Weekly Links & Thoughts #150

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Published every Thursday (CET) or slightly earlier, 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 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.

  • A “Post-Verbal” World (jjbeshara.com, 3)
    In-depth, extensive reflections on how brain-computer interfaces such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink would revolutionize human communication. While all this can become a privacy nightmare, the idea also is unbelievably fascinating (I might have stated that already).
  • How Email Open Tracking Quietly Took Over the Web (wired.com, 3)
    This lengthy feature might radically change how you look at and handle the emails in your inbox.
  • The Problem with Muzak (thebaffler.com, 3)
    Spotify undoubtedly uses some controversial approaches to remodel the music industry, revolving around the pillars of algorithmic decisions – which remove power from the artists – as well as letting brands “hijack” artists’ music without paying them. This is of course a repeating pattern that can be observed at every disruptive tech company that reaches a certain scale and market dominance. And of course, changing the rules of a game always will lead to opposition. In the end, the main question is: Are the parties involved (from the artists to those in charge of the distribution to the consumers) better off today than 30 years ago? I don’t know if there is any way to objectively assess this.
  • Baby Boomers love Facebook, so let them have it (theoutline, 2)
    Kathryn Jezer-Morton makes a thought-provoking case for intergenerational segregation on social media platforms.
  • History Suggests the Hyperloop Is an Uncertain Promise for Future Cities (singularityhub.com, 2)
    Beyond the impressive technology, how would cities and geographical socio-demographics be affected if Hyperloop becomes implemented on a large scale? An important question.
  • The End to Apple’s Cash Dilemma (aboveavalon.com, 2)
    An incredibly well explained piece on why Apple has so much cash abroad, frequently issues debt in the U.S., and how the planned U.S. tax reform would change all this.
  • A New Era of Retail Is Coming (businessoffashion.com, 2)
    On the rise of “experiential merchants” which, in essence, are media channels. Brands like Nike will not be their vendors but rather their clients.
  • In-Store WiFi Provider Used Starbucks Website to Generate Cryptocurrency Monero (hackread.com, 1)
    Crazy times. I learned from this piece that there is a company called Coinhive which apparently makes crypto mining through one’s website pretty easy. The big question persists: Is this more or less ethical than monetizing a website through ads?
  • Circles Money System Overview (github.com, 3)
    A concept for a blockchain-based basic income. Very exciting.
  • How business schools teach cryptocurrencies (ft.com/no paywall, 2)
    Obviously, cryptocurrencies won’t go away again. So future business and finance leaders need to learn about them.
  • Zug ID: Exploring the First Publicly Verified Blockchain Identity (medium.com, 2)
    Meanwhile, in the Swiss city of Zug, people can get a digital ID based on a Blockchain. Paul Kohlhaas explains how the whole thing works.
  • AI researchers are trying to combat how AI can be used to lie and deceive (qz.com, 2)
    Crucial stuff. It’s probably only a question of months until troublemakers will attempt to use a well-done fake video or audio recording to cause a controversy and to sow mistrust. The tech is pretty much ready and porn already affected.
  • The Neural Network Zoo (asimovinstitute.org, 3)
    A major enabler of artificial intelligence are so called neural networks. Here we have a comprehensive description of the different types that exist. It’s from last year, so there might be many additions already not mentioned here.
  • From Amazon to Google (and even Apple), here are the biggest tech disappointments of this year (CNBC.com, 2)
    Fun list.
  • All downhill from here: Has the human race peaked? (newatlas.com, 1)
    A study of 120 years worth of historical data suggest we’ve reached the biological limits of height, life expectancy and sporting performance. My conclusion: If accurate, then our only options for extended life spans either would be to augment our body with technology that allows us to live longer or to export our minds onto computers.
  • The Merge (blog.samaltman.com, 1)
    On a different level, the merger between humans and machines is already in full effect.
  • The 20% Rule (medium.com, 2)
    I like this advice to dedicate 20 % of one’s time to exploration and serendipity.

Quote of the week:

Podcast episode of the week:

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