Signal in Bangalore

Signal in Bangalore

Signal Foundation's President - Meredith Whittaker - and the Signal team talks about AI, encryption and more.

About the public events

This public event is hosted in collaboration with the Signal Foundation, The Fifth Elephant and Bangalore International Centre (BIC). The event consists of a talk and a panel discussion.
This event is free to attend.

How do organizations like Signal sustain in an environment of mass surveillance - talk by Meredith Whittaker

The tech ecosystem, as it is today, is shaped by concentrated power. The natural monopolies of the telecommunications sectors were not, in fact, disrupted when networked computation was commercialized, and when the internet took shape in the late 1990s. Big Tech simply replicated this monopolistic form, acquiring data and infrastructural monopolies via the surveillance business model, which incentivized mass surveillance and profiling, and the growth-at-all-costs mindset that has got us where we are today.

This concentrated tech power resides in the hands of a handful of corporations, primarily Big Tech companies, which are based in the US and China. As they extend their reach and authority on the wings of the current AI hype, they are shaping an ecosystem that is increasingly hostile to new entrants and small players. Indeed, most startups or small tech endeavors must, in order to function, license infrastructures and use frameworks and libraries controlled and shaped by these large companies.

So, how can organizations like Signal confront and deal with mass surveillance of this industry, sustain and grow in this environment? Join the President of Signal Foundation and renowned AI scholar, Meredith Whittaker, along with members of the Signal team, to discuss the approaches that Signal has adopted in pushing back against the conjoined threats of mass surveillance and enhanced social control of the AI hype wave.

This talk will be followed by Q&A with Meredith Whittaker, Joshua Lund (Senior Director), moderated by Kiran Jonnalagadda, CEO at Hasgeek.

Panel discussion - AI: Beyond the hype cycle

In the aftermath of ChatGPT-fueled AI hype, there is an equally charged conversation on how the public and governments should respond to present (and future) harms related to these technologies. It is a crowded space, with AI industry voices and existential risk (x-risk) doomers trying to shape the narrative on regulation alongside civil society advocates and government agencies.

With many combined decades of experience critiquing and working within the tech industry, Meredith Whittaker, Amba Kak, Udbhav Tiwari, and Vidushi Marda will share their insights and perspectives on the current AI hype wave and the related policy landscape. The panel will particularly focus on the threats this poses to privacy, and the ways that the dominant narratives are getting AI wrong.

Vidushi Marda will moderate the panel discussion.

About the speakers

Meredith Whittaker is the President and a member of the Signal Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a scholar of AI and the tech industry responsible for it, and the co-founder and Chief Advisor to the AI Now Institute.

Amba Kak is a technology policy strategist and researcher with over a decade of experience working in multiple regions and roles across government, academia, tech industry, and the non profit sector. Amba is currently the Executive Director of the AI Now Institute, a New York based policy research center focused on artificial intelligence. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Signal Foundation; and on the Program Committee of the Board of Directors of the Mozilla Foundation.

Vidushi Marda is an independent lawyer working on technology regulation, asymmetric power relations and fundamental rights to advance social justice. She is the co-Executive Director of REAL ML, a non profit organization that translates algorithmic accountability research into impactful interventions that benefit the public interest.
Vidushi’s work has been cited by the Supreme Court of India in a historic ruling on the Right to Privacy, the United Kingdom House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, among others.

Kiran Jonnalagadda is a tech enthusiast and community builder, passionate about technology and its societal impact. He co-founded Hasgeek in 2010, where he has created a space for technologists to thrive, share knowledge, and network.
Kiran has been actively involved in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement, and with the movement for net neutrality in India.

Udbhav Tiwari is the Head of Global Product Policy at Mozilla, where he focuses on cybersecurity, AI, and connectivity. He was previously with the public policy team at Google, was a Non-Resident Scholar with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, India and was a program manager at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in India. He is also a former member of the Advisory Council at the Digital Equity Accelerator run by the Aspen Institute.

Key takeaways for participants

  1. For startups and small tech endeavors - how to navigate the tech ecosystem that Big Tech continues to shape and control.
  2. Awareness about the harms related to AI technologies, and how should the public and governments respond to them.
  3. Knowledge about the AI policy landscape, and how is it being shaped on a global scale.
  4. Awareness about the dominant narratives around AI hype, and what are they getting wrong.

Who should participate

  1. Public interest technologists
  2. Engineers and open source developers who care about privacy.
  3. Founding teams from start-ups and series A companies who have questions about business models.
  4. Technology leaders - to understand the current context of AI and privacy, and emerging trends.
  5. Policy professionals working on tech/AI policy.
  6. Human rights advocates interested in the intersection of technology and rights.

Contact information

Join the @fifthel Telegram group or follow @fifthel on Twitter. For inquiries, call Hasgeek at +91-7676332020.


See all
Panel discussion - AI: Beyond the hype cycle

Panel discussion - AI: Beyond the hype cycle

Meredith Whittaker (Signal), Amba Kak (AI Now Institute), Udbhav Tiwari (Mozilla); moderated by Vidushi Marda (REAL ML)

1 hour 3 October 2023
Talk - How do organizations like Signal sustain in an environment of mass surveillance.

Talk - How do organizations like Signal sustain in an environment of mass surveillance.

Meredith Whittaker, President of Signal Foundation; Joshua Lund (Senior Director); moderated by Kiran Jonnalagadda (Hasgeek)

1 hour 3 October 2023


Bangalore International Centre

7, 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur

Bengaluru - 560071

Karnataka, IN


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