Writer and artist James Bridle uncovers a dark, strange corner of the internet, where unknown people or groups on YouTube hack the brains of young children in return for advertising revenue. From "surprise egg" reveals and the "Finger Family Song" to algorithmically created mashups of familiar cartoon characters in violent situations, these videos exploit and terrify young minds — and they tell us something about where our increasingly data-driven world is headed. "We need to stop thinking about technology as a solution to all of our problems, but think of it as a guide to what those problems actually are, so we can start thinking about them properly and start to address them," Bridle says.
Tagged with “society” (15)
We’re building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren’t even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.
New Books in Science, Technology, and Society - McKenzie Wark, “Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene” (Verso, 2015) | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand
Listen to New Books in Science, Technology, and Society episodes free, on demand. McKenzie Wark’s new book begins and ends with a playful call: “Workings of the world untie! You have a win to world!” Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene (Verso, 2015) creates a conversation between work from two very different Soviet and American contexts. After guiding readers through the work and theories of Alexander Bogdanov, whose focus on the importance of labor in organizing knowledge forms a central thread through the book as a whole, Wark traces some of those notions in the writing of novelist and utopian Andrey Platonov. The second half of the book extends the conversation into science studies, beginning in a chapter that considers the work of Feyerabend, Haraway, Barad, and Edwards in light of Bogdanov and Platonov’s approaches to labor and knowledge, and continuing into a chapter devoted to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy. The result is a fascinating treatment of the centrality of labor and the importance of the not-necessarily-human to understanding and theorizing the Anthropocene. (As Wark reminds us, Labor is the mingling of many things, most of them not human.) The entire book is highly recommended, and for the STS-minded among us the third chapter of the book would make an especially useful assignment in a discussion group or seminar devoted to contemporary theory and/in STS.
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Nudge theory: the psychology and ethics of persuasion - Science Weekly podcast | Science | The Guardian
This week, Ian Sample explores the psychology behind ‘nudging’, its usage by governments, and some of the ethical quandaries involved
At a conference focused on ‘designing the future’, the concept of and narratives about time travel seem like inevitable topics of conversation. While there are a wide variety of types of time travel stories, the narrative Ingrid has been thinking about the most is the one in which someone from the future (or, depending on how you think about time travel paradoxes, a future) comes to the past and intervenes to rewrite and/or game their present.
Ingrid has been thinking about this particular kind of time travel for a few reasons. One is that she has been kind of obsessed with the Terminator movies (for reasons she’ll get into a little bit later) and the other is she’s been interested in emerging technologies and systems that, while not literally from the future, share certain motivations with the revisionist time traveler. The time machines used today don’t look like Deloreans. They look like NTP servers and low-latency networks, like real-time data streams and predictive models, visitors from algorithmically bestowed futures to let us fix, or at least game, our current conditions.
These systems for forecasting futures, however, often lend themselves to the same predestination paradox or self-fulfilling prophecy faced by the T-800 in the first Terminator movie. SKYNET creates John Connor by trying to kill Sarah Connor, governments create terrorists by trying to find terrorists, capitalism eats itself by trying to move faster than capitalism.
So Ingrid been thinking a lot about this because she’s been thinking about resistance—resistance within time travel narratives and resistance to proscribed futures. How do you design a future with resistance built in? What does that resistance look like? In popular time travel narratives, it tends to look like a lot of property destruction—like taking, or quite literally breaking, time and time machines. While she may not be completely sold on that method, there are some examples of acts of civil disobedience that she thinks might offer some insights into the fragility of futures and why, exactly, the Terminators keep on coming.
Ingrid Burrington writes, makes maps, and tells jokes on a small island off the coast of America. She’s a member of Deep Lab, the author of Networks of New York: An Internet Infrastructure Field Guide, and currently an artist in residence at the Data and Society Research Institute.
That the future needs us to be different is unarguable. But the world cannot change until we change our minds to meet it. We must be literate about the choices the future offers us and moral in ones we take. Mark Stevenson spends his life working with organisations of every hue, helping see their role in creating a better future, or to die gracefully if they need to. Our closing address will be a call to arms. The future is up for grabs. Grab hold.
Mark is one of the world’s most respected thinkers and speakers on technology and societal trends, helping us see where the world is going and how to adapt. He is the author of the best-selling “An Optimist’s Tour of the Future”, and the forthcoming “We Do Things Differently: travels on the cutting edge of change”. He is the founder of the cultural change agency We Do Things Differently, and his many advisory roles include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge, crowd-investing company Trillion Fund, start-up incubator Mass Challenge, as well as Civilised Bank and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University; Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA
Peter Singer’s ideas have been disturbing our complacency ever since the appearance of his radical essay on animal rights. He now visits the RSA to discuss a provocative new movement in which his own ideas have played a crucial role: effective altruism.
Effective altruism is built upon the idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the "most good you can do." Such a life requires a new and unsentimental view of charitable giving: to be a worthy recipient of our support, an organisation must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than all the other options open to us.
Singer has controversially challenged those who donate to the arts, and to charities focused on helping our fellow citizens, rather than those for whom we can do the most good. Is he right – should we only focus on rationally maximising the good we can do, and will that help us tackle the world’s most pressing problems?
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Steve Hilton, CEO, Crowdpac; Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA
Steve Hilton, visiting professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, believes that the frustrations people have with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems in the systems that dominate our modern world - systems that are broken because they’ve grown too far from the human scale.
At the RSA, he shows how change is possible, offering the latest research, compelling stories and case studies from all over the world across industry, politics, education, design and social action to show us what can happen when we make our world more human. A more local, more accountable and more human way of living, he argues, will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.
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David Brooks, Author and columnist
Are you more focussed on your value to the marketplace, or on the integrity of your inner life?
In today’s culture of achievement, the drive for external success and attention is so fierce there’s little time to cultivate inner depth. We’re taught to be assertive, to master skills, to broadcast our brand, to get likes, to get followers. We’ve become a self-preoccupied society; and the noise, the fast and shallow communications, makes it hard to hear the quiet voices that steer us beyond our immediate needs.
New York Times bestselling author and one of the greatest thinkers of our time, David Brooks visits the RSA to urge us to reevaluate, and to confront the meaning of true fulfilment.
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Zygmunt Bauman’s thinking combines social science and social history with theories of modernity: Under the heading of the “Interregnum”, he has analyzed how existing social and political orders can collapse, even while a new order is yet unforeseeable. One of the central questions for Bauman is the relationship between continuity and discontinuity, or sense and senselessness, for this kind of historical witnessing that is becoming increasingly rare. Born in Poznan in 1925, Bauman started teaching sociology at the University of Warsaw in 1954. He left Poland to move to Israel in 1968, and in 1971, he was appointed a chair of sociology at the University of Leeds, where he would remain until 1990. Bauman has been awarded the 1989 Amalfi Prize, and the Theodor W. Adorno Award in 1998.
Even before the NSA spying scandal, Zygmunt Bauman studied the contemporary surveillance society in collaboration with sociologist David Lyon, director of the Surveillance Studies Centre. In the digital age, no one could ever be sure they weren’t being monitored – leading to a kind of social conformity that is increasingly deliberate and voluntary, or so they concluded (the re:publica, and also Edward Snowden, have come to similar conclusions, by the way). This is a challenge not only for politics, but also for sociology. In a conversation between Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon, documented in their 2013 textbook “Liquid Suveillance”, they try to reconcile Michel Foucault’s concept of the “Panopticon”, and Gilles Deleuze’s ideas on the “Control Society” with modern-day technology.
Most users of novel technologies, however, are younger than 45, and take a rather affirmative stance towards their gadgets. Dealing with these new tendencies, headed for a panoptic or even “post-panoptic” society, comparing and delimiting them, is a huge social challenge. We are happy to provide a stage for this and are very much looking forward to welcoming this eminent thinker from Leeds at re:publica.
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