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To study the advent of the movable type printing press and its influence on various societies is to discover surprisingly familiar and contemporary patterns of disruption: religion, sexuality, news, gossip, science, health, and the inevitable emergence of conspiracy and myth. Like printing, software is a pervasive and ambitious technology. It creeps and bleeds into adjacent fields of human knowledge and activity, uninvited, irresistible.

Big tech’s possession and subsequent abandon of the media industries was just the first act, and our misguided analysis of it was clearly the result of proximity rather than clarity - like a premature impact study of an improvised explosion written by the side of the road, hands all bloody. To expect the insurgency to end because of this one deadly and dreadful scene is typical of a losing army: the asymmetrical onslaught will continue, social network stocks will further decrease in value, all the real action will move to bigger and juicier targets. Media, as it happens, is just not that important.

Health and education are like lonely and costly outposts whose primary mission of defense has been forgotten or taken for granted. Digital code is coming hard and fast for their infrastructure, doing what it always does best, which is the cold and creative desintermediation of markets and relationships. In its wake there will be another kind of wreckage, another kind of promise.

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

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again with the post digital

on Jul 25, 2022 08:27 pm
We Have Broken Your Businesses, Now We Want Your Machines.

How to Spot Trends with AI (Part II)

on Jul 25, 2022 07:36 pm

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After Sarah DaVanzo and I leveraged’s invaluable AI to score and re-rank the Meta Trends, we were left stuck with one finding:

Both the global and U.S. AI data-driven ranks were significantly different from the original human rank. The AI declared that what we humans thought was most important was not actually the case.

Were we just splitting hairs of importance here, or were these divergent rankings a signal that our Meta Trends (which came from source material) were not as important as we once thought? Maybe more influential cultural shifts are out there waiting to be exposed. 

And if so, how can we find them?

Amazon is buying One Medical for around $3.9 billion

on Jul 25, 2022 06:36 pm

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Amazon is buying primary health care company One Medical for roughly $3.9 billion, the companies announced Thursday morning. The company says the deal will allow it to “reinvent” health care and “dramatically improve the healthcare experience over the next several years,” said Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services.

How Apple is empowering people with their health information

on Jul 25, 2022 06:34 pm

Today Apple shared a new report that offers a snapshot of the ways Apple products are empowering people to be at the center of their health, and acting as an intelligent guardian for their health and safety.

“We believe passionately that technology can play a role in improving health outcomes and encouraging people to live a healthier day, and we are excited about the many ways users are benefiting from our health and fitness features, and by the ways third-party developers, institutions, and organizations are using Apple technology to advance health and science,”

Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica

on Jul 25, 2022 03:36 pm

Platforms are hiring gig workers around the world to write steamy romance novels for English-speaking readers.

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

Planetary Sapience

on Jul 24, 2022 09:36 am

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Planetary-scale computation — an emergent intelligence that is both machine and human — gave us the perspective to see Earth as an interconnected whole. With it, we must now conceive an intentional and worthwhile planetary-scale terraforming.

The revelation of the planetary — so different from the “international,” the “global” or the “world” — is a condition that comes into view via the location of human culture as an emergent phenomenon of an ancient and deep biogeochemical flux. Planetary-scale computation may have first emerged largely from the context of a “Western” science and “humanist” inquiry, but its implications in the disclosure of planetary conditions will upend and disrupt the conceits of such historical distinctions as much as Darwinian biology evacuated the church of its final biopolitical authority.

Planetary Politics From Inside The Prison-House Of Language

on Jul 24, 2022 09:36 am

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Politics must be reimagined to include more than mere human affairs.

Noema Deputy Editor Nils Gilman recently interviewed Tobias Rees, who is the director of the Berggruen Institute’s Transformations of the Human program, the Reid Hoffman professor of humanities at the New School for Social Research and a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

China’s Roadblocks to Becoming A Science Superpower

on Jul 24, 2022 09:36 am

A future in which China is the world’s dominant scientific power fills the imagination of leaders in both East and West. China’s ability to realize these visions depends on its answer to the question that any government has to ask of its science and innovation policy: “What is the best way to organize and oversee scientific research in pursuit of national objectives?” That is, how can the regime best support the scientific research community, nurture scientific talent, and harness the power of S&T to advance national goals?

A recent report from BluePath Labs for the China Aerospace Studies Institute found that answering these questions may not be as easy as Beijing hopes and these fearful narratives portray.

A Weird, Wonderful Conversation With Kim Stanley Robinson

on Jul 24, 2022 09:36 am

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Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the great living science fiction writers and one of the most astute observers of how planets look, feel and work.

We discuss why Robinson decided to start writing outdoors, what it was like to experience the Sierras on psychedelics in his youth, what “actor-network theory” is and how it helps us understand our relationship to the planet and to our own bodies, why we should think of climate change more like we do plane crashes, what hiking backpacks say about American consumerism, how we should change our relationship to technology in order to be happier, why the politics of wanting are so confusing yet important, why Robinson is so excited about ideas like a wage ratio and rewilding schemes, how the “structure of feeling” around climate has changed, why Robinson is feeling more hopeful about Earth’s future these days and more.

Panama Papers Whistleblower Speaks Out: “Shell Companies are Putin’s Best Friend”

on Jul 23, 2022 06:36 pm

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The anonymous whistleblower behind the bombshell leak known as the Panama Papers has emerged anew to warn how offshore companies are enabling Russia’s war machine.
John Doe issued a manifesto weeks after the publication of the Panama Papers in 2016, decrying global inequality and calling on governments to do more to curb the use of offshore companies that hide fortunes of the rich and often of the corrupt.

The reporting, which was rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize, led the leaders of Iceland and Pakistan to resign and sparked global protests.

Governments have since recovered at least $1.3 billion in tax revenues as a result, but John Doe is concerned that rising nationalistic and authoritarian governments are looking to overturn advances in transparency. The interview comes also as the U.S. Congress debates legislation that would make it harder to hide behind shell companies in the United States.

From Saartjie Baartman to Dolly the Sheep: what does genetic integrity mean?

on Jul 23, 2022 10:37 am


The notion of integrity evolves with each generation. When it comes to how the idea is applied to genetics, it is worth starting to consider the moral implications of future medical development now.

The arguments about genetic integrity are well known. They have to do with being discriminated against on genetic grounds, and thus of being excluded from the labour market or from insurance policies. They have to do with who should have the rights to knowledge of your personal genetic design, and how such information can be used. This covers the blood tests and tissue samples from the living and the dead that are stored in hospital archives, and what opportunities these samples represent. Can they be used in the development of medicines and, in that case, should the pharmaceutical companies alone derive financial benefit from them?

Why Computers Can’t Generate Randomness

on Jul 20, 2022 08:36 am

True randomness is a slippery thing: It is a property not of things in themselves, like individual numbers, but of their relationship to one another. One number is not random; it only becomes random in relation to a sequence of other numbers, and the degree of its randomness is a property of the whole group. You can’t be random, in modern parlance, without having some shared baseline of normality or appropriateness to measure yourself against. Randomness is relational.

The problem modern computers have with randomness is that it doesn’t make mathematical sense.


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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.
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