Examples of what is coming to us in the near future

MIT’s AlterEgo device “silently converses” with the voices in your head. The mind boggles at how this could be used and misused.

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George Orwell move aside.


Corey Pein has a new book Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley. I’ve learned so much from this essay about tech’s “miserable insensates”. I love his Orwellian style and his reference to Heart of Darkness in the title. We have an author who understands humanity!

“a glimpse at the new model worker: a fat, depressed con artist forever scheming against his comrades, egged on by the distant architects of the virtual marketplace– the only real winners”

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Well, honestly this is not about the future, because it is already here. But this will get much worse than it now is! Read and marvel how far things have come:

This is why I haven’t been eager in trying to meet investors before I have a business model that works ethically. I think it is not only Silicon Valley, it is the “rules of the game” - and not even that, it is the assumptions of the rules that matter. One assumption: being relatively small company still can be ethical, but not when it is multinational corporation. Is that true?

Facial recognition is implemented everywhere these days. But besides creepy it is also not all that reliable still:

In a follow-up to my earlier posts on Social Credit Systems in China, yesterday there was an article in Business Insider highlighting the fact that these systems are already dealing out punishment for ‘incorrect behaviours’:

From the article:

“The social credit system is used to punish citizens for bad behavior with numerous blacklists preventing them from traveling, getting loans or jobs, or staying in hotels, and even by limiting internet access.”

"China intends to roll out a more comprehensive, national social credit system in 2020, which has gained comparisons to the show “Black Mirror.”

[…]

“The social credit system is actually a collection of blacklists, of which there are more than a dozen at the national level.” […] "While it’s not made clear which list has had so many plane and train trips blocked, a former official, Hou Yunchun, is quoted as saying the system needs to be improved so “discredited people become bankrupt.”

So very scary stuff, all of this.

A different topic, but still related to the above, appeared in Bloomberg yesterday:

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-payment-systems-china-usa/

The article highlights the enormous use of full-featured apps such as Alipay and WeChat that have integrated payment systems which circumvent banks entirely:

“Alipay and WeChat have since swelled in popularity, boasting 520 million and 1 billion monthly active users, respectively. Consumers sent more than $2.9 trillion inside the two systems in 2016, equivalent to about half of all consumer goods sold in China, according to the payments consultancy Aite Group.”

There is no love lost when it comes to banks, so this may appear to be a positive development if this trend goes global, but there are some problems:

  • While currently the US and EU banking landscape is being disrupted by many small, innovative players, it is likely that once the big tech players, like Apple, Google and FB jump into this game, they will - with the use of their platforms - become dominant players, strengthen their monopolies, and greatly increase their already great power (and further diminish the nation state).

  • Having payment systems deeply integrated in full-featured apps is the big enabler of Social Credit Systems, and once almost no-one uses cash anymore there is no way to get rid of these systems anymore.

So:

Warning: Don’t think that ‘Black Mirror’-like Brave New Worlds are limited to China… they can arise anywhere, albeit probably in different forms, maybe masquerading as positive, progressive disruptions.

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Naturally the future will bring in the better. This wise John Biggs proclaims that present technology landscape has manifested itself into “a quiver of arrows that strikes at our deepest, most cherished institutions and bleeds us of kindness and forethought.”

In the upcoming era, according to the author, “we will see the old ways cast aside, the old models broken, and the old invasions of privacy inverted.” I sense this more than hollow idealism is a blueprint for humane platforms overturning paradigms and winning over users from today’s relatively crude and savage incumbents.

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The Guardian recently published this interesting article:

Technology is starting to behave in intelligent and unpredictable ways that even its creators don’t understand. As machines increasingly shape global events, how can we regain control?

A very good read :slight_smile:

Uganda has had a 200 shilling (US 5 cents) tax per day for anyone who wants to use social media since 1 July. The idea is that they’re using the tax to silence dissent, (not to improve well-being).

For the same ends, Tanzania is charging bloggers about US $900 per year to be able to blog legally.

Here is the message of Ugandan MP Bobi Wine who is being harassed by the government, arrested etc.

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Wow @Free, chilling. Limitations of (digital) freedoms are going global.

I also have a new entry that trended today on Hacker News:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07740-z

It details how China is going to use their Social Credit system to deal out punishment without due process (in this case to scientists, but can be extended to anyone for anything).

The HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18689796

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@Free this is why my Tanzanian friend hasn’t posted on FB since June I bet… One of the reasons I kept FB- to for these connections- but I guess they are being controlled now.,

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This great article by David Mattin is another Black Mirror episode of what is happening in China now, and could be on your doorstep in the not too distant future… so beware and keep eyes open.

This article is not just about game addiction, but to an all to real threat - a threat that has Tristan Harris worried and many people in this community too: the one posed to liberal democracy by rampant technology innovations. I quoted Tristan earlier in this post:

“I do not want to scare people, but we are here to help avoid civic breakdown and prevent future wars”

Read and retweet, awareness is needed:

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Here we generally see what’s comming in near future. But there are huge problems we are facing in present.
In my country the growing brains are seen to be affected by the social media, gadgets and all. The problem is devastating. I am running programs in different schools and colleges focusing students. Thus needs to be done in communities as well. Government is helping us with very few resources. More than 90 percentage resources are from our team. We are struggling and the awareness in most in my place.
I express many things from these community while running programs. The ideas that this community is providing are great. But more to accomplish i am harrased by the present situation, need and conditions of awareness .

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Thank you for sharing that article. I am speechless!

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And as predicted China starts to deal out real punishments to people with low credit scores. People who are different and don’t fit ‘the norm’ that is defined in this brave new world…

As expected a big discussion on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19281192

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In the topic How to be 'Team Human' in the digital future - Ted Talk of Douglas Rushkoff we saw an inspiring video by Doug Rushkoff, in which he mentioned a strange meetup with a secretive group of elite hedgefund managers.

Rushkoff has written specifically about that meeting with these billionaires interested in their own survival. I am convinced that many of the super-wealthy elites - like the climate-change deniers among them - already made up their own minds and know the solutions to our problems: they will survive without too much impact to their own rich lives. And the rest of us don’t matter. They are clearly not on Team Human.

Here is the article:

And the interesting Hacker News discussion about it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17468558

Today another article along the same lines was published (which I found through Mastodon… thank you Strypey :slight_smile:):

This is an important and insightful article, and we should be aware of the enormous influence these tech billionaires are wielding, that is not perse good for humanity at large. Some summaries from the Conclusion of the article (but I recommend you read the article in its entirety):

Conclusion

Three substantial points warrant noting here:

First, if the fate of humanity indeed hinges on the control and distribution of resources, these tech entrepreneurs and their associates certainly control the allocation of vast resources. The same criticisms of the undemocratic and unaccountable nature of philanthrocapitalism apply here also: these entrepreneurs are working hard on creating a world – a future – in their own image.

Second, what is at stake in the images of the future of these tech entrepreneurs is the fate of democracy, a political system already under considerable strain globally. Technology is the means by which a promised land not governed by national or international politics but by capital could potentially be engendered.

Finally, although these tech entrepreneurs have big ideas and are not afraid to invest into them, it does betray some poverty of imagination that they are incapable of imagining a non-capitalist future of freedom and growth beyond the confines of the logic of capital here on Earth. It is telling that they are hedging their bets on space as the more likely or desirable future scenario than the prospect of global political cooperation leading to a shared global future.

Note: I tweeted this post for more exposure (please Like and Retweet :slight_smile:)

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Thanks for sharing!
A big reminder how important it is to have a worldwide and stable democracy to give all people the same laws and rights.

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Another thing not in the future, but in the here and now, apparently… Welcome to San Diego.

Can you imagine a city in the United States secretly creating a Chinese-style public surveillance network that can identify everyone? Can you imagine that same city secretly creating a Chinese-style public watchlisting network?

Well imagine no more because it has already happened.

When I wrote about “covert facial recognition street lights coming to a city near you” last year, I never would have dreamt that my article would become a reality so quickly.

This is the Hacker News discussion about this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19545668

Arnold, thanks for posting this. It dovetails with a lot of things I have been reading. I’m wondering how Humane Technology can facilitate more graceful navigation through the turbulence we’re experiencing.

Also, I just joined the forum and this was a great introduction.

  • Bill -
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