Aug 222014
 

A thought-provoking look at the impact of massive automation on existing labor practices by C.G.P. Grey.

We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different. Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay. And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own. […]

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

Jul 112014
 

The outpouring of raw emotion associated with the World Cup is, I think, the only reminder we have left of how humanity used to be before modernity, and everything that came after it, firmly took over. The passion, the tears, the raw joy, the metaphysical redeeming qualities of a late goal or a penalty shootout victory – these are now sold as marketing ploys of the FIFA brand, but reflect, as if through a darkened glass, what were once the expressions of passion in daily life. If you have witnessed people crying during an Easter Mass, or grown men bursting into tears because of a song, you have experienced a glimmer of that very same now disappearing culture. Those considering themselves flaneurs, or at least romantic enough to earn for the lost passions of a bygone civilization, have only the World Cup as a poor simulacrum of what it felt like to live then and there, in the time before the Mega-Machine. Here, then, is the Argentinian World Cup anthem, wonderfully politically-incorrect, emotional, tribal, taunting of their neighbors, as sung in shopping malls, stadiums, and on Copa Capabana:

Brasil, Decime que se siente

Tener en casa a tu papa

Seguro que aunque pasen los anos

Nunca lo vamos a olvidar

Que el diego te gambeteo

El cani te vacuno

Estas llorando desde Italia hasta hoy

A Messi lo vas a ver

La Copa nos va a traer

Maradona es mas grande que Pele

May 282014
 

It is here. No human driver, no steering wheel, no controls, no brakes. They have clearly gone for the safest, most non-threatening design possible, and this is probably a good idea. There will be a chorus of ‘it looks so boring’ protests, but there will undoubtedly be a ‘sports’ version for that market. It still has issues with snow, traffic cops, and avoiding squirrels, but this is a quantum leap forward.

May 282014
 

Brilliant piece by Eben Moglen in today’s Guardian on Snowden, the state of online privacy, and the near future.

We must remember that privacy is about our social environment, not about isolated transactions we individually make with others. When we decide to give away our personal information, we are also undermining the privacy of other people. Privacy is therefore always a relation among many people, rather than a transaction between two.

Apr 022014
 
lucky_catfuck_t_1

‘Lucky Catfuck’, Combo Street Art, Hong Kong

Do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe.

Philip K. Dick

Mar 272014
 

A passage from Philip K. Dick’s “The Android and the Human”, written in 1972, in which he is prophesying the appearance of the hacker subculture. This was at a time before personal computers, when phone-phreaking was only getting started:

If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities. If the television screen is going to watch you, rewire it late at night when you’re permitted to turn it off…

Shiro Nishiguchi, magazine illus., 1983-84

Shiro Nishiguchi, magazine illus., 1983-84

Mar 272014
 

Pete-Something-or-Other

Someday a human being, named perhaps Fred White, may shoot a robot named Pete Something-or-Other, and to his surprise see it weep and bleed. And the dying robot may shoot back and, to its surprise, see a wisp of gray smoke arise from the electric pump that it supposed was Mr. White’s beating heart. It would be rather a great moment of truth for both of them.

Philip K. Dick, “The Android and the Human” (1972)