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.

A plastic bag was found at the bottom of world’s deepest ocean trenchNational Geographic

The headline says it all: we need a paradigm change to avoid ecocide, as filling the oceans with plastic doesn’t end well. This means that the ethical (including the ecological) takes first place, for our own survival benefit. Our best minds are manipulating logical behaviour via ads to generate more short-term use of plastic bags; incentives to change cultures for long-term viability remain weak.

‘No one is safe’: The media industry scrambles to understand Google’s latest GDPR updateDigiday UK

“Publishers are divided on Google’s motives. On one hand, Google is already under immense pressure from Brussels regarding anti-competitive behavior. The platform will do all it can to ensure its own GDPR compliance. That said, it is convenient that its move to limit publishers to 12 vendors could ultimately enable it to direct demand back to its own stack, creating an unfair advantage.” — All capitalists seek monopolies. It is the teleological (eschatological?) nature of the game.

Don’t Just Delete Facebook, Poison Your Data FirstMotherboard

“Matthew’s script automatically opens Facebook posts to edit and replaced them with randomly-generated text. The idea is that if you ran the script 100s, or 1000s of times, over the course of several months, on all of your data, it would likely make it more difficult for Facebook’s algorithms to pull useful data it uses to build a profile of you, including your political leanings and sexual orientation.”

Conservative Starts New Social Media Site After Facebook Blocks Tens Of Millions From His PostsWashington Standard

“Andrew is joining a long list of new social media ventures that are seeking to break the Facebook mold such as, and Several of these are seeking to use blockchain technology in order to actually pay users for the content they provide without annoying advertisements.”

And on the subject of, you might like this interview of the founder by James Corbett.

Discourse on Voluntary Servitude — Étienne de La Boétie

Tyranny spreads by getting us to consent to our own servitude (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Google Would Like to Be the Gatekeepers of Democracy Without the Responsibility, How Facebook binds — and shatters — communities). We continue to repeat old patterns, so history appears to be a monotonous repetition of the same follies.

Behind the European Project: Shadow Aristocracy, Secret Networks, Religious Orders and an Unholy Union — Chris Deliso

This book captures an example of how institutions often have a public narrative (i.e. a belief) which is quite at odds with their actual primary task (i.e. an enacted reality). Understanding the difference between the PR and real purpose is critical to making sense of the world. This is ordinary and universal: all collaborative enterprises involve some level of collective fantasy, so nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that’s how the world always is.

Does your doctor need a voice assistant?Wired

“Much in the same way that Google’s neural networks learned that cats and dogs are different animals that people like to keep as pets, Sopris’ algorithms learned to use context clues to pull out the medically actionable parts of a conversation. … “What’s really cool is it’s changing physician behavior in a good way,” he says. “The app forces them to practice active listening, double-checking with patients that they got everything right. Which they actually have time for, now that they’re not sitting at a computer for six hours a day.””

The Fascinating Way That Words Can Change How We Perceive ColorsMental Floss

“While modern Japanese has two distinct words for blue and green, Old Japanese had one term for both of them, ao. This historic link between the two colors still exists in some uses. Japanese stoplights use ao as the color for “go”—meaning that sometimes, they use blue instead of green. Several other languages historically had one term that can refer to either green or blue—what linguists call “grue”— including Vietnamese, Welsh, and Pashto.” — The computers have a long way to go in order to capture a canonical model of humans in their cultural context. AFAIK, we still have yet to create a reference model mapping pixel colour to the perceived semantics.

Troubling Tech News from CanadaBeyond Search

“As part of a globe-spanning investigation released Wednesday, researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab say they have found fresh evidence that internet-filtering technology developed by Waterloo, Ont.-based Netsweeper is being used in 10 countries to censor access to news, religious content, LGBTQ+ resources, and political campaigns.” — Don’t do unto others, etc. If computers had an EthOS, would they run this software?

Oracle to Launch Its Blockchain Platform This MonthCoindesk

Get ready to pay your Larry tax*! (*Coins not accepted, hard currency only.)

Alexa can unlock your smart locks nowCNET

The risk is obvious. Meanwhile… Delivery Driver for Amazon Steals Puppy. “Woof” is obviously a bad password choice for the kennel smart lock. Oh, and Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t. You just have to ask your dog, who can hear ultrasound, to interpret. In unrelated news, I wonder why people in America have stopped naming their babies Alexa, and experts say keep Amazon’s Alexa away from your kids?

From Twitter:

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