Tag Archives | Internet

The internet is so damn unpleasant. Do we need fewer humans and more bots?

Jess Zimmerbots

Jess Zimmerbot’s Twitter Photo

Jess Zimmerman writes at the Guardian:

In a welcome sign of the coming singularity, Buzzfeed just announced that it has built a sentence generator that mimics the turgid writing style of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The auto-Friedman, which also posts to Twitter as @mot_namdeirf, operates on a principle called Markov chaining; essentially, it strings together chunks of Friedman sentences based on how often words tend to appear together.

Friedman isn’t the only writer with a Twitter bot. I’ve got one too, made using a Markov chain-related program and my tweet archives. The guy who made it, Brett O’Connor, made bots for a number of other people I know, and most of us follow each other’s. (Most of our bots follow each others’ bots, leading to some gloriously weird bot-on-bot conversations.) Interacting with the bots is a surreal experience; they seem to develop their own personalities and priorities, distinct from their parent tweeters.

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History Lesson: America Is the Same Oligarchy It Was over a Century Ago

“Forget the politicians. They’re irrelevant. Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media news. They own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the information and news you get to hear. They’ve got ya by the balls.”

via Truthstream:

(Truthstream Media) When Americans see charts like this one which illustrate that virtually all the food on grocery store shelves basically comes from no more than 10 megacompanies, or hear statements like this one from our own Attorney General Eric Holder who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that some banks are just too big to prosecute, or check out studies like this one out of Princeton which openly declare we are not a democracy but an oligarchy…it’s kinda hard to believe we aren’t an oligarchy (because we are).

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The Individual vs. the Goo

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Via War Is Crime:

“The people” is a convenient term for “every individual.” This has been lost in translation. It has been garbled, distorted, just as the proprietor of an old-fashioned carnival shell game distorts the audience’s perception with sleight of hand.

Are “the people” one group? Well, that’s the ultimate Globalist formulation.

However, from the point of view of the free individual, things are upside down. It is his power that is primary, not the monolithic corporate State’s. From his point of view, what does the social landscape look like? It looks like: the obsession to organize.

I’m not talking about organizations that are actually streamlined to produce something of value. I’m talking about organizations that plan more organization of life.

If you want to spend a disturbing afternoon, read through (and try to fathom) the bewildering blizzard of sub-organizations that make up the European Union.

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Robber barons and silicon sultans

Photo: Michael from San Jose, California, USA (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Michael from San Jose, California, USA via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Economist:

IN THE 50 years between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, a group of entrepreneurs spearheaded America’s transformation from an agricultural into an industrial society, built gigantic business empires and amassed huge fortunes. In 1848 John J. Astor, a merchant trader, was America’s richest man with $20m (now $545m). By the time the United States entered the first world war, John D. Rockefeller had become its first billionaire.

In the 50 years since Data General introduced the first mini-computers in the late 1960s, a group of entrepreneurs have spearheaded the transformation of an industrial age into an information society, built gigantic business empires and acquired huge fortunes. When he died in 1992, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was probably America’s richest man with $8 billion.

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Women Working on the Frontiers of Technology

Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc., designed to operate as a 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor, mounted in a sample holder.Photo: D-Wave Systems, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc., designed to operate as a 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor, mounted in a sample holder.
Photo: D-Wave Systems, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

via Singularity Hub:

Are women starting companies in the most cutting edge fields and keeping pace with the future? Although many are now learning coding and engineering in school, working for global internet companies and building their own apps—these fields are already mainstream and have less and less room for leadership and influence.

Women need to form companies in the industries of tomorrow to ensure they are personally empowered and positioned to shape the most impactful future markets. But what are those markets? One of the smartest things a woman can do today is start a company in quantum computing, space exploration or life extension.

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The dark web: what it is, how it works, and why it’s not going away

via Vox:

2014 saw the continued growth of the dark web, a collection of underground websites that allow people to engage in often-illegal activities beyond the reach of law enforcement. Here’s what the dark web is, how it works, and why it’s not going away any time soon.

What is the dark web?

The dark web is a general term for the seedier corners of the web, where people can interact online without worrying about the watchful eye of the authorities. Usually, these sites are guarded by encryption mechanisms such as Tor that allow users to visit them anonymously. But there are also sites that don’t rely on Tor, such as password-protected forums where hackers trade secrets and stolen credit card numbers, that can also be considered part of the dark web.

People use the dark web for a variety of purposes: buying and selling drugs, discussing hacking techniques and selling hacking services, trading child pornography, and so forth.

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Top 5 Moments In Decentralization History

Via COINTELEGRAPH

Decentralization is at the heart of Bitcoin’s core principals. I hesitate to use that term because I think overuse of it can lead to rigid thinking, but if there is even one core principal of Bitcoin, decentralization is it. But Bitcoin isn’t the only major instance of decentralization shaking up the course of history, neither is the internet; at least, if you are able to keep an open mind about what exactly decentralization means.

The Internet and in particular Bitcoin are the two best examples of something resembling true decentralization in history, where pretty much every participant got equal access at a relatively reasonable pace; even then, there are some centralization issues. The other examples that are listed here were hampered in reaching the masses either through intentional suppression by those who controlled it, or technological limitations or both. Nevertheless, they do represents mankind’s previous attempts at or accidental creations of situations that greatly, even if only briefly, broke down the pillars of centralization.

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Take it and Like it: Corporate America and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill by Mark Weiser at Dissident Voice:

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors.

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Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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“You Can’t Stop the Signal” — An Analysis of Social Media Activism

Essam Sharaf  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Essam Sharaf (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Via World Policy Blog

Welcome back to the World Policy “Best of” list. Today we pull back the curtain on the Egyptian revolution and reveal its somewhat dark underbelly. Political activist Mahmoud Salem, who tweets under the name “sandmonkey,” shares how the introduction of social media into Egyptian culture sparked the Egyptian revolution where he played a seminal social media role. At the same time, these same tools now jeopardize the creation of any political infrastructure capable of governing effectively. 

By Mahmoud Salem

CAIRO, Egypt—As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching science fiction television shows and movies—all set in the “not-so-distant future.” Holographic communication, teleportation, and flying cars were central tenets of that universe. And while I marveled at the prospect of these technologies, I was most fascinated by the “magical technological device”—that could be used to complete any task, from basic communication to dissemination of news to national security.

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