Eclectic Spacewalk — February 2018

Here is a sampling of the best content I consumed this past month. Enjoy scratching your brain’s curiosity itch the last day of every month!

Mar 2, 2018 · 40 min read



The Econocracy
“A growing movement is arguing that we need to reshape the relationship between society and its economic experts. Across the world, students — the experts of the future — are rebelling against an education system that is broken. In The econocracy they document the weaknesses of this form of economics and how it has failed to address many important issues — including financial stability, environmental sustainability and inequality — and set out a vision for bringing economic discussion and decision-making back into the public sphere so that societies of the future can flourish.”

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
“A little book with a big idea, “The Dip” reveals that the system is stacked against the people who don’t know when to quit (and when to stick).”

Logic Beach: Part I (If you like Exurb1a’s Youtube Channel you will love this book!)
“Thousands of years later and humans have migrated into a great digital playground called Arcadia. Light is smelled. Music is eaten. Physics is near completion. These new humans have their own trials, however; an experiment in mind-blending has gone horribly wrong, giving birth to a rampant colossus. It is the end of history, but long-dead mathematician (and mediocre ukulele player) Polly Hare might have something to say on the matter.
What is the origin of space and time?
Why is logic built into nature?
And how, exactly, does God take his tea?”

In Our Time



When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
“Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of “when” decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.”

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
“This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience as well as the last moment and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not”. And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth. “

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
“He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change. Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrate what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture. Culture is not something you are — it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.

Unfu*k Yourself
“Are you tired of feeling f*cked up? If you are, Gary John Bishop has the answer. In this straightforward handbook, he gives you the tools and advice you need to demolish the slag weighing you down and become the truly unf*cked version of yourself. “Wake up to the miracle you are,” he directs. “Here’s what you’ve forgotten: You’re a f*cking miracle of being.” It isn’t other people that are standing in your way; it isn’t even your circumstances that are blocking your ability to thrive. It’s yourself and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself.
In Unf*ck Yourself, Bishop leads you through a series of seven assertions:
I am willing
I am wired to win
I got this
I embrace the uncertainty
I am not my thoughts; I am what I do
I am relentless
I expect nothing and accept everything
Lead the life you were meant to have — Unf*ck Yourself.”

For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2
“Bob and his copies have been spreading out from Earth for 40 years now, looking for habitable planets. But that’s the only part of the plan that’s still in one piece…Bob left Earth anticipating a life of exploration and blissful solitude. Instead he’s become a sky god to a primitive native species, the only hope for getting humanity to a new home, and possibly the only thing that can prevent every living thing in the local sphere from ending up as dinner.”


Radiolab Presents: More Perfect — One Nation, Under Money
“An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for growing too much wheat on his farm, to enforcing the end of racial segregation nationwide. That is, if the federal government can make an economic case for it. This seemingly all-powerful tool has the potential to unite the 50 states into one nation and protect the civil liberties of all. But it also challenges us to consider: when we make everything about money, what does it cost us?”

Radio War Nerd EP #120* [REPOST] — Secret Military History of the Internet, with Yasha Levine
“Levine dives deep into the origins of the Internet, designed by Pentagon researchers to create an all-seeing counterinsurgency weapon in wars abroad, and against protest movements home in the USA. Fifty years ago, student radicals protested the early Internet as a Big Brother weapon of oppression; today, young “radicals” in the Internet Freedom movement promote this Pentagon weapon as a force for liberation and revolution against the same Big Brother state. Levine explains how these paradoxes came to be — and why Snowden’s revelations about government spying on the Internet revealed not a bug in the system that can be “fixed”, but rather the whole purpose of the Internet system from the start. Grim, hopeless & fascinating.”

An Anarchist Explains How Hackers Could Cause Global Chaos
“Brown says when people tweet and post their opinions on social media it’s just “slactivism.” “The next great act of hacktivism, if it really is going to be great, it has to be an act of reaffirming the idea of civic duty,” he says. He says he wants to provide a mechanism for people who do feel that sense of civic duty to really have impact.”

Vitalik Buterin, Creator Of Ethereum, On The Big Guy Vs. The Little Guy
“The 23-year-old whiz dives into who blockchains will someday help, how we transition from Ethereum for digital cats to higher social impact, and why even big companies like JPMorgan, Microsoft and BP are using Ethereum. He also walks through some important technical challenges Ethereum faces with scaling and the shift from a proof-of-work consensus algorithm to proof of stake. And he reveals why he isn’t a big believer in on-chain governance. Plus, he talks about his worries and gives us his predictions for 2018.”

Dr. Gabor Maté — New Paradigms, Ayahuasca, and Redefining Addiction
“Dr. Gabor Maté (@drmate) is a physician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology. He’s well known for studying and treating addiction…I’ve wanted to invite Dr. Maté to this podcast for a while because he is not only an expert in the pathologies of addiction, but he’s experimented with — and used successfully — tools that are perhaps outside the realm of traditional psychiatry. He is also a co-founder, along with Vicky Dulai, of Compassion for Addiction, a group that advocates for a new way to understand and treat addiction.”


Politics —
Presidential Confusion: One thing we learn from presidential studies is how muddled we are about the presidency
“Yet even understanding the pathologies of the cult of the presidency doesn’t capture the depth of the current breakdown. If you are seeking patterns and continuities, wondering in what way Trump might resemble Nixon or Reagan, or even the shamefully racist Andrew Jackson, you miss the fundamental problem. The government has been captured by a movement that represents a minority of Americans. The movement is funded by billionaires, propped up by corrupt wealthy preachers, led in its Congressional wing by cynical Machiavellians, and engineered by tacticians who understand how to work levers of power in state governments to preserve minority-party control.”

A Celebrity Philosopher Explains the Populist Insurgency
“Sloterdijk replied impatiently. “The Americans gave us this idea of multiculturalism that suited their society fine, but which, as software, is not compatible with our German hardware of the welfare state,” he said. “There’s this family metaphor spreading everywhere: the idea that all of humanity is our family. That idea helped destroy the Roman Empire. Now we’re in danger of letting that metaphor get out of control all over again. People are not ready to feel the full pressure of coexistence with billions of their contemporaries.” He went on, “In the past, geography created discretionary boundaries between nations and cultures. Distances that were difficult to overcome allowed for mental and political space.” Space and distance, he argued, had allowed for a kind of liberality and generosity that was now under siege — by refugees, by social media, by everything."

Beyond Social Democracy
“Such parties are of course concerned with immediate issues, grievances, and demands, but they are also, beyond this, concerned with the effective dissolution of the structures of power of capitalist society and their replacement by a fundamentally different social order, based upon the social ownership and control of the main means of economic activity, and governed by principles of cooperation, civic freedom, egalitarianism, and democratic arrangements far superior to the narrowly class-bound arrangements of capitalist democracy. Many parties of the Left have advocated these principles over the years. For reasons given earlier, they have also suffered from great weaknesses, which reduced or nullified their effectiveness. The sooner these weaknesses are faced, and overcome, the better will become the prospects of socialist advance.”

Centrist Democrats Are Undermining Progressive Candidates
“This is kind of a level of corruption that doesn’t raise to the same level of oil companies buying legislation but it does make a big difference in campaigns if these consultants perhaps don’t perform the best or if they’re changing the makeup of the next wave of the Democratic Party. I mean, we could have a completely new Democratic Party after the midterm elections, if there is truly a wave. We have dozens or perhaps hundreds of new Democrats in office but they’ve been chosen by a certain select class of campaign consultants. That makes a big difference in terms of politics and policy for the foreseeable future. “

The Democrats Keep Capitulating on Defense Spending
“Despite all this, many Democrats agreed to boost defense spending by more than what Bernie Sanders estimates it would cost to make every four-year public college and university in America tuition-free and by more than what Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, estimates it would cost to end the opioid crisis. The vote illustrates how strange a beast the contemporary Democratic Party has become. On domestic policy — immigration, criminal justice, health care — the party is moving left. On foreign and defense policy, the party barely exists. This month’s budget deal was a perfect example. Some Democrats voted for it because the agreement boosted domestic spending. Others voted against it because it didn’t take care of immigrant “dreamers.” The huge increase in military spending didn’t matter much one way or the other. No wonder Pentagon leaders are happy. The one party that might be ideologically inclined to question their spending habits has decided it doesn’t care."

This is the real reason many Americans stay poor
“In his State of the Union address, President Trump said “there has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.” But the new 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard and its accompanying report says that isn’t so for low-income Americans.“The system is, by just about all measures, stacked against those with low incomes and low wealth for the benefit of the wealthiest,” says the report from the nonpartisan but left-leaning Prosperity Now nonprofit, which provides research and recommendations regarding Americans with limited incomes. One example: low-income people are ineligible for federal programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) if they amass “even modest savings,” the report noted. Prosperity Now calls policies like this “a roadblock on the path to saving.”

Economics —
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
“Not only the Republican Party, but also the Democratic Party support, serve and reinforce the capitalism that stands as a basic obstacle to economic equality and democracy. Because those goals are never achieved they have long served as objectives to which both Parties offer lip service. The absurd contradiction of their shared position is now giving way to the recognition that the necessity for system change is the lesson of US history. If, in place of capitalist enterprise structures, a transition occurred to worker cooperatives with democratic organizations and procedures — likely to distribute net revenues far less unequally among enterprise participants than capitalist structures did — it would have removed a key obstacle to a broader social movement toward equality and democracy.”

How America Collapsed: What Happens When You Replace a Society With a Market?
“But what causes the lack of a working social contract? Well, the unforgiving truth is that both sides of a polity must fail for people to give up on democracy, and turn to strongmen instead, rejecting democracy, civilization, and enlightenment in favour of authoritarianism, barbarism, and a childlike need for safety. The “sides” fail in different ways — but oddly, those ways are historically precisely the same. Simply put, the right fails to stand for conserving, and the left for liberating. Let us explore how that has been the case in America.”

Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality
“Making the case that infrastructure itself can be exclusionary is hardly straightforward. Many of the worst decisions in US planning were made decades ago to intentionally disenfranchise, marginalise and separate communities; policies such as redlining and “blight clearing” are well-documented embarrassments. But many decisions that segregated communities were unintentional. The stop sign and one-way street might seem benign, but they shape our lives in ways we sometimes don’t even realise. Roads, bridges and walls are agents of change, with a direct impact on our lives. Who has control over where these are placed? Who says how many there will be? How big? As the US gears up for its biggest infrastructure revitalisation project in decades, it is only by asking these questions and acknowledging the power of city planning to impact lives that we can hope to prevent the injustices of the past and fix those of the present.”

The financial world and the magical elixir of confidence
“The forgotten lesson of Keynes’s General Theory is that movements of metrics such as securities indexes, interest rates and GDP ­– presented in periods of stability as the very substance of the economy (Wow! Look at the Dow!) — are really only symptoms of the ‘animal spirits’ and, especially, their expressions. Levels of consumption, investment and employment depend on the contagion of ‘spontaneous optimism’. While it remains hard to predict how individuals will interpret ‘what average opinion believes average opinion to be’, we can be certain that those interpretations will be disproportionately driven by viral media. Studying television trends, political messaging, pop music, internet memes, video games, advertising, bestsellers, social-media influencers, core curriculums and demographics is now as productive an approach to economic analysis as tracking prices, wages and unemployment. In other words, in the spirit of Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism, the media is the market.”

Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
“MMT will not get us where we want to go, but it will pull back the curtain on what’s conjuring up the show that’s been mesmerizing us. Understanding and explaining the MMT paradigm will not bring socialism, but it will get us off the yellow brick road of distraction, and point out a more direct path towards it. Henry Ford’s feared, and our hoped-for, new revolutionary day requires understanding that the earth revolves around the sun, not vice-versa. The road to a socialist dawn will dead-end unless more people understand that everything we thought we knew about taxes, spending, and money “is not just wrong — it’s backwards,” and we damn well better get it turned around.”

Why New Economics Needs a New Invisible Hand
“A detailed brief for the New Invisible Hand is provided in an academic article titled “Human Ultrasociality and the Invisible Hand: Foundational Developments in Evolutionary Science Alter a Foundational Concept in Economics”, which I wrote with the economist John Gowdy[2]. The main take-home message is easy for anyone to understand. We must learn to function in two capacities: As designers of large-scale social systems and as participants in the social systems that we design. As participants, we don’t need to have the welfare of the whole system in mind, but as designers we do. There is no way around it. Anything short will result in social dysfunction. This is a definitive refutation of laissez-faire as a perspective for formulating policy, but it is not an endorsement of centralized planning. Indeed, the main import of the New Invisible Hand is to suggest the existence of a middle path, a way to design social systems that is itself evolutionary and iterative, resulting in regulatory processes that look like laissez-faire, even though they never would have come into existence on their own.”

A Basic Income for Everyone? It’s Not a Crazy Idea
“This finding represents convincing evidence that a true UBI doesn’t discourage people from working — at least, if it’s small. The Alaska Permanent Fund dividends are usually about $2,000 to $3,000 a year — not enough to live off of. A basic income of $10,000 or $20,000 might look very different, however. But Alaska’s experience means that there’s very little risk in implementing a small UBI. Giving every American $3,000 a year would cost about $1 trillion — less than one-sixth of current total government revenue. That amount could then be increased as desired, or increased in certain areas in order to get more data about the effects of larger transfers. In the ongoing war against poverty, a modest UBI looks like a safe, effective tool that wouldn’t hurt the economy.”

An “addicted & surveillance” State —
How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us
“Harris wrote up his worries in a slide deck manifesto. “A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention” went viral within Google and led to Harris being named the company’s “design ethicist.” But he soon realized that he couldn’t change enough from the inside. The business model wasn’t built to give users back their time. It was built to take ever more of it. Harris, who recently co-founded the Center for Humane Technology, has become the most influential critic of how Silicon Valley designs products to addict us. We talked about how the 2016 election threw Silicon Valley into crisis, why negative emotions dominate online, where Silicon Valley’s model of human decision-making went wrong, whether he buys Zuckerberg’s change of heart, and what it means to take control of your time.”

Our Future of Warped Cultural Memory
“So far, the scare over fake news has mostly focused on the senders — foreign agents, Russians, a hidden enemy but one that can be pictured. But the sender is almost beside the point. The horror lies in being the recipients, each of us alone in a hermetic reality, unable to trust what we see or to know what other realities might be right beside us.”

The Sublime and Scary Future of Cameras With A.I. Brains
“Alex Teichman, Lighthouse’s chief executive, said it could add safeguards against inter-family spying, for instance by restricting face identification only to unrecognized faces. He also pointed out that the system has numerous fine-grained privacy controls that allow you to turn off any recording when certain family members are present. I found his response credible. Both Lighthouse and Clips are well crafted against abuse. It should be noted that neither one allows for much more spying than we can already accomplish with smartphones; constant social surveillance is the norm in 2018. But they are guides to the future. Tomorrow, all cameras will have their capabilities. And they won’t just watch you — they’ll understand, too.”

Stop Calling It “Incidental” Collection of Americans’ Emails: The Gov’t’s Renewed Surveillance
“Incidental” collection of Americans’ communications is no fortuitous accident. It is a significant and purposeful part of the Section 702 program. The use of the term “incidental” collection is likely to mollify audiences by papering over how a powerful U.S. surveillance program relies on the warrantless collection of not only the communications of foreigners, but of Americans too. As we enter the next period of government surveillance under Section 702, it will be important for stakeholders and overseers (including the courts) to recognize what the law permits the government to do. The use of the term “incidental” to describe the authority and effect of such programs will not help inform the public debate or constitutional consideration.”

Phone-addicted teens aren’t as happy as those who play sports and hang out IRL, new study suggests
“Teenagers’ life satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness plummeted after 2012. To back up that work, Twenge’s previous studies suggest kids who spend at least four or five hours on their phone increase their risk factor for suicide by a whopping 71 percent, regardless of whether it was cat videos or something else. It was the time spent on the device, not the content, that mattered most.”

The Poison We Pick
“To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.”

How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life (Behind Paywall)

He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse
“For technologists like the federal employee, the only viable way forward is to urge caution, to weigh the moral and ethical implications of the tools being built and, in so doing, avoid the Frankensteinian moment when the creature turns to you and asks, “Did you ever consider the consequences of your actions?” “I’m from the free and open source culture — the goal isn’t to stop technology but ensure we’re in an equilibria that’s positive for people. So I’m not just shouting ‘this is going to happen,’ but instead saying, ‘consider it seriously, examine the implications,” Ovadya told BuzzFeed News. “The thing I say is, ‘trust that this isn’t not going to happen.’” Hardly an encouraging pronouncement. That said, Ovadya does admit to a bit of optimism. There’s more interest in the computational propaganda space then ever before, and those who were previously slow to take threats seriously are now more receptive to warnings. “In the beginning it was really bleak — few listened,” he said. “But the last few months have been really promising. Some of the checks and balances are beginning to fall into place.” Similarly, there are solutions to be found — like cryptographic verification of images and audio, which could help distinguish what’s real and what’s manipulated.”

Opinion | The Tyranny of Convenience
“Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides. Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it. So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity.”

Tech Giant Dystopia —
Silicon Valley’s Origin Story
“When tech leaders prophesy a utopia of connectedness and freely flowing information, they do so as much out of self-interest as belief. Rather than a decentralized, democratic public square, the internet has given us a surveillance state monopolized by a few big players. That may puzzle technological determinists, who saw in networked communications the promise of a digital agora. But strip away the trappings of Google’s legendary origins or Atari’s madcap office culture, and you have familiar stories of employers versus employees, the maximization of profit, and the pursuit of power. In that way, at least, these tech companies are like so many of the rest.”

Facebook And Google’s Surveillance Capitalism Model Is In Trouble
“This was the “grand bargain,” as Columbia University law professor Tim Wu called it in his book, The Attention Merchants, that users struck with corporations. Wu wrote that Facebook’s “billions of users worldwide were simply handing over a treasure trove of detailed demographic data and exposing themselves to highly targeted advertising in return for what, exactly?” In other words: We will give you every detail of our lives and you will get rich by selling that information to advertisers.”

It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech
“These companies — which love to hold themselves up as monuments of free expression — have attained a scale unlike anything the world has ever seen; they’ve come to dominate media distribution, and they increasingly stand in for the public sphere itself. But at their core, their business is mundane: They’re ad brokers. To virtually anyone who wants to pay them, they sell the capacity to precisely target our eyeballs. They use massive surveillance of our behavior, online and off, to generate increasingly accurate, automated predictions of what advertisements we are most susceptible to and what content will keep us clicking, tapping, and scrolling down a bottomless feed…The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out. They look like epidemics of disinformation, meant to undercut the credibility of valid information sources. They look like bot-fueled campaigns of trolling and distraction, or piecemeal leaks of hacked materials, meant to swamp the attention of traditional media."

Censorship By Weaponizing Free Speech: Rethinking How The Marketplace Of Ideas Works
“But, it is becoming clear that we need to think carefully about how we truly encourage free speech. Beyond the spam point above, another argument that has resonated with me over the years is that some platforms have enabled such levels of trolling (or, perhaps to be kinder, “vehement arguing”) that they actually lead to less free speech in that they scare off or silence those who also have valuable contributions to add to various discussions. And that, in turn, raises at least some questions about the idea of the “marketplace of ideas” model of understanding free speech. I’ve long been a supporter of this viewpoint — that the best way to combat so-called “bad speech” is with “more speech.” And, you then believe that the best/smartest/most important ideas rise to the top and stomp out the bad ideas. But what if the good ideas don’t even have a chance? What if they’re silenced before they even are spoken by the way these things are set up? That, too, would be an unfortunate result for free speech and the “marketplace of ideas”.”

Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business (Read it free, now behind paywall)

Boston’s Bid For HQ2 Overlooks Amazon’s Awful Labor Practices
“All of the Boston leaders behind the Amazon bid are correct in framing the HQ2 deal as an “opportunity.” But for whom? If Boston’s rationale for hosting Amazon is truly as noble as creating jobs and prosperity for our local workforce, then Amazon’s labor practices cannot be ignored any longer. Instead, Boston must seize the opportunity it now has — as an HQ2 finalist — to lay down some terms for how local workers must be treated if Jeff Bezos picks our city. Not only would this be morally courageous, but it would be innovative too.”

Big tech’s bid to control FOIA
“Facebook isn’t the only big tech firm stifling the FOIA process and obscuring public disclosure by shielding its identity with a code name of sorts. I’ve also found examples in Amazon agreements, which have won $1.2 billion in tax incentives from local and state governments as the company expands its footprint of data and fulfillment centers nationwide. For example, when Amazon negotiates to open a data center, it is rarely, if ever, identified directly as Amazon. Instead, the tech giant negotiates with local officials through its wholly owned subsidiary Vadata, Inc. This makes it difficult for local citizens to immediately know that Amazon, a company worth $656 billion, is the real beneficiary of such generous tax breaks. For example, in 2015, Amazon, through Vadata, struck an agreement with Hilliard, Ohio, for $5.4 million in tax incentives to build a data center in the working-class suburb of Central Ohio. But Amazon isn’t once identified in the documents I reviewed after my public records request.”

The Case Against Google
“Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew. If Microsoft had crushed Google two decades ago, no one would have noticed. Today we would happily be using Bing, unaware that a better alternative once existed. Instead, we’re lucky a quixotic antitrust lawsuit helped to stop that from happening. We’re lucky that antitrust lawyers unintentionally guaranteed that Google would thrive. Put differently, if you love technology — if you always buy the latest gadgets and think scientific advances are powerful forces for good — then perhaps you ought to cheer on the antitrust prosecutors. Because there is no better method for keeping the marketplace constructive and creative than a legal system that intervenes whenever a company, no matter how beloved, grows so large as to blot out the sun. If you love Google, you should hope the government sues it for antitrust offenses — and you should hope it happens soon, because who knows what wondrous new creations are waiting patiently in the wings.”

The Case for Breaking Up Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google
“The monopolistic power of big tech serves as a macho test for capitalists. The embrace of the innovation class makes us feel powerful. We like success, especially outrageous success, and we’re inspired by billionaires and the incredible companies they founded. We also have a gag reflex when it comes to regulation, one that invites unattractive labels. Since I started suggesting that Amazon should be broken up, Stuart Varney of Fox News, a charming guy, has taken to introducing me on-air as a socialist. Any day now, I suspect he’ll start calling me European. There’s no question that the markets sent a strong signal in 2017 that our economy is sated on regulation. But there’s a difference between regulation and trust busting. What’s missing from the story we tell ourselves about the economy is that trust busting is meant to protect the health of the market. It’s the antidote to crude, ham-handed regulation. When markets fail, and they do, we need those referees on the field who will throw a yellow flag and restore order. We are so there.”

Why We Can’t Let Google Monopolize AI
“True, Google has shown a willingness to throw its weight around. Just ask Alexa about her recent experience trying to display YouTube on the Echo Show, an Echo with a screen. (Though of course Google Assistant would say Alexa started the fight.) But by and large Google’s drift toward victory in personal AI rests on vision, creativity, and industriousness. In a space where market share naturally feeds on itself, a single company can become a monopoly without, as they say at Google, being evil.But companies can change. And nothing gives them freedom to change for the worse like total dominance. Sometimes — in the oil business of a century ago, say — undoing the dominance isn’t a prohibitively hard thing for the government to accomplish. But in the pumping-information-into-human-brains business, dominance could be harder to undo, and the failure to undo it more costly. We don’t want to wait until everyone who asks questions about antitrust policy is preceding them with the phrase “OK, Google.”"

Tech broke our relationship with wilderness: can it mend it too?
“After all, it is hardly unprecedented for organisms to shape their environment: Charles Darwin noted how earthworms burrow through the soil to make it liveable. Humans have constructed their own niche through the breeding of animal species. Machine learning is simply a shift in how the process works. In some areas, they might even allow us to gain a new awe for natural processes. We might design automated systems to eliminate noise, light and other pollution, so non-human species can thrive. We could use sensors and communication devices to warn animals of poachers or settlements, allowing humans and wild animals to share the same territory. Our experience of nature could be both more technological and more fulfilling. We once aspired to maintain wild places free from human footprints. In many cases, that’s simply no longer tenable. In S’Albufera, there’s no option to stand back — to rewild by inaction. We need to use the best tools at our disposal to address the invasion of carp. We can reject technology, and hope that the tech optimists focus their energies on Mars. Or we can embrace it, and usher in a new era in our relationship with nature. Machines will shape our relationship with each other over the coming decades. Why should we expect they won’t shape our relationship with nature too?”

Humanity —
Slavery and the American University
“Encounters like this might be the most powerful result of this work — as well as the lasting networks of scholars, activists, artists, students, neighbors, descendants, and community members coalescing around them, as projects first begun in isolation have built upon one another. Their strength lies not just in a profound sense of connection with the past but, through the past, a collective grappling with the present. None of the investigations into universities’ complicity with slavery set out exactly to resolve the moral issues their discoveries would raise, but as they find their audiences, they create what one historian described as “the constituencies for different kinds of conversations.” The work of history does not always overlap cleanly with the work of politics, and the archives alone may not yield what seem like the most urgent answers. But they help sharpen the questions."

Shrugging Toward Doomsday: Experts warn that the world is now as dangerous as it was at the height of the Cold War. Many Americans already know it.
“But there was something especially dismal about this year’s announcement. Many Americans know that the world has gotten more dangerous in the last few years (which would be true, by the way, no matter who won the 2016 election). But the necessity of daily life — of doing homework, having a career, going to the gym, getting dinner on the table — has compressed that fear into an ignorable background hum. And so the country once known for its can-do spirit has begun to adopt a personality tic more common in besieged cities and late Soviet states: Well, yes, the situation is terrible, but who has time to feel something about it?"

Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks
“Porter likes to joke that if people want to discuss something contentious, they should set aside U.S. politics and talk about power laws. But, he said, there’s a good reason these discussions are so fraught. “We have these arguments because the problems are hard and interesting.” Clauset sees his work with Broido not as an attack but as a call to action to network scientists, to examine a more diverse set of possible mechanisms and degree distributions than they have been doing. “Perhaps we should consider new ideas, as opposed to trying to force old ideas to fit,” he said. Vespignani agrees that there is work to be done. “If you ask me, ‘Do you all agree what is the truth of the field?’ Well, there is no truth yet,” he said. “There is no general theory of networks.””

In the Maze
“Some things are zero sum — perhaps more things than one cares to admit. To say that feminism is good for boys, that diversity makes a stronger team, or that collective liberation promises a greater, deeper freedom than the individual freedoms we know is comforting and true enough. But just as true, and significantly less consoling, is the guarantee that some will find the world less comfortable in the process of making it habitable for others. It would be easier to give up some privileges if it weren’t so traumatic to lose, as it is in our ruthlessly competitive and frequently undemocratic country. Changing the rules of the game might begin with revising what it means to win. I once heard a story about a friend who’d said, offhand at a book group, that he’d throw women under the bus if it meant achieving social democracy in the United States. The story was meant to be chilling — this from a friend? — but it made me laugh. As if you could do it without us, I thought, we who do all the work on the group project. I wondered what his idea of social democracy was.”

Humans need to become smarter thinkers to beat climate denial
“Cook has previously published research on using ‘misconception-based learning’ to dislodge climate myths from peoples’ brains and replace them with facts, and beating denial by inoculating people against misinformers’ tricks. The idea is that when people are faced with a myth and a competing fact, the fact will more easily win out if the fallacy underpinning the myth is revealed. In fact, these concepts of misconception-based learning and inoculation against myths were the basis of the free online Denial101x course developed by Cook and colleagues.”

So you’re too ethical to eat meat; but should cows go extinct?
“The differences that exist, in how they came to be and in the kinds of animals they are, don’t seem to translate into differences in species value. Insofar as we have good reason to preserve species diversity and to prevent extinctions, we should aim to preserve cattle too. Perhaps a world in which very few small herds of cattle survive (perhaps to serve a small industry of those who value the ‘authenticity’ of eating meat the way their ancestors did, or perhaps just so that future generations could get a sense of a past way of life) would be better than one that completely eliminated cattle.”

Resisting Reduction: A Manifesto
“The essay below is now phase 1 of an experimental, open publishing project in partnership with the MIT Press. In phase 2, a new version of the essay enriched and informed by input from open commentary will be published online, along with essay length contributions by others inspired by the seed essay, as a new issue of the Journal of Design and Science. In phase 3, a revised and edited selection of these contributions will be published as a print book by the MIT Press.”

The Future Machines of the Year 2100
“Climate: Adapt Until We Change
War: The Rise of the Robo-Soldier
Infrastructure: Faster, More Efficient, and Underground
Transportation: By Land or By Rocket
Space: Humanity’s New Home”

They Saw Earth From Space. Here’s How It Changed Them.
““We are genetically connected to this planet,” he says. And to the best of our knowledge, Earth is unique in its ability to support life as we know it. The past decade of astronomy has shown us that we are one among billions of worlds in the Milky Way galaxy, but our tangled web of geology, ecology, and biology makes this strange rock the only one in reach that’s just right for humans. There really is no place like home.”

Mars exploration is not just important — it appeals to our very core as human beings
“And finally, the exploration of space appeals to our very nature as human beings. One of the key ways that we differ from other species is our active pursuit of knowledge and our drive to collaborate with one another to evolve and progress. The exploration of Mars represents the latest point in our history as human beings. Not only does it serve humankind’s innate curiosity, but it represents the natural progression of our exploration to the ends of the Earth, landing on the moon and the first successful mission to Mars. It also presents an opportunity for us to collaborate on a mission that will have profound effects on our understanding of our planet and our solar system. It will connect us to one another, while connecting us to a planet that just a few decades ago, would have been beyond our wildest dreams. And when the stakes are so high and the returns even higher, space exploration should be viewed not as a luxury, but rather, a vital exercise that’s potential value is immeasurable.”

Science —
How the hollow-Earth hypothesis illuminates falsifiable science
“And perhaps Nietzsche was wrong — there could be something more fundamental than interpretations. After all, for theories of gravitation to exist in the first place, there must be something that needs explaining. Even a complete and utter denial of gravitation in any of its various formulations — Newtonian, relativistic, emergent — would admit that there is something we observe that might only be an illusion. Nothing can undermine the fundamental fact that there is a basic observation called gravity that needs explaining. All interpretations diverge from this observation, rooted in the shared experience of human beings.”

Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start
“If there was no mass sterilization at 3.9 billion years ago, or if a few massive asteroid strikes confined the destruction to a single hemisphere, then Earth’s oldest ancestors may have been here from the haziest days of the planet’s own birth. And that, in turn, makes the notion of life elsewhere in the cosmos seem less implausible. Life might be able to withstand horrendous conditions much more readily than we thought. It might not need much time at all to take hold. It might arise early and often and may pepper the universe yet. Its endless forms, from tubemaking microbes to hunkering slime, may be too small or simple to communicate the way life does on Earth — but they would be no less real and no less alive.”

You thought quantum mechanics was weird: check out entangled time
“Discerning the nature of entanglement might at times be an uncomfortable project. It’s not clear what substantive metaphysics might emerge from scrutiny of fascinating new research by the likes of Megidish and other physicists. In a letter to Einstein, Schrödinger notes wryly (and deploying an odd metaphor): ‘One has the feeling that it is precisely the most important statements of the new theory that can really be squeezed into these Spanish boots — but only with difficulty.’ We cannot afford to ignore spatial or temporal nonlocality in future metaphysics: whether or not the boots fit, we’ll have to wear ’em.”

Best of Medium -
Situational Assessment 2018: the Calm Before the Storm
“Front One: Communications Infrastructure.
Front Two: The Deep State
Front Three: Globalism
Front Four: The New Culture War
The War for Collective Intelligence”

No one’s coming. It’s up to us.
“If technology is the solution to human problems, we need to do the human work to figure out and agree what our problems are and the kind of society we want. Then we can figure out what technology we want and need to bring about the society we want. Otherwise we’re back to a coordination problem: which problems, what ones?”

Your Cortex Contains 17 Billion Computers
“Your cortex contains 17 billion neurons. To understand what they do, we often make analogies with computers. Some use these analogies as cornerstones of their arguments. Some consider them to be deeply misguided. Our analogies often look to artificial neural networks: for neural networks compute, and they are made of up neuron-like things; and so, therefore, should brains compute. But if we think the brain is a computer, because it is like a neural network, then now we must admit that individual neurons are computers too. All 17 billion of them in your cortex; perhaps all 86 billion in your brain. And so it means your cortex is not a neural network. Your cortex is a neural network of neural networks.”

Why Decentralization Matters
“Or consider the problem of network governance. Today, unaccountable groups of employees at large platforms decide how information gets ranked and filtered, which users get promoted and which get banned, and other important governance decisions. In cryptonetworks, these decisions are made by the community, using open and transparent mechanisms. As we know from the offline world, democratic systems aren’t perfect, but they are a lot better than the alternatives.Centralized platforms have been dominant for so long that many people have forgotten there is a better way to build internet services. Cryptonetworks are a powerful way to develop community-owned networks and provide a level playing field for 3rd-party developers, creators, and businesses. We saw the value of decentralized systems in the first era of the internet. Hopefully we’ll get to see it again in the next.”


Record-setting polar explorer, 16, hits back at men who say she belongs in the kitchen
““I skied back to the Pole again … to take this photo for all those men who commented ‘Make me a sandwich’ on my TEDX Talk,” she wrote. “I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600km to the South Pole and you can eat it xx.””


Feelings, Pictures, and Ideas: A very simple theory of why good stories are good (Exurb1a is one of my favorite YouTube subs)

What Martin Luther King Actually Thought About Car Commercials (I don’t think dodge listened to the last part of MLK’s speech they used during their Super Bowl ad. Yikes)

Prince Performs “Purple Rain” During Downpour | Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show | NFL (This year’s Super Bowl halftime show was muh at best. Let Prince show you how it’s done)

INSANE! SpaceX Falcon Heavy Side Boosters Landing Simultaneously at Kennedy Space Center (Fucking A Space X)

1929 — Interviews With Elderly People Throughout The US (Well this is surreal to watch)
“Compilation of sound interviews with some of the oldest people living in the United States in 1929. Footage is from the early Movietone sound cameras. Condensed the footage and worked on sound a bit.”

“Friedrich Nietzsche had a particular fondness for a concept called (in Latin) ‘amor fati’, a Stoic acceptance of one’s fate and a commitment to embrace reality, in all its beauty and pain.”

Why Nietzsche’s philosophy is bastardised.

Civilisations — coming soon to BBC Two
“Programme website: Inspired by Kenneth Clark’s ground-breaking BBC series from 1969, BBC Two’s nine-part series Civilisations introduces a new generation to great masterworks of beauty and ingenuity.”

Exclusive: Intel’s new smart glasses hands-on
“Intel’s Vaunt smart glasses won’t make you look like a Glasshole. Dieter Bohn got an exclusive look at Intel’s latest gadget. By shining a low-powered laser into your retina, the glasses can get all sorts of information without pulling out your phone.”


Trump vs. The World: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
“America’s reputation is being damaged by its own president. John Oliver, several dinosaurs, and the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus remind the world that our country is…complicated.”

Sean Carroll — Layers Of Reality — The Complexity of The Universe
“Sean Carroll is a cosmologist and physics professor specializing in dark energy and general relativity. He is a research professor in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals and magazines such as Nature, The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist.”

EP 1 Killed by Capital
“Nando sets out on a film noir detective hunt to figure out what capital is, and how it controls our lives. It turns out it goes straight to the top.”

The Real Financial Crisis is About to Hit — Peter Schiff
“In 2021, they (taxes) will be raised, but also we are going to raise Big Government. Because Capitalism is going to get the blame just like it did after the 2008 crisis. Capitalism has nothing to do with that. The Federal Reserve created that crisis. The government created that crisis. And the crisis that is coming is also the fault of an even bigger goverment that gainced even more power. The Federal Reserve gained even more power as a result of 2008. They are going to usurp even more, and I have no idea what the world is going to become.”

Will the Future Be Human? — Yuval Noah Harari at the WEF Annual Meeting 2018
“Prof. Yuval Noah Harari takes to the Congress Hall stage at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, to highlight key challenges posed by data in the era of the technological revolution. Introduced and moderated by Gillian Tett.”

Russell Brand & Jordan Peterson — Kindness VS Power | Under The Skin #46
“Recently making the headlines after a combative interview about the gender pay gap with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman, my guest today is Jordan Peterson, who discusses with me some of his 12 Rules for Life.”

Bret and Eric Weinstein, Brothers Together at Last (LIVE)
“Brothers Bret Weinstein and Eric Weinstein join Dave for a live discussion in what is their first public appearance together ever.”

Joe Rogan Experience #1073 — Steven Pinker
“Steven Pinker is a cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. His new book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” will be released in February 2018.”

Joe Rogan Experience #1077 — Johann Hari
“Johann Hari is a writer and journalist. He has written for a number of publications including The Independent (London) and The Huffington Post and has written books on the topic of the war on drugs, the monarchy, and depression, in an accessible and non-technical style. His new book “Lost Connections” is available now."

Jaron Lanier on the Future of Our Digital Lives
“Filmed at the Emmanuel Centre in London on 13th November 2017 Jaron Lanier is one of the foremost digital visionaries of our times. One of Silicon Valley’s key early innovators, this dreadlocked digital prophet has been dubbed the ‘father of virtual reality’ and named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. A ‘human-centered approach’, he argues, ‘leads to more interesting, more exotic, more wild, and more heroic adventures than the machine-supremacy approach, where information is the highest goal.’ Now Lanier is going back to the field where he did his pioneering work in the 1980s: virtual reality. VR has become the new frontier of human engagement with tech, and has become a medium that has transformed surgical trials, aircraft design and the treatment of injured war veterans.”

Who Owns the Future?
“Now, Lanier calculates the effects network technologies have had on our economy. He asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industriesΓÇöfrom media to medicine to manufacturingΓÇöwe are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth. He offers a solution by charting the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow, rewarding ordinary people for what they do and share on the web.”

Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin — with Vinay Gupta | Virtual Futures Salon
“Virtual Futures presents tech-visionary Vinay Gupta to dicuss cryptocurrencies and the uptake of the blockchain in all its applications. This event is organised in partnership with the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick as part of their 360 Lecture Series. Vinay will share his thoughts on how a technology that permits secure and transparent solutions might transform the next decade.”


The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy
“The global economy is in crisis. The exponential exhaustion of natural resources, declining productivity, slow growth, rising unemployment, and steep inequality, forces us to rethink our economic models. Where do we go from here? In this feature-length documentary, social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin lays out a road map to usher in a new economic system. A Third Industrial Revolution is unfolding with the convergence of three pivotal technologies: an ultra-fast 5G communication internet, a renewable energy internet, and a driverless mobility internet, all connected to the Internet of Things embedded across society and the environment. This 21st century smart digital infrastructure is giving rise to a radical new sharing economy that is transforming the way we manage, power and move economic life. But with climate change now ravaging the planet, it needs to happen fast. Change of this magnitude requires political will and a profound ideological shift.”

Accidental Warrior: The Life and Time of Barrett Brown [Full movie]
“Are you interested in the surveillance state? Because it’s interested in you. *** ‘Accidental Warrior : The Life and Time of Barrett Brown’ follows the path of addiction-battling, award-winning American columnist and satirist Barrett Brown, who, shocked into adversarial journalism, rocked the world of private spy networks, bringing the threat of a 105 year sentence from the federal government, and whose prosecution threatens all citizens, who unwittingly pay for it all.”


Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
“Utopianism has its awkward place, though it is always doomed to fail. At least Barlow dared to dream about possibilities, about a realm of engagement that would take place in a world without matter. As he conceded in predicting a digital Utopia, he hoped “to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism’.” Technological aspiration, in short, can only live up, or down to, the aims of the user.”



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We live in the greatest time Humanity has ever experienced. Let’s start acting like it!

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