Molly Sauter's review of Kevin Kelly's latest book reminds us that he's writing for a very particular audience:
To establish his bonafides, Kelly routinely supplies memoir-ish vignettes as someone who was in the room where it happened (usually Silicon Valley, the MIT Media Lab, or standing next to a name-brand innovator): the pitfall of which is that, like his previous work, the book remains incapable of envisioning the lives of individuals outside his affluent techno-elite bubble.
Instead, The Inevitable spins rosy yet inconsistent, historically baseless prosperity gospels where there are no losers, no negative externalities, and nothing preventing technology getting what it wants. Like other techno-prophets of his generation, Kelly's success has anesthetized him against the harms and failures of technology.
Buzz Andersen's essay Silicon Valley's Scapegoat Complex is by some margin the best piece I've read so far on what drove Peter Thiel to fund the lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker:
What makes me so queasy about Thiel's quest to destroy Gawker is that I suspect he and many others in Silicon Valley see this venture in much the same way they see the accumulation of their fortunes: as a passion project in which the personal will-to-power is happily aligned with the general welfare of society. Like John D. Rockefeller, whose near-miss with a deadly train disaster gave him the extremely helpful lifelong conviction that his success was divinely-ordained (and ergo that he was justified in ruthlessly steamrolling anyone who stood in his way), the titans of Silicon Valley have such naive faith in their ends that any question of means pales in comparison. In the context of lingering resentment over Gawker's 2007 outing of Thiel as gay (an open secret at the time), a decade-long, $10 million secret war on multiple fronts seems like a mind-bogglingly deliberate feat of grudge-holding. If, however, you happen to be the kind of self-styled investor/philosopher king who is capable of connecting your wealth and continuing life's work to an urgent narrative about human potential (perhaps even human survival!), you'd be doing the whole world a favor by silencing your grubby detractors. Thiel's essay "The Education of a Libertarian," makes his lofty sense of purpose abundantly clear: the intrepid technologist is mankind's only bulwark against retrogressive forces threatening to enslave mankind.
Method Design was tapped by production company RSA to concept and create this year's AICP Sponsor Reel. The AICP awards celebrate global creativity within commercial production. Method Design wanted to create an entertaining piece of design that encapsulates the innovative and prolific nature of this industry. Our aim was to showcase the AICP sponsors as various dancing avatars, which playfully reference the visual effects used throughout production. Motion capture, procedural animation and dynamic simulations combine to create a milieu of iconic pop dance moves that become an explosion of colorful fur, feathers, particles and more.
British startup Score Assured is offering landlords and employers an opportunity to gather 'evidence' of peoples' personalities and habits by collecting and analysing applicants' social media activity across multiple platforms:
After your would-be landlord sends you a request through the service, you're required to grant it full access to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram profiles. From there, Tenant Assured scrapes your site activity, including entire conversation threads and private messages; runs it through natural language processing and other analytic software; and finally, spits out a report that catalogues everything from your personality to your "financial stress level."
"If you're living a normal life," [Score Assured co-founder Steve Thornhill…] reassures me, "then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about."
In fact, Thornhill sees his product as empowering both landlords and tenants: the former, to make more informed decisions about whom they rent to and spot lies on applications; the latter, to present a fuller, more accurate picture of themselves than might be available in a credit report or background check.
"Empowering" and "normal" used to be such innocuous words…
With a little luck Facebook and the other social media platforms will decide that this sort of deep dive into users' data is an abuse of their terms of service and will pull Score Assured's access to their API.
In a slightly darker timeline, the lesson Facebook will learn from this is that, what with people having multiple identities being a sign of a lack of integrity, it'd be best for us all if potential employers / tenants used Facebook's shiny new reference confirmation service (priced very reasonably) instead of relying on dodgy middlemen to figure out what applicants aren't telling them.
[Via The Null Device]
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