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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #17 - Perspectives

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Aloha, I haven't tried to MarieKonding this newsletter out of my life (it DOES spark a lot of joy, an
 
February 7 · Issue #17 · View online
futuribile / curating futures
Aloha,
I haven’t tried to MarieKonding this newsletter out of my life (it DOES spark a lot of joy, and I hope it’s the same for you), but these are busy times. Much of what I am doing at the moment revolves around finding prepositive narratives for the future: which is NOT futurology, but a more pragmatic assessment of which solutions are now at hand, and how we can leverage it to get to a more balanced relationship with tech. I will be sharing soon some of the things I am cooking up. One is that on the 26th Jennifer Veldman and I are doing a new Millennials workshop (read: Millennials only) in Barcelona at 4YFN. There will be a massive presence of NGI: we’ll be presenting the Awards winners and new funding opportunities🕺🏽.
Marta Arniani

Grasping the world
Problems and disciplines framing creates new meanings, which influence back our reality. I believe we are called to be wildly creative in the coming years in how we describe and act our presence in the world.
The Max Planck Institute proposes the establishment of ‘geo-anthropology’, the science of human–Earth interaction, as an interdisciplinary space to create a holistic approach to our presence on the planet:
“Information technology is the opposite of an immaterial technology. Even the smartest device needs dumb metals. At least 40 chemical elements are used in every smartphone, which means we carry around one-third of the periodic table in our pockets. (…) As meatspace and cyberspace converge today, what we cannot lose sight of is Earthspace. We are obliged to treat the ‘critical zone’, the thin but highly complex layer of life extending from the lower atmosphere to the upper lithosphere, with duty and care. Yet, as scientists and humanists working in silos, we lack a shared language and method to grasp the interconnected and comprehensive character of the current threat to our life-supporting system.”
Here a good point is made on questioning large goals, in favour of granular ones:
A series of new micro-massive data, sensing, processing and influencing capabilities is enabling state and non-state actors to transcend the tyranny of the statistically aggregated average, and instead focus on the micro, the unique and the predictive.
The authors call them “micro-massive futures”. Among their proposals, the shift of focus on more graspable levels of governance; the idea of a “new social ecological contract” (based on the combination of hybrid participation structures with system governance beyond human governance); building service provision disintermediated from state.
“Policy experts and technologists too often tacitly accept the concept of “data capitalism.” If this feels like a breath of fresh air, I recommend to read this proposal for a Bill of Data Rights:
They see data either as a source of capital (e.g., Facebook uses data about me to target ads) or as a product of labor (e.g., I should be paid for the data that is produced about me). It is neither of these things. Thinking of data as we think of a bicycle, oil, or money fails to capture how deeply relationships between citizens, the state, and the private sector have changed in the data era.
Finally, technology historian George Dyson explains in this essay why it is the end of the digital revolution childhood, when we thought we had a certain cognitive control over digital tools:
We assume that a search engine company builds a model of human knowledge and allows us to query that model (…) Their models are no longer models. The search engine is no longer a model of human knowledge, it is human knowledge. What began as a mapping of human meaning now defines human meaning, and has begun to control, rather than simply catalog or index, human thought. No one is at the controls. If enough drivers subscribe to a real-time map, traffic is controlled, with no central model except the traffic itself. The successful social network is no longer a model of the social graph, it is the social graph. This is why it is a winner-take-all game. Governments, with an allegiance to antiquated models and control systems, are being left behind.
Blockchain ta mère
The founder of the cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX died. With him, the only passwords to the platform crypto vaults. 134 M$ got lost, as 115000 investors are left without access to their crypto wealth. 🙅🏽#passwordparanoia
+/- People
“Cyborg companions evolved into teachers, friends, and, eventually, lovers”: a ride into a plausible history of sex with robots 2018-2073 (spoiler: happy ending) (yes, really!). Phases include a full emancipation of women and equal pay; an army of underpaid virtual sex workers (“the famous Mechanical Sex Turks”); cyborg sex therapy with experimental story lines where you can be Monica under the desk blowing Bill and viceversa.
Transgenic children who can “grow muscle without weightlifting,” who possess genes from long-lived “supercentenarians,” or who are endowed with the AB+ blood type, meaning they could receive a transfusion from anyone: excerpts of a business proposal likely to be reality soon.
Remember Sophia the robot? Now she has a little sister, conceived to introduce kids aged 7-13 to STEM topics, AI and coding. There are some things I find disturbing, and it’s not the idea of an educational robot companion, but:
1) The target users are “kids 7-13 years old, especially girls”: why boys shouldn’t like it? So interesting to see that even if marketed as much more than a doll, still that’s the category where it fits for its own creators. Who are sexist because the best idea they could come up to bridge the gender gap in STEM was a girlish (accordingly to them) doll. 🤦🏽‍♀️
2) It has a wide range of humanised features, like face expressions and face recognition, but it does not even deserve a proper name. Victim of the success of its sister.
3) Despite its supposedly young age, it has make up, because “real women” have make-up and that’s an important educational value.
4) “AI function that allows user to take perfect selfies”. Thanks, that’s really what we needed for kids.
Little Sophia amazing powers
Little Sophia amazing powers
My generation AI companion
My generation AI companion
Shots
Guide to the future of work :“we should be contemplating and preparing for multiple eventualities. The humility this requires may not come easily to those used to making confident predictions, but it is the only sensible way of readying ourselves for the future.”
War is intertwined with society. Even data science says so.
How Finnish people are being trained in AI, 1% of the population at a time.
An account of 10 years of Know your meme: “There’s no such thing as a “viral video.” Videos are videos; it’s networks that are viral. The assumption that something that’s popular is good, and that something with a lot of views is valuable, has been programmed into us by 100 years of mass media”
For French speakers: Imago, the engaged version of Netflix.
A Twitter thread about dramatic reconceptions of what an interface could be.
What do the digital emissions from a smart home reveal about the inhabitants? Results from an experiment of devices surveillance.
Oh, dear!
"I Pretended to Be a Young Joseph Stalin On Tinder, and It Went Weirdly Well"
"I Pretended to Be a Young Joseph Stalin On Tinder, and It Went Weirdly Well"
That’s all! Share with love, send feedback and readings recommendations!
Aloha,
Marta
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