Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 3 to 10 minutes, 3 = more than 10 minutes
- 4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump (medium.com, 3)
When I saw the headline and the name “Trump”, I expected yet another interchangeable think-piece with little substance. But boy how I was wrong. This is a griping and well-informed feature detailing the significance of the legendary online messaging board 4chan for the emergence of a lot of contemporary cultural and political patterns and trends. While reading I realized how little I knew about 4chan. The author does a great job explaining how the community – which based on its own self-image has been made up of mostly young males living in their parent’s basements – is connected to cult memes, Anonymous, Gamergate, Pepe the frog, outdated left vs right politics, and the cultural war that eventually brought Trump into power. The text is extremely well-written and – according to a friend of mine – even offers new insights to people who already possess a fair share of knowledge about 4chan.
- Zoltan Istvan on transhumanism, politics and why the human body has to go (newatlas.com, 3)
Zoltan Istvan is an American transhumanist who intends to run for Governor of California in 2018 as Libertarian. In this interview, he talks about what he calls the “universal right to indefinite lifespans”, explains why he thinks that moving beyond the human body is better than trying to fix it, and drops a couple of other catchy lines that some people certainly will find crazy. But so would have been the thought of being able to do a wireless video call from one side of the planet to the other 100 years ago. So while Istvan clearly represents a form of fundamentalist ideology, there is no reason to at least entertain the ideas proposed by him and a few like-minded individuals. Which is something Yuval Harari has done – more about that further down below in the “Podcast episode of the week” section.
- How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life (time.com, 2)
So what are people associated with the Silicon Valley-centric transhumanist mindset doing in order to extend their life? Here is a list of undertakings.
- Norway is reaching tipping point for electric vehicles as market share reaches record breaking 37% (electrek.co, 1)
Incredible, particularly the fact that this is happening in oil-rich Norway.
- In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant (theguardian.com, 2)
Valid point, I guess. Adjusting to the age of automation means equipping today’s children with the skills that robots wont be able to compete on.
- Interactive competence (medium.com, 1)
One skill to learn, not only for children: interactive competence: The ability to connect with information and people, as and when needed.
- George Orwell and Useless Work (shift.newco.co, 2)
How does a person live day to day in poverty, being exclusively concerned with survival? George Orwell, widely known for his dystopian novel 1984, personally experienced such a state of existence, and wrote about it 80 years ago.
- The race for autonomous cars is over. Silicon Valley lost (autoblog.com, 1)
The verdict in this post might be premature, but for the moment it indeed looks as if the tech giants have realized that building and selling complete cars should better be left to other players, who know how to do it.
- The Myth of the Entrepreneur (thinkgrowth.org, 2)
Entrepreneurship is often glorified as the pinnacle and main driver of innovation. What these stories routinely ignore is the crucial role government funding for academic research plays in order to get to those entrepreneurial breakthroughs that captivate everyone’s attention.
- Social Media Needs A Travel Mode (idlewords.com, 2)
This is an intriguing idea: During travel, most people leave important stuff at home, or in a safe place. But with data stored on social media services, it’s all or nothing (unless you use a dedicated “travel smartphone”) – which can become a problem if you have to deal with overly invasive immigration officers.
- Accuracy on the Internet: The Price of Freedom is Personal Responsibility (seapointcenter.com, 1)
I’m linking to this short piece mostly because of the statement from the headline. It seems as if while many people have been embracing the freedom brought by the Internet, they have not understood the personal responsibility that comes with it.
- Trump is causing a political app boom, data shows (techcrunch.com, 1)
No surprise here. The demand for coverage of politics and Trumpism seems insatiable.
- UberEVENTS is anything but über (hackernoon.com, 2)
In the U.S., Uber offers less known service called “UberEVENTS”, which allows event organizers to provide rides for attendees free of charge. These rides are instead billed to the organizer. The author describes his rather frustrating experience using the service.
- Apple Doesn’t Need to Buy Netflix (aboveavalon.com, 2)
Why Apple would or wouldn’t have to buy Netflix, based on the performance of Apple Music.
- The Robot Tax And Basic Income (avc.com, 1)
Bill Gates is a proponent of a robot tax. Not everyone else agrees. But the topic will for sure be subject to intensifying debates.
- Rule by Nobody (reallifemag.com, 3)
A critical analogy of bureaucracies and algorithms, which share certain self-preserving and evasive characteristics.
Recently on meshedsociety.com:
- Facebook, Uber and the outsider’s harsh perspective on Silicon Valley
The widely-lauded “can do” attitude of the Silicon Valley comes with a lack of a self-correction mechanism, which is the reason for why certain types of norms and practices are not being eliminated from the tech giant’s play books. If you are part of it, you benefit from the system, so you won’t question its principles and foundations. Outsiders on the other hand speak more freely.
- Zuckerberg’s globalization manifesto: “It’s really, really… really complicated”
Mark Zuckerberg has published an almost 6000 word long manifesto about how Facebook wants to satisfy everyone who uses the platform while advancing globalization at the same time. But one thing becomes clear: This is as hard as squaring a circle.
Podcast episode of the week:
- Homo Deus: A conversation between Yuval Harari and Azeem Azhar
Listening to the historian and author Yuval Harari talking about how technology is closer than ever to kill the idea of human exceptionalism and what this means gave me goosebumps – both because of the possibilities and the devastating implications. Incredibly worth listening to. Additionally, here is a short interview with him.
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