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Episode 196
May 19, 2020

When we go back to work, tech will have a new job

Some of it will be watching us to keep everyone healthy. It might work. Or it might be public health "theater."

Ready or not, the country is starting to reopen.

Most states have already let some nonessential businesses reopen, which means some people are getting back to work. But how do we reopen this economy responsibly without a surge in coronavirus cases? That question goes straight to the quandary of security vs. privacy, this time in your workplace.

There’s a lot of new tech on the table: contact tracing apps, social distance monitoring, infrared cameras that take your temperature and more. But what’s effective and what’s “theater”? And what data will you have to give up to get back to work? Here to talk us through how American workplaces will change as the pandemic wanes is Chris Calabrese, the vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

He also reminds us that any new regime of office monitoring you might encounter is built on, well, an aging but well-established surveillance infrastructure you’ve probably already been working with.

By the way, our fundraising drive ends this week, and we have some cool virtual meeting backgrounds to use while you’re working from home. With a donation in any amount, you can conduct your meetings from Kai’s studio, the control room or our main conference room.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Donna Tam Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer