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Welcome back.

How many vaccines can my body take, if Gates is right again and this is just the first episode in a pandemic season? What does my skill set look like, if work moves from place to screen and from competence to discovery? Who do I talk to, if my city is besieged and my networks are corrupted, not encrypted, or not there at all? Where do I find the dark, if every object glows from within?
Life on earth has always co-existed with alternate versions of itself - the long game of evolution is often slow to declare the score. Survival, reproduction, mutation: the rules conspire to obscure the randomness of the process and the viciousness of the outcome. Most of us will not define the future. Those who will, the bionic brethren with superhuman adaptability to systemic shock, already walk among us. They overcome chemistry, digest novelty, and become master practitioners of solitary confinement. They learn, probably at great cost and only with a slight peripheral degree of awareness, to fully engage with a synthetic planet.

The Blind Machine is brought to you by the good people at chumbo

Listen to our playlist on Spotify, a careful selection of old & new futures.

Thank you for being here.

All Stories Are Wrong, but Some Are Useful

on Feb 07, 2021 12:39 pm

Stories, not people, rule our world. We’re always telling ourselves a story about how the world works, and this makes stories very powerful.

This post explores these connections and what they mean for you: from how stories create beliefs, to lessons from master storytellers about what to be wary of, ending with four powerful stories that have shaped humanity.

China Leads Africa’s Digital Currency Race

on Feb 07, 2021 12:39 pm

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With years of public investment and plenty of penetration for its phone makers, China is well placed to establish a digital currency in Africa.

Since the mid 2000s, China has discreetly accumulated significant influence over Africa’s technology stack, close to 50% in the mobile handset and 70% in the mobile network layers.

Now, China can launch its digital currency on top of this stack, running on specially designed chips embedded deep within dozens of popular Chinese phone brands that dominate Africa.

China’s grand plan has three prongs: leverage its collective national and commercial influence, ride on Africa’s mobile payments success story and use its over 50% smartphone market share in Africa to distribute the DCEP. Huawei’s Mate 40, which launched in South Africa in October, is the first smartphone that enables a hardware wallet for the DCEP.

One belt, one road. Read more

Apple, Its Control Over the iPhone, The Internet, And The Metaverse

on Feb 06, 2021 02:39 pm

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One of the neat things about the internet is who created it, why, and how.

The web’s cross-platform, standards-based and non-profit origins are inseparable from the internet’s rapid growth, the trillions of dollars in companies that have been founded over the past 30 years, and the positive societal impact of these companies (e.g. a drop in the cost and increase in the quality of communications, the reduction in gatekeeper power, lowered transaction fees, etc.). 

Today’s heavily conglomerated internet giants remain mindful of the fact that open APIs, common standards, exportable data, etc., all help grow both the internet technology acceptance model and, in most cases, their own bottom lines. But these companies are less concerned with how the overall market grows than their share and control of this growth. Technology companies, almost by definition, prefer that the market build on top of or through them than have new entrants build around or in competition with them. As a result, the same companies that emerged thanks to openness tend to reject these principles where they might undermine their strategic position.

Matthew Ball talks a good platform game. Read more

The Universal Communication Bus

on Feb 06, 2021 12:39 pm

Chat is only the latest incarnation of human communication.

The problem, now, is that basic communication is too complicated and time consuming. Today, even with fancy smartphones and LTE networks, exchanging bits of text is getting more difficult instead of easier! There are too many different chat apps. I can’t search across all of them. I can’t even remember which of my friends are on each app. It’s become even worse than the rats nest of cables we had to deal with before USB.

This is meant to be human communication. Technology needs to fade into the background, so I can simply chat with my friends, family and work colleagues. We need a universal communications bus.

The Blind List | Ninos du Brasil – A Magia do Rei, Pt. 2

on Feb 05, 2021 08:43 pm

Alexander started running with A Magia do Rei, Pt.2, his old legs were asking for an upgrade as he ran from the 5G and mRNA every facebook commenter warned about. The kick from the music made him anxious, the continuous notifications were like the cowbells from Ninos do Brasil. Yes, this song made Alexander run, made him get lost with that noisy batucada.

His body was an old laptop trying to accompany the mob, a laptop that worked like a cage, Google Chrome with 74 open tabs. Can they change my mRNA but not this processing ability? He asked as he longed for the bed 2 meters away from the VR Headset he was using.

Oh and bats, bats everywhere.

Check out this song on our full playlist, updated every 2 weeks.

Let’s Start Over

on Jan 31, 2021 11:39 pm

Many of us have spent the past nine months lusting for a normal night like that. Many of us have spent the past four years longing for a normal president. In 2021, we may get both of those wishes. But what will “normal” look like? What should it look like?

We asked a dozen writers what they thought. Will we go back to the office, and if so, will we regret it? Will teachers and students have learned anything from Zoom school? Can the fashion and restaurant industries survive? Can bipartisanship? What is the future of political poetry? What is the future of promiscuous sex?

The pandemic isn’t over; there are months of suffering to come. But — eventually — it may be a happy new year after all.

We Have Entered the Climate Decade

on Jan 31, 2021 12:39 pm


Beyond the legitimate handwringing, there’s one economy that will provide steady, consistent opportunities and growth in the coming decade: The Decarbonization Economy. Call this ClimateTech, Cleantech 2.0, or something new, but know this about the transition to an economy free of carbon emissions: it’s big, it’s getting bigger, and it won’t be going away. This new economy is different. We’re not shoehorning sustainability into old systems. We’re redesigning the economy. The scale of this transformation is on par with the digitization economy before it.

Don’t bet against exponential curves. Read more

Big Ideas Report 2021

on Jan 31, 2021 11:39 am

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For investors, we believe a big idea needs to be long-term. But with more innovation evolving than ever before, how are investors supposed to identify the technologies that could deliver future growth? This report includes research that has been updated or revised over the years.

The Coup We Are Not Talking About

on Jan 31, 2021 02:39 am


In an information civilization, societies are defined by questions of knowledge — how it is distributed, the authority that governs its distribution and the power that protects that authority. Who knows? Who decides who knows? Who decides who decides who knows? Surveillance capitalists now hold the answers to each question, though we never elected them to govern. This is the essence of the epistemic coup.

In Defense of Doing Nothing

on Jan 30, 2021 07:39 pm

Our contemporary practices of glorifying productivity—our do-what-you-love ethos, the flood of self-help writing aimed at creating the appearance and the performance of never-ending work—shame idleness, attach a sort of divine purity to hustle, and raise questions about what leisure even is and who deserves it. This subtle, sleek commodification of experience in the name of some version of “living your best life” is not new; what has, over the last several years, become a cultural impetus to hustle is also built into decades-old political language. Even as we find new expressions of this drive toward ceaseless work, they still manage to feel familiar.

How to Think About Bots

on Jan 30, 2021 06:39 pm

We live in a world of bots. Generally speaking, these sets of algorithms are responsible for so much on the backend of the internet, from making Google searches possible to filling up your spam folder.

Bots measure the technical health of the internet, share information on natural disasters, predict disease outbreaksfulfill our lunch requests, and send news articles to networks of people on platforms like Twitter and Slack. They may even write some of those articles. They are also integral to social media propaganda campaignsdistributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and stock market manipulation. Bots have been shown to be capable of compelling humans to carry out small tasks and a “Siri-like” assistant has been proposed as a way to help drone pilots fire on their targets as a way to reduce “moral injury.”

Thinking about bots as semi-automated actors makes them a challenge in terms of design. It also makes them unusual in an ethical sense. Questions of deception and responsibility must be considered when discussing both the construction and functionality of bots.

Consider the ancient art of throwing voices. Read more

The private papers of the world’s most famous singer

on Jan 30, 2021 06:39 pm

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The tumultuous personal life of the great tenor Enrico Caruso, as dramatic as any opera, is illuminated by a treasure trove of letters.

In 1897, a young and little-known tenor called Enrico turned up at composer Giacomo Puccini’s house to audition. It was for the part of Rodolfo in the latter’s new opera, La Bohème. Puccini initially had low expectations, yet within a few bars of the aria ‘Che gelida manina’ stood converted. He asked the singer, ‘Who sent you to me? God?’


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The Blind Machine is a publication about Pop Culture, Software Studies, Business Strategy, Media Platforms, Algorithmic Management, Game Design, and everything in between.
Copyright © 2021 chumbo, All rights reserved.

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