You are reading The Blind Machine.
View this email in your browser

Welcome back.

Even the most basic operation in a global city requires a level of complexity that is at once too hard to describe and too cheap to measure. Housing, food, health, mobility, communication, entertainment, affection, collective movement and attrition: animated systems that are heavily dependent on the smooth discretion of unspeakable supply chains. The unrelenting logistics of our urban century require new and abundant energy, our cybernetic future requires both human and electrical parts.

Climate-induced mass migrations are one of the turbulent and paradoxical markers of a greener tomorrow - every megalopolis on the planet stretches and folds inward on the backs of these fresh backstage movers, delivered by the busload from the front lines of the environmental collapse. Political turmoil related to these arrivals is a feature, not a new bug, and the sheer demands of the industrial and cultural urban machines will outweigh any meaningful resistance to their permanent settlement. You can't really argue with demographics.

Something else will happen: a frenzied scramble for the underground resources that can power the electrical transition. Mimicking the colonial patterns of the 19th century, this fever will once again guide the mining and the scorching of the earth, igniting the piercing flames of international espionage. Great powers will rise and fall. So if you look up close, you can clearly see that the color of sustainability is not green. It's red-hot, like a furnace.


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.

The Mineral Conflict Is Here

on Aug 21, 2022 11:36 am


These changes will permanently alter the map of our energy economy. But they suffer from one major limiting factor: the mineral inputs are increasingly expensive and increasingly unavailable. Solar and wind require a roughly tenfold increase in the tonnage of mineral inputs compared to a natural gas plant delivering the same amount of energy. Other parts of the electrification of our economy are similarly mineral-intensive; EVs require six times as many mineral inputs as a traditional car.

The green energy transition is, in reality, an electrification transition. Electrification requires hardware, and hardware requires mines. Some of the minerals critical for electrification include copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rare earth elements (REE), graphite, and polysilicon. Of these, copper and lithium are the most important.

The Hard Math of Minerals

on Aug 21, 2022 11:26 am

Screenshot 2022-08-21 214613

Today’s plans to decarbonize global energy systems, which center on a massive expansion in the use of solar, wind, and battery technologies, need to better account for the high environmental and economic costs of materials and minerals.

The unavoidable scale of materials demand will have significant impacts on commodities markets and prices, as well as on the environment. Most policy formulations fail to account for these implications. The country is long overdue for thoughtful and realistic planning that honestly acknowledges the tradeoffs and consequences arising from the materials needed to accelerate what is being called the energy transition.

Glencore to Settle US, UK Investigations for $1.5 Billion

on Aug 21, 2022 11:03 am


“Bribery was built in to the corporate culture,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said at a press conference. “The tone from the top was clear: whatever it takes.” Glencore paid more than $100 million in bribes to government officials in Brazil, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela, he said.

Glencore is the largest among a handful of companies that dominate global trading of oil, fuel, metals, minerals and food. The company and its rivals, most of which are privately held, have traditionally operated outside of the view of regulators and been willing to go to countries and do deals that others shy away from.

Human Touch

on Aug 20, 2022 12:36 pm

Artificial intelligence may be making some jobs obsolete but it has given a new lease of life to one group of people who play an unglamorous but critical role in the machine learning pipeline: first generation women workers in Indian towns and villages.

India is one of the world’s largest markets for data annotation labour. As of 2021, there were roughly 70,000 people working in the field, which had a market size of an estimated $250 million, according to the IT industry body NASSCOM. Around 60 percent of the revenues came from the United States, while only 10 percent of the demand came from India.

How to buy a sari in Lahore

on Aug 20, 2022 12:36 pm

In the past few years, several other online sari retailers have popped up in Pakistan, including Lahore-based Saareeka and Karachi-based Haseen Saree by Sidra. Lahore-based writer and sari aficionado Mina Malik-Hussain, 38, who claims to own at least 80 saris, is thrilled. “The mindset around sari-wearing is changing, and I do think supply is informing demand,” Malik-Hussain told Rest of World. “The sari is no longer a fancy Banarsi number you only wear at weddings, because you can buy a cute cotton one for a quarter of the price and wear it with a peplum [blouse] you already have.”

She said that Instagram has helped enormously, by creating access to ideas and innovations in the sari-wearing community.

Apps Turning Restaurant Leftovers Into Cheap Meals Take Off in Asia

on Aug 20, 2022 11:36 am

800x-1 (1)

Across Asia, tech startups are taking food otherwise destined for landfill and providing discounted meals through mobile phone apps.

About a third of food is lost or wasted every year globally, and the mountains of waste are estimated to cause 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, the United Nations says. The Asia-Pacific region is among the worst in the world for food waste, accounting for more than half of food squandered globally.

How Kings Created Angkor Wat—Then Lost It

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am


OVER A THOUSAND years ago, the ancient Khmer civilization emerged as a powerful cultural and political force in what is now Cambodia and came to dominate much of Southeast Asia. Between the 9th and 15th centuries, the Khmer Empire created some of the most spectacular architecture in history, including one of the largest religious monuments in the world: Angkor Wat. This magnificent stone temple is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, visited by over 2.6 million tourists a year.

Why Eradicating Polio Is More Complicated Than It Seems

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am


Rumors that the polio vaccine causes sterility in children circulate not just in Pakistan but also in many parts of Africa. To outsiders, these rumors might appear to be the result of ignorance or of odd cultural beliefs. But on closer examination, such rumors are found to be a natural and logical consequence of distrust. When international agencies and governments that locals already have reasons to doubt swoop in and focus intensely on one disease, it does not inspire confidence—it does the opposite.

There is a way to both strengthen the fight against polio and begin to build a core of trust between the people at risk and those trying to help. It isn’t simple, nor is it easy to raise funding for the changes that are required: prioritizing basic health care, providing reliable sanitation, and improving infrastructure. But these basic services would build trust, and, along with immunization, they could help break the chain of polio transmission in the disease’s last strongholds.

By destroying old tropes, Prey turns a corner for Native Americans in film

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am

But viewers are also responding favorably to Prey because it is a watershed moment for representation, one that features members of the often vilified Comanche tribe as heroes. They are portrayed as neither the “savage Indian” of cinema’s past (The Searchers), nor the mystical Native American figure (Pocahontas), nor the white man’s sidekick in a story told from his point of view (The Lone Ranger), but rather the heroes of their own story from the first moment to the last.

To understand how rare this is, and what a momentous achievement Prey represents — one that is being praised by indigenous critics — we must first consider Native American representation throughout movie history.

“I Hope That Muslim Women Feel Seen, Empowered and Proud” – An Interview With Sana Amanat, Co-Creator of Ms. Marvel

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am


No group should be painted with one brush. We’ve known that since the inception of the comics and we knew we would deal with many different experiences. Islam is a pluralistic faith and I strongly believe that we are not a monolith. We have different people embracing different ways to express their faith and we wanted the show to be able to encompass that.

I think that’s why it was incredibly important to me for Nakia to be a Hijabi but also very modern, someone who loves fashion, very much a feminist and she runs for the mosque board. Then, Kamala comes from a different perspective as she doesn’t cover her hair and still goes to the mosque, but like, how religious is she? I don’t know. Everyone is coming from very different perspectives.

The Model Is The Message

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am

Screenshot 2022-08-21 220421

The debate over whether LaMDA is sentient or not overlooks important issues that will frame debates about intelligence, sentience, language and human-AI interaction in the coming years.

We need more specific and creative language that can cut the knots around terms like “sentience,” “ethics,” “intelligence,” and even “artificial,” in order to name and measure what is already here and orient what is to come. Without this, confusion ensues — for example, the cultural split between those eager to speculate on the sentience of rocks and rivers yet dismiss AI as corporate PR vs. those who think their chatbots are persons because all possible intelligence is humanlike in form and appearance. This is a poor substitute for viable, creative foresight.

Beijing Silvermine ☆ 北京银矿

on Aug 20, 2022 10:36 am


Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 850 000 negatives salvaged over the last ten years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by the French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decade following the Cultural Revolution.

北京银矿是由过去十年间850 000张拯救于北京郊区一回收站的底片组成的档案库,由法国收藏家和艺术家苏文(Thomas Sauvin)集成,展示了文化大革命后中国首都和居民生活的独特影像记录。

Rewilding Cities

on Aug 20, 2022 09:36 am

In the same way that monocropping corn creates weaker, less resilient land, monocropping our streets with cars creates cities that aren’t as vibrant as they ought to be. We often don’t notice it, because we’ve trained ourselves to think of streets as “almost exclusively for cars”. But if you think of all the things you could do with streets, you realize how weird it is that we have, for decades now, used them mostly only for vehicles.

If we can rewild the landscape, why not rewild city streets? Why not transform them so cars are only one part of what they’re used for?


Tweet this Tweet this
Send it by email Send it by email
The Blind Machine is a publication about Pop Culture, Software Studies, Business Strategy, Media Platforms, Algorithmic Management, Game Design, and everything in between.
Copyright © 2022 chumbo, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.