Sunday assorted links

by on January 7, 2018 at 7:16 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. White noise video on YouTube hit by five copyright claims.

2. Charlie Stross’s update on the Charlie Stross view of the world and why we may be doomed.

3. Inside the Amish town that helps build rock and roll sets.

4. “However, another company, GenePeeks, Inc., was established precisely for the purpose of molecularly genotyping potential donors, though it is currently only aimed at predicting possible rare diseases in offspring between clients and donors. It seems a small step to include other non-medical traits of interest, however, especially if they can be accurately predicted from polygenic profiles. Currently, things like intelligence cannot be accurately predicted for an individual, but it may be possible to generate comparative scores that would influence donor selection. The new company Genomic Prediction, Inc., aims to use polygenic profiles to predict risk for complex disorders – the same approach could certainly be used for many non-medical traits.”  Link here.

5. Lauren Gunderson, an Atlantan living in San Francisco, is America’s most produced playwright.

6. “You’re Most Likely to Do Something Extreme Right Before You Turn 30… or 40, or 50, or 60 …”  Measured effects of that kind don’t always hold up, but fyi.  Addendum: Andrew Gelman says no.

1 Tom January 7, 2018 at 7:57 am

#3 A stark reminder of what is really at stake in America and elsewhere.


2 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 9:57 am

Charlie Stross is very smart. I couldn’t quite take him on a Twitter feed because he breaks too hard left and PC for me (he needs some Steve Stewart-Stevens balance), but he makes a good argument here, based on things we know are true.

That the web runs on page views and that it is being “paperclip maximized” is pretty undeniable. A nonprofit web is a counterfactual I had not even considered. It would have grown slower but been better?

He also makes a good argument for soft cycles in history, based on the passing of experience. I can accept that but still reject harder “wave” theories. Those fail for insufficient randomness. Missing experience only means things might happen.


3 dearieme January 7, 2018 at 11:37 am

He may be “smart” but, like a journalist, as soon as he treads on ground I know a little about he gets the facts wrong.

“For example, the reforms of the British railway network in the 1960s dismembered many branch services and coincided with a surge in road building and automobile sales. These reforms were orchestrated by Transport Minister Ernest Marples, who was purely a politician. However, Marples accumulated a considerable personal fortune during this time by owning shares in a motorway construction corporation.”

Except that Ernie Marples was a minister in a Conservative government and the Beeching reforms that “dismembered” the British railway network were executed by the succeeding Labour government. Ain’t facts a bugger?


4 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 11:45 am

I was actually very open to that, but then I googled it.

“Marples was Minister of Transport from 14 October 1959 until the Conservatives lost the 1964 General Election on 16 October 1964.”

“The Transport Act 1962 dissolved the British Transport Commission (BTC) which had overseen the railways, canals and road freight transport and established the British Railways Board; it also put in place measures which simplified the process of closing railways. The Act was described as the “most momentous piece of legislation in the field of railway law to have been enacted since the Railway and Canal Traffic Act 1854″.”



5 TMC January 7, 2018 at 12:54 pm

The first chairman was affiliated with Labour though.

“He became a household name in Britain in the early 1960s for his report The Reshaping of British Railways, commonly referred to as “The Beeching Report”, which led to far-reaching changes in the railway network”

6 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Stross is a bit of a youngster to have strong opinions about 1962 (and so am I) but I think we can put his position at least in the “arguable” column.

7 dearieme January 7, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Yeah, but the closing of the railways was done by Wilson’s Labour government. They were under no obligation to do it. They thought, presumably, that the branch lines served mainly Conservative constituencies, and bugger them.

8 Chip January 7, 2018 at 11:30 pm

This is why I gave up on his books. The wordy pretentiousness and endless prattling about things he clearly doesn’t understand outweighed all the interesting bits.


9 TMC January 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Re:Steve Stewart-Stevens
Good article from his twitter account that should resonate with many here.

H/T to polar bear for turning me on to Steve Stewart-Stevens


10 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I saw that and liked that too. It explains the google guy’s tin ear rather effectively.

I think an informed (scientifically and politically) person is going to say “sure we should be open to women” and “sure we should do outreach to women” and be positive in that way, rather than to immediately fight everyone about how many women will show up, even then.

Positive outreach isn’t going to hurt anyone. But neither is it likely to result in a 50:50 gender balance in the computer lab.


11 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

In another link Steve shows that perceptions, including self-perceptions, can leave IQ laying on the table.


12 albatross January 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

Nonprofit isn’t the same as advertising-funded. Funding the internet with ads is a disaster in terms of privacy and security, and probably also in terms of incentivizing bad behavior (like clickbait sites/news headlines). But that’s not the only way to fund the internet. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of great alternatives anyone can demonstrate–some sites that run on donations (Khan Academy, Wikipedia), some that just run on selling you stuff directly (Amazon), and then a ton of sites that have ads on them to bring in a little extra money for the site owner, and do all kinds of evil tracking to maximize the amount of money the ad networks can charge for ads. (They can charge a lot more when they know a lot about you.)


13 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 9:59 am

Ha, sorry. I thought “a stark reminder” worked so well for Stross that I didn’t double check the number.


14 rayward January 7, 2018 at 7:59 am

2. Wow! Consider this: if Trump were literate, his Tweetstorms might be viewed as the musings of a great philosopher. I agree with Stross that the future can be found by looking into the past. Stross: “History gives us the perspective to see what went wrong in the past, and to look for patterns, and check whether those patterns apply to the present and near future. And looking in particular at the history of the past 200-400 years—the age of increasingly rapid change—one glaringly obvious deviation from the norm of the preceding three thousand centuries—is the development of Artificial Intelligence, which happened no earlier than 1553 and no later than 1844.” I won’t give away what Stross means by AI – read the essay. [I will observe that Stross is no economist, for the economist believes the “patterns” are often (almost always?) misleading, correlations and not causations.]


15 clamence January 7, 2018 at 12:10 pm

What I don’t get about Stross is why not consider nation states (or the Catholic Church) as “AIs” long before the joint stock company?

Overall, nothing he said surprised me. Watching Black Mirror pretty much covers all of his concerns over the near-future, and much more.


16 M January 7, 2018 at 2:05 pm

“Corporations can be modeled as like AIs; the Paris Commune and the CCCP can’t, because reasons”. Or something.

The point isn’t to help us understand what AI is or will be (and the clue is in that no AI researcher who isn’t a middlebrow Gibson influenced cyberpunk author ever did so), it is to make us apply scary strongly godlike AI arguments to corporations and seek their restraint, for ineffable GROLIES (or at least GROLI) type reasons.


17 Phil C January 7, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I think Stross provides a key insight, which is that written rules and record-keeping, which permit organization-level communications and governance, combine with plug-in (and replaceable!) human actors to enable long term preservation of ideology and execution of long-term activities. This provided the template for a previously unknown kind of intelligent group-mind, potentially capable of surviving over multiple human lifetimes with its original mission intact.
That said, I think that Stross’s politics are messing with his insight. As clamence points out, why stop with corporations? The Code of Hammurabi is nearly 3800 years old. The nation state is at least as old. Not to mention organized religions, political parties, NGOs of all kinds, mutual interest clubs, schools and universities, and yes, corporations. They all operate at spatial and temporal levels beyond or above that of an individual human being, and form a kind of unique, interacting ecology that I suspect is only poorly understood.
Seriously, I suspect that a disinterested alien observer would conclude that such organizations are currently the dominant form of life on planet Earth.


18 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 3:48 pm

If I put on my alien hat I see individuals forming multiple associations, sometimes life-long but often fluid, and the most foolish among them forming hard and fast rules about “what kind are best.”

It depends, doesn’t it?


19 Phil C January 7, 2018 at 7:04 pm

I think you have described one way that organizations can come into existence. Another way is for an existing organization to reproduce, by creating colonies, spinoffs, etc.

I think that the rules that each association creates to govern itself will be a major factor in determining its lifespan. Overly restrictive or rigid rules will probably prove to be detrimental, because the entity will be unable to adapt to changing circumstances. On the other hand, entities with no rules are unlikely to outlive their creators, because the mechanisms that allow it to get things done are locked up in the founders’ heads.

20 stephan January 7, 2018 at 5:01 pm

I don’t think this “ Corporations are AIs “ analogy is particularly useful”. Dishwashers are made to optimize dishwashing , so they are AIs , big deal


21 Phil C January 7, 2018 at 7:34 pm

The AI analogy may not be totally apt, but at some level, organizational entities look suspiciously like information-processing living things. Consider a common definition of life at “The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” Charities, clubs, corporations, and other entities clearly have the capacity to grow over time. Reproduction: the English (and later British) state reproduced by making rough copies of itself through colonization (Canada, the United States, New Zealand, etc.), and businesses frequently create corporate spinoffs. Functional activity occurs at all levels when the organizational entity acts through its human components. Continual change preceding death: I think it’s clear that the United States of today is not the United States of 1860, or even 1960, while the General Electric of Thomas Edison bears scant resemblance to the GE of 1917. And as for death, there isn’t much left of the Roman Empire, and the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company breathed its last just a couple of years ago.

As for the “intelligence” part of AI, I think we can all agree that governments and corporations frequently do some pretty dumb things. But they also respond in an intelligent fashion by recording data, following standard policies and procedures, running models or data processing systems on computers, or, for the most challenging situations, enlisting the thinking abilities of their human components. Slow and ponderous the apparatus of the state may be, but its resources are enormous. Most people would be pretty leery of having the full attention of an organization like the U.S. government focused their way.

22 albatross January 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

We’d like to reason about how we’re likely to interact with AIs, but we don’t really have them yet. So it’s worth trying to find things that will give us some hint of how interacting with an AI would work.

There are mechanisms we have that aren’t exactly an AI, but they exhibit some intelligent-seeming behavior without being conscious, and they’re more capable than any human within their domain. That’s probably not a bad model to use to think about AI. Some of those mechanism include:

a. Corporations
b. Markets
c. Electorates
d. Bureaucracies
e. Anthills
f. Evolutionary processes
g. Immune systems

None of those is a computer-based AI. But all of them have some aspects of them–they behave in sort-of intelligent ways, optimize for some things relative to others, and sometimes their behavior rises up and bites us right in the ass. And yet, they’re not something we can go have a conversation with or understand via human psychology, and in fact, personifying those things is a great way to make a bunch of dumb mistakes thinking about them. “What do the markets want?” is a question that makes you dumber instead of smarter.

23 Al January 7, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Of course nothing he said surprised you, it was a regurgitation of the standard party line.

What was delicious was how it was all in one giant mass so anyone could admire its incoherence.

Screeds of that ilk feed more electoral wins which feeds more screeds. It’s a perpetual failure machine!


24 Boonton January 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm

I think you could view the Catholic Church as a type of non-business corporation that is, in itself, an AI. I think nation states are a bit weaker, for example, the Kurds might seem to be a type of AI but they do not have a nation state. Corporations work better as a biological analogy, IMO. Nation states might exist on paper even though their reality on the ground might be tenuous. A corporation like Facebook might someday become a shell of what it used to be and still legally exist (see Yahoo), but if that happened we could mostly agree that it was once dominate and then declined dramatically. Judging nation states like that gets a lot more subjective and ideological IMO.


25 TMC January 7, 2018 at 1:08 pm

“Consider this: if Trump were literate, his Tweetstorms might be viewed as the musings of a great philosopher.”

He obviously literate, so you just called him a great philosopher. I wouldn’t call him that, but if future generations study his twitter feed, it’s be in marketing. Also, it’s funny how journalists have no concept how he’s manipulating them. I’ve gone from ‘I wish he’d stop tweeting’ to amusement to the reactions to his tweets. He’s got to be the biggest twitter troll ever.


26 rayward January 7, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Corporations do take on a life of their own, and are even capable of turning on their creators. Mitt Romney said corporations are people too. He was wrong: what he meant is that corporations are made up of people, but people come and go while corporations live on indefinitely. In the movie the Alien and its sequel Aliens, Weyland Industries merged and turned into a larger and more powerful conglomerate called Weyland-Utani, referred to as “the Company”. The villain in the movie wasn’t the alien but what was familiar.


27 stephan January 7, 2018 at 11:10 pm

@ Phil C.We were talking about AI here not just life. Bacteria fit your definition for example ( capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death). They’re not AIs


28 Charbes A. January 7, 2018 at 9:07 am

#1 How can it be? I copyrighted copyright claims.


29 Ray Lopez January 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

#1 – at Charbes A: Copyright does not mean valid. Copyrights are not examined before being issued, they are only valid upon litigation. It just gives you the right to sue in US federal court, nothing more. By contrast, patents have the presumption of validity since they are (briefly) examined.

My favorite copyright claim was a prisoner who copyrighted his name and expected royalties of a nickel every time the court mentioned his name, and he filed many ‘pro se’ (self-appointed) court motions.


30 Bob January 7, 2018 at 1:51 pm

It’s just that we have a crazy system of copyright claim enforcement on the internet. Nerds were complaining about how this would be awful back in the 90s. You can put anything online, but at the same time, anyone can claim that what you are doing breaks their copyright. Since the process of making and evaluating claims fairly would be long and complicated, in practice we have crappy algorithms for everything. There are no penalties, in practice, for false positives., and litigation is way too expensive for an overwhelming number of disputes, so it all comes down to what either an ISP or the platform where the content is hosted decides to do. There’s been far more drama regarding this that this specific case, like Nintendo asking for all ad revenues from people streaming parts of their games, attached to commentary, a review, or just highlight videos of good plays.

It’s not a pretty situation, but as long as we have mostly infinite copyright over everything, and there are no penalties for mistakes, it’s inevitable.


31 Jonathan January 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

“If I record background white noise or if I have a random white noise generator and I record that, with me being the first person to fix that recording, then I am the owner of its copyright.”

But surely every instance of white noise is in fact different from every other, albeit statistically indistinguishable via any a priori metric…. Unless of course the same random number generator was used with the same seed.


32 clockwork_prior January 7, 2018 at 9:09 am

‘His basic problem is that he just hates his fellow Americans too much’

Hate to be the one to tell you, but Charles Stross is British. ‘Stross was born in Leeds, England.[3] He showed an early interest in writing and wrote his first science fiction story at age 12. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 1986 and qualified as a pharmacist in 1987. In 1989, he enrolled at Bradford University for a post-graduate degree in computer science. In 1990, he went to work as a technical author and programmer. In 2000, he began working as a writer full-time, as a technical writer at first, but then became successful as a fiction writer.’

You are welcome to think that he hates Americans too much, of course.


33 Qwerty January 7, 2018 at 9:29 am

Everyone is an American at heart. Or a self-hating American at heart as the case may be.


34 clockwork_prior January 7, 2018 at 10:57 am

Or at least a wannabe German, according to several commenters here.


35 Tom January 7, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Or a Brazilian wannabe.


36 ChrisA January 7, 2018 at 9:32 am

Stross’s rant certainly doesn’t make me want to buy his books. What a confusing mess! He is actually a fairly typical guardian reader in his views, naively trusting of what he reads in that paper.


37 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 10:02 am

Given the volume of his books I would think people who read would have read a few, just running the probabilities.

The Laundry stuff is too weird for me though.


38 Ted Craig January 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Nah. There are so many books, the odds against even a fairly voracious reader having read Stross are pretty high.


39 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 10:05 am

My recommendation is a light sci fi read centered on very Marginal Revolution themes:


40 Albany January 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

yup. so why does TC passively endorse him here?

Stross naively believes: “History, loosely speaking, is the written record of what and how people did things in past times”…. and that’s his impeccable basis for his science fiction story telling.
Written history is a tiny, subjective, and often erroneous snapshot of the doings of some people in the past…. it often qualifies as fiction.


41 Jeff R January 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

Yeah, I was neither impressed nor alarmed by reading that.


42 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 10:59 am

You guys should try for more than ‘bot answers then.

Was he wrong about the history of lead in gasoline?

Was he wrong about the modern web as interaction maximized?

Was he wrong about maximum interaction not necessarily being optimum interaction?


43 Jeff R January 7, 2018 at 12:16 pm

One can get the facts entirely correct and still completely misinterpret their meaning and significance, which i judge to be the case here with Mr. Stross. Sorry, i simply was not in the mood earlier to write a lengthy critique and am still not. You’ll live.


44 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Then I have to assume the worst (you’ll live too).

If you really don’t like “government interference” you are not going to have patience for long stories that build a case for it. Lead in gasoline. Russian trolls in elections.

45 Jeff R January 7, 2018 at 5:05 pm


46 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 11:02 am

Speaking of sub-optimum technology, my stupid tablet snuck in a change from “maximizer” to “maximized.” Proofreading on a per word basis does not work.


47 clockwork_prior January 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

Of course proof reading works on a per word basis – when it is a person doing it.


48 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 11:32 am

I was checking the word and then spacing or adding punctuation, but spacing or punctuation was when the swap was made. Very annoying.

Anyway, I stopped just waiting for the app to get smarter and swapped it out. I switched from the LG keyboard to the Google one. This one allows me to see suspicious spellings underlined in red, while autocorrect is off.

49 M January 7, 2018 at 1:46 pm

#2, ah Stross. Let me paraphrase, roughly – “Christianity! Corporations! Logic of a cancer cell! Net neutrality! Uber and the gig economy! Cambridge Analytica! Koch Brothers! Any machine learning discrimination must be irrational bias!…” and then more of the same. So he’s a middlebrow left wing Scottish atheist Jew who is a post-cyberpunk sci fi author who peaked roughly 2005 and promptly lost all his shit in 2008-2009? Well I never.

Simply, to apply the same standard back to him that he applies to the transhumanists – it seems awfully convenient that he happens to be reinventing exactly the sort of future that fits exactly with the future that you would expect to spring from someone with exactly his background (including roughly the sort of concept of what AI is that has been doing the rounds among cyber-leftish sorts since Gibson, and that you might not get out, say, Hassabis). And exactly the sort of future that his Guardianista audience would lap up like cream (and given the “theology” of his contemporary social tribe it’s a pretty nasty one). That should weaken your confidence that he’s anywhere pointing anywhere near to correct.


50 N January 7, 2018 at 4:21 pm

“Scottish atheist Jew”

God! A Jew! What is he doing here?! Is he poisoning my wells and using my children’s blood to make unleavened bread?


51 TMC January 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm

So Scottish & atheist are OK to mention? Is there a list you keep for us to reference?


52 M January 8, 2018 at 3:55 am

He has a background. On average his background is overrepresented in particular kinds of stances. As he himself has mentioned in the past (more favourably).

If you want to go down some route of hysteria at the suggestions that’s not always (or even) a positive, clear eyed benefit, that it can make someone a predictable, generic, boring, error filled thinker, it’s not worth anyone’s time to stop your sort from doing that.


53 clockwork_prior January 7, 2018 at 10:59 am

So, for those hoping for improvements here, things are starting to be burnished to the highest gloss possible.


54 EMichael January 7, 2018 at 11:17 am

Shameful censorship.


55 CorvusB January 7, 2018 at 11:36 am

So, who censored your post, and why? I don’t even particularly recall what you posted – but you did post this link to an article in Slate:

Which, when put into the context of Stross’s monologue, and the manipulation of social media to sway public opinion in elections, presents a very frightening picture. A picture that is, by the way, now historic – since the manipulation pointed to by the Nancy McLean book has been going on since Reagan. Howard Dean was and is still the only politician I am aware of who publicly called out that strategy. Others have alluded to it, no better. If this post goes missing, then we will know there is something about that link the censor doesn’t like.
CMB Jan-07-2018 11:33AM EST (-5 UTC)


56 EMichael January 7, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Well, it could simply be a question regarding the daily bread, and whose butter.


57 EMichael January 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm
58 cthulhu January 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Nancy McLean’s book was complete rubbish, completely false including the words “and” and “the”.


59 CorvusB January 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Gee, you sound a lot like Trump!


60 EMichael January 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm

Nice rebuttal.

Close, real close, to total censorship.

The American way.


61 Erik Larsen January 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm

#6 The evidence for the nine-ender effect is weak:


62 Viking January 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

#2 Charles Stross

In 2 words: “Mulp’s Dad”.

“Nobody in 2007 was expecting a Nazi revival in 2017, right?”

Very interesting inference about nazis in USA. Because the left calls the despicables nazis, suddenly it becomes fact, and can be used to make predictions about how much trouble we are in!


63 TMC January 7, 2018 at 2:30 pm

I didn’t read #2, but when one says ‘Nazi revival’ it’s usually referring to the left.


64 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm

lol, and “I didn’t read” is the strongest indicator of modern right wing “thought.”


65 Potato January 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm


You won the Internet! I think your dorm room bros are knocking!

Why don’t you scamper back to UC Santa Cruz? Go slugs!


66 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 7:20 pm

You guys should seriously listen to the MiB podcast with Bruce Bartlett if you want to understand what kind of ex-Republican I am:

Or don’t read! Trot out another “I stopped at”

67 TMC January 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Admitting “I didn’t read” is the strongest indicator of being not left wing.

I’d just like you to start reading the links you post that contradict rather than support your thoughts. Saves us the time to refute you when you’re self-refuting though. Thanks.


68 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 8, 2018 at 10:25 am

You didn’t get the full gag.

“Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. … [H]e could read headlines and articles about himself, or at least headlines on articles about himself, and the gossip squibs on the New York Post’s Page Six.”

69 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 8, 2018 at 11:08 am

Ah, and the words “anyone who reads” appear in the new Douthat column:

70 JWatts January 7, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Charlie Stross is strongly Left Wing. I think he was probably referring to the Right as Nazi’s but he’s British, so I’m not sure who in particular he was ranting about. But the article was a rant. Indeed, I stopped reading his books when they started to be dominated by humorless ideological rants.


71 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 7:15 pm

He knows Charlottesville, it is not a global secret.

And don’t try to blame for how the tiki march played internationally, literally, on their nightly news.


72 clamence January 7, 2018 at 7:45 pm

That a country with 330 million people can muster several hundred wingnuts for a tiki torch celebration of inane catchphrases hardly represents any sort of broad-based resurgence of Nazis or whatever you prefer to call the Unite the Right protesters.

73 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ January 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm

If you ask me, the non-Nazi right has had a self-harming response to Charlottesville, led from the top of course, with “Some Very Fine People on Both Sides.”

Some more bad positioning appears in the new Wolff book.

Perhaps it was never in the cards (us Bartlett Republicans are long gone) but “we hate those guys too!” would have put conservatives both out of the pinch and on a better road.

74 TallDave January 8, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Much like Antifa or Occupy Wall Street, virtually anything the neo-Nazis do that gains attention is self-harming, because their views are largely awful.

Unlike Antifa or Occupy Wall Street, there are relatively few polemical d-bags willing to take a flyer on all their “legitimate concerns” and tell everyone how great they are despite the “occasional” violence.

75 Catholic German January 8, 2018 at 12:27 am

well he is partially correct about its nazi revivalism. surely, everybody has to admit that slavophobia, especially russophobia, is popular among the media in the US again. the other second key ingredient of nazism, antisemitism, is back again, though not in the US but in Europe – see demonstrations of the (muslim) left about Jerusalem being proclaimed capital of Israel.


76 stephan January 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

#2 I don’t subscribe to Stross’ politics but the use of big data and AI by by autocratic governments ( not corporations) worries me. Surveillance is happening in China big time more directed towards ethnic minorities at first but spreading to everyone now and increasing over time.

Your face is scanned almost everywhere, your whereabouts and activity online montored. You jaywalk or make fun of a government official online and your social score goes down. Your score influences your friends’ score, so they have an incentive to shun you and so on.This is the modern Panopticon. At some point in the future perhaps even your thoughts can be monitored for deviation.That’s scary to me.


77 Chocklate January 7, 2018 at 7:09 pm



78 Tom January 7, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Maybe you should consider stopping jaywalking!


79 Chris S January 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Black Mirror again, too on the “nose”?


80 clamence January 7, 2018 at 8:17 pm

#1: and Radiohead is suing Lana del Rey over her song “Get Free” for cribbing off of “Creep”. The punchline is Radiohead was sued over “Creep” by The Hollies for infringing on “The Air That I Breathe”. It’s lawsuits all the way down.


81 jorod January 7, 2018 at 10:25 pm

5. Gunderson sounds like a typical leftist writer who has been in hibernation the last 9 years.


82 jorod January 7, 2018 at 10:33 pm

2. Nonsense. He should stick to comic books.


83 hgfalling January 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm

#2 is so Strossian.


84 TallDave January 8, 2018 at 2:26 pm

2. Bleah, world salad with nonsense dressing. Stross is usually only interesting when writing fiction, and not even that lately. Consider the blind spots here:

Now imagine that all the anti-abortion campaigners in your town have an app called “babies at risk” on their phones. Someone has paid for the analytics feed from the supermarket and the result is that every time you go near a family planning clinic a group of unfriendly anti-abortion protesters engulfs you. Or imagine you’re male and gay, and the “God Hates Fags” crowd has invented a 100% reliable Gaydar app (based on your Grindr profile) and is getting their fellow travellers to queer bash gay men only when they’re alone or out-numbered 10:1. (That’s the special horror of precise geolocation.) Or imagine you’re in Pakistan and Christian/Muslim tensions are mounting, or you’re in rural Alabama, or … the possibilities are endless

While he frets that someone in the US might be vocally encouraged to give their unborn child up for adoption or some evil corporation will support untraceable mobs of gaybashers (sure, no liability problems there!), in large segments of the world gays are flung off buildings based on rumors and abortion is carried out by bearded uncles with baseball bats. But fear for rural Alabama! They might form a flash mob of flag-waving!

If you want some coherent thoughts on the future, try Vinge or Wright.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: