Distraction Free Reading

Weekly Round-up | February 10th, 2017

This week’s round-up is a bit more focused, with threads on Mars colonization, automation, and artificial intelligence. As always, we also ask you to write or find great stuff for us to share in next week’s round-up: you can send suggestions, advance-fee scams, or Venmo requests to editor@castac.org.

Painting of vaqueros rounding up cattle in 1830s Spanish California

Actual image of our link round-up process (public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia)

  • Over at Aeon, the guys behind The Maintainers bring their disdain for the mindless celebration of innovation for innovation’s sake to a take-down of Elon Musk‘s libertarian, techno-utopian visions of translunar futures and politics of “trickle-down science,” arguing that “at this point in history, the colonisation of Mars is a distraction from the severe problems facing human societies.”
  • Meanwhile, Jacobin is equally disdainful of Musk’s plans, but more enthusiastic about human expansion into the solar system — just so long as we Keep The Red Planet Red.
  • If you’re more interested in turning the blue planet red, but don’t want to give up your techno-utopian fantasies just yet, check out the #AltWoke manifesto. While it’s nice to see accelerationism thinking a bit beyond its decidedly white and decidedly Western origins, this editor is somewhat skeptical about the promise of a post-truth fully automated luxury communism.
  • Of course, we could already be living in kinda automated austerity totalitarianism. Apparently, “Donald Trump is the Singularity,” and the United States is being governed not by a human being but by a dystopian machine learning algorithm. Is it satire? Who knows! Certainly not the comments section.
  • In only partially-related but equally speculative and metaphysical news, it turns out that Artificial Intelligence is posing a much more serious theological question in the present than you might have thought.
  • In equally partially-related but much more concrete and frightening news, the NYT takes a look at artificial intelligence development as an arms race between the US and China.

That’s it. Stay #AltWoke and be good to each other, people.

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