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OCS 2020 Breakout: Katherine Johnson

jj profile image JJ ・3 min read

Katherine Johnson is Chief People & Legal Officer at Storj Labs, which is tackling data privacy and security with decentralized data storage powered by the STORJ digital token. Katherine also heads Compliance, and is responsible for overseeing corporate and token governance. Katherine’s work in blockchain and cryptocurrency started at Coinbase, during its hyper-growth period, where she led compliance management and regulation. Katherine’s prior work also includes bank regulatory compliance at Ernst and Young, employment law and compliance at Credit Suisse, anti-money laundering and financial crimes compliance at BNY Mellon, and advising clients on corporate, regulatory, and litigation matters at Fried Frank and other international law firms. She previously clerked in the SDNY and served on the New York City Bar professional responsibility committee. Her work emphasizes diversity, inclusion, equity, and ethics.

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In this session we explore how ethical and open source principles can reverse a dangerous course.

Introduction and a quick overview of the talk - 0:00

My background (Katherine shares her path and her upbringing. How it shaped her worldview and her life.) -1:10

About Storj Labs (Katherine talks about how she ended up at Storj Labs. Storj’s principles and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Hiring practices at Storj Labs. ) - 4:08

Open source principles (How open source ideals and DEI principles feed off each other.) - 06:25

Ethics (Katherine talks about three main schools of ethics: virtue ethics, consequential ethics and duty based ethics. Current ethical problems in tech: data mining, manipulative UX, biased software.) - 7:27

On privacy - consumers (Katherine explains how consumers can chip away at unethical practices. Alternatives to Big Tech. Katherine shares a personal story about her daughter and talks about how millennials see ethical problems in tech.) - 9:55

On privacy - businesses (Katherine delves into how privacy and decentralization are competitive advantages to companies. (Lack of) regulation on state, federal and international level. How businesses can build trust with ethical practices and clear policies.) - 13:43

On privacy, race and privilege (Can we opt out of surveillance? Why are race and privilege important for this question.) - 16:08

Disparity in wealth (Katherine discusses some statistics on wealth inequality, race and gender). - 18:50

Who is in tech right now? (Katherine presents some tech workforce statistics. What do you get by having a diverse business? What problems can you avoid by working on diversity? Katherine discusses the Timnit Gebru story and the paper that got her forced out of Google.) - 22:50

How can we do better on privacy? (Katherine shares advice on how a business can do better on privacy: adopting ACM’s Code of Ethics, ensuring diversity across product teams, ensuring multiple ways for registering complaints, connecting with industry groups that work on these issues.) - 27:08

How can we do better on DEI? (Katherine shares advice on how a business can do better on DEI: publish your numbers (even if they are not ideal!), audit yourself, Rooney Rule, Parity Pledge. - 28:00

Storj Labs’ results on privacy/DEI. Summary. - 29:54


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