Newsletter No.35 — May 27, 2018

Sentiers No.35

Heads up: For a couple of reasons related to early writing methods, the first forty-five issues archived here are “pre last review” and haven’t been fully re-reviewed yet. Please forgive typos and miscellaneous mistakes if you see them! They are also less structured than more recent issues and thus haven’t been split into multiple notes. (Yet?)

Hello and sorry for the delayed arrival, quite a hectic week and the coming one will likely be the same so a shorter issue than the last few.

❤️ Barcelona is leading the fightback against smart city surveillance
I really want to see an update on this in a year (or even 6 months), because for now they are certainly saying all the right things and Project DECODE is fascinating.

Now, that data infrastructure is being repurposed. “We are reversing the smart city paradigm,” says Bria. “Instead of starting from technology and extracting all the data we can before thinking about how to use it, we started aligning the tech agenda with the agenda of the city.” […]
::We want to move from a model of surveillance capitalism, where data is opaque and not transparent, to a model where citizens themselves can own the data.::
It will effectively invert the current situation where people know little about the operators of the services they are registered with, while the services know everything about them. Instead, “citizens can decide what kind of data they want to keep private, what data they want to share, with whom, on what basis, and to do what,” says Bria. “This is a new social pact — a new deal on data.”
::The idea is that citizens could go out their way to collect useful data to improve public services — a very modern form of volunteering.::
“I think in the technological world it’s very important to put forward a narrative that’s different to the surveillance capitalism from Silicon Valley, and the dystopian Chinese model, with its Social Credit System that uses citizen data to give them a rating that then gives them access to certain services,” says Bria. “We want to lead Europe to put forward an alternative model.”

The great challenge of the 21st century is learning to consume less. This is how we can do it
A bit surprising that this is published on the World Economic Forum since it’s pretty much an indictment of… well, the people who do to Davos. Nevertheless, the diagnosis is correct imho.

If everybody in the world consumed as much as the average person in the average high-income country, we would need 3.8 Earths to sustain us. By contrast, if everyone consumed as much as the average person in the rest of the world, we would sit right at the level of sustainability, with a little breathing room.
If we want to know who is to blame for our ecological crisis, the data are clear. Since 1990, annual global consumption has increased by a whopping 33 billion tons, pushing us deep into the emergency zone. Growth in the per capita consumption of rich countries accounts for 81% of this. In other words, almost all of our overshoot is driven by the global rich.
::In this sense, Costa Rica is one of the most efficient economies on Earth: it delivers high levels of human well-being with relatively little ecological pressure.::

Yuval Noah Harari: Brexit will not halt drive to ‘human unification’

“We have a global ecology, a global economy and a global science – but we are still stuck with only national politics,” he adds. “To have effective politics we must either deglobalise the ecology, the economy or the march of science – or we must globalise our politics.”

++ Estonia To Become The World’s First Free Public Transport Nation
Tallinn public transport has already been free for five years, they are now looking to spread that to the whole country.

A good thing is, of course, that it mostly appeals to people with lower to medium incomes. But free public transport also stimulates the mobility of higher-income groups. They are simply going out more often for entertainment, to restaurants, bars and cinemas. Therefore they consume local goods and services and are likely to spend more money, more often. In the end this makes local businesses thrive. It breathes new life into the city.

++ China takes a critical first step toward landing on the far side of the Moon. The first part of the mission is installing a communication relay at the Earth-Moon Lagrange 2 point, the Queqiao spacecraft is on its way now.

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study
These numbers are absolutely bonkers.

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

++ Intelligence in Nature - A collection of videos. This represents hours of video so I haven’t gone through the whole thing, far from it, but lots of fascinating stuff. Via @samim