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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #19 / The other way around

futuribile / curating futures
futuribile / curating futures - Issue #19 / The other way around
By Marta Arniani • Issue #19 • View online
In the past few days Silicon Valley has made a big leap forward in colonising the “social tech” debate. In his run towards moral salvation, Mark Zuckerberg has started a podcast called Tech & Society with Mark Zuckerberg, streaming conversations with other eminent society savers (e.g. the CEO of Axel Springer). Time Well Spent, rebranded as the Centre for Humane Technology, hosted an event in grand style (video here) to explain to the world that technology companies are causing human downgrading “by promoting shortened attention spans, outrage-fueled dialogue, smartphone addiction, vanity, …”, and that we need a new agenda for tech. Wired covered the behind-the-scenes of the concept, a long process by founder Tristan Harris towards the perfect pitch. Despite the breadth of tech and design expertise (and funding!) collected in the Centre, there is no proposition behind the concept. And reactions of attendees were not enthusiast.
Silicon Valley is seeing this just as moral-washing opportunity. Or as fashionable, given that being “contrarian” is now a status symbol:
What’s truly fashionable in Silicon Valley today isn’t having contrarian ideas; it’s to be contrarian as an identity. It’s pretty revealing that the phrase we use is “to be contrarian”, rather than “to think contrarily”. That says it all, really. “Being contrarian” in tech isn’t a thought process; it’s a performance.
So congrats, for this issue you just won a set of encouraging and opinion-challenging links.
Marta Arniani

The other way around
A recent paper about cognition constraints in digital and physical spaces shows that it is not so straightforward to accuse technology of downgrading our nature. Researchers found that individuals exhibit a conserved capacity that limits the number of applications they regularly use, a capacity that decreases steadily with age, as does the capacity in the physical space, but with more complex dynamics. Interestingly, they show that the capacity of applications predicts mobility capacity, and vice-versa.
A piece explaining the Chinese social credit system by avoiding the simplifications of the Western press. And since we are in China, a dive into the thought of philosopher Yuk Hui, who argues for the urgency of imagining a specifically Chinese philosophy of technology. He coined the concept “cosmotechnics”, exploring how humans can recover technology’s meaning and potential within a bio-technical environment that is global in scale, yet fragmented in its cultural contents and representations.
This post argues that for a new wave of apps conceived in China artificial intelligence IS the product and not a tool:
So what happens when AI research comes to life in a mass-market consumer app? In this post, we’ll examine three examples of consumer apps, originally from China (though TikTok is already used beyond China) that are really drawing on AI to reshape product, provide trust in anonymity (yes!), and unlock massive cost savings and accessibility.
Here you have an interesting account of 5G functioning, and a discussion of power mechanisms there, presenting chips manufacturers as the agenda setters. The bottom-line is that with this new level of hyperconnectivity, bringing more and more objects in,
The troubling part of what is coming is that engaging with network technologies has always been more or less optional and it feels like the option to not connect is being foreclosed.
Underground bedroom pop
With virtually no media profile, no radio play, interviews and record deals a new generation of teenage (mostly female) artists is creating a well populated niche, playing music from their bedroom:
“The music they’re making is very much online, and there’s a feeling that if you put too much of yourself out there on the internet it can be quite dangerous. (…) Feels like a manifestation of a generation gap: big with teenagers – particularly girls – and invisible to anyone over the age of 20, because it exists largely in an online world that tweens and teens find easy to navigate, but anyone older finds baffling or risible.”
Maybe we can stop bashing "young people on social media”. The worst use of social media and online visibility is done by elderly (over 65 share the most fake news) and parents of celebrity kids (what is the line between play and work for kids making their parents rich?).
Clairo, "Pretty Girl"
Clairo, "Pretty Girl"
Blockchain ta mère
At the International Journalism Festival in Perugia I have assisted to a quite misinformed session about blockchain for journalism. The only speaker who conducted a study on the topic was kept in the background, while speakers from Civil (the blockchain-backed journalism platform, see issue #12 and #14) were selling the dream. I wrote something about the main misconceptions I have heard.
Needless to say, announcing the creation of a “blockchain city” backed by the Chinese government in Malaysia created a lot of buzz. The city’s entire infrastructure will utilize blockchain technology and be built on a so-called “DMI platform”:
This platform will also serve as the foundation for a native DMI token, which will purportedly be used as the city’s own currency. Residents will supposedly be able to use the token to pay for government-based services within the city. Moreover, the city will also feature an exchange, using which tourists are said to be able to exchange fiat currencies for the DMI token.
The Los Angeles Reina seems like a more sustainable and community-friendly approach:
By collectively owning physical property, city based laborers can accumulate wealth by exchanging rent’s for a local asset backed currency like the Los Angeles Reina. The profits generated from the buildings are distributed back into the network for growth and upkeep, and then out to the renters. By receiving a set amount of Reinas for your rent, you buy into the economic zone and Receive capital and shelter for your rent. Instead of purchasing shelter-as-a-service.
Fairbnb is crowdfunding! On to collect funds that will allow them to launch as fast as possible in many other locations worldwide. On to support the activity of their budding Local Nodes in Spain. Basically, it works like Airbnb, but it gives back 50% of its revenues to support local community projects of your choice such as social housing for residents, community gardens and more. 💪🏻💪🏻
What if we decided to use everything we know about game design to fix what’s wrong with reality?
Ethical is building a collaborative directory of all kinds of ethical brands (and alternatives to consumption).
Amazon utilises face recognition to avoid employees in delivery services to pass their work to somebody else. #whatelse 😩
Sidewalk Labs rolls out new symbols intended to make data collection in public more transparent, reducing consensus to a stickers-design problem. 🙄
A well-executed prank: a teen vlogger faked going to Coachella for an entire week, showing how easy it is to build a wonderful life on social media 🤳
Must read
sofía celi
My boyfriend and great developer, Ola Bini, first letter from detention. He says:
"Many years ago, a friend told me (and he has said this many times to many people): What is the most important thing you could do? Are you doing that? If not, why not?"

Troll like a boss
That’s all, thanks for reading. Share with love and enjoy the 1st of May!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Marta Arniani

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