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?)
It’s starting to feel like some recurring categories and groupings are settling down while keeping things flexible with numerous one offs.
OH this week: “I’m in my filter bubble and I’m enjoying it.”
Why is anyone listening to Tim O’Reilly?
It wasn’t as thorough an evisceration as many tweets led me to believe but still, an excellent dismantling of O’Reilly’s recent book. I think he’s a super smart guy with massive blind spots, who would greatly gain from spending some time out of the Valley, listening to other angles, other thinkers, instead of believing his buddies have all the answers. Maybe a semester with Sauter (author of the article) or a few weeks with a bunch of people from this week’s Impakt Festival. Related: The Rise of the Thought Leader.
Both companies [Uber and Nestle] flout regulations and norms intended to prevent labor abuses, market monopolization, or environmental and human devastation, often suffering few negative consequences; both rely on business models that rely on replacing or undermining public goods and infrastructures with private, for-profit alternatives.
In our focus on the digital, have we lost our sense of what being human means?
Genevieve Bell, former resident anthropologist at Intel, is back in Australia as director of the Autonomy, Agency & Assurance (3A) Innovation Institute at the Australian National University. Here she writes about the “ethics, morality and underlying cultural philosophy of [these] new digital technologies.“
We should be educated stakeholders in our own future; and this requires work and willingness to get past the easy seduction of killer robots. So the next time you hear a story about those killer robots, ask yourself: what is the history of this technology? What are its vested interests? Who are its beneficiaries? And most importantly, what is the broader context into which it fits?
Remote control farming is coming to a prairie near you. Self-driving tractors are already here, as are drones for agriculture. Whether it’s because of its environmental impact, industrial animal production or these kinds of automations, farming is a field to keep an eye on.
Delphi buys Nutonomy for $400 million to scale and deliver autonomous vehicles. I saw a talk by Dr. Karl Iagnemma this year, came away very impressed by his thinking. Public transport is still where it should be at but at least this kind of fleet vision makes sense vs other self-driving views à la Tesla.
Back In Time
It’s like I’m back in high school or something, there’s The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons & Dragons while LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says board games inspired his business strategy and the second season of the ultimate nerdy/geeky/80s remix, Stranger Things, just hit the streams.
Now that being American often means being alone or interacting distantly—fidgeting with Instagram in a crosswalk, or lying prone beneath the heat of a laptop with Netflix streaming over you—three or four people gathering in the flesh to look each other in the eye and sketch out a world without pixels can feel slightly rebellious, or at least pleasantly out of place.
Barcelona: smart city revolution in progress
The citizen centric Barcelona mayor’s office is rethinking it’s smart city plans in a much better direction;
Francesca Bria, Barcelona’s chief technology officer and digital commissioner, says her brief is “to rethink the smart city from the ground up, meaning to rethink technology, [focusing] on what it can do to serve the people, instead of a technology push agenda.”
Google wants to run cities without being elected. Don’t let it
Toronto on the other hand, is going in the California Ideologied direction.
Why settle for tax breaks or coding camps when you can lay claim to an entire neighborhood? The city itself is turned into just another platform on which Silicon Valley can build and test new technologies – while also extracting more value and expanding its influence.
World Affairs 🇨🇳 🇸🇦
Billions and billions and billions and billions of 💵 are being invested by China and Chinese companies in various infrastructure projects around the world. East-asia, multiple “stans,” throughout Africa, bullet trains and maritime routes everywhere, etc. Are they Building the Biggest Commercial-Military Empire in History?
This is happening across the country: Entire industrial regions of China are being temporarily shut down, and the unusual sight of blue skies is reappearing as environmental inspectors go about their work. After decades of doing little about the pollution that has plagued much of the country, China's government may be finally getting serious about enforcing its environmental laws.
I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince
Not something I thought I’d ever read. We’ll see.
We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. 70% of the Saudis are younger than 30, honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.
“The main differentiator here is that while Mirai was only exploiting devices with default credentials, this new botnet is exploiting numerous vulnerabilities in different IoT devices. The potential here is even bigger than what Mirai had,”
Last week we had giant billboards at Piccadilly circus, now Kiosks are Looking at You, Too “and providing retailers, restaurants and other businesses with new functions, such as sizing up potential customers.”
It seems indisputable: it is us. It is human activity – more specifically, three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted.
These Endangered Wildlife Photos Are Artistic Masterpieces. Truly beautiful but also horrible in what it represents.
The Last Thing Australia and Our Planet Need. Coal! Effing coal!!
I usually mean a broad view of the environment when I say “milieu” but I had to place this somewhere: A chameleon material: the best modern brick buildings.
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Each issue of the weekly features a selection of articles with thoughtful commentary on technology, society, culture, and potential futures.