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.

I have begun collating my ‘interesting links’ each week. Here’s another collection for you to enjoy. They offer hints about the world we live in, and the one we might wish to pass on to future generations. I’ll keep doing this as long as I feel motivated!

You can join my email discussion group The Internet is Just a Prototype by paying to get in as a patron of my more benevolent public works. I am only offering a limited number of paid places; most people are invite only.

The book of the week is the just-launched Re-Engineering Humanity by Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger. Being someone of little patience for linear text, I only read about one book a year. This may be 2018’s book.

“RIGHTS FOR ROBOTS: EU reveals plans for new class of AI electro-person” — Express

“EU politicians point towards the fact that robots could become or be made self-aware by means of artificial intelligence. Its report says robots “would be equipped with certain rights and responsibilities and be held responsible for any damages caused”.… Even a mandatory insurance has been suggested by EU MPs, which would say that the manufacturer of the autonomous robot needs to arrange insurance, against any ill effects of their creations. The insurance system could possibly be supplemented by a “higher level fund”.”

The epidemic of loneliness: Individuals lacking social connections are at risk for premature mortality — Signs Of The Times

“As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.” — If social media is the new tobacco, what should the health warnings look like? “Meditate today, or else!”

“Refresher” – GCR/RV [Global Currency Reset/Revaluation] Intel Update – Sunday – 4.15.18 — Intel blog

“You see, the way global markets were set up post WW2, there was to be humanitarian percentage coming off all global trades for sovereign capital needs, weather disaster or basic infrastructure funding—which sadly was correctly designed within the original Bretton Woods System when all new monies were first originated onto the global financial trading platform…” — The eye-catching idea being to architect humanitarian funds into the financial system as a first-class feature, rather than an optional extra. Maybe a design pattern to hold in mind for the future?

How to keep your ISP’s nose out of your browser history with encrypted DNS — Ars Technica

“While executed with some unique Cloudflare flare, isn’t the first encrypted DNS service by any means—Quad9, Cisco’s OpenDNS, Google’s service, and a host of smaller providers support various schemes to encrypt DNS requests entirely. But encryption doesn’t necessarily mean that your traffic is invisible; some encrypted DNS services log your requests for various purposes. Cloudflare has promised not to log individuals’ DNS traffic and has hired an outside firm to audit that promise.” — You have to be spectacularly informed and motivated today to enjoy privacy.

The Esoteric Structure Of The Alphabet [PDF] —  Alvin Boyd Kuhn

Still only part of the way through, but I will never look at an ankh in the same way ever again! Only learnt the word “semiotics” last year, and still coming to appreciate the depth of ignorance I have in the meaning of the symbols we use to communicate.

Google to publishers on GDPR: “Take it or leave it” — Digital Content Next

“With a mere six weeks left until GDPR enforcement, Google has unilaterally rolled out terms at the last minute that it hopes the industry will simply accept. Instead of acting like a good partner, Google is offering a “take it or leave it” approach while prioritizing its dominant marketplace position. The GDPR was not intended to be used as a tool to further entrench Google’s dominance…”

TED 2018: The smart home that spied on its owner — BBC News Technology (via i-uv)

“But while some consumers are prepared to part with their data for the convenience of access to free services such as Facebook and Google, Ms Hill did not feel this was true of her smart experiment. “My smart home was not convenient. Things didn’t work, the smart coffee was horrible, Alexa didn’t understand us and my take-away was that the privacy trade-off was not worth it.””

PedoGate Indictment Unsealed – 73% Of Suspected Child Trafficking Reports Involved Backpage And The Trump Administration Shut Them Down — All News PipeLine

This last week’s big Internet news is the closure of, due to its close affinity to human trafficking and child abuse. It seems the problem has not been the existence of appropriate law, but rather the lack of its enforcement.

Key quote: “Within the Senate report it is also noted that multiple states, including California, Tennessee, NJ, Washington, and others, have unsuccessfully attempted to hold Backpage legally responsible for the deliberate exploitation and trafficking of minors, as Backpage invoked the liability immunity clause of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to have the charges dismissed. This is most likely the reason the indictment specifically mentions that Backpage was editing the the ads to remove mention of the victims age, then publishing the edited ad.”

Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein – A Short Film — YouTube

From the intro: “Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme – but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.” — 12 minutes of viewing, a gentle provocation for all.

Was There a Civilization On Earth Before Humans? — The Atlantic

“The extensive use of fertilizer, for example, keeps 7 billion people fed, but it also means we’re redirecting the planet’s flows of nitrogen into food production. Future researchers should see this in characteristics of nitrogen showing up in sediments from our era. Likewise our relentless hunger for the rare-Earth elements used in electronic gizmos. Far more of these atoms are now wandering around the planet’s surface because of us than would otherwise be the case. They might also show up in future sediments, too. Even our creation, and use, of synthetic steroids has now become so pervasive that it too may be detectable in geologic strata 10 million years from now.” — The interesting paradox being that the more advanced the civilisation, and hence its likely longevity, the less visible impact it may have on its planet, and the less trace it leaves behind.

These Ex-Spies Are Harvesting Facebook Photos For A Massive Facial Recognition Database — Forbes

“Though Terrogence is primarily focused on helping intelligence agencies and law enforcement fight terrorism online, LinkedIn profiles of current and former employees indicate it’s also involved in other, more political endeavours. One ex-staffer, in describing her role as a Terrogence analyst, said she’d “conducted public perception management operations on behalf of foreign and domestic governmental clients,” and used “open source intelligence practices and social media engineering methods to investigate political and social groups.”” — Nobody should ever hold intimate biosensed data about you without your permission. Ever.

Better Technology Isn’t The Solution To Ecological Collapse — P2P Foundation

“They ran a model showing that under business-as-usual conditions, growth will drive global resource use to a staggering 180 billion tons per year by 2050. At more than three times the safe limit, that means game over for human civilization as we know it.”

What Comes After The Social Media Empires — BuzzFeed

“In all seriousness, the times have changed, mostly because the platforms’ advertising business forces have changed. Massive scale turns out to have special disadvantages. Bad actors take advantage of that scale, bringing associated bad optics and regulatory scrutiny. And when that crosses over into, for instance, Sinhalese or child exploitation videos — forget about it. So the toxic politics, the controversy, the edge are all bad for business. And meanwhile, the forces of fragmentation in tech and the culture have opened new doors for small new rivals.”

From Twitter:

And finally… a YouTube video I haven’t (yet) watched… Face to Face with John Mcafee on Cryptocurrency, but which comes recommended via email:

“John McAfee is not just a technology wizard, he is also a philosopher. His comments in history — on using blockchain to create a world in which lies are eradicated and truth is a common currency — are epic. His comments of replacing all the elements of #GoogleGestapo are also epic.”

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