Else is back after an extended summer hiatus – thanks for taking the time off with me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to return to this newsletter, but its a good ritual for me to condense and annotate my daily and weekly reading habits, and enough of you have subscribed that I figured you might be missing the updates. I kind of was.
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The pieces I most enjoyed over the past week or so certainly had a theme: How will we resolve our increasingly uneasy relationship to the technology we have embraced? From automated newsfeeds to drones to AI, this stuff isn’t science fiction anymore, and the consequences are getting very real. To the links….
“Facebook Is a Weatherless World” (Searchblog)
In which I think about automated newsfeeds and a world without agency.
Inside Google’s Secret Drone-Delivery Program (The Atlantic)
Well, not exactly secret anymore, as Google certainly wanted this particular story to get out, as it’s in a mad scramble for the future of “everything delivery” with Amazon and others. Still and all a fascinating look into one of Google’s many strange and disparate moonshots.
Berkeley prof. Ken Goldberg lays out the quickening sparked by the combination of cloud compute and intelligent on the ground (or in the air) robots.
One of my favorite writers (Paul Ford) imagines what it might be like if all these drones and robots actually work in an optimistic scenario feature driverless cars, compostable made to order clothing, and, of course, budding romance.
It’s not easy to be human, so relax. The AI-driven roboto-verse will serve us, in the main.
ICREACH: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google (The Intercept)
Then again, we might want to worry about our own power structures. Imagine how the NSA might use the fantasy infrastructure that Ford creates in Medium. Yikes.
Why Uber must be stopped (Salon)
A few things about this piece. First, the headline is wrong. It’s not about stopping Uber, it’s about understanding the role of regulation when capitalism otherwise goes unchecked. Second, it appropriately wonders what happens when capital (Uber’s $1.5billion from Google, Goldman, et al) is used to crush competition, in particular, when the company that is doing the crushing has, as its end game, control of our automated transportation system (there are those dern robots again). A theme for our coming age. It’s not the cars, the drones, the tech – it’s the people behind their use. But sometimes, the way a society regulates people is to regulate the tech they employ.
Should journalists use all caps in headlines?! Apparently yes. This story is consistent with the others in this issue of Else, the debate is in full throat. See also The Atlantic’s The New Editors of the Internet.
Continuing my headline clickbait complaint, this headline is a total misfit for the unfortunately dry story, written by noted informational academic Lucian Floridi. He’s got a new book out, the 4th Revolution, which I plan to read. Then again, I have five books ahead of his…
Supercomputers make discoveries that scientists can’t (New Scientist)
See, we’ve found a great use for computers: Reading the stuff too dry to read ourselves.
My first job as a reporter was in 1987 covering Apple. For more than a decade after, I continued covering the company, through Jobs’ return. It never wavered in its philosophy around how it treated the press – as a nuisance and a threat. I’ve always thought Apple could have done better. This multi-part post fails to go as deep as I’d like, but it’s a decent overview of how Apple’s PR machine works.
Minecraft has been on my “watch this closely” list for about a year. Here’s another reason why.
The Matter With Time (NY)
If you like your inside baseball with a side of dish, here’s a great read about the travails of Time Inc., the once great publishing house.
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