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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #15 - #ICT2018 delights

Aloha! It is again that time of the year when everything becomes a Freudian list backwards or forward
November 29 · Issue #15 · View online
futuribile / curating futures
It is again that time of the year when everything becomes a Freudian list backwards or forward. Here is Politico’s selection of 2018 artificial intelligence-related content. Here you have a list of women in AI to follow in 2019. But - if you survived the Black Friday/Cyber Monday not-so-unmissable discounts, I guess you will be dealing with the Christmas presents list. The Mozilla Foundation made *privacy not included, a guide into the privacy of the hottest hi-tech gadgets (some criteria: can it spy on me; what does it know about me; can I control it; what could happen if something went wrong). Readers can comment and rank how creepy these objects are. 💩
Marta Arniani
PS: Next week I am in Vienna for ICT2018. I want to believe I will be able to squeeze in a visit to the Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf exhibition + a sacher torte. If you are as optimistic as I am, let’s make well choreographed exit plans together in the director’s style.

Blockchain ta mère
When you think about it at its most basic technological level, a blockchain is just a fancy way of time-stamping things in a manner that you can prove to posterity hasn’t been tampered with after the fact. (…) the applications are all variations on a single theme: verifiable accounting. Hot.
A paper published on Nature quantifies energy and carbon costs for mining cryptocurrencies. Fun fact: under this lens, real mining (digging for gold in some remote places while dealing with local mafia) is actually three times less expensive than mining bitcoins.
But these damn blockchain, are they being used for something good? Yes (at least in the intentions): the ultimate archive of projects using blockchain to generate positive social impact.
10 years ago the Satoshi Nakamoto paper appeared. Wired says that it is good that the author disappeared: most of problems faced now by the bitcoin community were unanticipated. 🤷🏻‍♀️ The Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin also announced he is going to take less space:
Put simply, a truly decentralized system has no single component whose failure could bring down the whole system, and that’s arguably what Buterin’s historically outsize influence over decision-making represents.
Public space
Geospatial data are the backbone of many everyday services and functions, from map apps to preventing drones to fly over airports, as well as of innovations like autonomous cars. The Open Data Institute is taking position on the openness of such data, which despite their public vocation are increasingly in the hands of commercial organisations. If you are not convinced by the openness argument, take the economic one: the UK Government has estimated that maximising the value of such data could generate £6–11bn each year. Not bad. 
France is banning Google from public offices: from now on search will happen on Qwant. Digital sovereignty is safe! The fact that GAFA have a massive presence at the Station F gargantuesque incubator in Paris, or that Facebook is supplying 5M € in the ambitious AI national plan presented Yesterday is totally irrelevant. Ah, 100M € will be explicitly dedicated to cooperation with Germany, which also presented - very very late - an AI plan.
Reading club
Imagining is shaping reality. In issue #12 I presented some perspectives about afrofuturism, while in #14 you can find some analysis of feminist dystopia. All in all, there’s so much sci-fi narrative out there that does not look and feel like Blade Runner. Here you have a great guide to 9 sci-fi genres: in China, for instance, things are moving so fast that reality is often stranger than fiction (chaohuan, “ultra-unreal"), and the new sci-fi is the only way to criticise a government that focuses on censoring realist fiction. For a positive outlook check out Solarpunk, the opposite of cyberpunk’s nihilism, offering stories about “ingenuity, positive creation, independence, and community.” These narratives are often framed around infrastructure as both a form of resistance and as the foundations for a new way of life — the eponymous solar panels feature heavily.
Intersectional feminism isn’t just about women nor even just about gender. Feminism is about power – who has it and who doesn’t. And in a world in which data is power, and that power is wielded unequally, data feminism can help us understand how it can be challenged and changed.
The book Data Feminism will be published by MIT Press in 2019. As the transformation of human experience into data often entails a reduction in complexity and context, the authors made available online the full manuscript for people to comment and integrate. Deadline: January 7. 🤘
“A geneticist, an oncologist, a roboticist, a novelist and an A.I. researcher walk into a bar”: a conversation between 5 big thinkers on how tech will transform humanity.
Everything you know is wrong
“This era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences”. A reporter’s absorbing account of how the information age radicalised the world.
Thoughts on the value of images in shaping reality and their (presumed?) objectivity:
“From the very beginning photography was never objective. Whom you photograph, how you frame it—it’s all choices. So we’ve been fooling ourselves. Historically, it will turn out that there was this weird time when people just assumed that photography and videography were true. And now that very short little period is fading. Maybe it should’ve faded a long time ago.”
Speaking of visual evidences, the Earth is flat. YouTube said so. Reporting from a Flat Earthers conference.
At the hotel bar, a Flat Earther tells me about the supposed nonexistence of certain intercontinental flights, two of which I have personally taken within the past four years.
This is the real currency in the Flat Earth community. Between speeches, everyone is showing each other YouTube videos on their phones. People reference each other by their YouTube names, and twice when I leave my seat I return to find advertisements for YouTube channels on the chair.
Oh, dear!
Phil Libin
Watching Lars Ulrich on stage talking about how @Metallica uses @salesforce software for customer engagement and thinking that adult life hasn’t turned out exactly the way I thought it would. #Dreamforce2018
That’s all for this edition of your favourite dispatch on tech, culture and society. Support by sharing on social media and dinner tables with love.
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