The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.
From 1967 onwards, the evolution of “How to Spend it”
(the Financial Times shopping reference for the ultrarich 1%) tells a lot about global economy, society and taste:
Yet while it reinforces the rich’s sense of entitlement – their sense that the world is their playground – How to Spend It also serves to remind them that they frequently lack taste. With striking bluntness, the magazine’s name says as much. “Compared with the truly fashionable, who are often less well-off, and have acquired their edge by having to choose between products,” says a prominent British writer on class and style, “seriously rich people are often ever so slightly behind the beat.” In an age of mass luxury – of mobbed designer concessions in department stores, of designer shops proliferating in seemingly every major city – how can the rich stand out? (…) in The Sum of Small Things, a rare clear-eyed book about the rich, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues, that in recent years the rich have begun to “spend significantly less on conspicuous consumption and more on inconspicuous consumption”, such as “education, healthcare, pensions, and personal insurance”. They are buying the security and long-term elite status that are more valuable, in perilous times, than escape or pleasure.
The European tech sectors that received the most funding
in 2018 so far.
While the first wave of travelers will be focused on securing the most basic conditions for sustenance — air, water, food, shelter — the next wave will utilize expertise and ingenuity to enhance those conditions. These engineers, scientists, doctors, and technologists will attempt to go from making sure Mars is survivable to making sure it’s livable, a subtle though real distinction. But as the colonial population increases, the colony will presumably start to resemble our planet’s major cities. While colonizers won’t expect the types of amenities of a New York or a Tokyo, they will begin to expect more services than an Antarctic outpost. Soon, mandatory personnel will give way to — in likely succession — wealthy tourists, entrepreneurs, economic migrants, opportunists, and…criminals.
Musk is one of the likeliest candidates to propel the human race into Mars, yet this does not mean he is the right person to map out our future there. The organizational and structural aspects of colonizing Mars—as opposed to its scientific and engineering challenges—require serious reflection, not armchair theorizing.
If you believe Mars colonisation is a too far and speculative topic, then get this down-to-earth one: Who owns the space under cities?
Don’t think just in terms of classic drainage systems. Most of our connectivity is ensured by an underground constellation of cables. In the London metropolitan area only, £5.5bn is spent every year on exploratory excavation just to figure out what’s underground, and according to a 2013 Mayor of London report, £150m of damage is done every year to underground utilities because of a lack of information.
Coral reefs are successful ecosystems where symbiosis, opportunism, and complex interdependence create a harmonic foundation for the evolution and diversity of life. Corals have survived multiple global extinctions over millions of years, and yet man has only been building cities for several thousand, the lifespan of a typical reef. The Animal Collective has just finished Tangerine Reef
, a full-lenght audiovisual album in collaboration with Coral Morphologic to commemorate the 2018 International Year of the Reef
. No special effects were used in the video, it’s all natural flourescent coral and alien-like reef creatures. The full-length film will be released on August 17th at the band’s website myanimalhome.net
. Needless to say, all this beauty is at risk. Check the latest WWF’s report on plastic in the Mediterranean and let’s make it a ‘no straw in my cocktail, please’
How a Facebook group for sexual assault survivors became a tool for harassment
(and all the things that can possibly go wrong in FB groups setups). This one was created by a page, which makes it hard to pin down the real people responsible. At the same time, the fact that users are navigating the space with their real identity - and real traumatic stories in this case - made really easy the harassment part. Group content is given more prominence by Facebook as part of an effort to foster more “meaningful” connection on the platform. But ultimately, how do you administrate meaningfulness?
AI prompts us to re-evaluate ‘big’ questions relating to power, democracy and inequality (e.g. impending work automation through AI prompts a new basic income debate) and to what it means to be human. The biggest thing AI can do for humanity is forcing us to keep asking these questions: we must co-opt the AI discourse to keep addressing urgent social problems, rather than the other way around.