PEOPLE ARE TERRIBLE
How Airbnb went from saviour to existential threat in Barcelona. Also, just FYI, Airbnb thinks hosts filming you is fine (am I the only one who is paranoid about being filmed whenever I stay in any hotel room?). While we’re on the subject, tourism is terrible, you horrible elitist! Also, it, umm, should be made cheaper!
In unrelated news… attack of the gay killer sex robots! How Taiwan is being targeted by a multinational group of reactionaries to prevent marriage equality.
Haven’t had enough schadenfreude from the Fyre Festival debacle yet? Social media influencing is both a mug’s game and growing ever more sinister.
And what responsibility do political historians have for the widespread disaffection toward politics across the West? Perhaps more than they think.
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THE WEEK IN TECH DYSTOPIA
A group of mainstream media outlets explain how wonderful AI journalism is. Which, of course, they would, since it allows them to sack journalists (bonus points for spotting the AI-sourced story in this week’s Side View).
The wonderful Zeynep Tufecki explains how algorithms behind personal recommendations and “trending” topics are arbitrary and easily gamed — and not for the betterment of the world, surprisingly.
As Australia tries to regulate the internet yet again, the US approach to hands-off regulation around online content is under increasing and bipartisan attack. Finally some good news for life in the panopticon that is the 21st century: coming soon — a wearable patch that uses machine learning to make it hard for AI to spot you on CCTV (of course, Dr Who was already there).
And how Amazon’s new green work environment reflects an architecture of neoliberalism.
A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL WARSHIPS
Climate change is not merely changing the nature of the threats the US military must deal with, a large proportion of its facilities are threatened by it, the Pentagon says. Nasty for a problem its commander-in-chief says doesn’t exist.
Meantime, helpfully, oceans are getting rougher, especially near Australia. And in other forms of idiotic denialism, it’s not just America where measles is becoming a crisis — Europe has a serious problem with public confidence in vaccination. Maybe they should seek some advice from New York’s Hasidic community, which is engaged in its own fight with anti-vaxxers.
THINKING AND ITS DISCONTENTS
A new book on the Enlightenment struggles to provide a useful model for understanding reason and its social context (strange how often debates over the Enlightenment devolve so often into whether you like key figures or not, and where you think they line up). But the traditional scientific method for examining the way we reason is also coming under attack.
Meanwhile in applied reasoning, given we hadn’t even detected gravitational waves until just a few years ago, the speed with which this new branch of astronomy is developing is remarkable: detectors may have picked up ripples from a black hole orbiting a neutron star, which is something special.
And here’s a user’s guide to detecting exoplanets, especially those hard-to-spot middle-distance gas giants. A new Earth is just a wobble away.
IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHAMPAGNE, IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHEESEBURGERS
The quest for meatless meat is nothing new in America — the Gilded Age had its own vegetarian-inspired embrace of faux-dead animal. But now the meat industry is using its lobbying power to try to ban the use of the term “meat” in plant-based products — which, you know, they may have a point.
Gender, stagnation, demographics: how the once-mighty Japanese economy changed through the now formally ended Heisei era. And now for something not totally negative about Trump: the Argentine government asked Barack Obama to declassify intelligence files relating to Argentina’s military dictatorship. He agreed. And so, to his credit, did Donald Trump.
The resulting files have now been made available. And Israel seen through the prism of the failure of socialism and humanism and the success of technocratic individualism: the work of philosopher Eliezer Schweid.
AND IN LOCAL NEWS
A significant proportion of Australians — often older Australians — remain offline and are increasingly excluded from access to services.
The relentless fetishisation of Anzac and the waste of taxpayer money on an ever-grander Temple of the Cult of the Aussie Mars in Canberra gets a justified shellacking from Ben Brooker.
The eradication of rats and rabbits on Macquarie Island has yielded some quick wins in a rare environmental good news story.
And AJ Brown on an issue that should be at the heart of our election but which is — as always — being ignored to death: the need for far greater transparency and anti-corruption reform at the federal level.
The new big-budget adaptation of Beckett’s Endgame has Giovanni Tiso excited. And your cat knows you’re speaking to it. It’s just ignoring you. And that, of course, means a cat video — introducing the Doctor Strangelove of the feline world.