technoutopianism

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pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin

banking crisis, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, cashless society, collective bargaining, computer age, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, general-purpose programming language, George Gilder, global village, hiring and firing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, pink-collar, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, Thorstein Veblen, Toyota Production System, trade route, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

Carlyle, Thomas, "Signs of the Times," Edinburgh Review 49, June 1829, pp. 439-459, reprinted in abridged version as "The Mechanical Age' in Clayre, A1asdair, ed., Nature and Industrialization: An Anthology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 229-231. 5. Segal, Howard, "The Technological Utopians," in Com, pp. 119-120; Segal, Technological Utopianism in American Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 20. 6. Howard, Albert, The Milltillionaire (Boston: 1895), p. 9. 7. Segal, "The Technological Utopians," in Com, p. 124. 8. Schindler, Solomon, Young West: A Sequel to Edward Bellamy's Celebrated Novel "Looking Backward" (Boston: Arena, 1894), p. 45. 9· Howard, p. 17· 10. Clough, Fred M., The Golden Age, Or the Depth of Time (Boston: Roxburgh, 1923), p. 34· 11. Kirwan, Thomas, Reciprocity (Social and Economic) in the 30th Century, the Coming Cooperative Age; A Forecast of the World's Future (New York: Cochrane, 19 09), p. 53· 300 Notes 12.

The pneumatic underground, says one citizen of utopia, is "like a gigantic mill, into the hopper of which goods are being constantly poured by the trainload and shipload, to issue at the other end in packages of pounds and ounces, yards and inches, pints and gallons, corresponding to the infinitely complex personal needs of half a million people."12 All of these inventions, claimed the new technological utopians, would mean freedom from "all of the annoyances" of housekeeping and work. The goal of the new order was to use increasingly sophisticated technologies to provide "everything for comfort, economy, convenience and freedom from care that a corporate intelligence could think Of"13 Most of the technological utopians thought their visions of the future would be realized in the United States and elsewhere within one hundred years. They were convinced that science and technology would replace divine inspiration and intervention, creating a new secular theology more powerful than any conceived by the men of the Church.

Later, Christian clerics held out the promise of eternal salvation in the heavenly kingdom. In the modem age, the idea of a future technological utopia has served as the guiding vision of industrial society. For more than a century utopian dreamers and men and women of science and letters have looked to a future world where machines would replace human labor, creating a near-workerless society of abundance and leisure. Nowhere has the techno-utopian vision been more passionately embraced than in the United States. It was in the fertile intellectual soil of the young America that two great philosophical currents came together to create a unique new image of the future. The first of those currents focused on the heavens and eternal redemption, the second on the forces of nature and the pull of the market. From the first century of American nationhood, these two powerful philosophical orientations worked hand-in-hand to conquer a continent.


pages: 283 words: 85,824

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional

However imprecisely the terms are applied, the dichotomy of open versus closed (sometimes presented as freedom versus control) provides the conceptual framework that increasingly underpins much of the current thinking about technology, media, and culture. The fetish for openness can be traced back to the foundational myths of the Internet as a wild, uncontrollable realm. In 1996 John Perry Barlow, the former Grateful Dead lyricist and cattle ranger turned techno-utopian firebrand, released an influential manifesto, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” from Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum, the annual meeting of the world’s business elite. (“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone.… You have no sovereignty where we gather.”)

It wasn’t that the WikiLeaks mastermind had lost faith in people to think for themselves; rather, he recognized that they lacked the time the task required and the power to legitimize and publicize the results. Motivation and resources, time and power—these are assets that are not evenly distributed, even if the Internet has removed many of the old barriers to entry. They are inequalities that we must take into account when we talk about the network’s “level playing field.” The desire to transcend earthly inequality has suffused discussions of the Internet for decades. Early techno-utopians long ago declared that even the atom was “past” and promised the “tyranny of matter” overthrown.1 The terrestrial and corporeal, they confidently predicted, would soon be abandoned for the weightless Web. Unencumbered by our fleshy selves and released from the material conditions that constrain them, everyone would be made equal by binary code, free to participate as peers on an open network.

Analysts have cited as the cause everything from chauvinism and assumptions of inferiority to outrageous examples of real-life impropriety (including sexual harassment at conferences where programmers gather) to a lack of women mentors and role models. Yet the advocates of open source production continue to insist that this culture exemplifies a new and ethical social order ruled by principles of equality, inclusivity, freedom, and democracy.21 These statistics are significant not only because they give the lie to the egalitarian claims of techno-utopians but because they indicate the relatively limited experiences and assumptions of the people who design the architecture and systems through which we navigate and use the Internet. The values of programmers and the corporate officers who employ them shape the online worlds we inhabit. The choices they make can segregate us further or create new connections; the algorithms they devise can exclude voices or bring more people into the fold; the interfaces they invent can expand our sense of human possibility or limit it to the already familiar.


pages: 171 words: 54,334

Barefoot Into Cyberspace: Adventures in Search of Techno-Utopia by Becky Hogge, Damien Morris, Christopher Scally

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, information asymmetry, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, MITM: man-in-the-middle, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Hackers Conference, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

I don’t run ORG anymore, which is probably a good thing given how sceptical I became that its mission could succeed. It wasn’t that I didn’t think the techno-Utopians were onto something. I simply feared that the institutions of the old world they thought they could topple – be they corporations, media or politicians – had a lot of fight left in them. But if Barefoot into Cyberspace was intended to be a eulogy, I hadn’t figured on WikiLeaks. Almost from the moment I started collecting material for this book, their story began to trespass on mine. By the end of the year – 2010 – in which the majority of this book was written, the culture I’d been a part of for almost a decade was headline news all over the world. It’s too early to tell what effect that will have on the techno-Utopian dream. All I can say is that it transformed this project from an exercise in cultural anthropology into something more like an adventure story.

I had thought the web was where the children of the baby boomers got to have their own space, to play with their own ideas, away from the complex political legacy of gender equality and identity politics, of the cult of the individual and the advance of corporate “freedom”. But it turned out all we were doing was gardening in someone else’s Utopia. I ask Stewart if he would describe himself these days as a techno-Utopian. “The very concept of techno-Utopian”, he replies, “would be part of what we trend against. Because techno-Utopia says Brave New World. We, the technoids, know the future and are spelling it out for you. That’s what Utopia is. It’s there in Plato and it’s there in Thomas More. “Utopias in practice are invariably Dystopias. So Utopia tells you that Dystopia will happen when you try to plan ahead.” In the final paragraphs of his declaration, John Perry Barlow’s defies the ability of states to regulate the ’net, and sets out his belief in the virtual Utopia which is to come: In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis.

“We might have petered out anyway but that was a real kind of angry activist split in my life where I felt like these people, who had said to us: ‘Our mission is to turn you into our successors and we recognise that young people have the capacity to do anything in the world,’ had then said: ‘Actually, that was just bullshit. Young people can’t really do anything, you know. Young people are just kids. You guys are just kids.’” * * * Bound up in the lifted copies of the Whole Earth Catalog, Cory took his techno-Utopianism with him when he left Grindstone. But it didn’t always go down well in eighties Canada. “Being a technology fan among lefties of that era means that you were kind of a pariah,” he explains, “Techno-Utopianism was not widely understood and technology was seen as, well… I was out there protesting cruise missile guidance systems, but the internet came from [the US military research agency] DARPA.” Nonetheless, Cory spent his late teens and early twenties working with activists and other non-profit organisations, attempting to switch them on to the potential of the new networked communications space.


pages: 527 words: 147,690

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

23andMe, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, basic income, Brian Krebs, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, game design, global village, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, license plate recognition, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, pre–internet, price discrimination, price stability, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social graph, social intelligence, social web, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telemarketer, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zipcar

It’s also a response to cyber-libertarianism, the reigning industry philosophy, which holds that large corporations, freed from the shackles of government regulation, claim to know what’s best for us and that digital life is inherently emancipatory. (Mostly, we’re only surrendering ourselves, in the form of data and personal autonomy, to oligarchic platform owners, who sell us to advertisers, data brokers, and intelligence agencies.) Popular tech writing tends to fluctuate between the two poles of Luddite rejection and unvarnished techno-utopianism. The former is generally considered far less respectable and easily stigmatized. As Richard Byrne wrote in The Baffler, “In the straitened and highly ritualized discourse of tech boosterism, ‘Luddite’ has become a catchall dirty word for anything that stands in its way.” Byrne’s smart essay about the history of Luddism offered a necessary revisionist take, showing how it really began as a labor movement concerned with workers’ rights and how automation would deprive skilled workers of their livelihoods.

Byrne’s smart essay about the history of Luddism offered a necessary revisionist take, showing how it really began as a labor movement concerned with workers’ rights and how automation would deprive skilled workers of their livelihoods. In other words, it’s a surprisingly contemporary, flexible belief system, not the rigid extremism of the Unabomber. But even if this book is fated to be categorized as the work of a digital skeptic or neo-Luddite, I would argue in return that such perspectives are needed. Techno-utopians have plenty of allies—in business, in government, in media, in every celebrity with a million hard-earned followers or the fanboys who wait in line to buy a new Apple product on the day it drops. If there is actually some recurrent dialectic between technological skepticism and utopianism that we are locked into as a culture, then all the better that the people belonging to the former should be able to launch volleys such as this one.

In reality, the old powers still have standing in this world; they have the money and the guns. Their influence remains formidable and won’t be pushed aside by a popular hashtag. As the scholar Trebor Scholz notes, “The essence of technology is not solely technological.” Technology cannot be looked at outside of its relationship to politics, sociology, economics, or culture. Nor is technology something neutral, just a tool that can be put toward good or bad uses, as so many techno-utopians are fond of claiming. Digital technologies have certain capacities built into them, though some of them, as the U.S. military might say, are dual use. The GPS chip in a smartphone can help you find a local restaurant; it can also be used to track all of your movements. Other digital technologies are more obviously beneficent or pernicious. E-mail is mostly a useful, private communication tool—or it was private, until Gmail and the National Security Agency (NSA) got their hands on it.


pages: 302 words: 84,881

The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy by Paolo Gerbaudo

Airbnb, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, centre right, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, gig economy, industrial robot, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joseph Schumpeter, Mark Zuckerberg, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, post-industrial society, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, software studies, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas L Friedman, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, WikiLeaks

Luigi Di Maio celebrated the vote on Il Blog delle Stelle, the official party house organ, as a democratic consecration of the Contract for the Government of Change and the pact with Salvini. A few weeks later, eventually the Five Star Movement and Lega formed a coalition government which was dubbed by the press ‘yellow-green’, or carioca, because of the colours of the two parties (yellow for Five Star and green for Lega). How was it possible for an ‘internet party’ that had long been ridiculed by the mainstream media in Italy for its naïve techno-utopianism and dilettantism to enter government less than 10 years after its foundation? What led it to enjoy such a widespread popularity in the Italian electorate? What kind of political organisation and model of democracy does this formation put forward? And is the case of the Five Star Movement an Italian exception or also an indication of what is happening in other countries? To broach these questions, it is useful to do a flashback to September 2017, eight months before these events, watching a YouTube video showing Luigi Di Maio, the Five Star Movement leader and current Vice Prime Minister, before the crowds of Italia a 5 Stelle (Five Star Italy), the annual national gathering of the Five Star Movement.1 Just like prior editions, the event takes place in Rimini, a beach resort on the Northern Adriatic coast, which has a tradition of hosting political conventions at the summer’s end, when hotels start emptying out as vacationers return to Bologna, Milano or Munich.

While not employing the Pirate Party moniker, and not adhering to the Pirate Party International (PPI) which coordinates most Pirate Parties worldwide, other formations have emerged in recent years that come close in ideology to the Pirate Party. These include the Partido de la Red (Party of the Net) in Argentina, the Wikipartido (Wikiparty) in Mexico, and Partido X (X Party, also known as the Party of the Future) in Spain, which, as their names attest, make overt claim to being parties of the internet. Like the Pirates, these formations propose a technoutopian discourse which sees digital technology as leading us towards a better future. However, they have not been very successful in translating this vision into electoral results. So far, the most impressive manifestations of the rise of the digital party have come from parties that, although drawing some inspiration from the Pirates and similar formations, and sometimes espousing a similar rhetoric of the ‘digital revolution’, are far more ambitious in scope and less single-issue oriented.

Labour scored 66 per cent among those ages 18–19; it only had 19 per cent of support among those aged over 70. Finally, the typical voter of Bernie Sanders was said to be below 45 years of age. The sympathy of young people, especially those living in urban areas, towards digital parties is unsurprising for a number of reasons. First, young people enjoy higher than average levels of internet access, which means they are more likely to buy into the techno-utopian idea of the digital revolution as a positive change. Second, they have been disproportionately affected by the effects of the economic crisis, stagnating wages, unemployment and labour casualisation. Therefore, they tend to be more receptive to the message of social change offered by digital parties and their promise to redistribute wealth. In terms of levels of income and occupation, it can be said that digital parties are neither working-class nor middle-class parties.


pages: 237 words: 74,109

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener

autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, basic income, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, charter city, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Extropian, future of work, Golden Gate Park, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, job automation, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, means of production, medical residency, new economy, New Urbanism, passive income, pull request, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, union organizing, universal basic income, unpaid internship, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce, Y2K, young professional

The company had a real business model—selling private and self-hosted versions of the platform to corporations that wanted to apply the collaborative, open-source approach to proprietary software—and the public, free website struck me as radical. It offered unfettered access to the tools, knowledge, and online communities of the elite: a defensible allocation of venture capital. The startup glittered with idealism and old-school techno-utopianism. It was a corner of the industry that I found optimistic, experimental, and, most important, redemptive of the whole enterprise. I could see how it might actually make the world a better place. There was, of course, a red flag. That spring, the startup had been implicated in a highly publicized gender discrimination scandal. The first woman on the engineering team—a developer and designer, a woman of color, and an advocate for diversity in tech—had posted a series of grievances to the microblogging platform.

The platform genuinely improved the lives of developers, who were predisposed to simple, elegant solutions designed by people who thought just like they did. The company had been profitable practically from the get-go, and was a paragon of product-market fit: catnip for venture capitalists. The founders decided to do things differently. There was no one to tell them no. The company was modeled on the free software community, with its subversive, countercultural, and deeply techno-utopian ethos. For years, in emulation of the tenets of open-source—transparency, collaboration, decentralization—the startup was flat. There was no hierarchy. There was no org chart. Employees had named their own compensation, determined their own priorities, and come to decisions by consensus. The founders did not believe in management, but in meritocracy: the best would naturally rise to the top.

We became reluctant content moderators, and realized we needed content policies. My teammates were thoughtful and clever, opinionated but fair. Speaking for a platform, however, was nearly impossible, and none of us were particularly well qualified to do it. We wanted to tread lightly: core participants in the open-source software community were sensitive to corporate oversight, and we didn’t want to undercut anyone’s techno-utopianism by becoming an overreaching arm of the company-state. We wanted to be on the side of human rights, free speech and free expression, creativity and equality. At the same time, it was an international platform, and who among us could have articulated a coherent stance on international human rights? We sat in our apartments tapping on laptops purchased from a consumer-hardware company that touted workplace tenets of diversity and liberalism but manufactured its products in exploitative Chinese factories using copper and cobalt mined in Congo by children.


pages: 282 words: 81,873

Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein

23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator

In a Facebook post, he called for “a more politically correct” neoreactionary movement, with room for women and nonwhites, in what appeared to be an effort to cover toxic ideas with the veneer of tolerance and the language of campus liberalism. This “sanewashing” campaign, to borrow a phrase from Dale Carrico—an academic rhetorician in San Francisco who was both a skeptic and a close observer of the techno-utopian futurists, whom he calls Robot Cultists—was successful. Neoreactionary ideas were buffed and polished for polite company, then spread via social media to mass audiences by the apologists for a new global order that places tech executives at the top. Some of those apologists do concede that Silicon Valley rule would mark a reversion to feudalism, but then, they say, there is no alternative. “Our tech titans could save us from global ruin.

His name became more familiar in the American mainstream after then Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon (who would go on to become Trump’s campaign strategist and White House adviser) mentioned the heretofore obscure writer’s name in a BuzzFeed interview. As one scholar of right-wing traditionalism later told the New York Times, “The fact that Bannon even knows Evola is significant.” It was more than significant—it was alarming. Some who had been paying close attention to the techno-utopian scene were less than astonished to see Anissimov, long praised as a rising star, go the Nazi way. After reading one of Anissimov’s neoreactionary rants in 2014, the academic blogger Dale Carrico published the following told-you-so: Now, for years and years before what you call Anissimov’s “jolt to the right” I have accused him of advocating a reactionary politics of plutocratic corporatism, fetishistic militarism, and anti-democratic eugenic and technocratic elitism … Of course, he whined and denied this as name calling but never responded to the substance of what I was saying.

Within decades, Kurzweil figures, the unstoppable evolution of gadgetry will bring about the Singularity and all it entails: unlimited energy, superhuman AI, literal immortality, the resurrection of the dead, and the “destiny of the universe,” namely, the awakening of all matter and energy. Kurzweil may not be much of a scientist, but he is an entertaining guru. His fake-it-till-you-make-it approach seems in good fun, except when he uses it to bluff through life-or-death problems. What’s worse, powerful people take him seriously, because he is forever telling them what they’d like to hear and zealously defending the excesses of consumer capitalism. Like techno-utopians such as Peter Thiel, Kurzweil has long argued that corporate interests should be calling the shots in the “new paradigms” of the future. Such views are unsurprising coming from a longtime corporate executive and salesman. Fossil fuels wrecking the planet? No worries, Kurzweil declares. We’ll crack the problem of cold fusion soon, and nanobots—always with the nanobots!—will restore the ruined environment.


pages: 299 words: 98,943

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, back-to-the-land, clean water, double helix, George Santayana, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, life extension, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, stem cell, technoutopianism, the scientific method

Rumors of such cases were rife in the 1800s—such as folktales from New England of how poor families struggling to feed the household through the harsh winter months would give the grandparents large quantities of homemade liquor, lay them in a coffin and bury them in a snowbank. When spring finally came they would be hauled out, defrosted and (allegedly) revived—perhaps with the help of a little more moonshine. Whether modern techno-utopians believe these legends or not, they are convinced there is something in the idea of freezing bodies in order to ward off decay. At temperatures below –276°F, they argue, biological structures could be preserved for hundreds or even thousands of years without decomposing. Cryopreservation (that is, preserving things at extremely low temperatures) is already used for storing small samples of human tissue such as eggs and sperm.

Or, as many immortalists dream, it could be downloaded onto a new brain in a new biological body—but a superbody, immune to aging and disease. Philosophers call this “computational resurrection,” the rerunning of the software that is your mind on a new piece of hardware so that you might live again. The resulting being—whether avatar, robot or human—would be psychologically identical to you: it would remember your first day at school, support your favorite football team and think it was married to your spouse. According to the techno-utopians, it would therefore be you; after years lying dead in a freezing thermos, you would live again in a new and improved form. Mind-uploading has some important advantages over merely finding a modern elixir of life, which, as we saw earlier, would still leave you vulnerable to catastrophic accidents—your airplane crashing, for example, or being at the center of a nuclear explosion. You could make daily backups of yourself on your home computer, which would be linked to a central immortality factory.

Being all-knowing, DigiGod would also have the information required to create beings with psychologies identical to those of all the humans who have ever lived, and being all-powerful, he would also have the capacity to do so. DigiGod, according to these optimists, would therefore resurrect all of us—and create a fine paradise in which we can all live happily ever after. This is the most extreme version of techno-utopianism, and its debt to the Judeo-Christian tradition is obvious. It is a wonderful demonstration of human ingenuity in weaving an immortality narrative from scraps of science, myth and speculation. This vision has reached its clearest expression in the work of the theoretical physicist Frank Tipler, who has gone as far as arguing that something like DigiGod is inevitable according to the laws of physics, and that he will be able to take advantage of certain specific features of the final stages of the universe to create the perception of living for eternity for the universe’s inhabitants (Tipler calls this “the Omega Point”).


pages: 339 words: 57,031

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, bioinformatics, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, game design, George Gilder, global village, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, peer-to-peer, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Hackers Conference, theory of mind, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yom Kippur War

Like their brethren in Silicon Valley, conservative author and media analyst George Gilder, futurist Alvin Toffler, and Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were working to bring about individual liberation and government by contract and code. Together, Wired seemed to suggest, these two communities had set about to free America and the world from the rigid, oppressive corporate and government bureaucracies of the twentieth century. In 1998 Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron named Wired’s particular blend of libertarian politics, countercultural aesthetics, and techno-utopian visions the “Californian Ideology.” As they pointed out, by the end of the decade, its tenets had become the day-to-day orthodoxy of technologists in Silicon Valley and beyond. But this ubiquitous set of beliefs did not in fact grow out of the legacy of the New Left, as Barbrook and Cameron suggested. Rather, a close look at Wired’s first and most influential five years suggests that the magazine’s vision of the digital horizon emerged in large part from its intellectual and interpersonal affiliations with Kevin Kelly and the Whole Wired [ 209 ] Earth network and, through them, from the New Communalist embrace of the politics of consciousness.4 Although Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe founded Wired, and although Rossetto’s libertarian politics exerted a substantial influence on the magazine, Rossetto and Metcalfe also drew heavily for funds and, later, for subjects and writers, on the Whole Earth world.

CHAPTER 8 The Triumph of the Network Mode Looking back on the dot-com bubble’s spectacular collapse, we can be tempted to dismiss the millenarian claims that surrounded the Internet in the 1990s as little more than the cunning hype of those who stood to profit from the building of broadband pipelines, the sale of computers, and the distribution of soon-to-be-worthless stock. But that would be a mistake. Although Kevin Kelly, Peter Schwartz, and Wired magazine certainly helped fuel the raging optimism of the period, their technoutopian social vision in fact reflected the slow entwining of two far deeper transformations in American society. The first of these was technological. Over the previous forty years, the massive, stand-alone calculating machines of the cold war had become desktop computers, linked to one another in a vast network of communication that reached into almost every corner of the civilian world. This shift in computing technology took place, however, alongside a second, cultural transformation.

They also produced new social networks and, in Brand’s case, new information systems, such as catalogs, meetings, and online gatherings. These systems in turn hosted and helped to create new social and professional networks and at the same time modeled the networks’ governing ideals. By the 1990s, each of these elements had come to play an important role in building the rhetorical and social infrastructure on which the technoutopianism of the decade depended. But they also represented a new, networked mode of organizing the production of goods, information, and social structure itself. Fifty years earlier, across the military, industry, and academe, the dominant mode of organizing work was bureaucratic. Universities, armies, corporations— outside their research laboratories and designated think tanks—all featured vertical chains of command, long-term employment prospects, clear distinctions between individuals and their professional positions, firm boundaries between the organization and the outside world, and reward systems based on some combination of merit and seniority.1 By the end of the twentieth century, however, these bureaucratic organizations had begun to lose their shape.


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To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

Esfandiary to reflect his conviction that the problem of human mortality would be solved by the year 2030—though I could not say precisely which dewar contained them, because for security reasons members of the public were not to be informed of the specific resting places of individual cryonauts. Max had mentioned to me that his wife, Natasha, had been involved with FM-2030 when they first met, and so I became briefly preoccupied, there in the care bay, with the gothic richness, as an idea, of this man charged with the maintenance of the corpse of his wife’s former lover, a techno-utopian who believed in his own exemption from death. But to reiterate: for Max, as for anyone who signs up to cryonics and its taxonomy, these are by no means corpses. “Cryonics,” as he put it, “is really just an extension of emergency medicine.” It would be easy, in the light of this seemingly bald denial of clinical orthodoxy, to portray cryonics as some kind of cult, or to view this place as a satirical diorama on the theme of modern scientism and its tragicomic excesses.

It was a central premise of cryonics that real death, actual death, occurred not when the heart stopped beating, but several minutes later, when the body’s cell and chemical structures began to disintegrate to the point where no technology could restore them to their original state. And so these cryopreserved corpses were not by conventional standards deceased—were not, that is to say, corpses at all—but rather human beings preserved between conditions of life and death, abiding in some state outside of time itself. And standing in the cool of the care bay, surrounded by the unseen bodies and severed heads of techno-utopians, I thought of the Catholic concept of limbo, a place that was neither heaven nor hell, but a state of suspension, a holding pattern for the souls of the righteous who had died before they could be properly redeemed by the coming of Christ, and must wait in ontological détente for that day of salvation. Here in the Sonoran Desert, I thought, protected by stainless steel receptacles and Kevlar walls and bulletproof glass, these patient souls were being held in a state of hopeful deferral, until the future came to deliver them from their own deaths.

Kurzweil is an inventor of many ingenious devices—the flatbed scanner, the print-to-speech reading machine for the blind—and the cofounder, with Stevie Wonder, of Kurzweil Music Systems, whose synthesizers are used by such diverse acts as Scott Walker and New Order and “Weird Al” Yankovic. As a writer, he is a controversial figure, a business-casual mystic whose arcane projections chart the furthest reaches of techno-utopian speculation. But he is by no means a marginal presence in the tech world; he is, rather, a tutelary spirit of Silicon Valley—a status that was more or less formalized in 2012, when he was brought in as director of engineering at Google, to act as thought-leader-in-chief for the company’s pursuit of machine learning. Kurzweil’s Singularity is a wildly multifarious vision of technological abundance, a feverishly detailed teleology in which all of history converges toward an apotheosis of pure mind.


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Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, liberation theology, libertarian paternalism, longitudinal study, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

In the long run, there are no unintended consequences.35 Deus in Machina The Law of Amplification explains how technology can be both good and bad, and how its effect is ultimately up to individuals and societies. The law’s corollaries dispel myths about technology’s inherent powers, whether to lower costs, improve organizations, or decrease inequality. Amplification also pegs the responsibility for technology’s impact squarely on us. Techno-utopians see a world where technology saves us from ourselves. Cyber-skeptics imagine our creations running rampant. And contextualists often sound like apologists for luck. All of these views, however, smack of humanity’s naïve youth, when we thought our lot was up to the Fates, to nature, or to God. Both excessive faith in and frantic fear of technology are regressions to childhood, denials of human responsibility.

We’re obsessed with what works today, and what might be tomorrow, but we learn little about what came before. So at the University of California, Berkeley, I met with dozens of professors who had studied different aspects of technology and society. I spent hours tracking down dusty, bound volumes in the stacks of libraries across campus. And here is what I learned. Theorists, despite many fine shades of distinction, fall roughly into four camps: technological utopians, technological skeptics, contextualists, and social determinists. These terms will be defined in a moment, but one thing that jumped out was that the scholars fought like Furies. For example, the economic historian Robert Heilbroner wrote, “That machines make history in some sense . . . is of course obvious.”2 This view is called technological determinism, because it implies that technology determines social outcomes.

(That’s why the series needs an ample supply of aliens as plot devices.) As Captain Jean-Luc Picard explains in the movie First Contact, “the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives.”4 That is to say, in a few more centuries, advanced technology makes economics itself obsolete. Instead, people are free to focus on greater ends: “We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” Star Trek is fiction, but its technological utopianism is very real. MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte clearly shares it. So does Google chairman Eric Schmidt. In The New Digital Age, he and coauthor Jared Cohen wrote, “The best thing anyone can do to improve the quality of life around the world is to drive connectivity and technological opportunity.”5 And then there are technology cheerleaders like Clay Shirky, who shakes pom-poms for Team Digital in a book subtitled How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators.6 Many engineers and computer scientists also hold this view.


pages: 285 words: 86,853

What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing by Ed Finn

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, game design, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, High speed trading, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, late fees, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Lyft, Mother of all demos, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, software studies, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, wage slave

Corporations jealously guard the black boxes running these assemblages of data and process. Even the engineers behind some of the most successful and ubiquitous algorithmic systems in the world—executives at Google and Netflix, for example—admit that they understand only some of the behaviors their systems exhibit. But their rhetoric is still transcendent and emancipatory, striking many of the same techno-utopian notes as the mythos of code as magic when they equate computation with transformational justice and freedom. The theology of computation that Ian Bogost identified is a faith militant, bringing the gospel of big data and disruption to huge swaths of society. This is the context in which we use algorithms today: as pieces of quotidian technical magic that we entrust with booking vacations, suggesting potential mates, evaluating standardized test essays, and performing many other kinds of cultural work.

., 113 Foxconn, 133–134 Fox News, 170 Fredkin, Edward, 23 From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Turner), 46 Future of Life Institute, 191 Galloway, Alexander, 46, 50, 54, 121–123, 143, 144 Game of life, 29–30 Gamification, 12, 133 addiction and, 114–119, 121–122 blurred reality and, 120–121 chess and, 135–138 cultural transactions and, 119 culture machines and, 115–116 Deep Blue and, 135–138 enframing and, 118–119 exploitationware and, 115–116 Facebook and, 114–115 FarmVille and, 114–115 informatic control and, 122–123 interface economy and, 123–131, 139–140, 145, 147 Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Galloway), 121 Gates, Bill, 174 Gawker Media, 170–175, 210n35 Gender, 60–61, 80, 82, 210n43 Geocities, 209n20 Ghost in the machine, 55, 95, 183 Gillespie, Tarleton, 20, 46 Gilliam, Terry, 142 Glass Cage, The (Carr), 38 Gmail, 65–66 Gödel, Kurt, 24, 40 Gods, 1, 3–5, 7, 51, 57, 71, 83, 96, 113, 192 Golden Ratio, 2 Golumbia, David, 18, 21, 38, 45–46 Google advertisements and, 66, 74, 156, 158–160, 178 algorithmic arbitrage and, 111, 124, 155–156 algorithmic worldview of, 20 Alphabet and, 66, 155 anticipation and, 73–74 as arbiter of digital culture, 66 augmenting imagination and, 186 autocomplete databases and, 186 black box of, 169 Brin and, 57, 155–156 business model of, 20–21, 71–72, 93–94, 96, 155, 159 cloud warehouse of, 131 company value of, 158 cultural architecture of, 42 DeepMind and, 28, 66, 181–182 disruptive technologies and, 124 earnings of, 158 effective computability and, 42 global computation infrastructure of, 131 Gmail and, 65–66 gutter problem and, 110 impact of, 65–66, 87, 195 interfaces and, 66–67, 124 intimacy and, 75–76 KnowledgeGraph and, 71–73, 75, 94 Kurzweil and, 184 machine learning and, 66, 181–186, 191 Maps and, 59 market issues and, 66 massive infrastructure of, 131 Memex and, 188 neural networks and, 185 OK Google and, 51 ontology and, 159–160 Page and, 155–156 PageRank and, 20, 111, 155–159, 169, 177–178, 189 parsing data and, 182 pragmatist approach and, 18, 20 product improvement and, 42 programmable culture and, 169 Project Loon and, 66 Schmidt and, 66, 73, 127 search and, 26, 42, 48, 69, 75–76, 87, 157–159, 169 sharing economy and, 127 simplification ethos and, 97 Star Trek computer and, 11, 65–82, 159, 186, 191 system behavior and, 16 techno-utopian rhetoric and, 16 X Lab and, 66 YouTube and, 65–66 Google Glass, 66 Googleization of Everything, 68 Google Now, 51, 73–74, 76, 82, 160 Gou, Terry, 133 Grammar, 2, 16, 25, 38–41, 62–64, 110–112, 138, 178–179 Grand Theft Auto (game), 122, 124 Grinding, 120, 140 Guardian (newspaper), 170 Guattari, Félix, 76 Guilds, 121 Gutter problem, 110 Habermas, Jürgen, 105–107, 109–110, 114, 172–173, 175–176 Hackers, 1–5, 38, 46, 50–51 Hackers (film), 3 HAL computer, 181 Half-Life of Facts, The (Arbesman), 188–189 Halting states, 41–46 Hardt, Michael, 145 Hastings, Reed, 97–98 Hayles, N.

., 59 Jenkins, Henry, 102 Johansson, Scarlett, 78 Jonze, Spike, 11, 77–79, 84–85 Journalists, 3 automatization and, 38 Bitcoin and, 12 cultural values and, 171–172 Facebook and, 116, 170, 172 gamification and, 116 Gawker Media and, 170–175, 210n35 Google and, 75 Siri and, 58 Thiel and, 170–171 transactional algorithms and, 151 “Trending Topics” widget and, 180 Uber and, 129 Kael, Pauline, 175 Kasparov, Gary, 135–138 Kindle, 195 Kirschenbaum, Matthew, 47–48 Kiva Systems, 134 Kline, Ronald, 31 KnowledgeGraph, 71–73, 75, 94 Knuth, Donald, 17–18 Kurzweil, Ray, 184 Labor, 7, 18, 46, 122 Adam Smith on, 146 affective, 145–148 arbitrage and, 97, 112, 123–145 Bitcoin and, 164, 178 capitalism and, 165 cloud warehouses and, 131–445 culture machines and, 93, 119 deep structures of, 123 faking sincerity and, 146–147 feedback systems and, 145–148 HITs and, 135, 139, 141, 145 identity and, 146–147 intellectual, 12 interface economy and, 123–145 ludic, 120 mandatory smiles and, 146 Marx on, 165 Mechanical Turk and, 135–145 pickers and, 132–134 Taylorism and, 93 worker conditions and, 8, 132–134, 139–140 Lambda calculus, 24 Langlois, Ganaele, 111 Language abstraction and, 2, 24 advertisements and, 178 algorithms and, 24–28, 33–41, 44, 51, 54–55 cognition and, 39 color words and, 4 culture machines and, 39–40 epistemological layers and, 4, 11, 148, 155, 157, 175, 177, 188 ethos of information and, 159 grammar and, 2, 16, 25, 38–41, 62–64, 110–112, 138, 178–179 imagination and, 38, 185, 196 incompleteness and, 24, 40 as intellectual technology, 4 intelligent assistants and, 11, 57, 62, 64–65, 77 machine learning and, 2, 112 many registers of, 1–2 mathematics and, 2, 55 meaning and, 1 metaphor and, 183–184 (see also Metaphor) natural language processing (NLP) and, 62–63 of new media, 112, 122 plasticity and, 38, 191 power of, 1–2, 4–5 procedural, 3–4, 6 reality and, 1 rhetoric and, 6, 16, 22, 30, 45, 89, 96, 101, 104, 110, 112, 123, 127, 136 Siri and, 57–65, 71–84 spoken, 2, 58, 60, 62–63, 67, 84, 185 symbolic, 2, 26, 38–41 tricks and, 3–4 Turing Machine and, 33, 41 universal, 5 vocabulary and, 2, 4, 25, 138, 160, 190 Wiener and, 28 Language of New Media, The (Manovich), 122 Lawsuits, 90, 171, 175 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 25–27, 72 Lem, Stanislaw, 184 Levy, Steven, 3 Lewis, Michael, 12, 151, 153, 168 Leyden, Peter, 160 Library Computer Access/Retrieval System (LCARS), 67–68 Life magazine, 31 Literacy, 5, 39, 52, 75, 109, 129, 159, 177 LiveJournal, 209n20 Loebner Prize, 87, 203n50 Logic general substitutability and, 33 Gödel and, 24, 40 halting states and, 41–46 information theory and, 10, 27 invisibly exclusionary, 110 pragmatist approach and, 18–25, 42, 58, 62 process and, 41–46 proofs and, 15, 24–25, 41, 44 rationality and, 38, 40 symbolic, 2, 21, 24, 39, 41, 44, 54–55 “Long Boom, The” (Schwartz and Leyden), 160–161 Lyft, 123, 127–130, 145, 148 Machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) and, 2, 15, 28, 42, 62, 66, 71, 85, 90, 112, 181–186, 191 big data and, 90 computationalist approach and, 183 DeepMind and, 28, 66, 181–182 Google and, 66, 181–186, 191 imagination and, 181–186 language and, 2, 112 Netflix and, 182–183 neural networks and, 28, 31, 39, 182–183, 185 Siri and, 62, 182 (see also Siri) Turing Machine and, 182 (see also Turing Machine) Macy Conferences, 30, 199n42 Madrigal, Alexis, 92, 94–95 Magic agency and, 78 artificial intelligence and, 135–136 cached content and, 159 code as, 1–5, 8, 10, 16, 49–50, 196 computation as, 4, 8, 10, 46, 52, 59–60, 94, 96, 121, 161 constructed reality and, 39 curses and, 1 data cloud and, 131, 134 fantasy and, 121, 124, 126 government currency and, 172 hacker powers as, 3, 51 incantations and, 1, 3–5, 51, 196 invisible sides of system and, 178 machines and, 137–138, 188 Memex and, 188 metaphors for, 32–36 myths and, 1–2, 10, 16 ontology and, 62–65 ratings and, 130 rational language for, 25 shamans and, 1, 3, 5 Siri and, 59–60, 62–65 sourcery and, 3, 10, 17, 21, 33–34 symbolic, 105 Manjoo, Farhad, 75 Manovich, Lev, 112, 122 Market impacts advertisements and, 34 (see also Advertisements) arbitrage and, 152, 161 attention and, 119 automobiles and, 127 Bitcoin and, 163–180 crashes and, 151 cryptocurrency and, 160–180 digital identity and, 159 digital trading and, 152 eliminating vulnerability and, 161–162 encryption and, 153, 162–163 fungible space and, 54 gaming and, 119, 121 gaming the system and, 153 Google and, 66 high frequency trading (HFT) and, 151–158, 168–169, 177 hyperinflation and, 166 international trade and, 12 invisible hand and, 33 labor and, 8 (see also Labor) Mechanical Turk and, 135–145 NASDAQ and, 152 Netflix and, 87, 97, 107–110, 114–115 NYSE and, 152 parallel computing and, 139 pension funds and, 151, 168 Siri and, 59, 75–77 stock market and, 12, 15, 154 transaction fees and, 164–165 transparency and, 160–164, 168, 171, 177–178 virtuous action and, 146 Wall Street and, 16, 66, 109, 151, 153, 171, 185 Marx, Karl, 165 Master Algorithm, The (Domingos), 183 Materiality, 26, 47–49, 53, 133 Mathematics abstract symbolism, 2, 55 algebra, 17 Babylonian, 17 Berlinski and, 9, 181 calculus, 24, 26, 30, 34, 44–45, 98, 148, 186 complexity, 28 computationalist approach and, 23, 183, 185 Conway and, 29–30 culture machines and, 49–50 Descartes and, 26, 69, 75 effective computability and, 40 “extended mind” hypothesis and, 40 Fibonacci sequence, 17 Golden Ratio, 2 Hilbert and, 23 Hindu-Arabic numerals, 17 language and, 2, 55 Leibniz and, 25–26, 72 logic, 2, 10, 24 machine duplication and, 22 materiality and, 26 Moschovakis and, 17 Nakamoto and, 161–162 Netflix Prize and, 87–91 ontology and, 84 perceived reality and, 20 Post and, 9 Pragmatic Chaos and, 90 proofs, 15, 24–25, 41, 44 pure, 47 reality and, 34 Rendell and, 30 Shannon and, 27 Strogatz and, 44, 183 theory of computation and, 18 Turing and, 6–9, 23–30, 33, 39–43, 54, 73, 79–82, 87, 138, 142, 182, 186 Mathesis universalis, 25–26, 28, 72 Matrix, The (film), 3, 36, 109 Maturana, Humberto, 28–29 McClelland, Mac, 132–133 McCloud, Scott, 110, 154–155 McCulloch-Pitts Neuron, 28, 39 Meaning acceleration of epistemological change and, 188–189 algorithms and, 35–36, 38, 44–45, 50, 54–55 belonging and, 122 black boxes and, 7, 15–16, 47–48, 51, 55, 64, 72, 92–93, 96, 136, 138, 146–147, 153, 162, 169–171, 179 Chun on, 35 Cow Clicker and, 116, 118–119 cultural exchange and, 12, 111–112 data mining and, 175 decision-making and, 20, 28, 34, 37, 90 digital culture and, 3, 7, 18, 22, 43, 49, 66, 87, 156, 160, 191, 193–194 endless hunt for, 184 imagination and, 184 (see also Imagination) intimacy and, 75 language and, 1 Mechanical Turk and, 136–140 metaphor and, 183–184 (see also Metaphor) obfuscations and, 7, 55, 64 organization of, 8 PageRank and, 169 Siri and, 65 structures of, 89, 96 value and, 155 vs. information, 9, 9–10 Mechanical Turk Google and, 12, 135–145 history of original, 136–138 meaning and, 136–140 as metaphor, 143 von Kempelen and, 135 worker conditions and, 139–140 Mechanisms (Kirschenbaum), 47–48 Memex, 186–189, 195 Memory computation and, 18, 21, 37, 43–44, 51, 56, 58, 69, 75, 159–160, 176, 185–186, 191–193 culture and, 43 human, 37, 43–44 process and, 21 technical, 51, 192 understanding and, 37 Metaphor, 121 assumption of code and, 43 cathedral of computation and, 6–8, 27, 33, 49, 51 Church-Turing thesis and, 41–42 cloud, 131 for communication, 32–36 computational, 22 cultural, 50, 54 effective computability and, 34 human cognition and, 39 imagination and, 183–184, 189 interfaces and, 25, 60 Mechanical Turk and, 143 Netflix as, 96, 104 obelisk and, 155 reality and, 10, 50 Samantha (Her) and, 84–85 Microsoft, 97, 144, 152 Miners (Bitcoin), 165, 167–168, 171–172, 175–179 Money abstraction and, 153, 159, 161, 165–167, 171–175 algorithmic trading and, 12, 20, 99, 155 arbitrage and, 151–152, 155–163, 169–171, 175–179 Bitcoin and, 160–180 as collective symbol, 165–166 ontology and, 156–159, 178–179 Moore’s Law, 43 Morowitz, Harold, 23 Moschovakis, Yiannis, 17 Moth machine (Wiener), 31–32, 34 Musk, Elon, 191 My Mother Was a Computer (Hayles), 21, 93 Myths ancient, 28 Campbell on, 94 code and, 7–8, 16, 44 cultural space and, 5 culture machine and, 55 fantasy and, 78 government currency and, 172 human-computer interaction and, 36, 51 magic and, 1–2, 10, 16 material reality and, 47 ontology and, 26 origin, 68 personalization and, 106–107 power of language and, 6, 44, 196 Sumerian, 3, 5, 16 unitary simplicity and, 49 Nakamoto, Satoshi, 161–162, 165–167 Nam-shubs, 1, 3–6, 37–40, 56, 135 Nardi, Bonnie, 121 NASDAQ, 152 Natural-Born Cyborgs (Clark), 37 Natural language processing (NLP), 62–63 Natural selection, 44 Negri, Antonio, 145 Netflix, 161 abstraction of aesthetics and, 87–112, 205n36 abundant choices and, 176 arbitrage and, 94, 97, 109–112, 124 art of personalization and, 97–103 Bogost on, 92–95 business model of, 87–88 Cinematch and, 88–90, 95 commissioned shows of, 97–98 computationalist approach and, 90, 104 consumer desire and, 93–96 disruptive technologies and, 124 effective computability and, 93 Facebook and, 91, 110 fan making and, 100–101 FCC and, 90 genre categories of, 94 ghost in the machine and, 55, 95, 183 gutter problem and, 110 Hastings and, 97–98 House of Cards and, 11, 54, 92, 98–112, 192 influence of, 87 interface economy and, 124 Leibniz and, 26 machine learning and, 182–183 market issues and, 87, 97, 107–110, 114–115 metaphor and, 96, 104 ontology and, 92, 94, 96 original content by, 97–98 parsing data and, 182 personalization and, 97–103, 109 Pragmatic Chaos and, 89–90 predictor ensemble and, 89–90 quantum mechanics and, 91–94, 96, 99, 112 recommendation algorithm competition of, 87–91 rejection of big-data approach and, 11 serendipitous glitches and, 55 Spoiler Foiler and, 101–102, 108 streaming and, 90 system behavior and, 16 taggers and, 54, 88, 92–93, 96, 99 techno-utopian rhetoric and, 16 Neural networks, 28, 31, 39, 182–183, 185 New Digital Age, The (Schmidt), 66 Newitz, Annalee, 60 Newton, Isaac, 17, 166 New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 152 New York Times, 170 Nielsen ratings, 102 Note Book (Nunokawa), 53 @NSA_prismbot, 194–195 Nunokawa, Jeff, 53 Nyby, Christian I., II, 95 Of the Subcontract, Or Principles of Poetic Right (Thurston), 12, 140–145 OK Google, 51 One-way functions, 162–163 Ontology Apple and, 62–63, 65 computationalist approach and, 8 consciousness and, 178 culture machines and, 62–65, 68–69 Google and, 159–160 ideology and, 68 imagination and, 69, 73–74 of information, 8, 63, 69–71 mathematics and, 84 meaning and, 8, 21–22, 26, 39 money and, 156–159, 178–179 Netflix and, 92, 94, 96 Siri and, 62–65, 71–73, 82, 84 work of algorithms and, 122 Open source software, 6, 162, 167 ORION, 19, 47 Orwellian surveillance, 132–134 Page, Larry, 155–156 PageRank, 20, 111, 155–159, 169, 177–178, 189 Pariser, Eli, 46, 50 Parisian Great Exhibition, 80 Pasquale, Frank, 21 Pension funds, 151, 168 Perfect knowledge, 13, 65, 71, 73, 190 Perry Mason (TV series), 95–96 Phaedrus (Plato), 37 Phoenix, Joaquin, 77 Pickers, 132–134 Pitts, Walter, 28 Planned Parenthood, 64 Plato, 4, 31, 37–38, 40, 82 Popova, Maria, 175–176 Post, Emil, 9 Pragmatic Chaos (Netflix), 89–90 Pragmatist approach algorithmic, 2, 18–25, 42 effective computability and, 25–26 experimental humanities and, 193 growing power of computation and, 27 justice and, 146 models of reason and, 47 reframing humanities and, 193 Siri and, 58, 62 Privacy, 49, 62, 75, 90, 160–161, 163, 173 Private keys, 163 Programmability, 16, 178 Programmable culture, 169–175 Programmed Visions (Chun), 33 Project Loon, 66 Proofs, 15, 24–25, 41, 44 Protocol (Galloway), 50 Public keys, 163 Purdy, Jedediah, 146–147 Quantum mechanics Netflix and, 91–94, 96, 99, 112 Wiener and, 26–27 Raley, Rita, 194–195 Ramsey, Stephen, 52 Raymond, Eric, 6 Reading Machines (Ramsey), 52 Religion, 1, 7, 9, 49, 69, 71, 80, 136 Rendell, Paul, 30 Rice, Stephen P., 144–145 Rid, Thomas, 199n42 Riskin, Jessica, 136–137 Robotics, 31, 34, 43–45, 132–134, 188 Rood of Grace, 137 Rotten Tomatoes, 96 RSE encryption, 163 Samantha (Her), 77–85, 154, 181 Sample, Mark, 194–195 Sandvig, Christian, 107, 131 Sarandos, Ted, 98, 100, 104 Schmidt, Eric, 66, 73, 127 Schwartz, Peter, 160–161 Scorsese, Martin, 59 Searle, John, 4 Shannon, Claude, 27 Sharing economy, 54, 123, 127–129, 145, 148 Shoup, Donald, 127 Silicon Valley, 3, 9, 30–31, 49, 54, 87, 100, 124, 182 SimCity (game), 194 Simondon, Gilbert, 40, 42–44, 53, 59, 84, 106, 118 Singhal, Amit, 72, 76 Siri abortion scandal and, 64 abstraction and, 64–65, 82–84 anticipation and, 73–74 as beta release, 57 CALO and, 57–58, 63, 65, 67, 79, 81 cognition and, 57–65, 71–84 computationalist approach and, 65, 77 consciousness and, 57–65, 71–84 conversation and, 57–65, 71–84 DARPA and, 11, 57–58 Easter eggs in, 60, 148 effective computability and, 58, 62, 64, 72–76, 81 emotional work and, 148 Enlightenment and, 71–76, 79–80, 82 gender and, 60–61, 80 interfaces and, 59–60, 63, 75, 77 intimacy and, 11, 75–81 language and, 57–65, 71–84 launch of, 57 machine learning and, 62–65, 182 market issues and, 59, 75–77 meaning and, 65 ontology and, 62–65, 71–73, 82, 84 parsing data and, 182 performing knowledge and, 59–61 quest for knowledge and, 71–75, 82, 84 reading, 58–59 reduced abilities of, 59 speed of, 131 Skinner boxes, 61, 115–116, 119–120, 122 Smith, Adam, 12, 146–147 Smith, Kevin, 88 Sneakers (film), 3 Snow Crash (Stephenson), 1, 3–5, 9, 17, 36, 38, 50 Social behavior, 22, 146 addiction and, 114–119, 121–122 discrimination and, 21, 130 exploitationware and, 115–116 Social gaming, 114, 118, 120–122 Social media, 6 Arab Spring and, 111, 186 changing nature of, 171 digital culture and, 3, 7, 18, 22, 43, 49, 66, 87, 156, 160, 191, 193–194 Enlightenment and, 173 identity formation and, 191 in-person exchanges and, 195 intellectual connection and, 186 newsfeeds and, 116, 177–178 peer review and, 194 raising awareness and, 174 Spoiler Foiler (Netflix) and, 101–102, 108 transaction streams and, 177 Uber and, 148 Software agency and, 6 Apple and, 59, 62 apps and, 6, 8, 9, 15, 59, 83, 91, 94, 102, 113–114, 124, 128, 145, 149 blockchains and, 163–168, 171, 177, 179 cathedrals of computation and, 6–8, 27, 33, 49, 51 Chun on, 33, 42, 104 Church-Turing thesis and, 25 consciousness and, 77 dehumanizing nature of, 116 depersonification of, 6 digital materiality and, 53 experience and, 34 as foundation of computational expression, 47 imagination and, 186, 194 in-house affect and, 59 interfaces and, 124 (see also Interfaces) logic of general substitutability and, 33 Manovich and, 112 material layers and, 48 as metaphor for metaphors, 35 Metaverse, 50 networks vs. individuals and, 118 open source, 6, 162, 167 Pasquale on, 21 reality and, 10 self-modification and, 1, 38 Weizenbaum and, 33–40 Solaris (Lem), 184 Sourcery, 3, 10, 17, 21, 33–34 Space of computation, 2–5, 9, 21, 42, 45, 76, 154, 185 Spacey, Kevin, 98–99, 106–107 Spoiler Foiler (Netflix), 101–102, 108 SRI International, 57, 59, 63, 169 Srinivasan, Balaji, 169 Star Fleet Federation, 67 Star Trek computer anticipation and, 73–74 conversation and, 67 Google and, 11, 65–82, 159, 186 interfaces and, 67–68 LCARS and, 67–68 Memex and, 186–189, 195 public expectations and, 67 Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV series), 67 Stephenson, Neal, 1, 3–5, 9, 17, 36, 38, 50, 51 Stiegler, Bernard, 43–44, 53, 106 Streaming content, 49, 54, 87, 90–92, 97, 99, 101–102, 104, 205n39 Strogatz, Steven, 44, 183 Sumerian myths, 3, 5, 16 SuperPACs, 174 Symbolic logic, 2, 21, 24, 39, 41, 44, 54–55 Symposium (Plato), 82 Tacit negotiation, 20 Taggers, 54, 88, 92–93, 96, 99 Tanz, Jason, 116 TaskRabbit, 124 Taylorism, 93 Teller, Astro, 66 Terminator (film series), 191 Terrorism, 163, 178 Theory of Communicative Action, The (Habermas), 109 Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith), 12, 146–147 Thiel, Peter, 170–171, 174 Third parties, 59, 114, 125, 132–133, 147, 162, 170–171 Thurston, Nick, 12, 140–145 Tindr, 128 Transaction fees, 164–165 Transcendent Man (Kurzweil), 184 Transparency bazaar model and, 6 cryptocurrency and, 160–164, 168, 171, 177–178 feedback and, 146 freedom and, 9 interfaces and, 189 market issues and, 160–164, 168, 171, 177–178 politics of algorithms and, 18, 20 proprietary platforms and, 9 Traveling salesman problem, 19 “Trending Topic” widget, 180 Turing, Alan, 8, 23, 42, 79–80, 182 Turing Machine, 182 Berlinski and, 9, 24 computability boundary and, 23–24 concept of, 23 effective computability and, 42 finite-time processes and, 42 game of life and, 29–31 language and, 33, 41 McCulloch-Pitts Neuron and, 28 as though experiment, 23–24 as uniting platform, 25 Turing’s Cathedral (Dyson), 6 Turing test, 43, 79–82, 87, 138, 142 Turner, Fred, 3, 46 Twain, Mark, 151 Twitter, 53, 101–102, 173, 177, 179, 194–195, 210n43 Uber, 9, 12, 97, 138 abstraction levels of, 129 African Americans and, 130 business model of, 54, 93–94, 96 feedback system of, 145–148 interface economy and, 123–133, 145, 147 massive infrastructure of, 131 threats to, 129 Ubiquitous computation algorithms and, 3–4, 15, 33, 43, 54, 119, 124–125, 127, 178, 189–190 Bitcoin and, 178 colonization of margins and, 119 gamification and, 124 imagination and, 189–190 interfaces and, 189 Uber and, 125, 127 Unit Operations (Bogost), 118 U.S.S.


Active Measures by Thomas Rid

1960s counterculture, 4chan, active measures, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, Chelsea Manning, continuation of politics by other means, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, guest worker program, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, John Markoff, Julian Assange, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, peer-to-peer, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, zero day

The rise of networked computers gave rise to a wider culture of hacking and leaking. A diffuse group of pro-technology, anti-intelligence activists emerged in the late 1970s, gathered momentum in the late 1990s, and would unleash torrents of raw political energy another decade after that. Early hippie activists tapped into the power of First Amendment activism in the United States, later incorporating strains of techno-utopianism, hacker subculture, cyberpunk, anarchism with a libertarian bent, anti-authoritarianism, and an obsession with encryption and anonymity. Many early crypto and anonymity activists became known as the “cypherpunks,” after a famous email list by that name. The second issue of Wired magazine, issued in May 1993, featured three of these “crypto rebels,” faces covered by white plastic masks with keys printed on their foreheads, bodies wrapped in the American flag.

The Fifth Estate was a volunteer organization, with new headquarters established at 2000 P Street NW, just off Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The Fifth Estate grew out of late-1960s counterculture, and was especially inspired and modeled on the Whole Earth Catalog, then a cult publication. Produced in the San Francisco Bay Area by Stewart Brand, an iconic, technology-embracing hippie maven, the Whole Earth Catalog was an early techno-utopian vision of back-to-the-land living that embraced cybernetic feedback loops, community, wholeness, flattened hierarchies, and the motto “access to tools.” Brand’s catalog would become a prototypical social media platform (and later became the first actual social media platform when it was taken online, in 1984, as the Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link, or WELL). Inspired by Brand’s work, Butz, Osborn, and Peck aimed to consolidate their Counterspy bulletins into what they planned to call The Whole Spy Catalog, an ever-evolving catalog of their own that would be equally focused on tools and community-building.

Online sharing services, especially those with built-in anonymity, were tailor-made for at-scale deception. Dirty tricksters could now reach their target audiences directly. Cryptome, a radical transparency site and in effect the world’s first leak portal, was created in 1996 by the married couple John Young and Deborah Natsios to call attention to dual-use technology. Young had been active on the cypherpunk list, a loose group of technology utopians with an antigovernment, anarchist bent. From West Texas, son of an oil worker, he became an architect in Manhattan and lived on the Upper West Side. Yet for decades, Young operated Cryptome on the tiny budget of less than $2,000 per year.1 His vision was rather romantic: “Cryptome, aspiring to be a free public library, accepts that libraries are chock full of contaminated material, hoaxes, forgeries, propaganda,”2 Young told one interviewer in 2013.


pages: 290 words: 76,216

What's Wrong with Economics? by Robert Skidelsky

"Robert Solow", additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, full employment, George Akerlof, George Santayana, global supply chain, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, happiness index / gross national happiness, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, precariat, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, survivorship bias, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

Insofar as it is descriptive it is plainly inadequate; but is it not possible that description may, over time, come to resemble prescription? That people may actually behave more and more as economists tell them they do behave? This would be an ironic inversion of Bayes’ theorem, with the objective reality coming increasingly to resemble the subjective bets economists place on humankind. To transform human nature, not just to describe it, has always been the dream of social engineers, as today it is that of the techno-utopians. It is the foundation of the doctrine of progress. But how far can it, or should it, be pressed, before humans cease to exist in a recognisable form? And is there something irreducibly human which will resist the ambitions of the engineers of the soul? A better map The two main problems we have identified in this book are related: insufficient generality of premises (epistemology) and lack of institutional mapping (ontology).

One can think of them as ‘benchmarks’. To the economist this means a state of perfect efficiency: the efficiency of a perfectly frictionless machine. They have a powerful ally in computer technology, able to assemble and process masses of data in ‘real time’. This promises to realise, at no distant date, the economist’s vision of the human as a perfect calculating machine. The writings both of neoclassical economists and technological utopians reveal the prescriptive nature of their callings. They are allies in their ambition to ‘make the crooked timber of humanity straight’. So economists’ theories are meant to inspire greater efficiency. There is some evidence that the prescription works. In a marvellous book, I Spend Therefore I Am, Philip Roscoe (2014) reports studies which show that students of economics were markedly more calculating than those of other subjects, though whether it was their calculating nature which drew them to economics, or economics which made them more calculating, is not clear.


pages: 343 words: 102,846

Trees on Mars: Our Obsession With the Future by Hal Niedzviecki

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, business intelligence, Colonization of Mars, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Zinn, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas L Friedman, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, working poor

And when it takes shape, look for New Departure to provide the proper bearings to keep all moving parts functioning smoothly. New Departure ball bearings keep parts in perfect alignment, support loads from any angle and require little or no maintenance. Commenting on this ad, Matt Novak writes wryly: “General Motors, like so many advertisers that would come before and after them, loved to position themselves firmly at the future’s door. An association with the sleek, techno-utopian ideas that were just around the corner meant that even a product as boring as ball bearings could look as bright and sexy as a rocket to the moon.”35 What we elegize now—the promise of robot nurses, colonies on Mars and food replication machines, even the notion that once all of humanity was connected we would establish some kind of global nervous system that would make war inconceivable—were also part of a worldview, a psychological framework.

But, in fact, Terasem is only seen as being on the lunatic fringe because they are putting a spiritual spin on what is an otherwise increasingly mainstream technological goal—virtual life extension via mind-machine meld. In 2013, Martine Rothblatt, who is also the founder of the biotechnology company United Therapeutics, was one of the speakers at Dmitry Itskov’s 2045 Global Future Congress in New York City. Clearly, her spiritual beliefs fit right into the tenor of the times. In fact, they neatly dovetail with the overall techno-utopian belief system revolving around “faith in the (technological) future.” In this extreme but also now mainstream belief system the goal of technological upgrade, of speeding up the process of change, isn’t the perfect iPhone; it isn’t a device downloaded into your brain, amplified and accessed via Google Glass; it isn’t even an army of robots we control with our minds who do our bidding and create unimaginable wealth and luxury for all.

But if we want to accept where—and what—we really are, we will be required to embrace what Nietzsche called “a strict, hard factuality”; not hope, but “courage in the face of reality.”21 The reality is that no matter how many new livers and kidneys the labs will grow, how many versions of the tricorder we come up with, how many houses will be conjured from 3-D printers the size of dragons, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to situate hope in visions of a techno-utopian future nearer to us every day. Even Peter Thiel seems to be getting impatient with the bets he has made. “Moore’s Law is good if you’re a computer,” he said at a 2012 public discussion. “But the question is, how good is it for human beings, and how does this translate into economic progress for humans?”22 The answer to Thiel’s question based on the data we have, right now, in the present, is that Moore’s law is not translating into progress, economic or otherwise, for the people or other living things of our planet.


The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel R. Sarewitz

airport security, augmented reality, carbon footprint, clean water, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, different worldview, facts on the ground, friendly fire, industrial cluster, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, prediction markets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, smart grid, source of truth, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Whole Earth Catalog

In our line of work, however, the most common prescription is the further pursuit of Enlightenment rationality, achieved through some combination of two options: (1) "Do more research, reduce uncertainty, take action" and (2) "Educate the unwashed and the opposition." After all, if only everyone understood the facts, then the right course of action would become obviousthat is, either (a) embrace and promote technological change or (b) embrace and promote essential humanness. We see these sorts of approaches (the utopian, the hard-ass, the rational techno-utopian, the rational techno-dystopian) as further symptoms of the world we have struggled to describea world unable (and perhaps increasingly unable) to come to grips with what it does to itself. We will take a different tack and offer up a modest set of attributes, for institutions (ranging from governments to research organizations) and for individuals, that we think would help constitute a world better able to manage the complex consequences of its own ingenuity.

., 97 Soviet Union, 114 Space-time compression, 74 Spice Islands, 129 Stalinism, 31 Stem cells, 3 Steppe warriors, 129 Stirrups, 84 Stock, G., 19 Struldbruggs, 83 Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development, 122 Synthetic biology, 68ff Synthetic reality, 82 222 Index Taylorism, 79 Techno-dystopianism, 160 Technological Society, The, 44 Technological sublime, 198 Technology as cultural competitive advantage,84 as earth-system state, 84 and geopolitical dominance, 27 Technology clusters, 79££ Techno-optimism, 7 Techno-utopianism, 160 Telegraph technology, 72 Telepathic control, of avatars, 82 Terraforming,10 Terrorism, 125 "Think globally, act locally," 105,110 Time, measured differently, 72 Tour de France, 3, 4 Toxic chemicals, in manufacturing, 51 Transhumanism, defined, 5, 6 Treaties of Westphalia, 13 7 Trojan horse, 127 Twitter, 81, 144, 148 Umesao, T., 168 Uncertainty about future, 88££ United Kingdom, 144 United Nations, 112, 164 United States, 139, 183 and brands, 134 and climate change, 113 and geopolitical dominance, 27 and higher education, 134 and venture capital, 134 Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 139, 141, 151 Vaccines, 40ff, 46, 49ff, 60, 63, 98,107,174 Values, conflict of, 88££ Van der Leeuw, S., 9 Venter, C., 68 Vietnam, 131 Vietnam war, 136, 139 Vishnu, 10,78,119 Visvanathan, S., 66 War, laws of, 152 War Made New, 130 "War on drugs," 125 "War porn," 155 Watches, 34 Webber, M., 109 Webster, D., 74 Whitman, W, 74, 77 Whole Earth Catalog, 10 Wilson, E. 0., 122 Winner, L., 44, 45 Wired for War, 141 Wolfpack sensor system, 143 Woodhouse, N., 56 World Charter for Nature, 181 World Economic Forum, 49 World Health Organization, 48 World Trade Organization, 135 World Transhumanist Association, 5 World War I, 76,127,151 World War II, 127, 131 Xe,141


pages: 222 words: 70,132

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

And even Bowie knew he was lucky to have started his career in a predigital age, before music had become a commodity, telling a reporter in 2002, “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again.” When you think that Bob Dylan’s first album sold four thousand copies in two years, you realize that today his contract would never have been renewed. The techno-utopians like Alexis Ohanian told us that the Internet would “kill all the gatekeepers.” But what’s really happened is that a new set of gatekeepers—Google and Facebook—has replaced the old. Google’s market capitalization is $532 billion. Time Warner’s is $61 billion. The balance of power in the world of entertainment has shifted to monopoly platforms. To understand how that happened, we need to look at the nature of monopoly capitalism and how an old and largely discredited form of robber-baron capitalism took on a new form in the digital age.

Thiel’s icon Ayn Rand defined freedom this way: “To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” How far is this from Jefferson’s great inspiration, the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who defined the good life and freedom in the following terms? • The company of good friends. • The freedom and autonomy to enjoy meaningful work. • The willingness to live an examined life with a core faith or philosophy. If we think about the world techno-utopians are envisioning, it may be hard for the average citizen to have the freedom and autonomy to enjoy meaningful work. Would a life where your daily existence relied on driving four hours a day for Uber, serving as a concierge for your Airbnb guests in the spare room, and spending your evenings doing crowdwork on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk meet Epicurus’s test? And would you have any time to live an “examined” life?


pages: 50 words: 15,603

Orwell Versus the Terrorists: A Digital Short by Jamie Bartlett

augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Edward Snowden, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Satoshi Nakamoto, technoutopianism, Zimmermann PGP

fn2 Following the murder of Lee Rigby, it was revealed that Michael Adebowale, one of the two killers, had communicated his desire to murder a soldier via a social network platform (later revealed to be Facebook). Why, charged the Intelligence and Security Committee, who conducted an investigation into the affair, hadn’t this been picked up? Because of the processing power of modern computing and the explosion of data, people have come to expect that every bit of information and data can be collected and analysed, and things can be spotted in advance. This sort of techno-utopianism is questionable in principle and unworkable in practice. There are thirteen billion direct messages sent on Facebook alone every single day. Trying to spot the one that clearly hints at criminal intent is not an easy task – less like spotting the terrorist needle in the haystack, and more like finding a specific piece of hay. And there will always be an expert after the event retroactively predicting what happened and pointing the finger at the people who missed it.


pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, business cycle, buy and hold, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, creative destruction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, helicopter parent, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uber lyft, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy

Essentially, once you find yourself outside the frictionless world of perfect markets, there’s a potential role for an intermediary to sit between the two sides.14 Lots of market evangelists have taken the notion that better technology and more nuanced feedback algorithms will end the informational problems that were the focus of Akerlof, Spence, and other information economists. One article on the libertarian Cato Institute’s website recently trumpeted in its title that we are approaching “The End of Asymmetric Information.” We doubt it. They’re confronting some pretty thorny information and enforcement challenges, and it’s far from clear that the techno-utopians will win the day. A wronged textile merchant from medieval times or a disgruntled homeowner from 1980 has nothing on the parental anxieties of the twenty-first century. This has led to enormous inefficiencies in the market for babysitters, with parents focused on a narrow set of sitter options: the neighbors’ kids, a friend’s sitter, or a bonded babysitting service. Would-be babysitting platforms like Urbansitter and Care.com argue that some combination of background checks, customer feedback, and social network connections will be sufficient to get you to leave your toddlers alone with a sitter or nanny you’ve never met.

But to get your $60 billion valuation, you need to create as many frictions as possible for everyone else. Although proponents of the sharing economy tout its ability to reduce market frictions, the only way they’re going to make the kinds of profits they (and their investors) want is to create new ones. That’s something they’re not interested in talking about to the public at large, or to their representatives in government. This leaves a bit of a paradox in the techno-utopian free-market narrative. A great entrepreneur will use technology to create a fantastic new market, then will use technology to set up market frictions to protect it. As entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Competition Is for Losers.”12 Don’t get us wrong. We’re not faulting the market makers of Silicon Valley nor begrudging them for the profits they’ve generated and captured.


pages: 370 words: 129,096

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

addicted to oil, Burning Man, cleantech, digital map, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, global supply chain, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mercator projection, money market fund, multiplanetary species, optical character recognition, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

Forget about the mess you’ve made of the planet for a while. I’d long been a subscriber to this latter camp. Musk had struck me as a well-intentioned dreamer—a card-carrying member of Silicon Valley’s techno-utopian club. This group tends to be a mix of Ayn Rand devotees and engineer absolutists who see their hyperlogical worldviews as the Answer for everyone. If we’d just get out of their way, they’d fix all our problems. One day, soon enough, we’ll be able to download our brains to a computer, relax, and let their algorithms take care of everything. Much of their ambition proves inspiring and their works helpful. But the techno-utopians do get tiresome with their platitudes and their ability to prattle on for hours without saying much of substance. More disconcerting is their underlying message that humans are flawed and our humanity is an annoying burden that needs to be dealt with in due course.

More disconcerting is their underlying message that humans are flawed and our humanity is an annoying burden that needs to be dealt with in due course. When I’d caught Musk at Silicon Valley events, his highfalutin talk often sounded straight out of the techno-utopian playbook. And, most annoyingly, his world-saving companies didn’t even seem to be doing all that well. Yet, in the early part of 2012, the cynics like me had to take notice of what Musk was actually accomplishing. His once-beleaguered companies were succeeding at unprecedented things. SpaceX flew a supply capsule to the International Space Station and brought it safely back to Earth. Tesla Motors delivered the Model S, a beautiful, all-electric sedan that took the automotive industry’s breath away and slapped Detroit sober. These two feats elevated Musk to the rarest heights among business titans.


pages: 324 words: 80,217

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K

Since robots harvested the food we needed and built our houses in self-chosen tribal groups with independently chosen government structures, humans were free to imagine and create utopian worlds with more art and research than ever before. One of the themes of this book has been the narrowing of ideological horizons, the way that both political utopianism and religious idealism have lost their grip on the contemporary imagination. But a kind of pure techno-utopianism, infused with secularized religion, plainly still exists among the people who work at the existing technological cutting edge: they don’t believe God or politics can save us, but some of them still think that science alone will suffice to do the trick; that we can be as gods through the power of digital technology alone, and that if they just hang on long enough to see it, their bodies will be transformed, their minds uploaded, and their very selves freed, empowered, and near-permanently preserved.

For that to happen, not only would there have to be some syncretistic convergence at the popular level between Oprah devotees, practicing Hindus, and would-be druids and shamans, but the highbrow pantheists—the intellectuals and tastemakers—would need to embrace a clearer cultic aspect for their faith, a set of public rituals of the kind we associate with, say, classical Roman devotions, as opposed to just private experiences with ’shrooms or meditation. (Burning Man almost gets you there, but not quite…) Maybe that’s impossible; the Western intelligentsia tiptoed in that direction in the spoon-bending, “What’s your sign?” days of 1970s religion, but nowadays our intellectuals seem embarrassed by anything too frankly supernaturalist, and our Silicon Valley overlords prefer to launder their religious impulses through techno-utopianism rather than New Age rituals. Moreover, the last extended elite flirtation with neo-paganism reached a horrific apotheosis in Nazi Germany, and today’s elite is justifiably frightened of releasing those dark forces—meaning that they might cling to the egalitarian aspect of Christianity even if it’s part of a strained and incoherent world picture, rather than risking the aristocratic, decidedly inegalitarian temptations that can creep in when you make the natural world your moral standard.


Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead by Hod Lipson, Melba Kurman

AI winter, Air France Flight 447, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, computer vision, connected car, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, digital map, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, high net worth, hive mind, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, intermodal, Internet of things, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, lone genius, Lyft, megacity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, performance metric, precision agriculture, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed

Source: General Motors Figure 6.2 “Electricity may be the driver.” Driverless Car of the Future, advertisement for “America’s Electric Light and Power Companies,” Saturday Evening Post, 1950s. Source: The Everett Collection Figure 6.3 The electronic highway in action. Source: Radio Corporation of America (RCA), courtesy the David Sarnoff Library Figure 6.4 The “Turbine-Powered” GM Firebird concept car entering an autopilot lane. This techno-utopian fantasy was set in 1976 but created in 1956 for GM’s Motorama Exhibit. Source: General Motors Figure 6.5 The History of Driverless Cars: Key milestones in the evolution of autonomous vehicles. Figure 8.1 An infamous stretch of road in the DARPA Grand Challenge of 2005 called Beer Bottle Pass, approximately seven miles from the finish line, featured over twenty twists and turns. Source: U.S.

As described by its advertising, GM’s concept car, the Firebird, “anticipates the day when the family will drive to the super-highway, turn over the car’s controls to an automatic, programmed guidance system and travel in comfort and absolute safety at more than twice the speed possible on today’s expressways.”15 The Firebird, despite the appeal of its sleek lines and single, vertical rear fin, would be GM’s final high-profile foray into driverless cars for decades. Figure 6.4 The “Turbine-Powered” GM Firebird concept car entering an autopilot lane. This techno-utopian fantasy was set in 1976 but created in 1956 for GM’s Motorama Exhibit. Source: General Motors Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, other researchers continued to refine variants of automated highways using GM’s and RCA’s basic system of electrical cables, metal coils, and magnetic sensors. In the United Kingdom, the Transport and Road Research Laboratory tested a driverless Citroen DS that was guided by cables embedded in the surface of a test track.16 In the United States during the 1960s, Ohio State emerged as a leading research hub for a field of automotive engineering that, by then, was known as automated vehicle guidance and control.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

Hawking wrote that success in AI would be “the biggest event in human history,” but it might “also be the last, unless we learn to avoid the risks.”20 And here’s Michael Vassar, president of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute: “I definitely think people should try to develop Artificial General Intelligence with all due care. In this case all due care means much more scrupulous caution than would be necessary for dealing with Ebola or plutonium.”21 Why are people so scared? Let the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom explain. He’s hardly a Luddite. Indeed, he gave a speech in 1999 to a California convention of “transhumanists” that may mark the rhetorical high water of the entire techno-utopian movement. Thanks to ever-increasing computer power and ever-shinier biotech, he predicted then, we would soon have “values that will strike us as being of a far higher order than those we can realize as unenhanced biological humans,” not to mention “love that is stronger, purer, and more secure than any human has yet harbored,” not to mention “orgasms … whose blissfulness vastly exceeds what any human has yet experienced.”22 But fifteen years later, ensconced in Oxford as nothing less than the director of the Future of Humanity Institute, he’d begun to worry a great deal: “In fairy tales you have genies who grant wishes,” he told a reporter for The New Yorker.

If you were eventually able to engineer her to the point where dashing up Mount Everest presented no great challenge, you would have robbed the entire exercise of its point. Flow doesn’t increase if you have more ability; it simply requires challenge sufficient to your ability. We are already capable of being as absorbed and engaged as we ever could be. We’re good enough. 17 One reason that techno-utopians don’t worry about the loss of human meaning is because they’re not particularly attached to humans. There are, to be sure, plenty of doctors hoping for new ways to treat human suffering. But the streak of misanthropy that runs through the conversation of the digital and technological elite is hard to miss: Human brains, the artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky once explained, are simply “machines that happen to be made out of meat.”1 Robert Haynes, president of the Sixteenth International Congress of Genetics, said in his keynote address that “the ability to manipulate genes should indicate to people the very deep extent to which we are biological machines.”


pages: 364 words: 99,897

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Brian Krebs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, connected car, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, disintermediation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, distributed ledger, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fiat currency, future of work, global supply chain, Google X / Alphabet X, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, social graph, software as a service, special economic zone, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, Travis Kalanick, underbanked, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, young professional

Instead of radiation from an external source, which damages healthy living tissues along with cancer, these robots release a radio beam inside the body that emits radiation into cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy. Using 3D printing, a medical engineer can even create a customized implant that can travel through a patient’s body to fit perfectly where it’s needed. Despite the promise of robot-assisted surgery, it is important not to jump to techno-utopianism. Allegations of unreported injuries from robotic surgery are troublingly common. The Journal for Healthcare Quality has reported 174 injuries and 71 deaths related to da Vinci surgeries. With the pressure on insurance companies and health care providers to lower costs, I worry that there will be market forces pushing robots into the operating room at times when a patient is better served by a human being.

At last measure, the estimated size of the global sharing economy was $26 billion, and it’s growing fast, with some estimates projecting it will be more than 20 times larger in size by 2025. Part of why Chesky’s story is cloying is that Airbnb is now a destination for castles in addition to couches. When I last checked, there were more than 600 castles available, with prices often approaching $10,000 a night. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but the techno-utopianism behind its origins and narrative has long been passed by economic reality. In some cases, the sharing economy has turned what might have once been a casual favor into a financial transaction. That is hardly the stuff of “sharing.” In most cases, sharing-economy businesses are just businesses. Brian and Joe didn’t share their spare air mattresses; they rented them out. To the extent that there is an underlying ideology, it is not about sharing or creating community around the breakfast table; it is the economic theory of neoliberalism, encouraging the free flow of goods and services in a market without government regulation.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joan Didion, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

It seemed clear that those who controlled the omnipresent screen would, if given their way, control culture as well. “Computing is not about computers any more,” wrote MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Being Digital. “It is about living.” By the turn of the century, Silicon Valley was selling more than gadgets and software. It was selling an ideology. The creed was set in the tradition of American techno-utopianism, but with a digital twist. The Valleyites were fierce materialists—what couldn’t be measured had no meaning—yet they loathed materiality. In their view, the problems of the world, from inefficiency and inequality to morbidity and mortality, emanated from the world’s physicality, from its embodiment in torpid, inflexible, decaying stuff. The panacea was virtuality—the reinvention and redemption of society in computer code.

But in the same letter he disclosed the “large dreams” he harbored for “the bedazzlement of men.” Modern media needed its own medium, the voice that would explain its transformative power to the world, and he would take that role. The tension between McLuhan’s craving for earthly attention and his distaste for the material world would never be resolved. Even as he came to be worshipped as a techno-utopian seer in the mid-sixties, he had already, writes Coupland, lost all hope “that the world might become a better place with new technology.” He heralded the global village, and was genuinely excited by its imminence and its possibilities, but he also saw its arrival as the death knell for the literary culture he revered. The electronically connected society would be the setting not for the further flourishing of civilization but for the return of tribalism, if on a vast new scale.


pages: 121 words: 36,908

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase

Airbnb, basic income, bitcoin, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, fixed income, full employment, future of work, high net worth, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, litecoin, mass incarceration, means of production, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, postindustrial economy, price mechanism, private military company, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart meter, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck

So for me, sketching out multiple futures is an attempt to leave a place for the political and the contingent. My intention is not to claim that one future will automatically appear through the magical working out of technical and ecological factors that appear from outside. Instead, it is to insist that where we end up will be a result of political struggle. The intersection of science fiction and politics is these days often associated with the libertarian right and its deterministic techno-utopian fantasies; I hope to reclaim the long left-wing tradition of mixing imaginative speculation with political economy. The starting point of the entire analysis is that capitalism is going to end, and that, as Luxemburg said, it is either “transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.”27 So this thought experiment is an attempt to make sense of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if we fail.


pages: 390 words: 109,870

Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change the World by Jamie Bartlett

Andrew Keen, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, brain emulation, centre right, clean water, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, energy security, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, failed state, gig economy, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, life extension, Occupy movement, off grid, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, QR code, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rosa Parks, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism

The proposition that we will someday use biotechnology to make ourselves stronger, smarter, less prone to violence and longer-living is not so outlandish. Already millions of people use mood-altering drugs, substances to boost muscle mass or selectively erase memory, prenatal genetic screening and gene therapy. These don’t just ameliorate defects, but also enhance us. They were all viewed as unnatural, and immoral, not so long ago. But the science is not almost there. Like every techno-utopian, Zoltan appears to flit with misleading ease between science and fiction, taking any promising piece of research as proof of victory. The three main transhumanist technologies that excite transhumanists like Zoltan are life extension, cryonic freezing and mind uploading. Each of them is advancing quickly. But they are also highly speculative. Radical life extension seeks to use a variety of medical advances—tissue rejuvenation, regenerative medicine, gene therapy, molecular repair—to slow and eventually stop the process of ageing.

These issues will be, within a decade, major political questions as important as immigration or education are now. Zoltan is doing us all a favour by running his campaign. He’s the only political candidate trying to imagine what politics and policies might be in a world of continued and accelerating technological advance.* He might force other politicians to start thinking about it. But Zoltan’s techno-utopianism comes at a cost. Transhumanists’ exaggerated claims about the potential of technology to solve our most challenging tasks mean they ignore current problems and overlook the negative consequences of rapidly advancing technology. Politics involves trade-offs, difficult choices and compromises. Not for Zoltan, though, because there is no problem that technology can’t fix. At various down moments on the bus, I quiz Zoltan on his policies.


pages: 501 words: 114,888

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, blood diamonds, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, digital twin, disruptive innovation, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, experimental economics, food miles, game design, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hive mind, housing crisis, Hyperloop, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, loss aversion, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mary Lou Jepsen, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mobile money, multiplanetary species, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, QR code, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

Traditionally, the WEF’s concerns are economic—oil crises, financial crashes, that sort of thing. But 2018 marked the first time that fiscal fears didn’t make the top five. Instead, today’s biggest dangers are all ecological in nature: water crises, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, climate change, and pollution. Over the next few sections, we’ll examine how technology is helping us tackle the WEF’s top five concerns, but this doesn’t happen automatically. Ours is not a techno-utopian argument. Solving our planet’s ecological woes requires technology, for certain, but it also demands one of the largest cooperative efforts in history. If we can learn to work together like never before, we like our chances. But in light of these recent reports, sooner rather than later. And this brings us to Dean Kamen. Dean Kamen is a kind of geek superhero, a nerd Batman in a denim work shirt.

The combination of AI, 5G and AR/VR will provide low-cost education, entertainment, and healthcare to nearly every human on Earth, independent of geography or socioeconomic status. There are, of course, plenty of reasons to disagree with this idea. The gap between the wealthy and poor grows ever wider, and the notion that there’s an easy solution tucked inside our technology has been criticized as techno-utopian. But exponential technologies continue to march onward, and with them the ongoing process of demonetization and democratization. In January 2019, for example, a Wall Street Journal headline reported: “The world is quietly getting better.” The story that followed examined the latest World Bank numbers, which showed a continued decline in the number of individuals living below $2 per day, aka extreme poverty.


pages: 165 words: 45,397

Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming by Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby

3D printing, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, computer age, corporate governance, David Attenborough, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, haute couture, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, mouse model, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social software, technoutopianism, Wall-E

This limits and prevents designers from fully engaging with and designing for the complexities of human nature, which of course is not always nice. Critical design can often be dark or deal with dark themes but not just for the sake of it. Dark, complex emotions are usually ignored in design; nearly every other area of culture accepts that people are complicated, contradictory, and even neurotic, but not design. We view people as obedient and predictable users and consumers. Darkness as an antidote to naive techno-utopianism can jolt people into action. In design, darkness creates a frisson that excites and challenges. It is more about the positive use of negativity, not negativity for its own sake but to draw attention to a scary possibility in the form of a cautionary tale. A good example of this is Bernd Hopfengaertner's Belief Systems (2009). Hopfengaertner asks what would happen if one of the tech industry's many dreams comes true, if all the research being done by separate companies into making humans machine readable were to combine and move from laboratory to everyday life: combined algorithms and camera systems that can read emotions from faces, gait, and demeanor; neurotechnologies that cannot exactly read minds but can make a good guess at what people are thinking; profiling software that tracks and traces our every click and purchase; and so on.


pages: 509 words: 132,327

Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History by Thomas Rid

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, Charles Lindbergh, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, connected car, domain-specific language, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, dumpster diving, Extropian, full employment, game design, global village, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kubernetes, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, The Hackers Conference, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, Zimmermann PGP

Even under the most adverse conditions, technology was trustworthy—even if laws, even if society, and even if corrupt governments could not be trusted. May’s vision was nothing less than one of an automated political order. Crypto anarchy embodied the unshakable cybernetic faith in the machine. It combined Wiener’s hubristic vision of the rise of the machines with Brand’s unflinching belief that computers and networked communities would make the world a better place. A direct line connects the techno-utopianism of Timothy Leary to the techno-utopianism of Timothy May, cyberpunk to cypherpunk. Leary felt empowered by the personal computer. For May, just one ingredient was missing: the power of prime numbers. “Cryptography provides for ‘personal empowerment,’” he wrote in 1999.97 The cypherpunks had not a trace of doubt that crypto itself was libertarian, that increasing its use would steadily increase degrees of freedom available to the individual.


pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend

1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, undersea cable, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

The enormous cultural impact of that psychedelic freak-out on American society can be felt today, and it still casts a long shadow over San Francisco. There, Hirshberg has been a driving force behind a new creative space just down the hill from Haight-Ashbury, the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Both physically and spiritually, it sits at the intersection of that 1960s counterculture and a new techno-utopianism. It’s just a few steps to either Twitter’s headquarters or the head office of Burning Man, the radical art festival that builds a temporary city in the Nevada desert each summer. Though he takes inspiration from the hippies, Hirshberg is politically pragmatic. He soon slaps his laptop shut and stops playing dumb. “Look,” he says, “in the 60s you protested the establishment. Today you just write to its API.”

How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 19. 31Colin Harrison, interview by author, May 9, 2011. 32Jay Nath, “Hacking SF: Innovation in Public Spaces,” Jay Nath, blog, last modified April 12, 2012, http://www.jaynath.com/2012/04/hacking-sf-innovation-in-public-spaces/. 33Phil Bernstein, remarks, Bill Mitchell Symposium, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, Nov 11, 2011. 34“The Transect,” Center for Applied Transect Studies, accessed September 5, 2012, http://www.transect.org/transect.html. 35Red Burns, “Technology and the Human Spirit,” lecture at “The Future of Interactive Communication,” Lund, Sweden, June 1998. 36“Transdisciplinarity,” Science and Technology Outlook: 2005–2055 (Palo Alto, CA: Institute for the Future, 2006), 31, http://www.iftf.org/system/files/deliverables/TH_SR-967_S%2526T_Perspectives.pdf. 37Adam Greenfield, “Beyond the ‘smart city,’ ” Urban Scale, blog, last modified February 17, 2011, http://urbanscale.org/news/2011/02/17/beyond-the-smart-city/. 38Evgeny Morozov, “Technological Utopianism,” Boston Review, November/December 2010, http://www.bostonreview.net/BR35.6/morozov.php. 39Michael M. Grynbaum, “Mayor Warns of Pitfalls of Social Media,” New York Times, March 21, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/nyregion/bloomberg-says-social-media-can-hurt-governing.html. 40Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (New York: Harcourt, 1974), 32. 41Michael Joroff, e-mail correspondence with author, January 28, 2012. 42Janette Sadik-Khan, lecture, “BitCity 2011: Transportation, Data and Technology in Cities,” Columbia University, New York City, November 4, 2011. 43Guru Banavar, lecture, “X-Cities 3: Heavy Weather—Design and Governance in Rio de Janeiro and Beyond,” Columbia University Studio-X, New York, April 10, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?


pages: 170 words: 49,193

The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mittelstand, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, off grid, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, smart contracts, smart meter, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, ultimatum game, universal basic income, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

Economic to political to cultural I could stop here, but the next and perhaps final stage is when economic power morphs into what Marxists sometimes call ‘cultural hegemony’: where domination can be achieved through controlling the ideas and assumptions available to the public. The idea – associated with the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and his criticism of capitalism – is worth considering here, because there is little doubt that a techno-utopian view of the world has infected society. All technology encodes within it certain values and assumptions about how the world works. Gutenberg’s press was more than a mere printing machine – it popularised the ideal of free information exchange. Similarly, the nineteenth-century penny press papers created a new demand for gossip and a hard criticism of power. The telegraph system transformed people’s perceptions of time and distance, while the radio helped invent the concept of a single shared nationality, culture and language.


pages: 188 words: 9,226

Collaborative Futures by Mike Linksvayer, Michael Mandiberg, Mushon Zer-Aviv

4chan, AGPL, Benjamin Mako Hill, British Empire, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative economy, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Debian, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, informal economy, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, late capitalism, loose coupling, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Naomi Klein, Network effects, optical character recognition, packet switching, postnationalism / post nation state, prediction markets, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, stealth mode startup, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application, WikiLeaks

If so, it is a terrifying one in which anonymity and structurelessness permits total absolution of social responsibility, terrorizing of innocent outsiders, and harassment of those who provide public feedback, criticism and indeed even speak of the group (“You do not talk about anonymous”). It is a P2P, collaborative, digitized “Lord of the Flies” wherein boys’ games devolve into violence for fun. In the perpetual techno-utopian dialectic, this is the feared dystopian future we hope will be avoided, as we aim for the utopia that we can never actually arrive at. 5 2. How this Book is Written “Collaboration on a book is the ultimate unnatural act.” —Tom Clancy This book was first wri en over 5 days (Jan 18-22, 2010) during a Book Sprint in Berlin. 7 people (5 writers, 1 programmer and 1 facilitator) gathered to collaborate and produce a book in 5 days with no prior preparation and with the only guiding light being the title ‘Collaborative Futures’.


pages: 196 words: 54,339

Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff

1960s counterculture, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate personhood, disintermediation, Donald Trump, drone strike, European colonialism, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of work, game design, gig economy, Google bus, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, invisible hand, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, new economy, patient HM, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, theory of mind, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, universal basic income, Vannevar Bush, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

This vision still motivates the development of artificial intelligence, private space exploration, robotics, data surveillance, and life extension. Transhumanism exalts and preserves one particular expression of humanity, while leaving the rest of messy creation behind—or even exploiting it—in order to escape before the body dies or the world ends. 71. The transhumanist movement is less a theory about the advancement of humanity than a simple evacuation plan. Techno-utopians like to think of themselves as orchestrating a complete break from civilization—a leap into outer space, cyberspace, machine consciousness, or artificial life. But their ideas just extend our same blind addiction to consumption, destruction, progress, and colonization. Cyber-wettiko. European colonialists ignored the peoples and places they overran in their conquest of the planet in the belief that they were working toward some greater endpoint, some ordained destiny.


pages: 202 words: 62,901

The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations Are Laying the Foundation for Socialism by Leigh Phillips, Michal Rozworski

Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carbon footprint, central bank independence, Colonization of Mars, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, corporate raider, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Elon Musk, G4S, Georg Cantor, germ theory of disease, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, linear programming, liquidity trap, mass immigration, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, post scarcity, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, recommendation engine, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing

While Beer’s work, for which he had gained a substantial international reputation, focused on more efficient management techniques, according to Medina’s interviews with Flores, the latter was captivated by how the “connective, philosophical foundation” of Beer’s management cybernetics could serve Allende’s vision of an anti-bureaucratic democratic socialism in which workers participated in management and that would defend individual civil liberties. Management cybernetics, Flores reasoned, could assist the young government in “herding the cats” of the public and worker-managed sectors. The term “cybernetics” today has something of a naively techno-utopian aura, or even a body-horror, dystopic dread about it. But at its fundament, the field of cybernetics simply investigates how different systems—biological, mechanical, social—adaptively manage communication, decision making and action. The first edition of Beer’s 1959 book on the subject, Cybernetics and Management, does not even make reference to computers, and, as Medina is keen to stress, Beer himself was an intransigent critic of how business and government deployed computers.


pages: 229 words: 68,426

Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing by Adam Greenfield

augmented reality, business process, defense in depth, demand response, demographic transition, facts on the ground, game design, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, James Dyson, knowledge worker, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, profit motive, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method

In fact, almost every scenario we've covered is reflected somewhere or another in New Songdo's marketing materials; the developers have even included the pressure-sensitive flooring for the homes of older residents, where it's once again touted as being able to detect falls and summon assistance. It's quite a comprehensive—and audacious—vision. And while it certainly sounds like something out of AT&T's infamously techno-utopian "you Will" commercials of the early 1990s, New Songdo is entirely real. It's being built right now, at a cost estimated to be somewhere north of $15 billion. That financing for the project is being provided by international institutions like ABN Amro, as well as Korean heavyweights Kookmin Bank and Woori Bank, should tell us something. It doesn't even particularly matter whether few of the "enhancements" planned for this or other East Asian "u-cities" pan out entirely as envisioned; it's sufficient that hardheaded, profit-driven businesspeople think there's a reasonable chance of seeing a return on their investment in everyware to lend the notion commercial credibility.


pages: 237 words: 67,154

Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet by Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, capital controls, citizen journalism, collaborative economy, collaborative editing, collective bargaining, commoditize, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, deskilling, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, future of work, gig economy, Google bus, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, Internet of things, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, lake wobegon effect, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, minimum viable product, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, openstreetmap, peer-to-peer, post-work, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, SETI@home, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Zipcar

Some fledgling examples are La’Zooz, an alternative ride-sharing app; Swarm, a fundraising app; and proposals for the use of distributed ledgers to manage land ownership or critical infrastructures like water and energy. Many of these activities are difficult outside of local communities or in the absence of some trusted intermediary. However, I also think that much of the current rhetoric around the blockchain hints at problems with the techno-utopian ideologies that surround digital activism, and points to the assumptions these projects fall into time and again. It’s worth addressing these here. ASSUMPTION #1: WE CAN REPLACE MESSY AND TIME-CONSUMING SOCIAL PROCESSES WITH ELEGANT TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS Fostering and scaling cooperation is really difficult. This is why we have institutions, norms, laws, and markets. We might not like them, but these mechanisms allow us to cooperate with others even when we don’t know and trust them.


pages: 271 words: 62,538

The Best Interface Is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technology (Voices That Matter) by Golden Krishna

Airbnb, computer vision, crossover SUV, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, impulse control, Inbox Zero, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, QR code, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tim Cook: Apple, Y Combinator, Y2K

Frustrated by the effects of high winds on swing doors at their store in Corpus Christi, the brothers started their own door company that sold the world’s first automatically opening doors.2 Today, the Horton Automatic sliding doors are replicated all over the world. When you walk up to a grocery store or hospital, the doors often automatically open. When health-care workers rush a patient into a hospital from an ambulance, the doors just slide open. Um, I know how automatic doors work. The experience isn’t a shocking, please-leave-the-meeting-room, techno-utopian vision, but an expected, boring solution. It isn’t something we marvel at, revere, or even consider special; it’s become an automatic solution we just count on. And that, honestly, is a great thing. These seamless, automatic solutions sometimes take decades (or a few millennia) before they are reliable enough to become part of our everyday lives. They’re not easy, but they’re remarkable when they work.


pages: 237 words: 69,985

The Longing for Less by Kyle Chayka

Airbnb, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, Mason jar, offshore financial centre, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, undersea cable, Whole Earth Catalog

Elgin had worked with a government commission on population growth looking ahead to the year 2000 and then for the Stanford Research Institute. Over the years, he observed a trend of Americans “returning to the simple life,”10 which the media had turned into a new archetype. Moving to the country, baking your own bread, and establishing cooperative businesses constituted a new social philosophy that mingled with the techno-utopianism of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog circa 1968. Elgin rebranded Gregg’s voluntary simplicity with the acronym VS, which sounds more like a technological device than an idea with centuries of history—once again showing how minimalism erases its own past. Elgin’s version of VS was driven by a sense of disconnection: Economic and political structures had grown beyond human scale, so people wanted to separate themselves from them.


pages: 226 words: 71,540

Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web by Cole Stryker

4chan, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Chelsea Manning, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, commoditize, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Firefox, future of journalism, hive mind, informal economy, Internet Archive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, wage slave, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

But if someone said those things to me on the street my heart would stop. During the early days on the Internet, there were no agreed-upon standards of etiquette. Templeton helped to define the way people would behave for decades to come. The Virtual Community: The Well In 1985 Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, or WELL. The WELL was made up of a new breed of techno-utopian ex-hippies who’d been experimenting with communal living and other alternative lifestyles. These baby boomers had grown up a bit, and where their ’60s brethren had failed, they believed they’d succeed, with the power of network technology. It was all very back-to-the-earth, but with a focus on the power of computing. Words like cybernetic and transhumanism were thrown around. Many of the community’s first users were subscribers to Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, a magazine devoted to topics like alternative shelter, nomadics, and telecommunications.


pages: 267 words: 72,552

Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Thomas Ramge

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, banking crisis, basic income, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, blockchain, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Glasses, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, land reform, lone genius, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Parag Khanna, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, universal basic income, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

The progressive data-sharing mandate—the mechanism we have suggested to ensure such diversity—is designed to protect not just against the concentration of adaptive systems but also, through the sharing of different data subsets, to guard against all competitors using the same data input to build their systems. The key is to foster a diversity that continues to translate into robust competition. When it comes to the broader social implications of data-driven markets, we abhor the gleeful optimism of the techno-utopians as much as we shun the gloom of the perennial doomsday prophets. Rather than pretending to predict the future, we should prepare ourselves to shape it, readying the right levers and mechanisms so that we can stimulate beneficial dynamics and mitigate negative consequences whenever and wherever they arise. Sometimes this necessitates adding novel items to our existing policy tool kit, such as (data) taxes paid in data or a recurring human-labor tax credit.


pages: 254 words: 76,064

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito, Jeff Howe

3D printing, Albert Michelson, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, buy low sell high, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, fiat currency, financial innovation, Flash crash, frictionless, game design, Gerolamo Cardano, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, microbiome, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pirate software, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Coase, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Singularitarianism, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, universal basic income, unpaid internship, uranium enrichment, urban planning, WikiLeaks

MIT as part of its 150th anniversary published a book called Nightwork documenting and celebrating its “hacks.”48 As an institute, MIT celebrates the fact that students can and do figure out a way to get a campus police car on top of the dome of the central building on campus. At the Media Lab, the favorite opener of any story is, “It turns out that…,” which basically means, “We were wrong in this cool way.” It’s also important to note that disobedience is different from criticism. There is, for example, a very important design movement called critical design—a perspective that provides a critique of modern techno-utopianism that we technologists often find ourselves espousing. However, criticism is about our work, where disobedience is the work. Computer security would not improve without computer network hackers, and we wouldn’t exist without our gut microbes—good and bad—although apparently most are somewhere in between.49 PS: Disobedience with a Conscience I often have the nine principles displayed on one of the screens in my primary meeting room at the Media Lab.


pages: 243 words: 76,686

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Airbnb, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Burning Man, collective bargaining, Donald Trump, Filter Bubble, full employment, gig economy, Google Earth, Internet Archive, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kickstarter, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, means of production, Minecraft, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Port of Oakland, Results Only Work Environment, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, source of truth, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, union organizing, white flight, Works Progress Administration

It was something like this allure that led the Swiss curator Harald Szeemann to put on an unusual show in 1983 called Der Hang Zum Gesamtkunstwerk (The Tendency Toward the Total Artwork). The artists he included in the Zurich exhibition ranged from very famous to obscure outsider artists, but they all had one thing in common: a total conflation of art with life, sometimes even an attempt to live one’s art. Alongside a scale model of Vladimir Tatlin’s never-built Monument to the Third International, one might find a costume from Oskar Schlemmer’s techno-utopian Triadisches Ballett, the spiritual color theories of Wassily Kandinsky, a score by John Cage (for whom “all sounds are music”), or documentation of the Palais Idéal, a structure hand-built with thousands of rocks by a mailman, after he tripped over one and decided it was beautiful. The domes and other art from the Drop City commune would not have been out of place here. Because the show was full of reconstructions of things never built and documentation of short-lived dreams, the collection has a potentially melancholy air.


pages: 246 words: 76,561

Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture by Justin McGuirk

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, dark matter, Donald Trump, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, facts on the ground, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, mass immigration, microcredit, Milgram experiment, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, place-making, Silicon Valley, starchitect, technoutopianism, unorthodox policies, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus

From here, one of the smaller stations, the line turns to follow the hilltops before entering the much more impressive summit station of La Ceiba. With its exposed metal structure holding up a great barrelled roof, La Ceiba is a piece of High Tech architecture transplanted to the barrio. Its technical language is appropriate to a piece of engineering infrastructure, but it also carries more than a hint of the techno-utopian futurism that Archigram turned into pop icons in the 1960s. Archigram’s progeny turned High Tech into the language of airports and banking headquarters. But in Caracas it has been reinvented, in vertical gyms and Metrocable stations, as part of the language of the barrio. That homage to the 1960s extends to U-TT’s terminology. They describe the social amenities they’ve designed at each station as ‘plug-in programmes’ (think Archigram’s Plug-in City, where living capsules are slotted into a kind of mainframe).


pages: 472 words: 80,835

Life as a Passenger: How Driverless Cars Will Change the World by David Kerrigan

3D printing, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, big-box store, butterfly effect, call centre, car-free, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Chris Urmson, commoditize, computer vision, congestion charging, connected car, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deskilling, disruptive innovation, edge city, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, future of work, invention of the wheel, Just-in-time delivery, loss aversion, Lyft, Marchetti’s constant, Mars Rover, megacity, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Minecraft, Nash equilibrium, New Urbanism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Sam Peltzman, self-driving car, sensor fusion, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thorstein Veblen, traffic fines, transit-oriented development, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban sprawl, Yogi Berra, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

This book aims to suggest a more thoughtful assessment of the issues that will shape the world for us and for our children. Back to the Future “The only constant is change” Heraclitus Just because things have been a certain way for 100 years doesn’t mean they should stay that way; nor does the possibility of a new approach mean it’s necessarily the correct and immediate way forward. There probably needs to be a balance between the opposite views of “always been this way” vs techno-utopianism. History tells us that all large transportation and communication innovations—whether cars, carriages, canals or cables—have involved great uncertainty. Innovation invites speculation. But our individual ability to influence its direction is interesting. The only certainty is that these technologies will continue to develop - how we choose to use them, and when, is the only open question.


pages: 275 words: 84,980

Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin: From Money That We Understand to Money That Understands Us (Perspectives) by David Birch

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, business cycle, capital controls, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, creative destruction, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, double entry bookkeeping, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, index card, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, large denomination, M-Pesa, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, Northern Rock, Pingit, prediction markets, price stability, QR code, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, social graph, special drawing rights, technoutopianism, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, wage slave, Washington Consensus, wikimedia commons

. ******** In a talk about electronic money that he gave in 2014, Charles Goodhart was kind enough to refer to some of my thinking around ‘privacy money’ as a way forward. Chapter 9 Why keep cash? Money is like muck, not good unless it be spread. — Francis Bacon (1561–1626) in his Essays, Civil and Moral (Number XV: Of Sedition and Troubles) There are, of course, many arguments for keeping cash despite the post-war techno-utopian fantasies of cashlessness – a cashlessness that with the wisdom of hindsight we know could not have been achieved with the fiat currencies and technologies of that era. The key arguments in favour of retaining cash were set out neatly by David Keohane in a piece for FT Alphaville (Keohane 2015). I have used his categorization here, setting out the five categories of conservatism, demographics, seigniorage, security and privacy and exploring each of them in turn.


pages: 301 words: 85,263

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle

AI winter, Airbnb, Alfred Russel Wallace, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, congestion charging, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Snowden, fear of failure, Flash crash, Google Earth, Haber-Bosch Process, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, late capitalism, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, oil shock, p-value, pattern recognition, peak oil, recommendation engine, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, social graph, sorting algorithm, South China Sea, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stem cell, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method, Uber for X, undersea cable, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

Concorde, detail from ‘Concorde Grid’ (1997), Wolfgang Tillmans. In 1997, the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans showed a series of fifty-six photographs of Concorde that correspond almost perfectly with my own memory: a dark arrowhead rumbling across the sky, seen not from the luxury cabin, but from the ground. Writing in the exhibition catalogue, Tillmans remarked, Concorde is perhaps the last example of a techno-utopian invention from the sixties still to be operating and fully functioning today. Its futuristic shape, speed and ear-numbing thunder grabs people’s imagination today as much as it did when it first took off in 1969. It’s an environmental nightmare conceived in 1962 when technology and progress was the answer to everything and the sky was no longer a limit … For the chosen few, flying Concorde is apparently a glamorous but cramped and slightly boring routine whilst to watch it in the air, landing or taking-off is a strange and free spectacle, a super modern anachronism and an image of the desire to overcome time and distance through technology.31 Concorde made its final flight in 2003, a victim as much of its own elitism as the fatal crash of Air France Flight 4590 into the Parisian suburbs three years earlier.


pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

Airbnb, Airbus A320, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, Bernard Ziegler, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, computerized trading, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, turn-by-turn navigation, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche

Every time we offload a job to a tool or a machine, or to a symbol or a software algorithm, we free ourselves to climb to a higher pursuit, one requiring greater dexterity, richer intelligence, or a broader perspective. We may lose something with each upward step, but what we gain is, in the end, far greater. Taken to an extreme, Whitehead’s sense of automation as liberation turns into the techno-utopianism of Wilde and Keynes, or Marx at his sunniest—the dream that machines will free us from our earthly labors and deliver us back to an Eden of leisurely delights. But Whitehead didn’t have his head in the clouds. He was making a pragmatic point about how to spend our time and exert our effort. In a publication from the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Labor summed up the job of secretaries by saying that they “relieve their employers of routine duties so they can work on more important matters.”2 Software and other automation technologies, in the Whitehead view, play an analogous role.


pages: 239 words: 80,319

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, Chris Wanstrath, citation needed, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, feminist movement, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, l'esprit de l'escalier, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, packet switching, PageRank, pre–internet, profit motive, QAnon, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing complete, We are the 99%, web application, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

Wikipedia regulars generally don’t take issue with those who look but do not edit. They are the public this work is created for; rather than sponging off their work, lurkers might even make it easier for the editors—it is hard to imagine the already fragile Wikipedia ecosystem sustaining itself if every single internet user on the internet took an active role. In the early years of enthusiasm for peer production, techno-utopians talked about this dynamic as the 1–9–90 or “1 percent rule”—that is, in collaborative online spaces, roughly 90 percent of people only read content, 9 percent edit the content, and another 1 percent actually create new content. As I reviewed the Wikipedia page for the 1 percent rule, an anecdote jumped out at me. It read (at least, it did the last time I checked): The terms lurk and lurking, in reference to online activity, are used to refer to online observation without engaging others in the community, and were first used by veteran print journalist, P.


pages: 297 words: 83,651

The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour

4chan, anti-communist, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, Cal Newport, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Google Chrome, Google Earth, hive mind, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, patent troll, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Rat Park, rent-seeking, replication crisis, sentiment analysis, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart cities, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, undersea cable, upwardly mobile, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Multitudes would suddenly swarm and descend on the powerful, and then dissipate just as quickly, before they could be sanctioned. Anonymity would allow us to form new identities freed from the limits of our everyday lives, and escape surveillance. There were a host of so-called ‘Twitter revolutions’, misleadingly credited to the ability of educated social industry users to outflank senile dictatorships, and discredit the ‘elderly rubbish’ they spoke. And then, somehow, this techno-utopianism returned in an inverted form. The benefits of anonymity became the basis for trolling, ritualized sadism, vicious misogyny, racism and alt-right subcultures. Creative autonomy became ‘fake news’ and a new form of infotainment. Multitudes became lynch mobs, often turning on themselves.20 Dictators and other authoritarians learned how to use Twitter and master its seductive language games, as did the so-called Islamic State whose slick online media professionals affect mordant and hyper-aware tones.


pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey

Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, disruptive innovation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Vannevar Bush

Thrun was part of a team that built the winning Volkswagen SUV. Google hired him to work in its research laboratory while he continued to teach AI as a tenured professor at Stanford. By 2011, Sebastian Thrun was something of a Silicon Valley rock star, a certified genius and visionary maker of very cool things. He dressed in jeans and stylish T-shirts and married a beautiful professor of comparative literature who liked to tease him about his techno-utopian ways. In March of that year, Thrun was invited to TED (Technology, Education, Design), the annual festival of technologist self-congratulation, where he stood before a rapt audience and described how he and his colleagues at Google had built a self-driving car. Afterward, Thrun hung around the conference to watch the other presenters, including an energetic former hedge fund analyst named Salman Khan.


pages: 339 words: 94,769

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI by John Brockman

AI winter, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, David Graeber, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, finite state, friendly AI, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Laplace demon, Loebner Prize, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, Picturephone, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telemarketer, telerobotics, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, zero-sum game

He got his start building an open-source aerial robotics community called DIY Drones, and undertook some ill-advised early experiments, such as buzzing Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory with one of his self-flying spies. It might well have been a case of antic gene expression, since he’s descended from a founder of the American anarchist movement. Chris ran Wired magazine, a go-to publication for techno-utopians and -dystopians alike, from 2001 to 2012; during his tenure it won five National Magazine Awards. Chris dislikes the term “roboticist” (“like any properly humbled roboticist, I don’t call myself one”). He began as a physicist. “I turned out to be a bad physicist,” he told me recently. “I struggled on, went to Los Alamos, and thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m not going to be a Nobel Prize winner, but I can still be a scientist.’


pages: 324 words: 92,805

The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification by Paul Roberts

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, business cycle, business process, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Brooks, delayed gratification, disruptive innovation, double helix, factory automation, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, game design, greed is good, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, impulse control, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, low skilled workers, mass immigration, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, performance metric, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

The solemnity of Chip’s spiel contrasts sharply with some of the ribald commentary that accompanied Siri’s release in 2011. Beyond the specific complaints—that Siri cannot understand Bronx, for example—were broader, often mocking critiques of the notion of Siri as a productivity booster. Many of Siri’s advertised uses2 (“Siri, find me a latte” or “Siri, play my running mix”) seem less about raising output than providing digital parlor tricks for bored yuppies. Given the way Apple uses cloying techno-utopian hype (the iPad is “a magical window where nothing comes between you and what you love”) to grease its famously aggressive release schedule (new versions rolled out precisely as profit margins on existing ones are fading), it doesn’t take a cynic to see Siri as an unusually elaborate carrot. And yet . . . it’s hard to ignore the thrill I get when, a few days later, I tell Siri to set a timer for five minutes, and she does it.


pages: 371 words: 93,570

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

"side hustle", 4chan, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Doomsday Book, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, East Village, Edward Charles Pickering, game design, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, old-boy network, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pets.com, rent control, RFC: Request For Comment, rolodex, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, subscription business, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y2K

It was an evocative vision of women’s bodily connection to networked computing, a connection that emerged before the technology itself, beginning with Ada Lovelace and the countless uncounted female computers—a lineage Plant traces in her book, much as I have in mine. Sadie Plant and VNS Matrix are considered the matriarchs of cyberfeminism, a wild, breathlessly utopian, very brief art movement that flourished in the mid-1990s, as the Web began to reshape the world. Cyberfeminism conjures, in many ways, the countercultural, techno-utopian feeling of early Internet culture, and inherits the spirit of those West Coast cyberhippies who believed that computer-mediated communication would create a free civilization of the mind. The motley crew of artists, coders, game designers, and writers who pronounced themselves cyberfeminists joyfully subverted what VNS Matrix called “big daddy mainframe”: the patriarchy hard coded to the technological underpinnings of the world, a backbone built by men.


pages: 281 words: 95,852

The Googlization of Everything: by Siva Vaidhyanathan

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cloud computing, computer age, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data acquisition, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full text search, global pandemic, global village, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, information retrieval, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pirate software, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, single-payer health, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thorstein Veblen, urban decay, web application, zero-sum game

Back in 1999 and 2000 I must have told more than a hundred people, including my closest friends and family, that Google was the best possible way to find stuff on the Web. When I first encountered Google in early 1999, I was teaching history at Wesleyan University. Mostly, I was scrambling to finish my dissertation—which became my first book. Because most of my research drew on sources available on microfilm, search engines had not yet become an integral part of my professional life. I was aware of the techno-utopian conversations about electronic archives and the global delivery of knowledge, but I didn’t think very hard about them. I had a book to write and sell. The Web, for me, was a platform for self-promotion. And existing search engines, like Yahoo, were not helping in that effort. Since about 1995 I had been using Yahoo and AltaVista for my Web navigation. I had a brief and passionate involvement with a much better and faster Web search service, Northern Light, until, facing a revenue shortage, it became a specialized portal for corporate clients (and remains so today).


pages: 368 words: 96,825

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, gravity well, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Jono Bacon, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Oculus Rift, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, rolodex, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, superconnector, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, Turing test, urban renewal, web application, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

The exponential technologies discussed in part one give us the physical tools for radical change, the psychological strategies described in part two are the mental framework for success, and the exponential crowd tools that fill part three provide all of the additional resources (talent, money, and so forth) needed to cross the finish line. Here’s the most important point: Abundance is not a techno-utopian vision. Technology alone will not bring us this better world. It is up to you and me. To bring on this better world is going to require what could easily be the largest cooperative effort in history. In other words, there is a bold and bright future out there. But, as with everything else, what happens next is up to us. And this brings me to my final thoughts. In Abundance, Steven and I closed the book with a section on the dangers of exponentials.


pages: 296 words: 98,018

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

"side hustle", activist lawyer, affirmative action, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Heinemeier Hansson, deindustrialization, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, friendly fire, global pandemic, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyperloop, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor, zero-sum game

—JONATHAN CLARK, ENTREPRENEUR It is dinnertime, and Stacey Asher is sitting at a window-side six-top, talking about how she helps poor people using the power of fantasy sports. She lives in Highland Park, in Dallas, not far from former president George W. Bush. Asher runs a charity called Portfolios with Purpose. It calls itself “a powerful platform combining healthy competition with giving”—a short phrase that manages to hit the notes of techno-utopianism, capitalism, and charity. Though she appears to be in her thirties, she says she worked at “six or seven” hedge funds in New York before moving to Texas, where her new husband had a job, also in finance. Like many from the business world who end up devoted to helping others, Asher has a story about an African epiphany. During a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, she found herself at an orphanage in Tanzania.


pages: 360 words: 101,038

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

Airbnb, barriers to entry, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, creative destruction, death of newspapers, declining real wages, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, hypertext link, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, low cost airline, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Minecraft, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Travis Kalanick, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog

We want to interact with goods and services with all our senses, and many of us are willing to pay a premium to do so, even if it is more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalent. The Revenge of Analog not only questions our assumptions about digital’s inevitability, but the very certainty at the heart of the digital economy. This is a powerful current to swim against. The notion that nondigital goods and ideas have become more valuable would seem to cut against the narrative of disruption-worshipping techno-utopianism coming out of Silicon Valley and other startup hubs, but, in fact, it simply shows that technological evolution isn’t absolute. We may eagerly adopt new solutions, but, in the long run, these endure only if they truly provide us with a better experience—if they can compete with digital technology on a cold, rational level. This is where the Revenge of Analog matters even more. While analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards digital ones cannot, sometimes analog simply outperforms digital as the best solution.


pages: 319 words: 103,707

Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif

1960s counterculture, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, Desert Island Discs, Donald Trump, income inequality, informal economy, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, Ronald Reagan, technoutopianism, telemarketer, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, white flight

We’d manifest our nature on channels 401 to 499 as surely as do puppies, ocean, and sky. We’d do it marrying, arguing, staring at the wall, dining, studying our feet, holding contests, singing, sneezing. Hundreds of thousands of us had cameras. Well, we’d plug them in and leave the tape running for our real life. In this underlying dream, we were neither exactly wrong nor right. The promise of the five hundred channels went to waste. The techno-utopians’ fantasies shifted to the Internet. Nothing like the paradise we hoped for came to fruition on TV, that’s for sure. Instead we got reality TV. — The assessment of reality television depends first on your notion of television; second, on your idea of political community. Here is a standard misconception: since the noblest forms of artistic endeavor are fictional and dramatic (the novel, film, painting, plays), it can be assumed that the major, proper products of television will be its dramatic entertainments, the sitcom and the hour-long drama.


pages: 403 words: 106,707

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

airport security, animal electricity, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Frederick Winslow Taylor, glass ceiling, Iridium satellite, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford marshmallow experiment, technoutopianism, Walter Mischel

“Looking forward to seeing the results!” As the basketball season wore on, the Warriors rolled over opponents with unprecedented ease, eventually finishing with a new regular-season record of 73 wins and just 9 losses. No one attributed their success to Halo’s tDCS headphones (which, a trainer for the team confirmed, an unspecified number of players had experimented with)—but the high-tech device fit in with the team’s techno-utopian storyline. Since the then-bumbling Warriors franchise was purchased by a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, in 2010, it has acquired a reputation as “tech’s team,” playing with the wonky, numbers-driven approach of Sand Hill Road venture capitalists. The Warriors have also been enthusiastic early adopters of technology ranging from “intelligent sleep masks” for countering jet lag to body-worn sensors that detect pressure on the knees and ankles.


pages: 388 words: 106,138

The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook

barriers to entry, financial independence, game design, peer-to-peer, Ponzi scheme, Saturday Night Live, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, trade route

Even on the legal streaming services, such as Spotify, music consumption is “frictionless”—a favorite word of techies. It means—well, not “free” exactly, but at least unburdened by the inconvenience of purchasing a product. You’ve gone from a world of scarcity to one of abundance. Nothing is for sale, because everything is available. For both the pirates and the paying subscribers, buying records is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. And yet the hits go on and on. In The Long Tail, the 2005 techno-utopian argument for the coming triumph of niches in popular culture, author Chris Anderson posits that hits are a scarcity-based phenomenon. Record stores have limited shelf space, he explains, and records that move 10,000 units are more profitable to stock than records that move 10. But on the Internet, shelf space is infinite, and therefore record companies don’t need to focus so much of their business on making hits.


pages: 385 words: 118,314

Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis by Leo Hollis

Airbnb, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, East Village, Edward Glaeser, Enrique Peñalosa, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, place-making, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

The new city is no longer a static collection of places but ‘a computer in open air’. It is a sentient place, which can gather information, change, and react to the feedback; in the words of Assaf Biderman, associate director of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT, smart technologies can make ‘cities more human’.15 But how can technology possibly make our cities more ‘human’? One is right be to suspicious of such techno-utopianism; wasn’t Le Corbusier’s dream of the autopia a similar fantasy? What can machines do that people can’t? The first noticeable change in the smart city is that everything is connected. The first mobile-phone network, NTT, was set up in Japan in 1977; since then handsets and networks have spread across the world. By 2002 there were 1 billion connections, rising to 5 billion within eight years.


pages: 453 words: 114,250

The Great Firewall of China by James Griffiths;

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, bitcoin, borderless world, call centre, Chelsea Manning, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, gig economy, jimmy wales, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, mobile money, Occupy movement, pets.com, profit motive, QR code, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, undersea cable, WikiLeaks, zero day

“It has been hammered.”29 – and the enduring impact of the declaration and, most of all, the creation of EFF on internet freedom is substantial. The most perverse thing to happen in the more than two decades since Barlow began typing his call to arms is not just that governments have proven themselves more than able to exercise power over the internet, but that they have adopted the language of techno-utopianism as they do so. Successive US presidents, from Clinton to Bush to Obama, hailed the internet as a tool for spreading economic and political liberalisation around the world.30 This is the internet as Tom Friedman’s “nutcracker to open societies”, and it is far more naive and at odds with reality than anything Barlow put forward. Often it has proved to be counterproductive to the very goals its proponents put forward.


pages: 409 words: 112,055

The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats by Richard A. Clarke, Robert K. Knake

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, business cycle, business intelligence, call centre, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, DevOps, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Exxon Valdez, global village, immigration reform, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kubernetes, Mark Zuckerberg, Metcalfe’s law, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, open borders, platform as a service, Ponzi scheme, ransomware, Richard Thaler, Sand Hill Road, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, software as a service, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, Tim Cook: Apple, undersea cable, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day

There is, at least for now, still a single global Domain Name System and data can still flow, if not entirely freely, from one country to another. As the internet has gone from being the place you go to visit bulletin boards on esoteric topics to undergirding all of modern existence, the early vision for cyberspace as a domain beyond the reach of the state now seems hopelessly naïve. The internet pioneer John Perry Barlow is often held up as the embodiment of this “techno-utopian” vision for the internet. The founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Barlow is a fascinating character. Steven Levy described him as a “cowboy, poet, romantic, family man, philosopher, and ultimately, the bard of the digital revolution.” When he died in early 2018, Rolling Stone titled his obituary “John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead Lyricist, Dead at 70.” Barlow wrote such classics as “Mexicali Blues” with band member Bob Weir.


pages: 443 words: 116,832

The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics by Ben Buchanan

active measures, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, family office, hive mind, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, kremlinology, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nate Silver, profit motive, RAND corporation, ransomware, risk tolerance, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, WikiLeaks, zero day

Instead, the company says its practice is to “simply respond to government requests for information pursuant to court orders or other mandatory process and, in rare cases, on a legal and voluntary basis when a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence.”29 Other telecommunications companies, including British firms, have given similar answers when questioned about their activities.30 For all the techno-utopian talk of a borderless internet, cyberspace is still physical space.31 National laws compelling corporate cooperation still apply—a fact that the Five Eyes are happy to use for their geopolitical benefit. Partnering with Internet Platforms A century ago, communications were fleeting. Telegrams moved from sender to receiver, at which point they disappeared into whatever paper files the recipient kept, if any.


pages: 386 words: 113,709

Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road by Matthew B. Crawford

1960s counterculture, Airbus A320, airport security, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Boeing 737 MAX, British Empire, Burning Man, call centre, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, deskilling, digital map, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Fellow of the Royal Society, gig economy, Google Earth, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, Lyft, Network effects, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, security theater, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, social graph, social intelligence, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, too big to fail, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, Wall-E, Works Progress Administration

As such, driving is a form of organic civic life, and the disappearance of civic feeling is key to the dystopian mood of these films. Driving is a way of interacting with others while having shared, concrete interests at stake. Alexis de Tocqueville suggested that the habits of collective self-government are cultivated in practical activities like this that demand cooperation, and such habits are indispensable to democratic political culture. But from the perspective of a central power (whether governmental or techno-utopian), what is wanted is an idealized subject of a different sort, an asocial one who permits an atomized account of human beings to be operationalized. This subject resembles the narrator of the Iggy Pop song “The Passenger”: “I am a passenger / I stay under glass.” A society of such isolated subjects will be more efficiently and pliably governable. At the Caliente 250, a desert race that has been taking place annually for generations, we will meet a tight-knit body of motor-sport families who gather in the small town of Caliente, Nevada, each spring and proceed to enact what looks to this writer like an exemplary case of deliberative democracy and environmental stewardship.


pages: 410 words: 119,823

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, post-work, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

This is the razor we need to apply to augmented reality, or 3D printing, or distributed autonomous organizations: what is salient is not anything their visionary designers may have had in mind when imagining them, but what states of being they are actually seen to enact. And if given technologies cannot be evaluated at the level of their designers’ intention, we need to be still more wary of the promises made to us by developers, promoters and others with a material interest in seeing them spread. The most misleading aspect of this body of rhetoric perennially resides in the gulf between technoutopian claims about what some emergent innovation “might” or “could” give rise to, on the one hand, and anything it has actually been seen to do on the other.3 Very often the claimed benefits never do come to pass, while the easily foreseeable (and, in fact, explicitly foreseen) negative consequences invariably do crop up, and are left for others to deal with. This is why I repress a shudder whenever someone speaks of the emancipatory or liberatory “potential” of some technology under discussion.


pages: 452 words: 134,502

Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet by David Moon, Patrick Ruffini, David Segal, Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Zoe Lofgren, Jamie Laurie, Ron Paul, Mike Masnick, Kim Dotcom, Tiffiniy Cheng, Alexis Ohanian, Nicole Powers, Josh Levy

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, facts on the ground, Firefox, hive mind, immigration reform, informal economy, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, peer-to-peer, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prisoner's dilemma, rent-seeking, Silicon Valley, Skype, technoutopianism, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

A swarm of events that were to commemorate the anniversary of the January 18th Internet blackout became bittersweet remembrances of our fallen ally. Aaron has largely been memorialized as an advocate for copyright reform, information access, and Internet freedom. He was indeed such, but he was also so much more. He probably first cared about those causes for their own sakes, but his work on them provided a window into politics that made it impossible to ignore broader systemic corruption and injustices. He wasn’t a techno-utopian who believed that open access and an open Internet would alone fix all that ails humanity; he came to believe that a constant, directed, ideologically left-leaning layer of activism needed to be built on top of these platforms. This transformation is perhaps best elucidated by Aaron himself in his own words, from a talk he gave at the Freedom to Connect conference in 2012. Here’s how he reacted when his close friend Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation first told him about the bill that would become SOPA: “Oh, Peter,” I said.


pages: 675 words: 141,667

Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks (Cambridge Studies in the Emergence of Global Enterprise) by Andrew L. Russell

American ideology, animal electricity, barriers to entry, borderless world, Chelsea Manning, computer age, creative destruction, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Edward Snowden, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Leonard Kleinrock, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, open economy, packet switching, pre–internet, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, web of trust

For example, it would be especially unwise for engineers in other industries (such as those who build bridges and airplanes) to bring the “procrastination principle” into their own design philosophies. The history of networking provides no reason to ignore the IBM software engineer Fred Brooks’s insistence that “conceptual integrity is the most important consideration in system design.”6 Rather than add to the chorus of observers who see the Internet as the harbinger and enabler of a techno-utopian “open world,” I have chosen to situate the Internet within a deeper and more complex set of technical, political, and organizational contexts. Rather than focus on the lessons that past information networks can teach us in the present, I have chosen to study how the designers of networks responded to their own circumstances and how they have seen these through their own eyes. Inspired by Henry Demarest Lloyd’s observation that “history is condensed in the catchwords of the people,” I have been especially attentive to the discourses and practices of standardization through which network architects, engineers, and users sought to exercise power, impose order, create stability, and pursue openness.7 By focusing on ideas as well as their social and material manifestations, I have argued that the lens of standardization allows us to see the history of information networks as ongoing acts of critique.


pages: 460 words: 131,579

Masters of Management: How the Business Gurus and Their Ideas Have Changed the World—for Better and for Worse by Adrian Wooldridge

affirmative action, barriers to entry, Black Swan, blood diamonds, borderless world, business climate, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Exxon Valdez, financial deregulation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, George Gilder, global supply chain, industrial cluster, intangible asset, job satisfaction, job-hopping, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, Naomi Klein, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Norman Macrae, patent troll, Ponzi scheme, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, wealth creators, women in the workforce, young professional, Zipcar

Free is essentially an extended meditation on an idea that has long been popular in tech circles—that “information wants to be free”; that digital technology is making it ever easier to store and distribute anything that is “made out of ideas,” smashing barriers to entry, destroying business empires, and driving the price of information down toward zero. Anderson’s take on “free” is a mixture of fatalism and techno-utopianism. His advice to people who worry about piracy is brutal: get over it. Stop fighting the inevitable and start reconceptualizing piracy as a marketing opportunity rather than a threat. To a large extent that is also his take on the entire “free” economy. Wonderful things will happen if we just allow prices to fall to their natural level, he argues: wonderful things for consumers, who will gain access to a cornucopia of books and music, but also wonderful things for companies, if they can learn how to use free things as a “hook” to get people to spend money on other things.


On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World by Timothy Cresswell

British Empire, desegregation, deskilling, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global village, illegal immigration, mass immigration, moral panic, Rosa Parks, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, urban planning

Clearly then, the airport as a symbol of global, postmodern nomadism needs to be unpacked. Seeing it as a space where motion, meaning, and power come together enacts such an unpacking. A politics of mobility directs our attention to the relations among different experiences of mobility and the relations between mobility and obduracy. It recognizes the importance of mobility in the modern world, but does not mistake it for a technoutopian general condition. It insists on the importance of particular contexts for the production and consumption of mobility. It All Comes Together in Schiphol—From Roots to Routes Writing about the airport runs the risk of generalizing the airport experience in a way I would not want to repeat. Clearly, the experience of Singapore’s Changhi or London’s Heathrow is vastly different from that of Salisbury, Maryland, or Liverpool’s John Lennon.


pages: 519 words: 142,646

Track Changes by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

active measures, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, David Brooks, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, forensic accounting, future of work, Google Earth, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, HyperCard, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, mail merge, Marshall McLuhan, Mother of all demos, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, text mining, thinkpad, Turing complete, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, Year of Magical Thinking

Ben Kafka perceptively scrutinizes the film in his The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (New York: Zone Books, 2012), and places particular emphasis on the closing catechism: “What if we shifted the emphasis just a little bit?” asks Kafka. “From ‘machines should work, people should think’ to ‘machines should work, people should think.’ Is it possible that the film might be trying to warn us against its own techno-utopianism?” (146–150). 23. Frank M. Knox, Managing Paperwork: A Key to Productivity (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1980), ix. 24. See Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (New York: Basic Books, 1988), 301–310. 25. Knox, Managing Paperwork, ix. 26. See Thomas Haigh, “Remembering the Office of the Future,” IEEE Computer Society 28, no.4 (2006): 8. 27. DeLoca and Kalow, The Romance Division, 72. 28.


We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, East Village, game design, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, uber lyft, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

Two days later, he reached back out to Wong and told him he’d like to take charge of putting together a major round of funding for the site. Wong had a slate of requirements, and a longer wish list. He wanted certain investors to participate, including Peter Thiel, his former PayPal colleague who’d become legendary for his early investment in Facebook and interest in far-out ideas such as building government-free techno-utopian floating islands. Also on Wong’s list of preferred backers were Hollywood types, including rapper Snoop Dogg and the actor Jared Leto. Wong also, as Altman recalls, wanted to prevent Reddit from getting screwed by investors. He wanted investors who wouldn’t try to steer Reddit into trying to grow too fast, or do anything to alienate users in the aim of making money. A sizable round of funding had the potential to put pressure on all his ideals, so he wanted to retain as much board control as possible.


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

Yet that is the extraordinary condition we now take to be ordinary. The idea of a coming technological singularity has by now been widely popularized, starting with Vernor Vinge’s seminal essay and continuing with the writings of Ray Kurzweil and others.4 The term “singularity,” however, has been used confusedly in many disparate senses and has accreted an unholy (yet almost millenarian) aura of techno-utopian connotations.5 Since most of these meanings and connotations are irrelevant to our argument, we can gain clarity by dispensing with the “singularity” word in favor of more precise terminology. The singularity-related idea that interests us here is the possibility of an intelligence explosion, particularly the prospect of machine superintelligence. There may be those who are persuaded by growth diagrams like the ones in Figure 1 that another drastic change in growth mode is in the cards, comparable to the Agricultural or Industrial Revolution.


pages: 624 words: 180,416

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

anti-globalists, barriers to entry, Burning Man, creative destruction, double helix, Internet Archive, inventory management, lateral thinking, loose coupling, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, New Journalism, Ponzi scheme, post-materialism, random walk, RFID, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, union organizing, wage slave

Fred gave Perry a warm handshake and treated Hilda to a lingering, sloppy hug until she pushed him off, laughing even harder. “All right then,” Perry said, “home again home again.” Hilda gave his groin a friendly honk and then made a dash for it, and he gave chase. PHOTO: A Drunken Perry Gibbons Gets a How’s Your Father From Ride-Bride Hilda Hammersen MADISON, WI: Say you managed to inspire some kind of “movement” of techno-utopians who built a network of amusement park rides that guide their visitors through an illustrated history of the last dotcom bubble. Say that your merry band of unwashed polyamorous info-hippies was overtaken by jackbooted thugs from one of the dinosauric media empires of yesteryear, whose legal machinations resulted in nationwide raids, beatings, gassings, and the total shutdown of your “movement.”


pages: 684 words: 188,584

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Doomsday Clock, El Camino Real, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, Project Plowshare, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, éminence grise

Following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the great pacifist Albert Einstein, who had nothing to do with fission beyond his letters to Roosevelt, was depicted on the cover of Time magazine against a mushroom cloud and his most beloved equation, E = mc2, while Mme. Curie is today known for her breakthroughs as a woman, not as a scientist. The public’s distaste has grown so pronounced that European physicists created a PR organization, Public Awareness of Nuclear Science, to fix their image problem. Today’s prejudice against all things atomic is as naive as was the 1920s radium euphoria and the 1950s techno-utopians predicting nuclear-derived electricity as “too cheap to meter.” In the case of nuclear power, most of the world has come to a decision. What Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima all have in common is that the public relations disaster was far worse than the pollution’s health effects. In each incident and each nation postdisaster, one common casualty was the truth, at the hands of the nuclear industry; the local and national governments; and even the antinuclear activists.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, do-ocracy, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

The reason this array qualifies as neoliberal is twofold: initially, they were all proposals originating from within the array of think tanks and academic units affiliated with the Neoliberal Thought Collective; and then, if and when they come to be deployed in tandem, the net consequence is to leave the entire problem to be solved, ultimately not by the state, but rather by the market. The promotion of denialism buys time for the other two options; the financialization of carbon credits gets all the attention in the medium term, while appeals to geoengineering incubate in the wings as a techno-utopian deus ex machina to swoop down when the other options fail. At each step along the way, the neoliberals guarantee their core tenet remains in force: the market will arbitrate any and all responses to biosphere degradation, because it knows more than any of us about nature and society. As a bonus from the neoliberal vantage point, perhaps some segments of the left, operating under the quaint impression they can effectively oppose one or more of these options they find anathema by advocating another—say, aiming to defeat science denialism or geoengineering by taking up advocacy of carbon trading—end up being recruited as unwitting foot soldiers for the neoliberal long march.


pages: 299 words: 19,560

Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal

1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, G4S, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, liberation theology, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog

The aim was to achieve progress in non-scientific and non-technological areas at roughly the same rate as in science and technology. Until social, political, economic, and cultural progress caught up with scientific and technological progress, scientific and technological progress would have to level off in selected areas. The Pansophists In their greater optimism, the Pansophists stood closer than does More to scientific and technological utopianism. Their religious orientation, however, sharply differentiated them from secularminded scientific and technological utopianism, for they sought a civilization, called Pansophia, that would harmoniously join Christianity, science, and technology. Their ideas were articulated in three works that appeared over a period of eight years: Andreae’s Christianopolis (1619),12 Campanella’s The City of the Sun (1623),13 and Bacon’s The New Atlantis (1627).14 Like More’s Utopia, these works recount the adventures of travelers who have discovered societies unknown to Europeans and have returned home to announce their findings.

He evinces an unprecedented optimism about the prospects for realizing utopia, and he grants science and technology unprecedented roles in establishing it. Yet he is no scientific or technological utopian himself, for he credits mankind’s advances not to science and technology but rather to the increase of secularization (the view that public policy should be conducted without reference to religion), the spread of education, and the growth of the ideal of equality. Further, he envisions ongoing eternal progress rather than the eventual culmination of all past progress in a specific kind of society. Thus, the scientific and technological advances he so carefully and lovingly delineates are only indications of the way society is moving generally, not blueprints for the future. Of all the European visionaries, Saint-Simon and Comte (the former’s one-time prot eg e) most nearly approximate outright technological utopianism. Interestingly, at age nineteen SaintSimon volunteered for the rebellious colonists during the American Revolution and fought at the Battle of Yorktown.

Its principal expressions were Comte’s multi-volume Cours de philosophie positive (1830–1842) and his Systeme de politique positive (1851–1854). Yet Comte eventually followed Saint-Simon in expanding his vision to accommodate spirituality. Both men were reluctant to embrace a purely scientific and technological utopian vision.19 In short, all of the European prophets of scientific and technological progress—from More to the Pansophists to Condorcet to Saint-Simon and Comte—either refrained or retreated from endorsing unadulterated scientific and technological advance. Their reasons differed, but none was a scientific and technological utopian in the final analysis. To each, other aspects of life were (or became) no less important than scientific and technological advancement. Dissenters from the Ideology of Unadulterated Scientific and Technological Progress: Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and William Morris Reservations about scientific and technological advance, articulated especially by Saint-Simon and Comte, were echoed in very different quarters in late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Western Europe, in conservative and socialist circles alike, particularly in England and France.


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The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, desegregation, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Terrell, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

When one of the helicopters used by the Seva Foundation in Nepal had mechanical problems, Brilliant used a computer conferencing system and an Apple II that Jobs had donated to organize online a repair mission. The potential power of online discussion groups impressed him. When he went to teach at the University of Michigan, he helped to build a company around a computer conferencing system that had been created on the university’s network. Known as PicoSpan, it allowed users to post comments on different topics and strung them into threads for all to read. Brilliant’s idealism, techno-utopianism, and entrepreneurialism flowed together. He used the conferencing system to bring medical expertise to Asian hamlets and organize missions when something went wrong. When Brilliant went to a conference in San Diego, he called his old friend Stewart Brand for lunch. They met at a beachside restaurant near where Brand planned to spend the day skinny-dipping. Brilliant had two interwoven goals: to popularize the PicoSpan conferencing software and to create an online intellectual commune.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

They’d migrated west for college and graduate school, or jobs in government labs and industrial research operations. Their knowledge of computing came from their prior participation in the technocratic system they criticized. And they weren’t all kids. Many were professionals in their twenties and thirties, with children, mortgages, and graduate degrees. Thus the gulf between the scientific Cold Warriors and the techno-utopians was not as great as it seemed. Many of the ideas that animated the personal-computer crusade, like human-computer interaction and networked collaboration, were the same ones that had consumed the Cambridge seminars of Norbert Wiener in the 1940s and the labs of McCarthy and Minsky and Licklider in the 1950s. The new generation believed in the same principle that had animated government science ever since Vannevar Bush celebrated its “endless frontier” in 1945: technological innovation would cure society’s problems and build a better American future.16 Such technophilia also made this change-the-world movement oddly conservative when it came to disrupting conventional gender roles, reckoning with society’s racism, or acknowledging yawning economic and educational inequalities.


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

Similar dynamics can be observed around the apocalyptic concerns over 'peak oil', 'climate change', and the effects of environmental toxins, which have helped spur action on conservation, alternative energy sources, and the testing and regulation of novel industrial chemicals (Kunstler, 2006). 4.7 Sym ptoms of dysfunctional millenn ialism in assessing future scenarios Some critics denigrate utopian, millennia!, and apocalyptic impulses, both religious and secular, seeing them as irrational at best, and potentially murderous and totalitarian at worst. They certainly can manifest in the dangerous and irrational ways as I have catalogued in this essay. But they are also an unavoidable accompaniment to public consideration of catastrophic risks and techno-utopian possibilities. We may aspire to a purely rational, technocratic analysis, calmly balancing the likelihoods of futures without disease, hunger, work or death, on the one hand, against the likelihoods of worlds destroyed by war, plagues or asteroids, but few will be immune to millennia! biases, positive or negative, fatalist or messianic. Some of these effects can be positive. These mythopoetic interpretations of the historical moment provide hope and meaning to the alienated and lost.


Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities by Vaclav Smil

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, air freight, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, complexity theory, coronavirus, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, endogenous growth, energy transition, epigenetics, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Law of Accelerating Returns, longitudinal study, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, megastructure, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, old age dependency ratio, optical character recognition, out of africa, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Republic of Letters, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, technoutopianism, the market place, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, urban sprawl, Vilfredo Pareto, yield curve

Dow Jones Industrial Average history. http://www.fedprimerate.com/dow-jones-industrial-average-history-djia.htm. Fekedulegn, D., et al. 1999. Parameter estimation of nonlinear growth models in forestry. Silva Fennica 33:327–336. Felton, N. 2008. Consumption spreads faster today. http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/02/10/opinion/10op.graphic.ready.html. Ferguson, N. 2004. Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. London: Penguin. Ferguson, N. 2012. Don’t believe the techno-utopian hype. Newsweek, July 30. http://www.newsweek.com/niall-ferguson-dont-believe-techno-utopian-hype-65611. Fernández-González, F. 2006. Ship Structures under Sail and under Gunfire. Madrid: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Ferreira, A. A. 2012. Evaluation of the growth of children: Path of the growth charts. Demetra 7:191–202. Ferreira, F. H. G., et al. 2015. A Global Count of the Extreme Poor in 2012: Data Issues, Methodology and Initial Results.


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How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy) by Benjamin Peters

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technoutopianism, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine

Making Modern Network Culture Strange The story of the OGAS Project reveals a network culture whose design values—the cybernetic nervous system of the nation, socialist technological utopianism, and decentralized computer networks—now appear to be peculiar to its own time and place. This sustained glance at the strangeness of socialist network projects helps make familiar the foreignness of the modern network culture in historical relief. Consider a hardy perennial of new media thought, the politics of technological utopia, for the OGAS Project was nothing if not a projection of an intrepid socialist future. Socialist politics are no strangers to expansive, sometimes wild flights of imagination about the bounteous blessings of technology. Although technological utopianism belongs to social projects of all types, the socialist tradition boasts a special breed of thinking, including the French socialist utopian thinker Charles Fourier (whose early interests in architecture and engineering were thwarted and who later worked briefly in Paris as head of the Office of Statistics), Karl Marx (who theorized about a socialist revolution near the end of the Industrial Revolution in London), Nasser in Egypt, Tito in Yugoslavia, Nehru in India, the Fabian Society and Labor Party in the United Kingdom, Allende’s Cybersyn Project in Chile, and most recently the (independent) Pirate Party of Sweden.11 In each of these cases, the socialist impulse seeks to flatten out social relations, structurally reorganize society, automate and ease labor, roll out statistical (state) accountability, and gather knowledge that lightens, lifts, and liberates people (even though the effects of such technological utopianism often leans toward shades of dystopia).12 By imagining the OGAS as a means to a brighter networked Communist future, its architects brought upon the project the full brunt of the oikos-led inequalities that drove the administration of Soviet socialism.

Although technological utopianism belongs to social projects of all types, the socialist tradition boasts a special breed of thinking, including the French socialist utopian thinker Charles Fourier (whose early interests in architecture and engineering were thwarted and who later worked briefly in Paris as head of the Office of Statistics), Karl Marx (who theorized about a socialist revolution near the end of the Industrial Revolution in London), Nasser in Egypt, Tito in Yugoslavia, Nehru in India, the Fabian Society and Labor Party in the United Kingdom, Allende’s Cybersyn Project in Chile, and most recently the (independent) Pirate Party of Sweden.11 In each of these cases, the socialist impulse seeks to flatten out social relations, structurally reorganize society, automate and ease labor, roll out statistical (state) accountability, and gather knowledge that lightens, lifts, and liberates people (even though the effects of such technological utopianism often leans toward shades of dystopia).12 By imagining the OGAS as a means to a brighter networked Communist future, its architects brought upon the project the full brunt of the oikos-led inequalities that drove the administration of Soviet socialism. Perhaps the cardinal mistake of the socialist imagination of technology is not to dream the celebrated dream of social justice but to bulldoze the rutted world of human relations with the private interest logics of the oikos (military, corporations, states, and individuals that seek only their own survival).

Merton (Chicago: Chicago University Press, [1935] 1979). 10. Two researchers have characterized the stereotypical difference between Russian and Chinese informal influence as trending toward a logical-analytic mindset and a holistic-dialectical one. Snejina Michailova and Verner Worm, “Personal Networking in Russia and China: Blat and Guanxi,” European Management Journal 21 (4) (2003): 509–519. 11. For more on technological utopianism in global contexts, see Howard P. Segal Technology and Utopia (Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 2006); for more on the Swedish Pirate Party, see Patrick Burkart, Pirate Politics: The New Information Policy Contests (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014). 12. Michael Gordin, Hellen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash, “Introduction,” in Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility, ed.


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The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

But even if they cannot achieve the traditional milestones of middle-class life, the millennials can genuflect to those creating the products and services that occupy their time and keep them in touch with friends. Indeed in a recent survey of high-performing high school seniors, Apple, Google, and Microsoft ranked among the most preferred private companies, beaten only by the traditional maker of puerile dreams, the Walt Disney Company.34 Technological Utopianism The innate sense of superiority and elevated status within the information hierarchy reflects attitudes about technology as the primary driver of societal change. First nurtured in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the notion that technological change constitutes the great hope of mankind was widely shared across a broad spectrum of otherwise incompatible, even hostile, ideologies.

NASA and the Defense Department40 were dominant among early customers, while Lockheed Missiles and Space remained easily the Valley’s largest employer as late as the 1980s.41 But as the technological revolution shifted from hardware to software, and federal spending dropped, Silicon Valley began to diverge from the Galbraithian model. These new players were animated not by conventional business thinking but by something defined by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron as “the California ideology,” a unique amalgam of free market conservatism, social liberalism, and technological utopianism.42 This synthesis differed from the Galbraithian ideal in terms of corporate culture. On the individual level, the new California executives cast a very different image than the company men of earlier science-based aerospace and computer firms. Top executives no longer stayed in firms for decades or a lifetime, but shifted between companies, often starting their own. They often dressed in jeans, not suits.


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The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder by Sean McFate

active measures, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, double helix, drone strike, European colonialism, failed state, hive mind, index fund, invisible hand, John Markoff, joint-stock company, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, profit motive, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system, yellow journalism, Yom Kippur War, zero day, zero-sum game

After $1.5 trillion spent, twenty-five years of development undergone, and no combat missions flown during two long wars, it is incredible that the military still wants to purchase 2,443 of these things. Even the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer admits that the F-35 is “acquisitions malpractice.”7 It is not just the F-35—it’s everything. People want cool stuff, rather than weapons that work. This is technological utopianism, and it is part of the Western way of war. Aircraft carriers do not defeat threats like ISIS, yet the United States launched another one in 2017, which cost $13 billion. Its purpose, in the words of President Trump, who launched it, was to “demolish and destroy ISIS.” Ironically, this ship cost more than the entire budget of US special operations forces, which are effective against ISIS.

., 18 Sunni-Shia divide, 8, 26, 27, 74, 183–84 Sun Tzu, 4, 66, 111, 204–5, 207, 218, 222, 233 Thirty-Six Stratagems, 65, 248, 253–55 Superman strategy, 72 Super-rich, 165–66, 247 hiring mercenaries, 145–46, 151–52, 154–55 Surface warfare officers (SWOs), 55–56 “Symmetrical war,” 29 Syriac Military Council, 145 Syrian Civil War, 27, 32, 101, 149, 168, 244 mercenaries, 132–36 refugees, 104–6 Tacitus, 90 “Tactization” of strategy, 233–37 Taliban, 1, 95, 96, 113, 230 TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit), 14, 261n Tamil Tigers, 8, 96 Taylor, Charles, 147–48 Technological utopianism, 46, 48 Technology, 43–57 investing in people vs. machines, 52–57 Lockheed Martin F-35, 43–46, 47 overreliance on, 43–47, 55 Third Offset Strategy, 47–50 war algorithm, 50–51 Technophiles, 13, 14–17, 22–23 Terminator Conundrum, 15 Terrorism, 109–10, 135–36, 153–54 Tet Offensive, 223–26 Thatcher, Margaret, 165 Third Offset Strategy, 47–50, 55, 56, 166 Thirty-Six Stratagems, 190, 205, 206, 248, 253–55 Thirty Years’ War, 30, 74, 187 Thucydides, 212 Thumma, Scott, 143–44 Tibet, 97 Tiger Guards, 145 Titus, 86–87 Ton Son Nhut Air Base, 224 Treasury Department, U.S., 41–42 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 220–21 Trinquier, Roger, 95 Triple Canopy, 131, 136 “Troll Factory,” 201–3 Trolls, 111, 214 Truman, Harry, 2, 79 Trump, Donald, 46, 70, 130, 158, 159, 167, 168, 202 Turkey, 162–63 Turkistan Islamic Party, 135–36 Twelfth Legion, 84–86 Ukraine, Orange Revolution, 112–13, 215 Ukrainian conflict, 64, 134–35, 195–98, 199–200, 203, 245 UkrTransNafta, 135 Unconventional wars, 28 number of, 35–36, 36 redefining war, 179–85 use of term, 29 Uniform Code of Military Justice, 101–2 United Arab Emirates, 134, 140 United Fruit Company, 208–9, 211 United Nations (UN), 3, 9, 32, 81, 139 Law of the Sea, 68 outsourcing peacekeeping, 280–81n peacekeeping missions, 2, 8, 32, 136, 146, 148, 153 Unrestricted Warfare (Qiao and Wang), 65 US Agency for International Development (USAID), 41–42 “Utility of force,” 106–8 Utopia (More), 127 Uzbekistan, 135, 153 “Vanishing point of law,” 139 Varangian Guard, 127 Velvet regime change, 112–13 Vercingetorix, 126 Vespasian, 86 Victory, 219–40 choosing weapon of war, 229–31 developing war artists, 237–40 February Revolution, 219–21 myth of bifurcated, 232–33, 235 secret to winning, 221–23 “tactization” of strategy, 233–37 use of term, 221–22 Vietnam War and, 223–29 Vietnam War, 1, 96, 122, 211, 223–29, 232–33 Wagner Group, 132, 133, 134 Wall Street, 165–66 WannaCry ransomware attack, 137–38 War algorithm, 50–51 War and peace, 59–82 exploding heads, 70–74 grand strategy, 74–82 nonwar wars, 64–70 South China Sea incident of 2017, 59–63 War artists, 237–40, 247 War colleges, 235–40 War dogs, 121–25 Warfare, 4, 6 war vs., 27–28 War futurists, 11–17 Billy Mitchell, 17–19, 20 Cassandra’s Curse, 20 false prophets, 12–17 identifying, 20–22 Warlords, 147–48, 149, 156–57, 182, 193 War of Eight Saints, 26–27 War on Drugs, 175, 176 Warrior-diplomats, 41 “War termination,” 246 War without states.


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The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism by David Golumbia

3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, currency peg, distributed ledger, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, jimmy wales, litecoin, Marc Andreessen, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, smart contracts, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, Travis Kalanick, WikiLeaks

Yet we need to reach back deeper into history to grasp Bitcoin’s complete political and intellectual contexts. Most of those involved in the development and early adoption of Bitcoin were and are part of several intersecting communities who have long put a huge amount of faith into very specific technological–political orientations toward the world, ones grounded in overtly right-wing thought, typically coupled with myopic technological utopianism. These include movements like Extropians, cypherpunks, crypto-anarchists, political libertarians with an interest in technology, transhumanists, Singularitarians, and a wide swath of self-described hackers and open source software developers. Sometimes the politics of these individuals and the groups in which they travel are inchoate, but often enough they are explicit (see Carrico 2009, 2013a, 2013b for detailed discussions of these various movements, focusing in particular on their politics).


The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations by Christopher Lasch

cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, feminist movement, full employment, George Santayana, impulse control, Induced demand, invisible hand, Kitchen Debate, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, means of production, Norman Mailer, road to serfdom, Scientific racism, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, yellow journalism

More recently Tom Wolfe has interpreted the new narcissism as a "third great awakening an outbreak of orgiastic, ecstatic religiosity Jim Hougan, in a book that seems to present itself simultaneously as a critique and a celebration of - , , " , " The sense of an ending . . . is . . . endemic to what we call modernism, In general, we seem to combine a sense of decadence in society-as evidenced by the concept of alienation, which, supported by a new *" writes Frank Kermode. " . . . interest in the early Marx, has never enjoyed more esteem-with a technological utopianism. In our ways of thinking about the future there are contradictions which, if we were willing to consider them openly, might call for some effort " toward complementarity. But they lie, as a rule, too deep. Susan Sontag, noting that "people take the news of their doom in diverse ways, contrasts the apocalyp" tic imagination of earlier ages with that of today. In the past, expectations of the " apocalypse often furnished the occasion for a radical disaffiliation from society, whereas in our time they provoke an inadequate response, being received "without great agitation. " " " " .

A widespread revolt against reason is as much a feature of our world as our faith in science and technology Archaic myths and superstitions have reappeared in the very heart of the most modern, scientifically enlightened and progressive nations in the world The coexistence of advanced technology and primitive spirituality suggests that both are rooted in social conditions that make it increasingly difficult for people to accept the reality of sorrow loss, aging, and death-to . , . , live with limits , in short. The anxieties peculiar to the modem world seem to have intensified old mechanisms of denial. New Age spirituality no less than technological utopianism , , is rooted in primary narcissism If the technological fantasy seeks to restore the infantile illusion of self sufficiency the New Age movement seeks to restore the illusion of symbiosis, a feeling of absolute . - , oneness with the world . Instead of dreaming of the imposition of human will on the intractable world of matter, the New Age movement, which revives themes found in ancient Gnosticism simply denies the reality of the material world By treating matter essen, . 246 : Afterword: The Culture of Narcissism Revisited tially as an illusion, it removes every obstacle to the re-creation of a primary sense of wholeness and equilibrium-the return to Nirvana.


pages: 538 words: 141,822

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Google Earth, illegal immigration, invention of radio, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Marshall McLuhan, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, peer-to-peer, pirate software, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Sinatra Doctrine, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, social graph, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Wisdom of Crowds, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

“The authoritarian state is inherently fragile and will quickly collapse if information flows freely,” wrote Pool, giving rise to a view that has become widely shared—and, undoubtedly, made Pool and his numerous followers overestimate the liberating power of information. (Pool, a disillusioned ex-Trotskyite, also famously overestimated the power of Western broadcasting, using letters that Eastern Europeans sent to Radio Free Europe as one of his main sources.) Such technological utopianism stems from a rather shallow reading of the politics and regime dynamics of authoritarian states. For if one presumes, like Pool, that authoritarian structures rest on little else than the suppression of information, as soon as the West finds a way to poke holes in those structures, it follows that democracy promotion boils down to finding ways to unleash the information flood on the oppressed.

“Historians and Modern Technology: Reflections on the Development and Current Problems of the History of Technology.” Technology and Culture (1974): 161-193. Scannell, P. “The Dialectic of Time and Television.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 625, no. 1 (2009): 219. Schaniel, W. C. “New Technology and Culture Change in Traditional Societies.” Journal of Economic Issues 22, no. 2 (1988): 493-498. Segal, Howard P. Technological Utopianism in American Culture. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005. Shen, X. The Chinese Road to High Technology: A Study of Telecommunications Switching Technology in the Economic Transition. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999. Sibley, M. Q. “Utopian Thought and Technology.” American Journal of Political Science (1973): 255-281. Smith, Merritt Roe, and Leo Marx, eds. Does Technology Drive History?


Howard Rheingold by The Virtual Community Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier-Perseus Books (1993)

Apple II, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, experimental subject, George Gilder, global village, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, license plate recognition, loose coupling, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mitch Kapor, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, rent control, RFC: Request For Comment, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telepresence, The Great Good Place, The Hackers Conference, urban decay, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, young professional

We temporarily have access to a tool that could bring conviviality and understanding into our lives and might help revitalize the 26-04-2012 21:41 howard rheingold's | the virtual community 16 de 18 http://www.rheingold.com/vc/book/intro.html public sphere. The same tool, improperly controlled and wielded, could become an instrument of tyranny. The vision of a citizendesigned, citizen-controlled worldwide communications network is a version of technological utopianism that could be called the vision of "the electronic agora." In the original democracy, Athens, the agora was the marketplace, and more--it was where citizens met to talk, gossip, argue, size each other up, find the weak spots in political ideas by debating about them. But another kind of vision could apply to the use of the Net in the wrong ways, a shadow vision of a less utopian kind of place--the Panopticon.

Many other social scientists have intellectual suspicions of the hyper-realist critiques, because so many are abstract and theoretical, based on little or no direct knowledge of technology 26-04-2012 21:46 howard rheingold's | the virtual community 7 de 26 http://www.rheingold.com/vc/book/10.html itself. Nevertheless, this perspective does capture something about the way the effects of communications technologies have changed our modes of thought. One good reason for paying attention to the claims of the hyper-realists is that the society they predicted decades ago bears a disturbingly closer resemblance to real life than do the forecasts of the rosier-visioned technological utopians. While McLuhan's image of the global village has taken on a certain irony in light of what has happened since his predictions of the 1960s, "the society of the spectacle" --another prediction from the 1960s, based on the advent of electronic media--offered a far less rosy and, as events have proved, more realistic portrayal of the way information technologies have changed social customs.


Victorian Internet by Tom Standage

British Empire, financial independence, global village, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jacquard loom, paper trading, QWERTY keyboard, technoutopianism, undersea cable

(One commentator suggested that the age of aviation would be an "age of peace" because aircraft would make armies obsolete, since they would be vulnerable to attack from the air.) Similarly, television was expected to improve education, reduce social isolation, and enhance democracy. Nuclear power was supposed to usher in an age of plenty where electricity would be "too cheap to meter." The optimistic claims now being made about the Internet are merely the most recent examples in a tradition of technological utopianism that goes back to the first transatlantic telegraph cables, 150 years ago. That the telegraph was so widely seen as a panacea is perhaps understandable. The fact that we are still making the same mistake today is less so. The irony is that even though it failed to live up to the Utopian claims made about it, the telegraph really did transform the world. It also redefined forever our attitudes toward new technologies.


pages: 467 words: 149,632

If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future by Jill Lepore

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, anti-communist, Buckminster Fuller, computer age, coronavirus, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, game design, George Gilder, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, Howard Zinn, index card, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Epstein, job automation, land reform, linear programming, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, packet switching, Peter Thiel, profit motive, RAND corporation, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

But Pool, in the tumult and the terror, would no longer defend liberalism, instead following a path taken by so many former Trotskyites turned Cold Warriors, toward neoconservatism. He left liberalism behind. He left Simulmatics behind. He left Project Cambridge and Project ComCom behind. After 1969, he dedicated himself to writing about technologies of communication, and the communications revolution, and its implications for political life. He wrote the founding political theory of the Internet. He became, to technological utopians, a prophet. “The propagandists of the SDS have found it convenient to make the name Pool a codeword,” he once complained, exhausted. They’d done the same with the Simulmatics Corporation, made it a codeword, used it as a buzzword, a cudgel. In the spring of 1970, antiwar activists marched from Boston Common to the last known address of Simulmatics in Cambridge, 930 Massachusetts Avenue, a tiny little house halfway between Harvard and MIT.

Born in Illinois in 1938, Brand had graduated from Stanford in 1960 and, after serving in the army, had joined a movement known as the New Communalism, which was powerfully influenced by the eccentric visionary Buckminster Fuller, the same man who, for his friend Frank Safford, Patty Greenfield’s father, had built the geodesic dome, where the scientists of Simulmatics had met in 1961. Brand carried Fuller’s technological utopianism into his vision for what would one day become the Internet. In the 1960s, Fuller’s iconic geodesic domes—miniature Spaceship Earths—were favored structures on communes. Fuller was the great-nephew of the radical writer, transcendentalist, and social utopian Margaret Fuller, and his futurism borrowed from transcendentalism and attached to it a mid-twentieth-century vision of technological utopia, an imagined escape from the dour and deathly machines of the Cold War and into a new era in which machines would be designed, and put to use, for human fulfillment, a realization of bliss.


Work in the Future The Automation Revolution-Palgrave MacMillan (2019) by Robert Skidelsky Nan Craig

3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, anti-work, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business cycle, cloud computing, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data is the new oil, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, post-work, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, wealth creators, working poor

So far, it seems the latter has been the case. We also need to scrutinise the more generalised idea that technology increases human welfare by increasing the affordability and thus availability of consumption goods. This invokes all kinds of questions about the relationship between consumption and happiness, and the damage done to the planet by the constant pursuit of material wealth. Is technology determinative? Even technological utopians assume technological invasion takes place in a social and economic context, which determines what is invented, how quickly inventions are applied and so on. Historically, inventions did not necessarily become widely used; the history of technology, up until the early modern period, was patchy rather than progressive. Automata, for instance existed in the ancient world, but they were novelties for kings and did not prompt wider technological change.


pages: 274 words: 75,846

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, A Pattern Language, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Black Swan, borderless world, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, fundamental attribution error, global village, Haight Ashbury, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Metcalfe’s law, Netflix Prize, new economy, PageRank, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, RFID, Robert Metcalfe, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, social software, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the scientific method, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

And as a master of a self-created universe, it’s easy to start to view people as a means to an end, as variables to be manipulated on a mental spreadsheet, rather than as breathing, thinking beings. It’s difficult both to systematize and to appeal to the fullness of human life—its unpredictability, emotionality, and surprising quirks—at the same time. David Gelernter, a Yale computer scientist, barely survived an encounter with an explosive package sent by the Unabomber; his eyesight and right hand are permanently damaged as a result. But Gelernter is hardly the technological utopian Ted Kaczinski believed him to be. “When you do something in the public sphere,” Gelernter told a reporter, “it behooves you to know something about what the public sphere is like. How did this country get this way? What was the history of the relationship between technology and the public? What’s the history of political exchange? The problem is, hackers don’t tend to know any of that. And that’s why it worries me to have these people in charge of public policy.


pages: 300 words: 76,638

The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future by Andrew Yang

3D printing, Airbnb, assortative mating, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, call centre, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, falling living standards, financial deregulation, full employment, future of work, global reserve currency, income inequality, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Narrative Science, new economy, passive income, performance metric, post-work, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unemployed young men, universal basic income, urban renewal, white flight, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator

UBI eliminates the disincentive to work that most people find troubling about traditional welfare programs—if you work you could actually start saving and get ahead. With the growing threat of automation, the concept has gained renewed attention, with trials being run in Oakland, Canada, and Finland as well as in India and other parts of the developing world. Today, people tend to associate universal basic income with technology utopians. But a form of UBI almost became law in the United States in 1970 and 1971, passing the House of Representatives twice before stalling in the Senate. Versions of the idea have been championed by robust thinkers of every political persuasion for decades, including some of the most admired figures in American life. Here’s a sampling: Thomas Paine, 1796: Out of a collected fund from landowners, “there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance,… to every person, rich or poor.”


pages: 280 words: 74,559

Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Bastani

"Robert Solow", autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, computer vision, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, double helix, Elon Musk, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, G4S, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, land reform, liberal capitalism, low earth orbit, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market fundamentalism, means of production, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post scarcity, post-work, price mechanism, price stability, private space industry, Productivity paradox, profit motive, race to the bottom, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sensor fusion, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transatlantic slave trade, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, V2 rocket, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, working-age population

The political ideologies of the past have often, to their detriment, focused on only one of these at the expense of others: many contemporary anarchists tend to hold social relations as pre-eminent – as if they were distinct from ideas, daily life and work. Leninism, meanwhile, views production, and by extension working-class subjectivity, as critical while ignoring a world whose ideas and technologies are hugely changed from those of the early twentieth century. Elsewhere technological utopians, such as the Californian ideologues of Silicon Valley, view technology as the principal means by which to carve a better future, almost detached from politics, society and history. Finally, certain environmentalists have favoured relations to nature and how we view ourselves in the cosmos, particularly regarding other forms of life, as the primary force that guides their politics. Too often this has come at the expense of a class analysis in understanding exploitation and production under capitalism, and how that system inherently opposes what they want.


pages: 193 words: 19,478

Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext by Belinda Barnet

augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Duvall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, game design, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, John Markoff, linked data, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, publish or perish, Robert Metcalfe, semantic web, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, Vannevar Bush, wikimedia commons

Hypertext furnishes the individual with choices: ‘YOU GET THE PART YOU WANT WHEN YOU ASK FOR IT’ (Nelson 1993, 2/16). This aspect of Nelson’s vision cannot be ignored. Xanadu was (and still is) personal in the most libertarian, 1960s Californian sense. Links, Nelson maintains, furnish the individual with choices, with the right to choose. Nelson engaged in a rhetoric of liberation about hypertext well before George Landow discovered digital media; Nelson pioneered technological utopianism in the digital era. Unfortunately, these inspired presentations, filled with individualistic, egalitarian rhetoric didn’t help the engineering world take his design seriously. 80 Memory Machines This writing system, like the computer itself, is ‘FOR PERSONAL FREEDOM, AND AGAINST RESTRICTION AND COERCION’ (Nelson 1987, 2). As Nelson sees it, everybody should be able to create what they want and put it on the system, from bad ’zines and pamphlets to great novels, and everybody should be able to quote or cite another document.


pages: 267 words: 82,580

The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett

3D printing, 4chan, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Google Chrome, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, invention of writing, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Julian Assange, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, life extension, litecoin, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, moral hazard, moral panic, Occupy movement, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Skype, slashdot, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, The Coming Technological Singularity, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, Zimmermann PGP

Zoltan’s loosely autobiographical work, which sets out a picture of a fairly bleak near future in which transhumanists go to war with the rest of the world. More, M. and Vita-More, N. (eds), Transhumanist Reader An excellent overview of some of the more technical and philosophical aspects of the transhumanist movement, edited by two leading exponents. It includes a chapter by Anders Sandberg on mind uploading. Naughton, J., From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What you Really Need to Know About the Internet. Segal, H., Technological Utopianism in American Culture. Zerzan, J., Future Primitive and Future Primitive Revisited. A handy introduction into the anarcho-primitivist philosophy, and Zerzan’s most well-known written work. Acknowledgements First and foremost, I’d like to thank all those people who have let me into their world: Paul the extreme but affable nationalist, Zack, ‘Old Holborn’, Michael, Vex, Blath and Auryn, Amir, Pablo, Timothy May, Smári, Zoltan and Zerzan, Charlie Flowers, Tommy Robinson, Hel Gower, the anonymous EDL social media admins, @Norsefired, Jimmy Swales, Alexander Jones, Queen Lareefer, Jessica and Elle St Claire, the strange dancer in the Utherverse brothel, Jessi, the owners of the Pink Pussy Gentleman’s Club, Al the forum admin, the individuals who comprised the composite character Amelia in ‘The Werther Effect’, Gerard and Dr Anders Sandberg.


pages: 294 words: 87,986

4th Rock From the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, cuban missile crisis, Elon Musk, game design, hive mind, invention of the telescope, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, retrograde motion, selection bias, silicon-based life, Skype, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism

One of the first modern societies to become preoccupied with Mars was the Soviet Union. At the start of the twentieth century, the USSR was beginning to develop a near-obsession with spaceflight. Some members of society began weaving together a few threads of thought into one overarching philosophy – namely that of ‘cosmism’ (the idea that humans should travel to and colonise the cosmos, and that humans had an intrinsic relationship with the Universe) and that of ‘technological utopianism’ (the belief that rapid industri­alisation and scientific advancement would ultimately create a utopian society). This sparked a countrywide lust for interplanetary flight, a drive to visit the stars, a strong public interest in space and manned spaceflight – in a way, a sort of space activism movement. At the time, this was arguably based more on spiritualism and philosophy than it was on actual scientific or technological ability, and faded over the course of a few decades, but it had a few long-lasting and significant conse­quences.


pages: 376 words: 110,796

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs, Emeline Paat-dahlstrom, Charles D. Walker

Berlin Wall, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, desegregation, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Mikhail Gorbachev, multiplanetary species, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, private space industry, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, X Prize, young professional

That first issue also included a letter of support for space colonies from Arizona congressman and contender for the presidency Morris Udall. Udall was a liberal Democrat, but the standard line about L5 members was that they were 5 percent Democrats, 5 percent Republicans, and 9o percent anarchists. Early L5 members skewed toward the idealistic, but the group would eventually attract such divergent members as arch-conservative Senator Barry Goldwater and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary. Whether they were technological utopians looking to build a commune in the sky or pragmatic engineers, they all found a banner in L5. However, because L5 early on attracted such rabid let's-go-to-space-now members who carried something of a science fiction air, O'Neill kept a careful distance between himself and the group. Operated largely by the Hensons and an odd assortment of volunteers, or "groupies," as Keith Henson termed them, L5 quickly achieved its goal of being a clearinghouse for space settlement issues and activities.


pages: 480 words: 123,979

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters With Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier

4chan, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, cosmological constant, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, impulse control, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons

Isn’t this a rather obscure obsession you have?” My answer was that it’s about the survival of our species. If we keep on the path we’re on, we’ll eventually destroy ourselves. The more technologically capable we become in the future, the more ways we’ll have available to put an end to the human story. The numbers game is against us.6 I often found myself sandwiched in-between technology skeptics and technological utopians. I had to frequently restate that I was unambiguously pro–technological progress. The further back you go in human history, the worse things were. Until quite recently, people had as many children as they could because it was expected that some would not live to see adulthood. Disgusting disease was everywhere, as was hunger, and most people were illiterate and ignorant. Despite this history, I never argued that science or technology automatically make life better; they only create options, wiggle room, that people can use to become more ethical, moral, sensible, and happy.


pages: 385 words: 121,550

Three Years in Hell: The Brexit Chronicles by Fintan O'Toole

airport security, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, blockchain, Bob Geldof, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, deindustrialization, deliberate practice, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Downton Abbey, Etonian, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, full employment, income inequality, l'esprit de l'escalier, labour mobility, late capitalism, open borders, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, technoutopianism, zero-sum game

It fully concedes that the changes most of us fear from Brexit – the reimposition of a political and economic border and the reversal of so much of the progress made since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 – would be terrible. Indeed, it goes even further and characterises these changes as unacceptable. But it then goes on to suggest, in effect, that these utterly unacceptable things will not happen only if the EU gives the UK all the benefits of the customs union and the single market with none of the costs or restrictions. The one really bold move in the paper is its rejection of the technological utopianism of the more enthusiastic Brexiteers, especially in the Democratic Unionist Party. The commitment to ‘avoid any physical border infrastructure’ means that there can be no CCTV cameras or registration-plate recognition systems. Magical machines are not going to take the place of human customs officers. This is a welcome concession to reality, but it is predicated on an even bigger unreality: the assumption that the EU will agree to something quite extraordinary: that a 500-kilometre external EU border with more than 200 crossing points will be effectively unpoliced.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate raider, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, God and Mammon, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, land value tax, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

Can a person hope to corral and own what is fundamentally a free gift of the universe? I do not believe that technology will save humanity. Reading my work, many people have asked me if I know about the Venus Project, a movement that draws from the same basic understanding of the problem with today’s money system. While I resonate with its spirit, I find that the Venus Project indulges in the same technological utopianism that has filled us with starry-eyed hope since the age of coal. But in fact, as I described in Chapter 2, abundance has always been available to us. It is our perceptions, and not our means, that engender scarcity. Let me put it poetically. At the end of Chapter 11 I wrote, A vein runs through spiritual tradition that says that we, too, give back to the sun; indeed that the sun only continues to shine through our gratitude.


pages: 538 words: 145,243

Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World by Joshua B. Freeman

anti-communist, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate raider, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, joint-stock company, knowledge worker, mass immigration, means of production, mittelstand, Naomi Klein, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Vanguard fund, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2005), 129–39, 165–96; Åman, Architecture and Ideology, 12, 28–30, 147; Mark Pittaway, “Creating and Domesticating Hungary’s Socialist Industrial Landscape: From Dunapentele to Sztálinváros, 1950–1958,” Historical Archaeology 39 (3) (2005), 76, 79–80. 37.Romania never had a “first socialist city” of the sort found elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Åman, Architecture and Ideology, 77 (“cult of steel”), 81, 147, 157–61; Ulf Brunnbauer, “‘The Town of the Youth’: Dimitrovgrad and Bulgarian Socialism,” Ethnologica Balkanica 9 (2005), 92–95. See also Paul R. Josephson, Would Trotsky Wear a Bluetooth? Technological Utopianism under Socialism, 1917–1989 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), 65–119. 38.Åman, Architecture and Ideology, esp. 33–39, 102–03, 158, 162; Pittaway, “Hungary’s Socialist Industrial Landscape,” 78–81, 85–87; Brunnbauer, “‘The Town of the Youth,’” 94, 98–111; Katherine Lebow, Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949–56 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013), 46, 52–56. 39.Paweł Jagło, “Steelworks,” in Nowa Huta 1949+ [English version] (Kraków: Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa, 2013), quote on 18; Lebow, Unfinished Utopia, 19–26, 36–40, 69; Alison Stenning, “Placing (Post-)Socialism: The Making and Remaking of Nowa Huta, Poland,” European Urban and Regional Studies 7 (Apr. 2000), 100–01; Boleslaw Janus, “Labor’s Paradise: Family, Work, and Home in Nowa Huta, Poland, 1950–1960,” East European Quarterly XXXIII (4) (Jan. 2000), 469; H.


pages: 542 words: 161,731

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

Albert Einstein, Columbine, global village, Hacker Ethic, helicopter parent, Howard Rheingold, industrial robot, information retrieval, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rodney Brooks, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, technoutopianism, The Great Good Place, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Wall-E, women in the workforce, Year of Magical Thinking

On this spectrum, as we’ve seen, things are never clear-cut. As Audrey put it, a Facebook profile is “an avatar of me.” And when you play Ringo Starr on a simulation of the Beatles, your avatar may feel like a second self. In simulation culture we become cyborg, and it can be hard to return to anything less. CHAPTER 11 Reduction and betrayal In the mid-1990s, computer scientist and technological utopian Raymond Kurzweil created an avatar, Ramona, which he put into a virtual world. At that time, most players of online role-playing games had text-based avatars, complete with long descriptions of their histories and relationships, as well as the clothes they were wearing. Kurzweil looked forward to a new era. He didn’t want to describe himself as Grace Slick. He wanted to be Grace Slick. Kurzweil created a virtual world and made a beautiful, sexy avatar who sang before the psychedelic backdrops of his choosing.


pages: 606 words: 157,120

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov

3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

But these highly original thinkers, regardless of political persuasion, have shown that their own least favorite brand of solutionist—be it Jacobs’s urban planners or Illich’s professional educators—have a very poor grasp not just of human nature but also of the complex practices that this nature begets and thrives on. It’s as if the solutionists have never lived a life of their own but learned everything they know from books—and those books weren’t novels but manuals for refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines. Thomas Molnar, a conservative philosopher who, for his smart and vehement critique of technological utopianism written in the early 1960s, also deserves a place on the antisolutionist pantheon, put it really well when he complained that “when the utopian writers deal with work, health, leisure, life expectancy, war, crimes, culture, administration, finance, judges and so on, it is as if their words were uttered by an automaton with no conception of real life. The reader has the uncomfortable feeling of walking in a dreamland of abstractions, surrounded by lifeless objects; he manages to identify them in a vague way, but, on closer inspection, he sees that they do not really conform to anything familiar in shape, color, volume, or sound.”


pages: 678 words: 216,204

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler

affirmative action, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, clean water, commoditize, dark matter, desegregation, East Village, fear of failure, Firefox, game design, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, information asymmetry, invention of radio, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Kenneth Arrow, longitudinal study, market bubble, market clearing, Marshall McLuhan, Mitch Kapor, New Journalism, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, random walk, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, software patent, spectrum auction, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto

The technophilic response is reminiscent of claims made in the past for electricity, for radio, or for telegraph, expressing what James Carey described as "the mythos of the electrical sublime." The question this part of the book explores is whether this claim, given the experience of the past decade, can be sustained on careful analysis, or whether it is yet another instance of a long line of technological utopianism. The fact that earlier utopias were overly optimistic does not mean that these previous technologies did not in fact alter the conditions of life--material, social, and intellectual. They did, but they did so differently in different societies, and in ways that diverged from the social utopias attached to them. Different nations absorbed and used these technologies differently, diverging in social and cultural habits, but also in institutional strategies for adoption--some more state-centric, others more market based; some more controlled, others less so.


pages: 788 words: 223,004

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

23andMe, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alexander Shulgin, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Charles Lindbergh, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, digital twin, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, haute couture, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Khyber Pass, late capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, performance metric, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pre–internet, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social intelligence, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, WikiLeaks

After unveiling HIVE to his employees, Peretti wanted to step back and explain how the new tool fit into his broader vision for BuzzFeed, which he did by way of analogy: “Self-driving cars are starting to get better than humans at driving. Humans crash a lot more. The reason is that you only have your own experience when you drive. If you’ve never had a ball roll out into the street, or driven on an icy patch, you don’t know how to do that.” That was the limitation on human expertise: it was necessarily confined to the lived experience of an individual. It was a limitation that technological utopians like Peretti promised the hive mind would render a thing of the past. “If you’re a Google car,” he said, “you have the experience of every other Google car—any car that drives on an icy patch sends that knowledge and experience to the hub, and every car gets it and benefits from it.” In the audience Smith, his editor in chief, was laughing. “You do know we’re humans, right?” he chimed in.