Neoliberalism has by now woven its key tenets (choice, freedom, responsibility, individualisation) and mechanisms…

“Neoliberalism has by now woven its key tenets (choice, freedom, responsibility, individualisation) and mechanisms (quasi-markets, outsourced provision, payment-by-results) through the very fabric of modern welfare states across the world. This ‘governmentalisation of government’ (Dean, 2002) – the reflexive and strategic enfolding of governmental ends into its very practices – can be understood both as an inevitable step in liberal government’s perennial fear of governing too much and as an alternative instrument to discipline subjects’ behaviours alongside direct paternalistic interventions (Dean, 2002: 50). As Soss et al. (2011: 3) describe, the neoliberalisation of welfare systems reflects the expansion and intensification of the market logic “as an organizing principle for all social relations” (Soss et al., 2009: 2) as well as to “the state as an instrument for constructing market opportunities, absorbing market costs, and imposing market discipline” (Soss et al., 2011: 3). In doing so, and quite unlike the view of markets as ‘natural’ spheres in classical liberal economics, neoliberal arrangements of welfare systems recognise the artificiality and fragility of markets and the need to constantly create, advance and protect market mechanisms and ideologies. As such, neoliberalism leads to more rather than less state involvement and intervention – a rollup and roll-out of the state rather than any roll-back (Brown, 2003; Schram et al., 2010).”

Whitworth A (2016) Neoliberal paternalism and paradoxical subjects: Confusion and contradiction in UK activation policy. Critical Social Policy 36(4): 3
(viasocio-logic)

“the state as an instrument for constructing market opportunities, absorbing market costs, and imposing market discipline” (Soss et al., 2011: 3).

(viashrinkrants)

How to regulate an algorithm

Medium, AI, algorithms, self-analysis, conversation, explication, autoexplication, self-describing-processes

As we make algorithms that can improve themselves — stumbling first steps on the road to artificial intelligence — how should we regulate them? Should we require them to tell us their every step […] Or should we let the algorithms run unfettered? Nara Logics’ Jana Eggers […] suggests that a good approach is to have algorithms explain themselves. After all, humans are terrible at tracking their actions, but software has no choice but to do so. Each time a machine learning algorithm generates a conclusion, it should explain why it did so. Then auditors and regulators can query the justifications to see if they’re allowed. On the surface, this seems like a good idea: Just turn on logging, and you’ll have a detailed record of why an algorithm chose a particular course of action, or classified something a certain way. […] There’s a tension between transparent regulation of the algorithms that rule our futures (having them explain themselves to us so we can guide and hone them) and the speed and alacrity with which an unfettered algorithm can evolve, adapt, and improve better than others. Is he who hesitates to unleash an AI without guidance lost? There’s no simple answer here. It’s more like parenting than computer science: Giving your kid some freedom, and a fundamental moral framework, and then randomly checking in to see that the kid isn’t a jerk. But simply asking to share the algorithm won’t give us the controls and changes we’re hoping to see.

via https://medium.com/pandemonio/how-to-regulate-an-algorithm-c2e70048da3

Disinformation Review

information, disinformation, news, politics, EU, Kremlin, EEAS

The Disinformation Review collects examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation all around Europe and beyond. Every week, it exposes the breadth of this campaign, showing the countries and languages targeted. We’re always looking for new partners to cooperate with us for that. The Disinformation Review is a collection of disinformation examples sent to the EEAS East StratCom Task Force from a network of over 400 journalists, civil society organisations, academics and public authorities in over 30 countries. The East Stratcom Task Force provides an analysis of the trends emerging from the reports received. Opinions and judgements expressed here do not represent official EU positions.

via https://eeas.europa.eu/topics/nuclear-safety/9443/disinformation-review_en

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release

education, history, futures, foresight, hype, Gartner, prediction, unpredictability, disruption, unc

If we believe that, indeed, “software is eating the world,” that we are living in a moment of extraordinary technological change, that we must – according to Gartner or the Horizon Report – be ever-vigilant about emerging technologies, that these technologies are contributing to uncertainty, to disruption, then it seems likely that we will demand a change in turn to our educational institutions (to lots of institutions, but let’s just focus on education). This is why this sort of forecasting is so important for us to scrutinize – to do so quantitatively and qualitatively, to look at methods and at theory, to ask who’s telling the story and who’s spreading the story, to listen for counter-narratives.

via http://hackeducation.com/2016/11/02/futures

“There often are competing claims as to who invented a technology and when, for example, and there are early prototypes that…

tech, technolgy, history, economics, the shock of the old, futures

“There often are competing claims as to who invented a technology and when, for example, and there are early prototypes that may or may not “count.” James Clerk Maxwell did publish A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in 1873. Alexander Graham Bell made his famous telephone call to his assistant in 1876. Guglielmo Marconi did file his patent for radio in 1897. John Logie Baird demonstrated a working television system in 1926. The MITS Altair 8800, an early personal computer that came as a kit you had to assemble, was released in 1975. But Martin Cooper, a Motorola exec, made the first mobile telephone call in 1973, not 1983. And the Internet? The first ARPANET link was established between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in 1969. The Internet was not invented in 1991. […] Economic historians who are interested in these sorts of comparisons of technologies and their effects typically set the threshold at 50% – that is, how long does it take after a technology is commercialized (not simply “invented”) for half the population to adopt it. This way, you’re not only looking at the economic behaviors of the wealthy, the early-adopters, the city-dwellers, and so on (but to be clear, you are still looking at a particular demographic – the privileged half.)”

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release. Audrey Watters.

What Chinese corner-cutting reveals about modernity

Chabuduo, China, modernity, improvisation, craft, production, politics, culture

In the West, unions (for manual labourers) and professional associations (for groups such as doctors and lawyers) played a critical role in setting national standards. They gave people an identity that depended, in part, on both mastery and morality, a group of peers to compete against, and to be held to account by. But, as Adam Smith argued in The Wealth of Nations (1776), every profession ‘ends in a conspiracy against the public’ and the Chinese Communist Party tolerates no conspiracies except its own. Especially since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, any group that might represent a cross-national basis of resistance to the Party has been cut down. Unionisation, outside of the toothless and corrupt All-China Trade Union Federation, is a threat to the Party, which no more wants hod-carriers or rail workers across the nation to come together than it does Christians, democrats or feminists. In the end, what perpetuates China’s carelessness most might be sheer ubiquity. Craft inspires. A writer can be stirred to the page by hearing a song or watching a car being repaired, a carpenter revved up by a poem or a motorbike. But the opposite also holds true; when you’re surrounded by the cheaply done, the half-assed and the ugly, when failure is unpunished and dedication unrewarded all around, it’s hard not to think that close enough is good enough. Chabuduo.

via https://aeon.co/essays/what-chinese-corner-cutting-reveals-about-modernity

Why Do We Study Ice?

nasa:

Discover why we study ice and how this research benefits Earth. 

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We fly our DC-8 aircraft very low over Antarctica as part of Operation IceBridge – a mission that’s conducting the largest-ever airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice.

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Records show that 2015 was the warmest year on record, and this heat affects the Arctic and Antarctica – areas that serve as a kind of air conditioner for Earth and hold an enormous of water.

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IceBridge flies over both Greenland and Antarctica to measure how the ice in these areas is changing, in part because of rising average global temperatures.

IceBridge’s data has shown that most of Antarctica’s ice loss is occurring in the western region. All that melting ice flows into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise.

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IceBridge has been flying the same routes since the mission began in 2009. Data from the flights help scientists better measure year-to-year changes.

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IceBridge carries the most sophisticated snow and ice instruments ever flown.  Its main instrument is called the Airborne Topographic Mapper, or ATM.The ATM laser measure changes in the height of the ice surface by measuring the time it takes for laser light to bounce off the ice and return to the plane – ultimately mapping ice in great detail, like in this image of Antarctica’s Crane Glacier.

For the sake of the laser, IceBridge planes have to fly very low over the surface of snow and ice, sometimes as low as 1,000 feet above the ground. For comparison, commercial flights usually stay around 30,000 feet! Two pilots and a flight enginner manage the many details involved in each 10- to 12-hour flight.

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One of the scientific radars that fly aboard IceBridge helped the British Antarctic Survey create this view of what Antarctica would look like without any ice.

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IceBridge also studies gravity using a very sensitive instrument that can measure minuscule gravitational changes, allowing scientists to map the ocean cavities underneath the ice edges of Antarctica. This data is essential for understanding how the ice and the ocean interact. The instrument’s detectors are very sensitive to cold, so we bundle it up to keep it warm!

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Though the ice sheet of Antarctica is two miles thick in places, the ice still “flows” – faster in some places and slower in others. IceBridge data helps us track how much glaciers change from year-to-year.

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Why do we call this mission IceBridge? It is bridging the gap between our Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat – which gathered data from 2003 to 2009 – and ICESat-2, which will launch in 2018.

Learn more about our IceBridge mission here: www.nasa.gov/icebridge and about all of our ice missions on Twitter at @NASA_Ice.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:http://nasa.tumblr.com

We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials […] At the end of the day, this is just a…

Snowden, democracy, responsibility, futures, presidents, politics

“We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials […] At the end of the day, this is just a president. [….] If we want to have a better world we can’t hope for an Obama, and we should not fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.”

Edward Snowden

Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel

Medium, food, china, history, culture, Fuchia Dunlop

China has the world’s preeminent cuisine, absolutely unparalleled in its diversity and its sophistication. You can find practically everything you could possibly desire in terms of food in China. From exquisite banquet cookery, exciting street food, bold spicy flavors, honest farmhouse cooking, delicate soups, just everything, apart perhaps from cheese, although they do actually have a couple of kinds of cheese [laughs] in Yunnan province. Also, because China is such a food-orientated culture, and it has been since the beginnings of history, that if you want to understand China, almost more than anywhere else, food is a really good window into the culture, into the way people live, into history, everything.

via https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/fuchsia-dunlop-sichuan-cuisine-every-grain-of-rice-e13922e8a784

When the maps run out

Medium, Dougald Hine, collapsonomics, myth, metaphor, tricksters

There’s something more to say about the work that lies ahead, if it’s seriously the case that we are in territory where archdruids and zine writers and collapse bloggers and mythtellers are the ones who still have maps that seem to make sense. I notice that there is a part of me that would like not to be serious, that would like it to be secretly a bluff, a puffing of the ego, when I say that it feels like there’s a new responsibility landing on the ragtag of thinkers and tinkers and storytellers at the edges, one edge of which I have been part of over these last years. And for sure, this is only one map I’ve been sketching, others will have their own that may or may not overlap. But the way it looks from here tonight, the people who are meant to know how the world works are out of map, shown to be lost in a way that has not been seen in my lifetime, not in countries like these.

via https://medium.com/redrawing-the-maps/when-the-maps-run-out–8cc5f5f4f5e

Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve…

Octavia E. Butler, civilisation, intelligence, earthseed

“Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation. Civilization, like intelligence, may serve well, serve adequately, or fail to serve its adaptive function. When civilization fails to serve, it must disintegrate unless it is acted upon by unifying internal or external forces.”

Octavia E. Butler. Parable of the Sower

What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility…

“What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.”

Leonard Cohen

Media: End Reporting on Polls

Medium, data, reporting, politics, polls, civic engagement, data and society, danah boyd

We now know that the polls were wrong. Over the last few months, I’ve told numerous reporters and people in the media industry this, but I was generally ignored and dismissed. I wasn’t alone — two computer scientists whom I deeply respect — Jenn Wortman Vaughan and Hanna Wallach — were trying to get an op-ed on prediction and uncertainty into major newspapers, but were repeatedly told that the data was solid. It was not. And it will be increasingly problematic.

via https://points.datasociety.net/media-end-reporting-on-polls-c9b5df705b7f

Here’s one of the most stunning images from the Where We Power chapter of “Overview”. Automated cranes move on tracks at the…

dailyoverview:

Here’s one of the most stunning images from the Where We Power chapter of “Overview”. Automated cranes move on tracks at the Qinhuangdao Port coal terminal, the largest coal shipping facility in China. From here, approximately 210 million metric tons of coal are transported every year to power plants in the major cities of southern China. That yearly tonnage is roughly equal to the mass of 3.6 billion people.

See more of “Overview” here: http://amzn.to/2aND71C

A COP22 Guide to the Mysterious World of Shipping

Medium, shipping, COP22, climate change, environment

Shipping is by far the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to move commodities in bulk — moving one ton of cargo by sea emits four times less carbon dioxide than moving it by road, and 100 times less than by air. But that hardly means that the industry is green. If the shipping industry were a country, it would be the sixth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. So why was the shipping industry left out of the Paris Agreement? The simple answer is, it’s hard to pin emissions from shipping on any one country.

via https://psmag.com/a-cop22-guide-to-the-mysterious-world-of-shipping–21fb88c576e3

RIP Forecasting

Medium, forecasting, foresight, Germany, EU, Brexit, trump, 9/11, politics

German weekly Die Zeit did two scenario stories this year, in which they tried to paint pictures of — at that point — unlikely futures. The first one was Brexit; the other one was Trump. For both, reporters tried to talk to politicians, bureaucrats, policy experts, etc. in Germany and the European Union. Most wouldn’t speak to them, and a few only did off the record. They would say that they weren’t allowed to plan for these futures. That not only had no strategy but mostly not even possible scenarios. Our governments went rather unprepared into maybe the two biggest politically relevant events of this year.

via https://medium.com/@jkleske/rip-forecasting–71057d025588/p>

Entretien avec Scott Smith, Changeist

Medium, changeist, design fiction, design spéculatif, fr, futures, futurs

Un des rôles les plus intéressants du design fiction, du design spéculatif et de tous leurs corrélats, est d’aider à combler une faille significative dans la communication des futurs. Historiquement, à la place des scénarios concrets, on faisait un ensemble de recherches documentaires sur les tendances à venir, on rentrait dans une salle de conférence, on montrait sa présentation, on faisait un rapport et on le remettait aux personnes en charge de prendre les décisions. Pas besoin pour cela de les emmener dans le même monde ou le même état d’esprit que vous, afin de leur donner à voir ces futurs. Donc vous ne créez pas de connexion, d’empathie avec eux. Comme le disaient Bruce Sterling ou Julian Bleecker il y a sept ans : “le design fiction en tant qu’outil de communication permet de créer des interactions et d’engager des discussions sur le futur qui n’existaient pas auparavant. Il aide à rendre ces futurs assez réels pour tout un chacun, de manière à pouvoir engager avec eux une véritable conversation.”

via https://medium.com/design-friction/entretien-avec-scott-smith-changeist-db62f0890

“Means Well” Technology and the Internet of Good Intentions

Medium, ndkane, technology, design, scope

Means well technology seems to exist in isolation of how we normalize and understand objects, never quite understanding or using them how the designer wants us to, because we are humans with doubts and fears and cultural ‘stuff’ that often rubs up against the technology that is supposedly meant to help us.

via https://medium.com/thingclash/means-well-technology-and-the-internet-of-good-intentions–3726ad580c9e

Murat Pak: Designing the Mind of an Online Curator

Medium, bots, aesthetics, Archillect, design, fashion, art, technology, curation, AI, character

From the very beginning, since Archillect was made to find images by following a certain relational structure, I had to trust that Archillect would have a certain character in what she found and shared, which would create an almost personal profile. This is the reason I wanted to present Archillect as a person rather than a random bot. As people perceived Archillect as a character, a personality, they also contributed to the project through the ways they interacted with the project as a result of this perception. This was important to me.

via https://medium.com/@lintropy/murat-pak-designing-the-mind-of-an-online-curator–5785e373127d

Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of…

Haruki Murakami, boundaries, freedom, importance

“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary.”

Haruki Murakami

The Crap Futures Manifesto: A Preamble

crapfutures:

It has been almost a year since we started this modest venture, with the aim of casting a critical eye on corporate dreams and emerging technologies.

To mark the occasion, we’ve been issuing a series of design challenges on Twitter. We thought we might gather some of these challenges into a proper manifesto, a statement of principles. (Manifestos are back in vogue, thanks in no small part to the internet and the ridiculous state of the world.) But how to write a manifesto? Where do you begin?

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According to F. T. Marinetti, the leader of Italian Futurism and arguably the greatest manifesto writer of all time, the key ingredients of any manifesto are violence and precision. Manifestos must take no prisoners, they must be bold and direct like the advertisements they imitate. From ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’ in 1909 to the ‘Manifesto of Futurist Cuisine’ in 1930, Marinetti and his comrades wrote hundreds of manifestos across all subjects.

The problem with the Futurists was that they believed too much in the future. As Marinetti himself put it: ‘Contrary to established practice, we Futurists disregard the example and cautiousness of tradition so that, at all costs, we can invent something new, even though it may be judged by all as madness.’

This single-mindedness is what made the Futurists exciting, but it was also their greatest weakness. They lacked any sort of critical distance, to the point that they became cheerleaders not only for Suffragism (good) but also for war and Fascism (bad), as well as industrial waste, library closures, and other downsides of modernity. Their rivals in London, the Vorticists led by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound (who called on artists to ‘make it new’ - but not that new), mocked this reverent attitude to technology. They called it  ‘automobilism’, after the leading technology of the pre-war era:

AUTOMOBILISM (Marinetteism) bores us. We don’t want to go about making a hullo-bulloo about motor cars, any more than about knives and forks, elephants or gas-pipes.

Elephants are VERY BIG. Motor cars go quickly.

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Also wary of technology and progress were the Dadaists, led by another great manifesto writer, Tristan Tzara. Operating during the carnage of the First World War, Dada came out as ‘definitely against the future’, even calling for the ‘abolition of the future’. Tzara brought an ironic and self-critical gaze to the manifesto’s masculinist posturing, so that while the 1918 manifesto begins with a Marinettian definition:

To put out a manifesto you must want: ABC

to fulminate against 1, 2, 3

to fly into a rage and sharpen your wings to conquer and disseminate little abcs and big abcs, to sign, shout, swear, to organize prose into a form of absolute and irrefutable evidence

It proceeds to tear it all down:

I write a manifesto and I want nothing … and in principle I am against manifestos, as I am also against principles.

Because by 1918 all beliefs were suspect, spent. Everything was bled of meaning.

Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes lies the perfect manifesto: at once direct and assertive, critical and self-aware, not taking itself or the future too seriously while being, beneath it all, deadly serious.

That is basically what Crap Futures is aiming for: a manifesto to mark our first anniversary that is neither too dogmatic nor too ironic. God knows the world has enough of both.

So what do we stand for? Stay tuned to find out. As Valerie Solanas told reporters outside the 13th Precinct in New York on June 3, 1968 after she’d shot Andy Warhol: ‘ Read my manifesto and it will tell you what I am.

Images:

F. T. Marinetti; Marinetti’s automobile accident, 1908; Valerie Solanas being taken from court to jail, 1968.

The Universal Right to Capital Income

Yanis-Varoufakis, UBI, UBD, citizens-dividend, economics, labour, politics, capital

So how should society be compensated? Taxation is the wrong answer. Corporations pay taxes in exchange for services the state provides them, not for capital injections that must yield dividends. There is thus a strong case that the commons have a right to a share of the capital stock, and associated dividends, reflecting society’s investment in corporations’ capital. And, because it is impossible to calculate the size of state and social capital crystalized in any firm, we can decide how much of its capital stock the public should own only by means of a political mechanism. A simple policy would be to enact legislation requiring that a percentage of capital stock (shares) from every initial public offering (IPO) be channeled into a Commons Capital Depository, with the associated dividends funding a universal basic dividend (UBD). This UBD should, and can be, entirely independent of welfare payments, unemployment insurance, and so forth, thus ameliorating the concern that it would replace the welfare state, which embodies the concept of reciprocity between waged workers and the unemployed. Fear of machines that can liberate us from drudgery is a symptom of a timid and divided society. The Luddites are among the most misunderstood historical actors. Their vandalism of machinery was a protest not against automation, but against social arrangements that deprived them of life prospects in the face of technological innovation. Our societies must embrace the rise of the machines, but ensure that they contribute to shared prosperity by granting every citizen property rights over them, yielding a UBD.

via https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/basic-income-funded-by-capital-income-by-yanis-varoufakis–2016–10