Distraction Free Reading

Conspiracies, Fake Social Networks, and Young Blood | Weekly Round-Up, June 23, 2017

This latest installment of our intermittently-weekly round-up brings you posts on machines that do conspiracies, transhumanism and capitalism, algorithms (beginning to be a staple), and biomedical vampirism. What more could you ask for? If you see anything around the web that you think we ought to include, please drop us a line.

Painting of vaqueros rounding up cattle in 1830s Spanish California

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

  • The New Inquiry built a machine that does conspiracy thinking: “Like the human brain, machine learning algorithms arrive at shallow, inappropriate conclusions from ingesting sprawls of data.” Call it computer performance art.


  • Steve Fuller opines about the political and ethical consequences of a “transhumanised capitalism” for the LSE Business Review. Some interesting discursive observations are made, but this editor wonders if Fuller misses the deeper philosophical and empirical point about capitalism, technology, and humanity. Have we ever really been “human” in the way that liberalism believes us to be?


  • For an example of a more careful and anthropological look at human technicity, check out Sakari Tamminen’s post on wearables over at EPIC, where they are considered in terms of the relations they create and the concrete projects in which they are embedded.


  • If the chatter on Facebook is feeling claustrophobic and all-too-human, it may be time to migrate to Binky. The fake social network provides an endless, soothing stream of banal content without any actual racist cousins or workplace rivals to contend with. Is it a joke, more performance art, or a technology of self-care? Hard to say: as Ian Bogost puts it, “Binky eviscerates meaning by design.


  • Computer scientist Ben Shneiderman proposes a National Algorithm Safety Board to oversee and regulate high-stakes automation procedures, along lines similar to the regulation of drugs, transportation, and banks. Jokes about how well that latter regulation has worked aside, this is probably Not A Bad Idea, however practically infeasible.




Enjoy your summer! May you be productive, but also get a little sunburned.

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