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  1. Casey says she wishes she could put her phone down. But she can’t. “I’ll wake up in the morning and go on Facebook just… because,” she says. “It’s not like I want to or I don’t. I just go on it. I’m, like, forced to. I don’t know why. I need to. Facebook takes up my whole life.”

    ... »

    “Connect your app to our Persuasive AI Artificial Intelligence » and lift your engagement and revenue up to 30% by giving your users our perfect bursts of dopamine,” and “A burst of Dopamine doesn’t just feel good: it’s proven to re-wire user behavior and habits.”

    Ramsay Brown, the founder of Dopamine Labs, says in a KQED Science article, “We have now developed a rigorous technology of the human mind, and that is both exciting and terrifying. We have the ability to twiddle some knobs in a machine learning dashboard we build, and around the world hundreds of thousands of people are going to quietly change their behavior in ways that, unbeknownst to them, feel second-nature but are really by design.” Programmers call this “brain hacking,” as it compels users to spend more time on sites even though they mistakenly believe it’s strictly due to their own conscious choices.

    ... »

    As former tech executive Bill Davidow says in his Atlantic article “Exploiting the Neuroscience of Internet Addiction,” “The leaders of Internet companies face an interesting, if also morally questionable, imperative: either they hijack neuroscience to gain market share and make large profits, or they let competitors do that and run away with the market.”

    ... »

    The internal report crafted by Facebook executives showed the social network boasting to advertisers that by monitoring posts, interactions, and photos in real time, the network is able to track when teens feel “insecure,” “worthless,” “stressed,” “useless” and a “failure.” Why would the social network do this? The report also bragged about Facebook’s ability to micro-target ads down to “moments when young people need a confidence boost.”

    Persuasive technology’s use of digital media to target children, deploying the weapon of psychological manipulation at just the right moment, is what makes it so powerful. These design techniques provide tech corporations a window into kids’ hearts and minds to measure their particular vulnerabilities, which can then be used to control their behavior as consumers.

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    Fulton is transparent about the power of persuasive design and the intent of the gaming industry, disclosing in Big Four Accounting Firm PwC’s tech business journal: “If game designers are going to pull a person away from every other voluntary social activity or hobby or pastime, they’re going to have to engage that person at a very deep level in every possible way they can.”

    ... »

    How has the consumer tech industry responded to these calls for change? By going even lower. Facebook recently launched Messenger Kids, a social media app that will reach kids as young as five years old. Suggestive that harmful persuasive design is now honing in on very young children is the declaration of Messenger Kids Art Director, Shiu Pei Luu, “We want to help foster communication on Facebook » and make that the most exciting thing you want to be doing.”

    ... »

    Addressing this inequity is Tristan Harris, who says, “Never before in history have basically 50 mostly men, mostly 20–35, mostly white engineer designer types within 50 miles of where we are right now Silicon Valley » , had control of what a billion people think and do.”
    https://medium.com/s/story/the-tech-i...sychological-war-on-kids-c452870464ce
    Voting 0
  2. Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester, who was not involved in the study said the findings were reassuring for the future of life on Earth.

    “It suggests that the complete eradication of life on Earth is extremely unlikely until we get to the point that the sun enlarges and all the oceans boil away,” he said. “Many organisms, in particular animals and bacteria, live in the deep ocean, which the authors show would be unaffected by any conceivable cosmic cataclysm.”

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    He also stressed that even tardigrades are not invincible. “Tardigrades stay alive in extreme conditions by drying out completely. So if there was no water left … there would be no “live” tardigrades, just dried up ones,” said Blaxter. “And if there was some water left so that the tardigrades could re-animate, if there was no food left they eat algae and fungi - they too would be dead in a couple of weeks.”

    Cobb, too, noted that even if the tardigrades were the only survivors, they would face a struggle. “For the tardigrades to inherit the Earth, whatever catastrophe swept over the planet would have to return to normal-ish conditions within a matter of decades at most, or it really could be curtains,” he said.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2...e-that-can-survive-a-cosmic-catacylsm
    Tags: , , , by rhatto (2017-07-14) | Cache | PDF | PNG | Permalink
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  3. Whether it was designed in studios in Cupertino, Seoul or somewhere else, it is highly probable that the smartphone in your hand was assembled and prepared for shipment and sale at facilities within a few dozen kilometers of Shenzhen city, in the gritty conurbation that has sprawled across the Pearl River Delta since the Chinese government opened the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone for business in August 1980. These factories operate under circumstances that are troubling at best. Hours are long; the work is numbingly repetitive, produces injuries at surreal rates, and often involves exposure to toxic chemicals. Wages are low and suicide rates among the workforce are distressingly high. The low cost of Chinese labor, coupled to workers’ relative lack of ability to contest these conditions, is critical to the industry’s ability to assemble the components called for in each model’s bill of materials, apply a healthy markup and still bring it to market at an acceptable price point. Should Chinese wages begin to approximate Western norms, or local labor win for itself anything in the way of real collective bargaining power, we may be certain that manufacturers will find other, more congenial places to assemble their devices. But for now Shenzhen remains far and away the preeminent global site of smartphone manufacture.

    Take a step or two further back in the production process, and the picture gets bleaker still. To function at all, the smartphone—like all electronic devices—requires raw materials that have been wrested from the Earth by ruthlessly extractive industries. The cobalt in its lithium-ion batteries was mined by hand in the Congo, often by children; the tin in the soldered seams that bind it together most likely comes from the Indonesian island of Bangka, where the water table is irreparably fouled, 70 percent of the coral reefs have been destroyed by mine runoff, and on average one miner a week is killed on the job. The damage caused by the processes of extraction fans out across most of a hemisphere, mutilating lives, human communities and natural ecosystems beyond ready numbering. And so the polluted streams, stillborn children and diagnoses of cancer, too, become part of the way in which the smartphone has transformed everyday life, at least for some of us.

    Though these facts might give us pause in just about any other context, we don’t appear to be too troubled by them when it comes to the smartphone. The smartphone isn’t like any other product, and in fact ranks among the most rapidly adopted technologies in human history. And so we suppress whatever qualms we may have about the conditions in the mines and factories, the environmental footprint, the energetic cost of the extended supply chain, or the authoritarian governments we ultimately support through our act of purchase. To the degree that we’re even aware of it, we leave this deniable prehistory behind the moment we plunk down our cash and take home our new phone.

    ... »

    There’s something of an ethical bind here, because if the smartphone is becoming a de facto necessity, it is at the same time impossible to use the device as intended without, in turn, surrendering data to it and the network beyond. In part, this is simply a function of the way mobile telephony works. Most of us know by now that our phones are constantly tracking our location, and in fact have to do so in order to function on the network at all: the same transaction with a cellular base station or WiFi router that establishes connectivity suffices to generate at least a low-resolution map of our whereabouts. But it is also a function of business model.

    ... »

    Whenever we locate ourselves in this way, whether we’re quite aware of it or not, we are straightforwardly trading our privacy for convenience. For most of us, most of the time, the functionality on offer is so useful that this is a bargain we’re more than happy to strike, yet it remains distressing that its terms are rarely made explicit.

    ... »

    When we move through the world with a smartphone in hand, then, we generate an enormous amount of data in the course of our ordinary activities, and we do so without noticing or thinking much about it. In turn, that data will be captured and leveraged by any number of parties, including handset and operating system vendors, app developers, cellular service providers, and still others; those parties will be acting in their interests, which may only occasionally intersect our own; and it will be very, very difficult for us to exert any control over any of this.

    ... »

    Equipped with these devices, we’re both here and somewhere else at the same time, joined to everything at once yet never fully anywhere at all.

    The individual networked in this way is no longer the autonomous subject enshrined in liberal theory, not precisely. Our very selfhood is smeared out across a global mesh of nodes and links; all the aspects of our personality we think of as constituting who we are—our tastes, preferences, capabilities, desires—we owe to the fact of our connection with that mesh, and the selves and distant resources to which it binds us.

    ... »

    It’s easy, too easy, to depict the networked subject as being isolated, in contact with others only at the membrane that divides them. But if anything, the overriding quality of our era is porosity. Far from affording any kind of psychic sanctuary, the walls we mortar around ourselves turn out to be as penetrable a barrier as any other. Work invades our personal time, private leaks into public, the intimate is trivially shared, and the concerns of the wider world seep into what ought to be a space for recuperation and recovery. Above all, horror finds us wherever we are.

    ... »

    We need to understand ourselves as nervous systems that are virtually continuous with the world beyond the walls, fused to it through the juncture of our smartphones. And what keeps us twitching at our screens, more even than the satisfaction of any practical need, is the continuously renewed opportunity to bathe in the primal rush of communion.

    Whether consciously or otherwise, interaction designers have learned to stimulate and leverage this desire: they know full well that every time someone texts you, “likes” your photo or answers your email, it changes you materially, rewiring neurotransmitter pathways, lighting up the reward circuits of your brain, and enhancing the odds that you’ll trigger the whole cycle over again when the dopamine surge subsides in a few seconds. This clever hack exploits our most primal needs for affirmation, generally from the most venal of motivations. But it can also sensitize us to the truth of our own radical incompleteness, if we let it, teaching us that we are only ever ourselves in connection with others. And as we have never been anything but open and multiple and woven of alterity—from the DNA in our cells, to the microbes in our guts, to the self-replicating modules of language and learned ideology that constitute our very selves—in the end maybe the network we’ve wrought is only a clunky way of literalizing the connections that were always already there and waiting to be discovered.
    https://longreads.com/2017/06/13/a-sociology-of-the-smartphone
    Voting 0
  4. We’re surrounded not just by intelligent machines but by a new layer of reality centred on information. Consider an airliner: a computer flies it; it has been designed, stress-tested and “virtually manufactured” millions of times; it is firing back real-time information to its manufacturers. On board are people squinting at screens connected, in some lucky countries, to the internet.

    Seen from the ground it is the same white metal bird as in the James Bond era. But it is now both an intelligent machine and a node on a network. It has an information content and is adding “information value” as well as physical value to the world. On a packed business flight, when everyone’s peering at Excel or Powerpoint, the passenger cabin is best understood as an information factory.

    ... »

    If we restate Arrow’s principle in reverse, its revolutionary implications are obvious: if a free market economy plus intellectual property leads to the “underutilisation of information”, then an economy based on the full utilisation of information cannot tolerate the free market or absolute intellectual property rights. The business models of all our modern digital giants are designed to prevent the abundance of information.

    ... »

    For the past 25 years economics has been wrestling with this problem: all mainstream economics proceeds from a condition of scarcity, yet the most dynamic force in our modern world is abundant and, as hippy genius Stewart Brand once put it, “wants to be free”.

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    In an economy where machines do most of the work, the nature of the knowledge locked inside the machines must, he writes, be “social”. In a final late-night thought experiment Marx imagined the end point of this trajectory: the creation of an “ideal machine”, which lasts forever and costs nothing. A machine that could be built for nothing would, he said, add no value at all to the production process and rapidly, over several accounting periods, reduce the price, profit and labour costs of everything else it touched.

    Once you understand that information is physical, and that software is a machine, and that storage, bandwidth and processing power are collapsing in price at exponential rates, the value of Marx’s thinking becomes clear. We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could, if we wanted them to, last forever.

    In these musings, not published until the mid-20th century, Marx imagined information coming to be stored and shared in something called a “general intellect” – which was the mind of everybody on Earth connected by social knowledge, in which every upgrade benefits everybody. In short, he had imagined something close to the information economy in which we live. And, he wrote, its existence would “blow capitalism sky high”.

    ... »

    The main contradiction today is between the possibility of free, abundant goods and information; and a system of monopolies, banks and governments trying to keep things private, scarce and commercial. Everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy: between old forms of society moulded around capitalism and new forms of society that prefigure what comes next.

    ... »

    We need more than just a bunch of utopian dreams and small-scale horizontal projects. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on with it.
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...ostcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun
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  5. -
    http://www.racetonowhere.com
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