The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange – NYTimes.com
1. The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not
2. “The New Digital Age” is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary – the one company that can answer the question “Where should America go?”
3. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth
4. democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”
5. book mirrors State Department institutional taboos and obsessions
6. Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture – a decent, humane and playful culture – has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency
7. Despite accounting for an infinitesimal fraction of violent deaths globally, terrorism is a favorite brand in United States policy circles… The future of terrorism, we learn, is cyberterrorism. A session of indulgent scaremongering follows
8. Assange: The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism… In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the “good” societies closer to the “bad” ones.
9. various repressive surveillance measures: All of these are already in widespread use in the United States.
10. the media, in an autocracy, “allows for an opposition press as long as regime opponents understand where the unspoken limits are”
11. the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing… If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces – forever. Zealots of the cult of consumer technology will find little to inspire them here, not that they ever seem to need it. But this is essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view of one simple imperative: Know your enemy.
Resisting the Tyranny of Productivity | The Frailest Thing
“Really, the effect of such technologies is to instill in us the ideals of efficiency and productivity. And that just gets tiresome. “
Lethal autonomous robots are coming | ROUGH TYPE
“LARs, which Heyns defines as “weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention,” have not yet been deployed in wars or other conflicts, but the technology to produce them is very much in reach. It’s just a matter of taking the human decision-maker out of the hurly-burly of the immediate “kill loop” and leaving the firing decision to algorithms (ie, abstract protocols scripted by humans in calmer circumstances). Governments with the capability to field such weapons “indicate that their use during armed conflict or elsewhere is not currently envisioned,” but history, as Heyns points out, suggests that such assurances are subject to revision without warning”
The Transhumanist Logic of Technological Innovation | The Frailest Thing
But what are we being liberated for? What is the end which this freedom will enable us to pursue? What sort of person do these technologies invite us to become? Or, if we maximized their affordances, what sort of engagement with the world would they facilitate?
Around this time last year, Nick Carr proposed that technological innovation tracks neatly with Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (see Carr’s chart below)… What if beyond self-actualization, there lay the realm of self-transcendence?
The technologies listed above… tend in the same direction to the degree that they render human action in the world obsolete. The liberation they implicitly offer, in other words, is a liberation from fundamental aspects of what it has meant to be a human being.
Presence, Not Praise: How To Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Achievement | Brain Pickings
The kids were then given more complex problems, which those previously praised for their hard work approached with dramatically greater resilience and willingness to try different approaches whenever they reached a dead end. By contrast, those who had been praised for their cleverness were much more anxious about failure, stuck with tasks they had already mastered, and dwindled in tenacity in the face of new problems…
Presence, he argues, helps build the child’s confidence by way of indicating he is worthy of the observer’s thoughts and attention – its absence, on the other hand, divorces in the child the journey from the destination by instilling a sense that the activity itself is worthless unless it’s a means to obtaining praise.
The Philosophy of Immortality | Brain Pickings
“Actually, it’s the fear of death rather than the love of life, often, that’s motivating us. If people complain that they don’t have enough time, why do they watch so much TV? It doesn’t seem, actually, when we look at the way people behave, that lack of time is their problem. On the contrary … when you look at how much time we waste, [it seems] that life is already too long — so long that we become complacent and we waste great swathes, so many hours. And, in fact, being conscious of the fact that our time is limited is what makes us really value and appreciate the time that we have…
we need to talk about death because only by talking about our mortality can we understand the lives we’re leading and why we’re leading them the way we’re leading them.”