WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion

“Since going public, Uber’s valuation has fallen nearly 50 percent. The company is on pace to lose more than $8 billion this year, due to onetime payouts to Uber employees and mounting quarterly losses. And that was before California codified a court ruling that could force the company to reclassify its workforce as full-time employees, something with the potential to transform its domestic business.”

WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/unicorn-delusion/598465/
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New surveillance tech means you'll never be anonymous again

“In the US, San Francisco, Somerville and Oakland recently banned the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and government agencies, while Portland is talking about forbidding the use of facial recognition entirely, including by private businesses. A coalition of 30 civil society organisations, representing over 15 million members combined, is calling for a federal ban on the use of facial recognition by US law enforcement.”

New surveillance tech means you'll never be anonymous again
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/surveillance-technology-biometrics
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Silicon Valley's Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work

“There is a growing pattern of tech luminaries posing as open to concerns and then swiftly dismissing them. Yuval Noah Harari, the influential author Sapiens and Homo Deus and a historian concerned about technology’s capacity to harm humanity’s future, has captured the attention of many Silicon Valley grandees. Yet, in his recent discussion with Mark Zuckerberg, when Harari openly worried that authoritarian forms of government become more likely as data collection gets concentrated in the hands of a few, Zuckerberg replied that he is “more optimistic about democracy.” Throughout the conversation, Zucker­berg seemed unable or unwilling to take Harari’s questions about Facebook’s negative impact on the world seriously. Similarly, Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey is very public about his love of Eastern philosophy and meditation practices as ways of leading a more reflective, focused life, but is quick to brush aside the idea that Twitter has design features that hijack people’s attention and get them to spend time aimlessly cruising the platform. The gap between preaching and practicing in Silicon Valley isn’t promising.”

Silicon Valley's Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work
https://www.wired.com/story/silicon-valleys-secret-philosophers-should-share-their-work/
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The Glimmer of a Climate New World Order

“Saturday at the Atlantic, Franklin Foer proposed that meaningful action to combat warming may require that the bedrock principle of national sovereignty be retired, such that leaders like Bolsonaro (or, for that matter, Trump) won’t be able to operate with impunity on climate issues which, despite playing out within those nations’ borders, impact the rest of the world as well (often more so, since impacts are distributed unequally). “If there were a functioning global community, it would be wrestling with how to more aggressively save the Amazon, and acknowledging that the battle against climate change demands not only new international cooperation but, perhaps, the weakening of traditional concepts of the nation-state,” he wrote. “The case for territorial incursion in the Amazon is far stronger than the justifications for most war.””

The Glimmer of a Climate New World Order
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/08/climate-at-the-g-7-glimmers-of-a-new-world-order.html
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Facebook and the grand challenge of digital ethics

“Facebook achieved this dominance by combining social media, mobile, cloud and big data technology. Its phenomenal rise to power happened on the back of emerging technologies, not individually but together. Cloud-enabled big data and mobile helped deliver influence through social media, all made possible by the internet and the world wide web. It’s a classic example of explosive growth on the back of tech-driven innovation that taps into an unmet customer need.

‘What 2.7bn people see and interpret as truth daily will be “governed” by a single for-profit company’
– BRIAN HOPKINS

Facebook already has a bigger daily impact on the lives of some people than their government. In some respects, it has just as much influence.

Now, what 2.7bn people see and interpret as truth daily – and the approximately $40bn that firms spend in advertising each year – will be ‘governed’ by a single for-profit company. Compounding this concern, consider that Facebook, through preferred stock, is entirely controlled by one person.”

Facebook and the grand challenge of digital ethics
https://www.siliconrepublic.com/companies/facebook-media-currency-digital-ethics
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Elon Musk’s ‘Brain Chip’ Could Be Suicide of the Mind, Says Scientist

“Musk argued that such devices will help humans deal with the so-called AI apocalypse, a scenario in which artificial intelligence outpaces human intelligence and takes control of the planet away from the human species. “Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind,” Musk warned. “But with a brain-machine interface, we can actually go along for the ride. And we can have the option of merging with AI. This is extremely important.”

However, some members of the science community warn that such a device could actually lead to human beings’ self-destruction before the “AI apocalypse” even comes along.

In an op-ed for The Financial Times on Tuesday, cognitive psychologist and philosopher Susan Schneider said merging human brains with AI would be “suicide for the human mind.”

“The philosophical obstacles are as pressing as the technological ones,” wrote Schneider, who chairs the Library of Congress and directs the AI, Mind and Society Group at the University of Connecticut.

To illustrate this point, she brought up a hypothetical scenario inspired by Australian science fiction writer Greg Egan: Imagine as soon as you are born, an AI device called the “jewel” is inserted in your brain which constantly monitors your brain’s activity in order to learn how to mimic your thoughts and behaviors. By the time you are an adult, the device has perfectly “backed up” your brain and can think and behave just like you. Then, you have your original brain surgically removed and let the “jewel” be your “new brain.””

Elon Musk’s ‘Brain Chip’ Could Be Suicide of the Mind, Says Scientist
https://observer.com/2019/08/elon-musk-neuralink-ai-brain-chip-danger-psychologist/
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China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.

“As machines become better at rote tasks, humans will need to focus on the skills that remain unique to them: creativity, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. They will also need to adapt quickly as more and more skills fall prey to automation. This means the 21st-century classroom should bring out the strengths and interests of each person, rather than impart a canonical set of knowledge more suited for the industrial age.

AI, in theory, could make this easier. It could take over certain rote tasks in the classroom, freeing teachers up to pay more attention to each student. Hypotheses differ about what that might look like. Perhaps AI will teach certain kinds of knowledge while humans teach others; perhaps it will help teachers keep track of student performance or give students more control over how they learn. Regardless, the ultimate goal is deeply personalized teaching.”

China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614057/china-squirrel-has-started-a-grand-experiment-in-ai-education-it-could-reshape-how-the/
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Food Abundance and Unintended Consequences

“What potential unintended consequences emerge as we move towards food abundance? The Future Today Institute describes a scenario where high-tech local microfarms upend the status quo for supply chains built around conventional agriculture and supermarkets. They envision a possible future where the shift impacts everyone from merchants and importers to truck drivers and UPC code sticker providers. Food shortage driven by extreme weather is also likely to drive a migration from impacted regions to countries like the U.S. and Europe; creating a humanitarian crisis. As stated by FTI:

That’s why planning for this plant future is vital to ensure that their plant factories arrive with opportunity rather than civil and economic unrest.”

Food Abundance and Unintended Consequences
https://frankdiana.net/2019/06/12/food-abundance-and-unintended-consequences/
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Will AI shatter human exceptionalism?

“From an evolutionary perspective, this is preposterous. The fact that humans are different from other animals is a distinction of degree, not of kind. Once we properly orient ourselves on the evolutionary tree, it becomes clear that we can learn more about ourselves by focusing on our similarities with other animals than by perpetuating the myth that we’re categorically unique.

Peter Clarke, “Transhumanism and the Death of Human Exceptionalism” at Areo”

Will AI shatter human exceptionalism?
https://mindmatters.ai/2019/03/will-ai-shatter-human-exceptionalism/
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