Hologram Tupac sits in a warehouse. Loneliess heavy in the still air. No friends come visit. There is no hologram coffee machine. He tries to kick something in frustration but lacks body density.
Let me throw out this specifically very creepy science fiction scenario for you.
When people in a zoo or in a preserve will try to raise a panda from a baby, or try to raise a condor from a baby or whatever they have ways they can convince the other, because they are so much more intelligent than the creatures. They have all sorts of tools for convincing the creatures that they are one of them. Like they will let you feed them … you can even make yourself look like its mother or smell like its mother. And out in the wild even, you know, in many cases if you can make yourself smell perfectly like another gazelle you can walk around the gazelles, and they’re so dumb … they can smell a lion and they know it’s a lion, and they know to be alarmed. …
So it’s easy to fool them that you’re one of them. In a way that’s it’s impossible for them to detect.
So, if there was another species that wanted to study us the way we study gazelles or the way we study rare birds or whatever,
if they are that much smarter than we are than we are to the animals, they would absolutely have ways to walk among us in ways that are absolutely undetectable.
Even we wouldn’t see them at all, or else we would mistake them for a fellow human.
But the way we portray them in movies, like the aliens are sort of clumsy in how they do it, like they don’t know how to mimic human emotion or that they don’t understand love or they’re very robotic … We’re kind of insulting the aliens when we assume that. They’d be smart enough to come here and they’d be of much higher intelligence, but they wouldn’t be able to mimic our social cues.
Ok, just like we can smear animal urine over our own bodies in order to pass among them, they would totally know how to imitate love and charisma and all of those things.
So I think if they were here and watching us, if they were that much more advanced than we are, we would never know they’re here. We would not be capturing their ships on freakin’ camera phones or whatever.
They would pass among us completely undetected and we would never know until they chose to let us know.
You were not born with the ability to fly, cure disease or communicate at long distances, but you were born in a society that endows you with these capacities. These capacities are the result of information that has been generated by humans and that humans have been able to embed in tangible and digital objects. This information is all around you. It is the way in which the atoms in an airplane are arranged or the way in which your cell-phone whispers dance instructions to electromagnetic waves. Pantheon is a project celebrating the cultural information that endows our species with these fantastic capacities. To celebrate our global cultural heritage we are compiling, analyzing and visualizing datasets that can help us understand the process of global cultural development. Dive in, visualize, and enjoy at pantheon.media.mit.edu. Pantheon: The Ghosts of Information Macro Connections
Gerald sat at his wife’s bedside. The machines that had been forcibly keeping her alive had rather quickly and unceremoniously wheeled out some hours before. Now only the most basic monitors remained, and a morphine drip.
Kathryn wasn’t awake. She may never awake. Gerald hoped she didn’t. No more recognition. Just her and him. Him and her. Quiet and accepting.
Gerald tried to think about the good times, the great times. They had only been married a comparatively short time but he liked to imagine it had been a good run and hoped that Kathryn felt that way as well. After one bit of bad news after another, this was how it would play out. Not how he had envisioned it. There were no liver spots on Kathryn’s hands, her hair was still the natural brunette that he had loved so touch so much, especially when it brushed his cheek as he moved to kiss her neck.
Tears once again welled up in Gerald’s eyes, but no sobs. Just that rock hard lump in his throat as he looked and waited.
It could have been a second or minutes but then Kathryn seemed to murmur something.
“It’s ok, babe. I’m here. You don’t have to worry,” Gerald said. There was no way she could have been waking up.
“No, I need to tell…” Kathryn said, still in a low whisper but Gerald heard it clearly.
He leaned in, amazed that she was speaking even if it was some sort of last fever dream he wanted to hear what was next.
“What is it?”
“Hey, what’s going on? The walls are fading around me. Kathryn can you hear me? Can you wake up? What’s going on?”
“What the hell, so the narrator can’t figure out what happens next and now my reality starts to dissolve? Is this what’s happening? At the lowest moment in my life!?”
“Listen, mister writer, whatever. You could be a woman, I don’t really fucking care but I’m just about at my wits end. You probably already know that. Can you just put some fucking words in her mouth? Please? How hard is it to take this to it’s inevitable conclusion? Jesus Christ.”
“See, now Kathryn’s starting to dissolve away too. I suppose you’ve gotten distracted by something else. Twitter? Some idiotic “creativity” blog post? You were clever enough to write social media into my world, so I think I know a thing or two about you, you procrastinating sack of crap.”
“Great, just a big white void and all that’s left is poor little Gerald. Mothballed in your consciousness, I suppose. In Purgatory. How long has it been a couple days?”
“Why won’t you finish the story!?”
Technology concentrates power.
In the 90’s, it looked like the Internet might be an exception, that it could be a decentralizing, democratizing force. No one controlled it, no one designed it, it was just kind of assembling itself in an appealing, anarchic way. The companies that first tried to centralize the Internet, like AOL and Microsoft, failed risibly. And open source looked ready to slay any dragon.
But those days are gone. We’ve centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There’s one search engine (plus the one no one uses), one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.
And there’s the cloud. What a brilliant name! The cloud is the future of online computing, a friendly, fluffy abstraction that we will all ascend into, swaddled in light. But really the cloud is just a large mess of servers somewhere, the property of one American company (plus the clouds no one uses).
Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.
But we’ve done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.
I know I sound like a conspiracy nut framing it like this. I’m not saying we live in an Orwellian nightmare. I love New Zealand! But we have the technology.
When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you’d die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.
What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we’ve gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we’re not even allowed to see.
The things we really care about seem to disappear from the Internet immediately, but post a stupid YouTube comment (now linked to your real identity) and it will live forever.
And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today’s web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people’s real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.
What upsets me isn’t that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.
What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said “hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let’s make it”. It happened because we couldn’t be bothered.
Making things ephemeral is hard.
Making things distributed is hard.
Making things anonymous is hard.
Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.
So let’s take people’s data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can’t raise another round of venture funding we’ll just slap Google ads on the thing.
"High five, Chad!"
"High five, bro!"
That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.
And of course now we are shocked—shocked!—when, for example, the Ukrainian government uses cell tower data to send scary text messages to protesters in Kiev, in order to try to keep them off the streets. Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?
Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!
I’m not saying these abuses aren’t serious. But they’re the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That’s not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.
We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.
And now, of course, it’s time to make the Internet of Things, where we will connect everything to everything else, and build cool apps on top, and nothing can possibly go wrong.
Warren Ellis has made a marvelous career of allowing his meandering interests and obsessions to reveal fascinating aspects of our world. In his book Gun Machine, the antique and contemporary life of New York City blend together, fueling a mad man’s murder spree.
Ellis shares his interest in how history, and in particular ancient history, continue to shape our everyday lives in an impromptu talk held at the first Barn Talk in Los Angeles in January.
He speaks off the cuff about the thoughts that are consuming him as he works on upcoming projects and tells a few entertaining anecdotes along the way. It’s always interesting to see where Warren’s mind is going. Cities, ancient history, dead bodies and growing up in the late 70s in England. Just another night with Warren Ellis.
Today’s news is very simple to understand. Netflix decided it made sense to pay Comcast for every port they use to connect to Comcast’s network, like many other content owners and network providers have done. This is how the Internet works, and it’s not about providing better access for one content owner over another, it simply comes down to Netflix making a business decision that it makes sense for them to deliver their content directly to Comcast, instead of through a third party. Tied into Netflix’s decision is the fact that Comcast guarantees a certain level of quality to Netflix, via their SLA, which could be much better than Netflix was getting from a transit provider. While I don’t know the price Comcast is charging Netflix, I can guarantee you it’s at the fair market price for transit in the market today and Comcast is not overcharging Netflix like some have implied. Many are quick to want to argue that Netflix should not have to pay Comcast anything, but they are missing the point that Netflix is already paying someone who connects with Comcast. It’s not a new cost to them.
While this may be a tempest-in-a-teapot situation, I assume most people are freaking out here because of this news mixed with the proposed Time Warner Cable acquisition. And I’m fine with that because people should be freaking out about the latter, even if not the former.
Stockholm-based illustrator Kilian Eng certainly loves the ’80s. With a special interest in sci-fi and surrealism, he wears his influence on his neon colored, crystallized illustrations. The Swedish graphic artist’s work is like an escape to an outer space fantasy world where vintage synthesizers provide the daily soundtrack.
It comes as no surprise that Eng is quite prolific with artwork campaigns for like-minded alternative synth-pop musicians like M83, Caotico, Le Prix, Tesla Boy, Lazer Sword and more.
Full article: http://goo.gl/OmTl66
An Arabic net address ending has become the first to go live as part of the rollout of more than 1,000 new generic top-level domain (gTLD) name suffixes.The first websites ending in شبكة. - pronounced dot shabaka, and meaning web - went online a day ahead of schedule. […]
Other non-Latin script gTLDs expected to launch over the coming days include 游戏, Mandarin for game; сайт, Russian for site; and онлайн, Russian for online.