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

Welcome back.

The partial but still significant correlation between manual labor and unskilled workers in industrial societies is an interesting paradox. Repetition and lack of autonomy, in a task performed by any of the muscles and bones of the body, can be defining characteristics of both off-shored, exploitative regimes and of local, upscale artisanal practices. On either side of the value and supply chain, workers iterate and interpret outside guidance. While one worker is possibly close to slavery, the other is probably deeply respected. The same contradictory logic is extended to the intangible economy: digital creators can also swing between opposite perceptions of worth, in their unchanging rhythm of content production and genre adherence, inside a foreign platform or under the patronage of a heritage brand.

In its early days, documentary film was thought of as a new source of history. Every media archive since then reflects the task and the impulse to record daily life with growing technical ability, care, persistence, and reach. Social networks not only add relational data and chronological feeds to this century-old western project, but democratize the means through which we can capture and visualize the passing of time, in its crushing and enchanting banality. To participate in social media is to insert ourselves into this grand, decentralized, accidental narrative of the earth - to allow the future to zoom in. And yet, most of this process is still manual, repetitive, subordinate.

Elite and celebrity cultures are often reliable indicators of mainstream trends: as global entertainment corporations transition from reality-based fiction to synthetic media production, we should expect the early adoption by wealthy individuals of autonomous recording devices, always-on publishing systems that liberate the subject from the shackles of documentary manual labor. Voice-activated, immersive auditory interfaces will most likely handle the specifics of editing and refining the data feeds. Emancipated, on the heels of those pioneers, everyone will soon be able to submit their daily logs to the infinite library, hands-free.

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 right to never be forgotten

on Jul 31, 2022 09:50 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 100716

Who’s the data controller of the blockchain? Who even owns things like Bitcoin and Ethereum? The short answer is nobody and everybody; everybody in this case is the thousands of nodes that do the ‘mining’ and verification of the network, making sure transactions are legitimate and collectively keeping all the network state around.

The challenge before us is to figure out the ground rules of privacy in Web 3, where the ‘contextual privacy’ that has shaped both user expectations and government regulation in Web 2 no longer hold at all; in fact, they’re utterly fipped.

The Face That Replicates

on Jul 31, 2022 09:23 pm

In the twentieth century, we became adept at capturing, manipulating, and presenting precise visual copies of individuals through photography, film, and digital manipulation. Humans no longer had to use a hall of mirrors (or a skilled portrait artist) to see themselves doubled, tripled, quadrupled. We also became better at selective breeding and genetic manipulation. Dolly the sheep emerged from an adult cell in 1996, and attendant anxieties and sensational interest in the literal copies spiked Eventually, the concept of the double in art was superseded by the clone, as we slouched closer and closer to literal self-replication.

Review: Beyoncé’s HOMECOMING Film Is Her Latest Act of Meticulous Archiving

on Jul 31, 2022 06:36 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 101651

Beyoncé has an elaborate, painstakingly updated personal archive. Writer Amy Wallace described a “long, narrow room [in Manhattan] that contains the official Beyoncé archive, a temperature-controlled digital-storage facility.” Its contents form a nearly complete record of her image: years and years of photographs, interviews, shows, PhotoBooth confessionals, and footage taken by a dedicated visual director. The archive is said to be modeled on NBC’s library, complete with “labeling, date-stamping, and cross-referencing.”

Nearly 15 years ago, before livestreams and selfies became everyday modes of communication, Beyoncé began shooting “practically her every waking moment, up to 16 hours a day, since 2005.” Over time, people reacted snidely to this news.

Pixy drone hands-on: A flying robot photographer for Snapchat users

on Jul 31, 2022 06:36 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 102459

You don’t need to pilot the Pixy. In fact, you couldn’t if you wanted to. Rather, it flies by itself, performing pre-programmed patterns that put the focus on you, the user. It has great potential for things like parties or tourist activities, grabbing awesome aerial shots with almost no user intervention.

A Crypto Game Promised to Lift Filipinos Out of Poverty. Here’s What Happened Instead

on Jul 31, 2022 10:36 am

Samerson Orias was working as a line cook last year in the rural Philippines when his friend told him he could make way more money playing a new video game.

Axie Infinity was created by a Vietnam-based startup called Sky Mavis Inc. as part of the rising play-to-earn gamer movement. For other popular games like League of Legends and Fortnite, it’s common for elite players to make a living through sponsorships and revenue from streaming their games to online viewers. With Axie Infinity, the earning potential is baked right into the game play itself. “We believe in a world future where work and play become one,” the game’s website stated last year.

Sky Mavis takes a cut of in-game transactions and sits on a large stash of tokens. By last October, the company had raised more than $150 million from investors including the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

James Bridle and Claire Evans

on Jul 30, 2022 09:23 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 100153

Artist and author James Bridle discusses their book, Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence with writer and musician Claire Evans.

We toured Intel’s advanced chip making site in Oregon. Here’s how it works.

on Jul 30, 2022 08:36 am

Screenshot 2022-08-01 105728

HILLSBORO, Ore. — To create a beam of ultraviolet radiation precise enough to print the world’s most advanced microchips, one of the most expensive tools in the world sprays microscopic droplets of molten tin across a vacuum chamber.

This system is called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, and it’s theoretically precise enough to hit your thumb with a laser pointer from the moon.

EUV machines are the future of the semiconductor industry, which is operating at a breakneck pace after the pandemic upended the world. Jolted by factory shutdowns and a big shift in demand for consumer goods that all seem to need chips, the businesses that manufacture semiconductors have been furiously growing to satiate the world’s unlimited appetite for computing power. At the same time, Intel has vowed to return its chip-making business to its former leadership position after a prolonged period of dysfunction.

What it’s like being a woman in Afghanistan today: ‘death in slow motion’

on Jul 30, 2022 08:36 am

On early Monday morning, just before the break of dawn, a 23-year-old Afghan journalist packed her bags, said quiet goodbyes to her family and left her home in a carefully mapped and cautiously executed plan. “My heart was beating so fast for the whole journey, till I reached a safe place.

S06 E09: Billy Reid, Fashion Designer at Billy Reid

on Jul 29, 2022 08:36 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 110024

Scott Kerr sits down with American fashion designer Billy Reid for a fascinating conversation about his eponymous label and how cataclysmic setbacks in the early stages were instrumental to the Alabama-based brand’s growth and success.

Mushroom Leather Is Here. Will Shoppers Care?

on Jul 29, 2022 04:36 am

Early adopters like Stella McCartney are pitching sustainability and innovation in swapping cowhides for mushroom roots. In a warehouse outside Oakland, California, the air smells like decaying trees. Workers toss microorganisms onto sawdust to grow mushroom roots into a leathery material.

DeepMind uncovers structure of 200m proteins in scientific leap forward

on Jul 28, 2022 10:36 pm

Screenshot 2022-08-01 110239

Artificial intelligence has deciphered the structure of virtually every protein known to science, paving the way for the development of new medicines or technologies to tackle global challenges such as famine or pollution.

Proteins are the building blocks of life. Formed of chains of amino acids, folded up into complex shapes, their 3D structure largely determines their function. Once you know how a protein folds up, you can start to understand how it works, and how to change its behaviour. Although DNA provides the instructions for making the chain of amino acids, predicting how they interact to form a 3D shape was more tricky and, until recently, scientists had only deciphered a fraction of the 200m or so proteins known to science.

How Lifelogging is Transforming the Way We Remember, Track Our Lives

on Jul 28, 2022 04:36 pm

Once explored by only an elite few, the practice of lifelogging refers, quite literally, to logging or registering your daily life with technical tools and services.

When lifelogging first emerged in the 1980’s, pioneers wore bulky heads-up-displays, computer backpacks and even computerized shoes, capturing large portions of their lives as physiological data, photos and videos.

With the onset of social networks centered on status updates and photo sharing, the practice of recording and tracking life has gone mainstream.


Share this issue Share this issue
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.