This is a two-part project. This part is about reality. The other part is science fiction. Both are about mobile, blockchain, and cryptographically secure voting systems in the context of US elections. (Science Fiction: link)

With anticipation for the US 2020 presidential election following concerns over foreign intervention in the 2016 presidential contest, there is an important focus on securing our voting systems while increasing voter participation. Fortunately, cryptographers and technology experts have developed a variety of methods to make voting systems secure, transparent, and openly auditable. This piece will describe them. Unfortunately, instead of implementing these methods, presidential candidates¹…


The following is a thought piece modeled after a scientific publication from the year 2030. The technologies described here are extrapolations of existing methods based upon current sociotechnical trends, specifically those that may reshape the balance between rural, urban, and nomadic populations. Both real and fictional sources are cited throughout the piece.

Authors: Alex Berke, Nicolas Lee, Patrick Chwalek , Jake Read

Abstract

The past years of climate crises and health epidemics have led to the proliferation of nomadic communities and a near reliance on e-commerce and personal deliveries. This has resulted in growing privacy concerns surrounding the personal data…


By Alex Berke & Kent Larson

This post was an early draft of our white paper, now available via the MIT Media Lab. Read here.

Many organizations are working on technology for contact tracing, and the landscape is changing rapidly. This is an overview of existing contact tracing technologies, along with different methods and trade-offs to consider when building new ones.

Governments around the world are considering the deployment of contact tracing technologies to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its economic impacts.

Combined with increased testing, effective contact tracing offers the opportunity to improve policy decisions by…


These stories are from a two-part project. While this part is science fiction, the other part is about reality. Both parts are about mobile, blockchain, and cryptographically secure voting in the context of the US election system. (Reality Piece: link)

These stories consider two potential futures for US democracy, branching from our present. One is dystopian, the other utopian.

Mobile Voting, Lost Choices, and Plutocracy

From Crypto Voting + US Elections: Short Stories From Potential Futures (Dystopia)

The year is 2040 and today is election day. Alice is on her way to where she will vote, but it’s not the polls. The polls are open, but…


There are numerous cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, and a variety of markets on which they are exchanged. Arbitrage opportunities arise among these various markets, and a corner of the Internet is financially capitalizing on these opportunities by programming algorithms that automatically execute trades.

MIT students recently had the opportunity to peer into this profitable world of crypto trading, and compete in our own small version of it.

The month long crypto trading workshop at MIT was sponsored by MIT’s Bitcoin club and Celo.

MIT, where I am currently a graduate student, has a January term during which classes are offered that may not fit in to more traditional curriculums. One of those classes was a crypto…


This post was contributed to the MIT Media Lab’s website as research: https://www.media.mit.edu/posts/future-forward-proposal-for-a-system-of-streets-and-autonomous-vehicles/

Screenshot from a simulation where AVs are programmed to operate as shared transit, as well as always yield to bikers and pedestrians. See project and team credits: https://github.com/aberke/moral-machine-simulation

ABSTRACT

The impending introduction of autonomous vehicles (AVs) has posed regulatory and ethical questions regarding how they should operate. Much of the previous literature on this subject has explored these questions with an underlying model of streets based on the present.

This project takes a different approach by putting forward a future vision for streets where privately owned and operated vehicles are no longer dominant and shared transit is more pervasive. In doing so, this work expands the current discussions around individual AVs to the system of…


Everything is disorganized.

The election campaign that I worked on has concluded, and it consumed me. It consumed every day of my week with working hours, but I also let it have my heart; the outcome was too personal to keep it away.

I let my work seep into every hour that I had previously kept sacred as mine. When I walked home from the office, or did chores around my apartment, I listened to the political news that I had missed while working. When I slept, I was visited by my projects and colleagues in my sleep. …


A habit that I did not fail throughout my time in Southeast Asia, is running every morning. Always the same distance, only less if my stomach pain was too sharp from what I had eaten the night before. The most difficult mornings were the ones that were in the dark, before the sun rose, where I ran early in order to shower before boarding long distance buses that departed at sunrise. The barking dogs were more frightening when they were barking in the dark, and the few early commuters that passed by, carrying their breakfasts, were more suspicious.

Landscape I ran by in Phong Nha, Vietnam

This habit…


Waterfall in Phong Nha

Last night: I was speaking to the owner of the homestay I was in about dinner. A BOOM went off in the surrounding mountains.

What was that? I asked.

A bomb. He replied so casually that I could tell this was a common occurrence and then he picked up where he had left off in our conversation about dinner.

The homestay is situated in Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park, which has the world’s highest concentration of unexploded ordnance. I asked if the explosion was from one of these bombs, left over from war. …


I’m commonly mistaken as a man in Cambodia. Tuk-tuk drivers that want me as their next fare amend their sentences as they call out to me “sir! Lady lady”. Women I’ve encountered in restrooms have let out gasps upon seeing me. Since I have had short hair for more than a year now, this does not feel foreign, but I think my hair in a country where all females seem to keep theirs long, paired with the loose casual clothes I wear here has increased the frequency of this mistake. This is not a complaint. Fewer vendors hassle me to buy their silk scarves, people pay less attention when I wander off the paths well beaten by other tourists or ride bikes alone at night, and I feel safer under this assumed guise of masculinity.

Alex Berke

Computer Science & Systems, Art & Adventure | aberke.com

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