I wrote this on December 24, 2014. The first winter spent in Romania in eighteen years.

CC BY-NC 2.0 HannahLou

And so it begins. The moment I arrive at the airport, I take a breath, walk past the sliding doors, roll a cigarette, light it, and call my grandparents. I hear instant anxiety on the other end regarding the logistics of taking a taxi, something potentially going wrong. They’ve seen it on the news…it could happen again! I reassured them I’d be careful. Thirty seconds later I get a phone call. “Did you get in the taxi yet? No. Don’t get in yet. We…

Regardless of its utility, responsible artificial intelligence (Responsible AI) is a term that is here to stay — a response to technology that’s driven by private sector interests, opaque to many of its users. Declarations, guidelines, and frameworks are being co-created, launched and promoted across academia, industry, governments, and civil society. Responsible AI can be interpreted as accountable and fair algorithms that reduce bias across a range of factors including gender, race, and sexual-orientation, and resonates with the “don’t be evil” mantra. ‘Being responsible’, in this case, could simply mean building better code.

Industry reasoning is often “we’re doing nothing…

Deleting Facebook isn’t new. But this is my story, from beginning to end.

CC BY-NC 2.0 rewfoe

My relationship with Facebook was never healthy. Since 2005 when I first signed up, I deleted my account twice. I deactivated it many more times. It was too distracting. That was always the problem: a lack of focus. I needed to study for exams, but instead ended up lurking over photos of strangers for hours. I caught myself in the middle of a clicking marathon and thought to myself: this feels wrong. I felt creepy and it felt like a waste of time. I couldn’t focus on…

CC BY-NC 2.0 DawnBringer

I am writing these words to talk about the death of estranged family members in an attempt to normalize it. Yet I don’t think ‘normal’ is the word I’m looking for. Maybe my experience with it. It’s still in progress.

My estranged grandfather has passed away this week, a few months after my estranged father. In over three decades, there were no family deaths. Now there are two. I guess the universe is being kind to me by starting with the estranged ones first. You may think this joke is in poor taste. Yet jokes are primarily what have kept…

Authors: Ana Brandusescu, Carlos Iglesias, Danny Lämmerhirt, Stefaan Verhulst (in alphabetical order)

The presence of open data often gets listed as an essential requirement toward “open governance”. For instance, an open data strategy is reviewed as a key component of many action plans submitted to the Open Government Partnership. Yet little time is spent on assessing how open data itself is governed, or how it embraces open governance. …

CC BY-NC 2.0 LaraMinerva

I still think about this post a lot, so I’m sharing it on here. Originally written for the Web Foundation.

This past January, I had the opportunity to attend the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels. Discussions at the conference covered a wide range of important digital issues — from cybersecurity and metadata protections, to e-privacy legislation and the impending enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Notably absent from these conversations, however, was a theme critical to each of these issues: gender.

Though the link between these topics and gender might not appear obvious at…

Tech discourses are different even though they may seem the same. I’ve experienced a strange shift between two countries and new tech. This is what my experience has been before mobile internet.

The first time I ever saw a computer, I was seven. It was 1993. I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Bucharest for the weekend. They were undergrads, majoring in computer science. I played Lemmings for hours. It was really fun. No one understood my fascination with it except for my aunt and uncle, of course. That was the extent of my computer interaction for years to…

Photo Credit: Dan Mihai Balanescu

The world has been watching the protests in Romania unfold on many digital mediums for the past couple of weeks. Citizens started protesting two Sundays ago, mainly in Bucharest. Ever since, the protests spread like wildfire throughout the country to 55 cities and counting.

#rezist, #vavedem, #anticorruption…are just three of the hashtags shared via social media. The protest signs are glorious. But this isn’t about the signs. It’s about what sparked the protests.

On the night of January 31st, the Romanian government passed a decree without input from its parliament to decriminalise official misconduct. The decree would decriminalise abuse of…

Ana Brandusescu

She/her. Researching the political economy of AI.

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