He also had to borrow his daughter's pinion textbook, to understand how to input Chinese characters onto a computer because he told me he had only ever gone to elementary school. Now he's actually a millionaire and his nephew who lives in a nearby city, who had a lucrative software engineering job moved back home to the countryside to help with a family business in this village, you can see that the manufacturing is really quite small scale family businesses, and yet at the same time they owe a lot of economic success to Taobao there's even a Taobao kindergarten in the village, as people move to the city, rural migrants, often live in urban villages and these areas of the city exist as remarkable and unavoidable reminders of China's urbanization project, and the never ending process of building and rebuilding. So urban villages thrive freely in big cities until the city government decides to eradicate them. And during the winter of 2009, while Beijing's urban villages still existed, I visited this one that was adjacent to the old Summer Palace. It was a rare affordable haven for migrants to the city who could have paid Beijing's astronomical rents as migrants often earn more money than they would in the countryside, but not enough money to stay in the city. So I come to visit an urban village in the city of Guangzhou, to try to understand not only agrarian transition and tack, but also what life is like for rural migrants, and also those associations and with rural migrants and criminality and the discrimination that they face.
So I arrived in GUI young quite young status as a tech Boomtown is amplified by its dreamy sci fi landscape outside the city center Tencent and Apple are carving data centers into its mountain caves and the highway is only 10 years old, but already vines and Eucalyptus have crept through underpasses covering entrance ramps, the explosive economic growth has led to a number of urban villages forming forming through its rickety twisting streets and like China's food and language, urban villages have an enormous amount of regional variation. But what's common across all urban villages is that they're home to those on the fringes of city life. So nannies housekeepers construction workers delivery drivers in Schengen, which some of you might have visited or know of urban villages have played a key part in the city's economic rise. So it's the urban villages of shinjin have nurtured new inventors with brash ideas and informal economies. But yet, because of the socio economic status of the population residing in urban villages. These areas are deemed dangerous by upper middle class urbanites. So the term that upper middle class Chinese people use to describe this population is low quality. Strangely, the upper middle class seems to have no problems about the low quality quote unquote population traveling to wealthier parts, watching over their children, cleaning their homes delivering their food. So the officer who is host at this police station in the urban village that I visit has been touted by media outlets, as you know, the handsome millennial police officer of great young. He's tells me about the city's sure your ankle kintai, or real population platform, which is supposed to be a massive compendium of data on citizens, and parts of the real population platform is one of the products made by Quattrone technology company, and the platform has hefty promises of what the company terms, total population control. So, it's in the brochure from the hartron technology company. It says biometric data from face scans state issued personal ID numbers fingerprints all sorts of records will come together on the real population platform, and similar platforms have been rolled out across other cities from Shanghai to lounging, although the rollout is highly fragmented across provinces. The focus of Glanz total population control is on urban villages. And so, the Chinese police system is complex, and it used to be much more fragmented across city and cities and provinces with little national or centralized information for a long time China used its own version of community policing, such as the local neighborhood association volunteers. But in recent years, the Chinese police have actually been relying on outside expertise to help modernize training and policing. There have actually been numerous learning exchanges between China and Europe as well as the US, where police officers from China visit police departments abroad to see how modern policing is done. So there's been exchanges between the Sam Houston University Police Academy de la Los Angeles Police Department, which actually describes them doing police diplomacy, like capitalism in the free market China's models of policing have been based on us models. And despite official statistics of a low crime rate in China, it's skewed because it doesn't include urban migrant workers, because of the track the who coast status and urban migrant workers are victims and perpetrators, up to 80% of urban crime. So the police officer shows me the real population platform, and the first page is a gorgeously shot aerial image. It's the result of drone photography and the whole set of geographic data has been put together by a privately owned Beijing geographic information systems company.
And each house in the image has been assigned an number, starting from one. The officer explains that the thing with urban villages and quite young, is that there's no actual addresses all of the construction is very informal. A few of the buildings were here to begin with. Village buildings on farmland. Those old buildings are still around, because there's money to be made for renting rooms out landlords are actually always adding to their buildings or constructing new buildings in between existing buildings, who've ever been to Schengen An example of this is called a handshake building where buildings are so close together, that you can shake hands between them. The police officer continues. The whole reason for this platform is because right now quite young is developing so fast with so many migrants and 80% of gangs migrants live in urban villages and 70 to 80% of all gwilliam crime occurs in these urban villages. That's why we have this platform we have to register and track everyone, it's for public safety, he says, and the migrants he's talking about are the same people I have met throughout the countryside in my travels young men and women who have left their rural homes in search of economic opportunity as migrants they're called Leo don't call, or the floating population, a floating population in a floating world. So he clicks around the map some more. And you know when you click on a house the list of residents pops up in a small window. I asked him how everything's so precise, in the absence of a formal address, and how they get all the information about each of the residence. So of course, in my mind, I imagine some sophisticated computer vision tool that looks at the aerial image calculates the boundaries of a house and then assigns it a number. Imagine that the city has sensors and surveillance cameras to capture how many people leave the house. I also imagine that the surveillance cameras know the face and personal ID number of each resident tracked, all the way from their tiny rural village through the numerous cameras I see everywhere in train stations and vending machines or on the street. But instead, it turns out this system relies on automation, not on automation but actually on people. So, the police officer clicks around the map some more. And he says, every police station has numerous assistance that live in the urban village. They are our eyes and ears. They're embedded in the community and they're the ones who ground truth existence of every single house on this aerial image, giving each house a number. And they are the ones who help landlords register on the platform, people register through WeChat using a mini program WeChat is a widely used messenger mobile wallets city service access app used throughout China it's made by Tencent within the app. People can chat, their friends and family, but they can also access a section of many programs which are kind of like an app inside an app. So the police officer pulls up the WeChat app on his screen and taps into the mini program. After tapping one of the registration buttons, a form comes up.
And he says, registrations voluntary so there's no way logistically we can force landlords to register everyone. Plus, there's also the problem, he pauses and reaches for a thin stapled book that's underneath a mess of papers on his desk. On the cover are three passport photos, two men and a woman. He says, there's the big problem that some landlords are old illiterate, or both. They have no clue how to use WeChat to scan and register their tenants. So, the police assistance in the village just given them this kind of booklet to fill out, and we put all their information in manually. A few things are striking to me. First, there is a kind of all I have toward databases relational graph or otherwise, that human life the messy sprawl of the urban village is distilled down to a few columns and attributes here reminds me that those who design these databases hold power and how life is represented. For the police officer, the difficulties of creating data emphasize not only how important data is, but how it doesn't just appear out of thin air extracted by tech data needs to be collected chasetown massage tide, which means that the collection of data, and the design of a database are intentional. After all the dimensions of data that needs to be collected already in view of revision of the world as to how it should be turned granular like the translating of a human life into columns and rows, any image of an object is simply a representation of an object. No matter what you use to photograph an object, the image remains a grainy approximation. Second, on the point of data compatibility. The police officer asks me. Is it true that Americans each have a number that allows them to be tracked. But there's only one database that has that number, the social benefits number. It takes me a moment to realize he means social security numbers, and it's almost funny to me that he brings it up. After all, so many Americans I've talked to are obsessed with the Chinese social credit score and how it marks an authoritarian regime, on the other side of the Pacific. You have the social security number and credit score follow us, it dictates if we get loans, if we can access credit. And if we can get housing. And while we give our social security number out somewhat casually research has shown the way credit scores attached to our social security numbers, exacerbate deeply entrenched inequality in the US. But if the example of having to write down every household member's name and collecting photos onto a booklet of paper shows the police officer makes it clear to me that the very analog ways of collecting data have made it so that sinking data across different sources is extremely difficult. He tells me how the real population platform at first wouldn't even allow for someone to have multiple addresses, which was actually common for migrants moving back and forth from the city to the countryside, with multiple jobs. Adding to the confusion is the proliferation of many common names and data sounds so easy to the designers and builders of the system but to people who collect the data, and who interact with it every day. It's hard. It's a far cry from the imagined quality.
Third, I come to realize that while Chinese surveillance has been instrumentalized as a way to drum up nationalism, a global surveillance industry is far more accurate. When I talk to the makers of the real population platform, it's clear to me how the process of making software under capitalism is eerily alike, no matter where you live. Investors come in venture capitalists with outsized expectations of returns on investments, bring their expectations. During a visit to the face++ offices in Beijing, it repeatedly is made clear to me by those at the company that face++ just makes the algorithm, they have no control over how it's used, how it's used ranges from China's on ironically named Skynet surveillance system, which has outposts across rural autonomous regions to cosmetic filters inside photo touch up apps. Even being in the face++ offices reminded me of Silicon Valley, more than everyday China, with its quiet frictionless demeanor gray carpeting standing desks, for looking engineers. This is the reality of engineering work, most of the time you're helping build a small piece of an abstract system that it becomes difficult to understand how the product you're working on will end up being used, and that ambiguity, is where profit and problem resides. For all the attention the Great Firewall receives and blocking Twitter and YouTube Alibaba has Ali Yuen offers a way to bypass IV for fee. Other well known surveillance companies such as hc vision and sensetime have a slew of foreign investment. Since times investors include Qualcomm fidelity international Silver Lake partners, based in Menlo Park, California, and Japan's SoftBank vision fund SoftBank SoftBank vision fund has ties to Saudi wealth and spans the globe and its international influence investing in companies from Alibaba to we work and slack for crime prediction is better understood as crime production right scholar activists ruha Benjamin. There's crime is produced, surely we will buy ring security system private policing for neighborhoods, the desire to neatly define what criminality means, though I think by now a lot more of us in the US, understand criminality to be the construction of a racist capitalist system. There is another side to data illuminated once we understand constructions of fear and who profits from that fear in our day to day lives data cannot truly represent the full spectrum of life, remains a thin slice of the world. Yet we imagined numbers to mean something. And this creates a common tendency that the statistician Philip Stark calls quantification, the attempt to assign numbers or quantify phenomenon, as if quantitative data can offer certainty in an uncertain world, some strategies for quantification says Stark include saying things that people want to believe with data and adding opaque complexity to models, since complexity has become conflated with accuracy. The mixture of crime data with prediction is the realm of quantification. When they asked the police officer about predictive policing, he laughs at me and says he can't predict the future. But he does remain convinced that collecting data about past crimes in the urban village will highlight problem areas, helping focus and overloaded police force, paying extra attention to problem areas raises an observation bias in itself. The more patrols are assigned to a certain area, the more crimes are observed. And really the number of crimes don't mean much in themselves if you really think about it except as markers of how policing has replaced social welfare services, and the corporate style expectations of efficiency that are put on police officers, the predictive policing proposed by the real population platform reflects the circular logic that has become embedded across many cultures enabled by technological solution ism.
But mostly I don't want to live in a world where privacy is declared a human right for only a category of humans like me, and not for others. Oftentimes, I hear friends and others in San Francisco talk about privacy and the right to privacy. But this kind of indignation of surveillance capitalism comes from an idea about only a certain group of humans are entitled to privacy. Think about the discussions of Twitter and Facebook collecting our personal data. I'm not afraid of surveillance because I have nothing to hide. I'm not a criminal is something I do hear a lot, which exposes just has skewed our understanding of what being criminal means, and also speaks to a lot of things like this idea of a perfect victim of being innocent, and therefore not afraid of surveillance to be opposed to surveillance capitalism requires a demand for the right to privacy everywhere, and for everyone. And that dominant ideas of criminality are raced requires recognizing that human life cannot be so easily quantified or predicted requires an orientation towards stewarding life and its openness rather than a set of punitive possibilities. This ties in deeply to the work of transformative justice and prison abolition the realm of life. The intractability of life to be rendered captive to simple numbers lines on a record reaffirms the powerful act of living against the weight of data use towards predictive ends to shed the belief that data is predictive and powerful is to push away surveillance, as necessity.
And as cultural value
shedding our devotion to data gives a depth of meaning to presence carving out new paths and ways of living beyond categorical drop down menus checkboxes and forms. You don't have to be a binary. The data gathered on me is cheap and meaningless just as the data gathered on you is already meaningless after the moment has passed. My last 10 purchases on my credit card do not speak to the poetry of my mornings, the slant of Californian sun at 4pm. The moment between dreaming and waking and living a life with specificity and intention, the power of surveillance and data becomes deflated industrial quality of rendering people into categories vanishes, the call to an examined life begins. There is no intrinsic quality or value in the categorical, and there's nothing to be said about bare existence but gains power through classification. Something that has builders and makers of software systems. We must keep in mind. I think of this too, especially in the midst of the pandemic of historically digital surveillance became enshrined in our lives due to the manufacturers war on terror. What does the future hold for us as health data, and biometrics become collected by places like palantir for this new or on disease, and wouldn't a simpler less invasive solution, be to just have a robust public healthcare system, as we've seen in countries throughout the world who have been far more successful I containing COVID. In 1952, the psychiatrists and philosopher Franz Fanon advocated for living against the weight of history, he was writing during the beginning. He was writing during the beginnings of the Cold War with World War Two still a close memory, the reorganization of world powers started to shape fields of economic development and scientific management, as well as decolonization and post colonial movements. And that time of tumult questions of what it meant to live and what it meant to be human. Were at the forefront of many people's minds, like finance, as they work together to build new societies. Living against history can be applied to our understanding of data for non rights. I am not a prisoner of history, I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny. I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introducing invention into existence in the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.
Really wide ranging talk with amazing visuals as well we got a number of really great questions I have a ton of them I won't intervene unless there's time but let's just jump in. So one of the questions we got from the chat rooms, has to do with the Tao villages and and the person asks, Are they more like Co Op communities versus being company towns and I'll add one little thing. People who work on tau. Do they know each other and have they kind of formed social relations with each other as well and it's kind of a wrinkle on the question that was asked.
Yeah, that's a great question. Um, so the villages are really interesting because it, I guess, to some degree is more like a community, and happens very organically where one person. You know, they might have been working in a factory in the city, and then they have to come back to their hometown and they're bringing this knowledge of like how to make things or manufacture things. And so they it's like very self driven kind of initiative of selling things online Alibaba actually has, I guess, similar to a lot of gig work, they like to claim a lot of glory and a lot of credit for the economic development that they provide very little in terms of infrastructure. You know, it's the government that's putting in the broadband into those villages Alibaba doesn't provide anyone with computers or things like that they're making tons of money from these villagers paying for ads, doing all kinds of like financial banking on and financial. So yeah, it's definitely less of a company town situation, and a very family driven dynamic everyone's like somehow related to each other in some tangential way and always borrowing money from each other. Okay,
interesting. And so just to go on to a different topic. So when we were talking about the sort of surveillance platform. A question that came, is whether this is the same thing we hear referred to in the media as the social credit system, or is this different system, limited to law enforcement.
Yeah, so this is a different system, and the social credit system, there's actually an article that logic magazine published by Shizuka Ahmed, who is like a prominent researcher on social credit in China, and the social credit system as it stands right now. The most recent I've heard is kind of like, there's like the red list and then there's like the list of people who are in trouble because they're debtors. This system, the you know the real population platform is more part of this like law enforcement system to try and monitor people who might have a quote unquote criminal record.
Okay, so it's different, is there is there any sort of way in which they imagined it will interface at some point or are they really kind of parallel, but different tracks.
As far as I know they're parallel the different tracks as. From what I know of the like the different list system. It's more like kind of debtors. Like I think even the ex CEO of the bike sharing company, ofo he was on one of the lists because the company like defaulted and there was all this financial trouble, whereas this is really like we're trying to track people who are coming from rural areas. And to my cause trouble in the cities. Okay,
so kind of related to the policing question this is actually a question that I had, because I didn't know that there was police diplomacy, where there was these exchanges that were happening between the United States and China. And I guess there's two parts of the question, one of which is. Is it hard to coordinate the exchanges because of some of the tense relations between China and us that's like one question. And then the second question there. What are some of the things that have been exchanged between China and the United States in terms of policing tactics.
Yeah, so I would be surprised if right now there's much of the police exchanges happening. But definitely, I think, in that like era of, you know, Clinton as WTO China is going to get internet and become more like the West and free, there is like a surge of really optimistic exchange between the two countries. And so, in terms of what was exchanged. So, like the Chinese neighborhood committee reporting system is much more like maybe what you would imagine of like socialist countries like your neighbors tattling on you people are getting in trouble for like all these things and it's like a little bit gossipy and informal, where and, you know, it's very ranging from that to, you know, like people with a lot of power in government making these very centralized choices. And so I think there was really a push, you know, people seeing policing in the US and there's this veneer of like, oh, the police in the US have all these modern weapons they like, write down data, they have statistics. They know year by year like how many, how crime has decreased. And so those are really the techniques I have also read to accounts of people on these exchanges just being like, Oh wow, like, you know, everything so different in the US because Police also have guns and police in China don't have guns and like, how does this change the like dynamic when addressing a like call. So it's all the way from like the data collection to the kind of personal level interactions. All right. Interesting.
So another question
is What inspired you to visit these rural areas, and I would tack something on which is related to access, you know, was it hard to access the police force or some of these migrant neighborhoods. What were some of the challenges in accessing this sort of people and data that you got.
Yeah. Um, so the rural part is I think I've just generally interested in that rural, urban dynamic, but also I had been in Schengen visiting the Schengen Open Innovation Lab which is headed up by David Lee has a wealth of knowledge, and he was like yeah like big cities tech kind of all the same, but the countryside is where the really wild stuff is happening.
And, yeah, in terms of access. So there is a reason why I didn't actually show any photos that I took.
It's, I think especially in this time of tension.
It is there are
definitely times where I'm like I was like, Oh, I should not be here.
And I think that having the position that I have which is like this Berkeley affiliation, you know, it's like, oh, show is just a student, you know, I like present myself as like very mild mannered and just there to learn. People generally are pretty welcoming. I think that now would be a very different story and even towards the end of my research. You know there are parts where the police officer. He actually ended up giving her a ride to the train station in a cop car. And before I got out of the car he was like, Oh, can I just check your phone like just show me the photos that you took, so that I can make sure there's nothing national security related. So there is always this back and forth.
It's like I'll give you a ride but I need to check your phone at the end.
Non threatening threatening. Alright so
I'm going to ask a big question. This is very interesting question. So it's stayed in this way I'm sure you know of Mao's Cultural Revolution, do you think the migration towards high technology is essentially the opposite of the Cultural Revolution does this seem ironic to the kind of Chinese people you've worked with,
um, I think that it's. So I think one of the things about the Cultural Revolution was that it was really motivated towards increasing, you know the power of China, like as a country right and continues with Mao's vision of China as this like anti Western imperialism, like strong country. And I think that high tech and China is very much seen as like this is what we must do. It's a very nationalist cause. And it's also just like the attitude of people like oh for so long. People have left China to go to school throughout the West, and they didn't return and the West has been this really dominant figure in high tech. And now it's really China's time to also, you know, bring back some other resources for itself.
So another question very briefly because we don't have too much time we have to wrap up. But how do you see the rural versus urban dynamic changing over the next few years.
Yeah, I mean especially after COVID I think it'll be interesting. But there are a lot of researchers who are suggesting that people are going to move back in, back to the countryside and really just stay there instead of trying to seek out their fortune and cities.
Right. Well I think we have to start wrapping up, I know that other people have expressed interest in learning more about blockchain chicken farm and Other Stories of Czech and China's countryside I've said it a little bit more slowly. But I think what I will just leave with is that hopefully this talk, has given the audience a taste of what's forthcoming in the book and I suspect that there's a lot more. And people should definitely look out for it and October and in the meantime I just want to thank you so much for putting this together for hope and being with us here tonight. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you for emceeing.
My pleasure. Good night
We're not necessarily doctors but know how to talk someone through it. If you wanted to be involved with this you could get in touch with Plan C, and they would teach you, um, how medication abortion works how the dosing works and how to be
good source of information for people in your community and to dispel misinformation about medication.
Women on waves, is an organization that is dealing with the hostile abortion climate around the globe by getting abortion pills to people anywhere they are. They have done this in all kinds of ways either having boats in international waters where people could come out and therefore they would not be subject to any kind of laws. They had abortion drones that would fly overhead and drop medication down to people.
And one of my favorites.