The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks

A weekly reading list to stimulate thoughts about the (digitised) world you might (or might not) want to live in.

Here’s a collection of links to articles that caught my eye last week. They offer data about the world we presently live in, and hints about the one we might wish to pass on to future generations.

Walmart Wins Patent for Electrical Grid Powered by Bitcoin — Crypto Coin Junky

“The blockchain based system also indicates which device consumes the most power compared others. The remaining volume of electricity can be distributed to other networks which will support each other if one consumes less energy. … This will allow the utilization of cryptocurrency to be operated independent of a central database system like a central bank or central authority operated by the energy provider.” — Distributed is the new centralised, and IT goes in endless waves. But the Waltons will still be rich, and you’ll still be wondering how to pay your bills. So nothing really changes.

Huawei Cloud PC for Android brings Windows 10 to the Huawei P20 — The Inquirer

Look past the headline… we see new proprietary networking protocols, and “…due to latency issues, Huawei Cloud PC will only be available in China to begin with given the location of Huawei’s servers, although the company has suggested that – if it proves to be popular – the company may expand the service to Europe.” — Distributed computing is about location, location, location.

How China censors the net: by making sure there’s too much information — The Guardian

“Censorship 2.0 is based on the idea that there are three ways of achieving the government’s desire to keep information from the public – fear, friction and flooding. Fear is the traditional, analogue approach. … Friction involves imposing a virtual “tax” (in terms of time, effort or money) on those trying to access censored information. … Flooding involves deluging the citizen with a torrent of information – some accurate, some phoney, some biased – with the aim of making people overwhelmed.”

Spellcheck for truth — “Book of the future” by Tom Cheesewright

“Then there is the question of whether we want absolute objectivity. I think if we tried to pursue it, we would realise a lot of our lives are based on small fictions. There is some analysis of reason that suggests it is entirely retrospective: we take decisions and then retrofit a narrative with facts to justify them. If this is true, deep analysis of the narratives of our lives that we tell ourselves could be deeply uncomfortable.”

Consultation on the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation — Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

“The creation of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was announced by the Chancellor at Autumn Budget 2017. This consultation outlines our proposals for the Centre and seeks views on the way in which it will operate and its priority areas of work. We encourage responses from all those who have an interest and stake in the way data use and AI are governed and regulated.” — Two decades into the Internet revolution, and we’re starting to worry about data ethics. Well, better late than never. See also Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Politics & Technology.

Whose Team Is Artificial Intelligence On: The Corporations or Hackers? — Infosecurity

“A recent study, comprised of 25 technical and public policy researchers from Cambridge, Oxford and Yale, alongside privacy and military experts, reveals a potential risk for misuse of AI by rogue states, criminals and other unscrupulous parties. A list of potential threats would come with digital, physical and political ramifications depending on how the systems and tools were leveraged, used and structured.”

Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health — PubMed

“In conclusion, there are seven repeatedly found Wi-Fi effects which have also been shown to be caused by other similar EMF exposures. Each of the seven should be considered, therefore, as established effects of Wi-Fi.” — When it comes to safety, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of risk. Think of how it took time to understand the biological impact of radiation or dioxins. I’ve got my laptop on my gonads; is that a risk to my heroic little swimmers, and any child that might (very theoretically) result?

Binding Chaos — Heather Marsh

“The whole first half [of the book] is dedicated to a ruthless dissection of all that is wrong with democracy, communism, and the organization of movements like Occupy Wall Street. It’s brilliant, and Heather Marsh manages to build up anticipation to her thoughts on how State-less stigmergy, and respect for those whose work currently has no monetary value (mothers, in particular), can bring about a better world. I couldn’t put the book down, even though she’s careful to manage expectations in the intro: she doesn’t have all the answers…and that’s very true.” — If your mother raised you without sending you a bill on reaching adulthood, then she’s a socialist.

The Rise of Emotionally Intelligent AI — Mikko Alasaarela

“We are approaching an era, when artificial intelligence uses humans as organic robots to realize its goals. To make that happen, thousands of engineers are already building an API to humans.”  — A masculinised “dominator” culture of control, when amplified by technology, leads to total disaster. As a gay male, I feel it very strongly, and often see straight men out of touch with the divine feminine.

Scientific Opinions — For Sale — Dr. Jason Fung

“One of the greatest problems in medicine today is that academic medicine has been sold to the highest bidder. Under the guise of ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ the public has been sold fraudulent goods, and the result is that people suffer from unnecessary but lucrative procedures and take unnecessary but lucrative medications.” — There are always adversaries, and they can join together to engage in conspiracies. The alternative to being an informed conspiracy theorist is to be an unwitting conspiracy victim.

Ceremonial Magic & Sorcery — How An Ancient Art Became Perverted By The ‘Global Elite’ — Russia News Now

“The main takeaway from this article should be that our connection to spirit is strong, and there are those that dwell in other worlds that can assist us, but not for our own material desires that stem from human greed, ego, and ignorance. If your heart is pure and intentions are good, if you would like to use manifestation for the goodwill of the whole, then you need not fear talking to and acknowledging this realm.” — Always interesting to see how others perceive the world in very different ways. Whether you agree or not, their perception is a fact.

Silicon Valley has become a ‘moral cesspool,’ says management expert Tom Peters — Recode

“The silver lining to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other incidents of techlash, he argued, is that the tech communities of Boston, Austin and beyond are no longer worshiping, “dewy-eyed,” at the altar of Palo Alto.” — A day of reckoning is approaching. If you think Hollywood is bad, wait until the secrets of Silicon Valley are spilled to the public.

Majority of global workforce now work somewhere other than the office every week — Workplace Insight

“One day soon, flexible working could simply be known as ‘working’. We are reaching the tipping point.”

How Facebook Programmed Our Relatives — Scientific American

“Basically, people get the same number of well-wishes on their real birthdays as the fake ones we assigned. These preliminary results suggest that Facebook has programmed humans to automatically wish their contacts well regardless of the veracity of the date.” — This. Is. Very. Troubling.

Are Your Beliefs Your Own? — Stillness In The Storm

“Our thoughts and our very lives are determined by the beliefs we have. Most of those beliefs were imparted to us by parents, family members, teachers, neighbors, the media, etc. Very little is based in original thought. Instead, these beliefs are not much more than a bunch of sentences, statements and equations that we carry around with us wherever we go. They make up the filter through which we view our world, they are the foundation upon which we base our decisions, and they are our greatest source of suffering.” — How might ethical technology positively re-engineer our beliefs?

Researchers engineer bacteria to exhibit stochastic Turing patterns — EurekAlert

“In the current study, the researchers demonstrated both experimentally and theoretically that Turing patterns do in fact occur in living tissues – but with a twist. Where the instability that generates the patterns in Turing’s model is defined as a high diffusion ratio between two chemicals, an activator and an inhibitor, in this study, researchers demonstrate that it’s actually randomness – which would in most experiments be considered background noise – that generates what Goldenfeld has coined a stochastic Turing pattern.” — Oddly, a similar thing is true in packet networks. Some noise is needed.

Blockchain Isn’t a Revolution — Kevin Werbach

“The truth is that there isn’t a blockchain phenomenon to be for or against. There are three. The three communities share a basic set of design principles and technological foundations — but the people, goals, and prospects are almost completely distinct. Those involved don’t help much by sniping constantly about which is the “real” movement.”

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