On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs

graeber, capital, work, bullshit jobs, cabinet makers frying fish, prodcutivity, capitalism, power

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.

http://www.strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/

Frontiers, Fringe and Farmification

Lisa Ma, futurism, design, protoyping, speculative design, futures

Speculative design generates proposals that, rather than problem solving for our current state, which is much of the focus of traditional design, look to digest the large, complex and ambiguous issues related to our futures. It uses rigorous research to first understand and then rewire different information, experts and emerging technologies to turn these complexities into understandable narratives that allow a kind of design for debate. The outcomes intentionally trigger a user to go beyond traditional need, solution, and consumption, and to question, consider, and speculate. In this way changes and findings that would normally seem irrelevant or overwhelming are teased out into scenarios, objects and services. This is achieved by breaking down unfathomable issues and making them more emotionally approachable. The results are ‘cultural prototypes’ in a way.

http://www.digital-development-debates.org/issues/11-youth/education-employment/frontiers-fringe-and-farmification/

The End Of The World Isn’t As Likely As Humans Fighting Back

EOTWAWKI, futurism, foresight, scenarios, apocalypse, dystopia

Dystopias make for boring futurism. While it’s certainly true that one can tell a compelling dramatic story about the end of the world, as a mechanism of foresight, apocaphilia is trite at best, counter-productive at worst. Yet world-ending scenarios are easy to find, especially coming from advocates for various social-economic-global changes. As one of those advocates, I’m well aware of the need to avoid taking the easy route of wearing a figurative sign reading The End Is Nigh. We want people to take the risks we describe seriously, so there is an understandable temptation to stretch a challenging forecast to its horrific extremes–but ultimately, it’s a bad idea.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682109/the-end-of-the-world-isnt-as-likely-as-humans-fighting-back

Secret NSA Documents Show How the US Spies on Europe and the UN

UN, NSA, US, surveillance, EU

The classified documents, which SPIEGEL has seen, demonstrate how systematically the Americans target other countries and institutions like the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the UN. They show how the NSA infiltrated the Europeans’ internal computer network between New York and Washington, used US embassies abroad to intercept communications and eavesdropped on video conferences of UN diplomats. The surveillance is intensive and well-organized – and it has little or nothing to do with counter-terrorism.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/secret-nsa-documents-show-how-the-us-spies-on-europe-and-the-un-a–918625.html

Defeated

TSA, terrorism, authortarianism, opt-out, convenience

This is how we lose our rights. Not overnight in one fell swoop, but gradually, after getting worn down again and again, and after hundreds of mini-panic-attacks, and with ever-ratcheting procedural changes that effectively invalidate the assurances and safeguards that we’re given. I give up. The terrorists have won. I’m sad and I’m angry, but the perpetual wearing-down works. I won’t be opting out again.

http://orenhazi.com/defeated.html

Giant Robotic Mining Trucks Love the Australian Desert

automation, robots, mining, pilbara, australia

In the dusty red earth of Western Australia, robot trucks haul iron ore. The trucks themselves weigh about 500 tons when loaded — they are truly massive. They operate more or less on their own, navigating mining roads connecting the sprawling Pilbara iron mines with a guidance system provided by global positioning satellites, radars and lasers. It’s part of $13 billion mining operation by Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining firms.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/bed4b2b5a70a

Justice in a “Nation of Laws”: The Manning verdict

al jazeera, manning, freedom, security, espionage, terrorism, corruption, justice, corporatism

When Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was thirteen, the US government announced it had launched “Operation Infinite Justice”. Operation Infinite Justice sought to punish the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks, destroy Al Qaeda, and end the reign of the Taliban. Operation Infinite Justice was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom” after protests from Islamic scholars, who argued that God, not the US government, was the arbiter of justice. But freedom, it seemed, was something the United States could give and take away. When Manning was fourteen, the Bush administration announced that detainees in Guantanamo did not deserve protection under the Geneva conventions and that torture was justified. When Manning was fifteen, the US invaded Iraq in response to fabricated reports that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. When Manning was sixteen, US soldiers tortured and sodomised prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. When Manning was seventeen, a movement emerged to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes. Nothing really came of it. When Manning was nineteen, she joined the army.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/08/2013823123822366392.html

Concluding Unscientific Posthuman to the Singularitarian Fragments – an Agalmic-Pathetic-Dialectic; a Mimic-Extropic Discourse

stross, review, digression, accelerando, singularity, sci fi, crooked timber

In honor of Manfred Mancx, Charles Stross’ venture altruist/seagull/submissive/catspaw/posthuman protagonist in Accelerando – who tries to patent six impossible things before breakfast, or something like that – here are a couple of possibilities to start things out.

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/01/27/concluding-unscientific-posthuman-to-the-singularitarian-fragments-an-agalmic-pathetic-dialectic-a-mimic-extropic-discourse/

The Kalman Filter

kalman filter, notes, estimation

The Kalman Filter provides an efficient recursive estimator for the unobserved state of a linear discrete time dynamical system in the presence of measurement error. Kalman (1960) first introduced the method in the Engineering literature, but it can be understood in the context of Bayesian inference.

http://jblevins.org/notes/kalman

Unfathomable Vs Contextual Knowhow

firstmileeconomics:

This photo perfectly illustrates for me how Abstractable knowhow of the 20th century is designed to be detachable from its situation and how Contextual knowhow operates with a fundamentally different logic, economy and effectiveness -  born from embedded intelligence, agency and action. 

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Since procrastination is a message from our natural willpower via low motivation, the cure is changing the environment, or one’s…

“Since procrastination is a message from our natural willpower via low motivation, the cure is changing the environment, or one’s profession, by selecting one in which one does not have to fight one’s impulses. Few can grasp the logical consequence that, instead, one should lead a life in which procrastination is good, as a naturalistic-risk-based form of decision making….Using my ecological reasoning, someone who procrastinates is not irrational; it is his environment that is irrational. And the psychologist or economist calling him irrational is the one who is beyond irrational.”

Antifragile" Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia

R.U.Sirius, cypherpunks, happy mutants, Mondo 2000, 1990s, cryptoanarchy

At the time, Jude and I were contracted to write a novel titled How to Mutate and Take Over the World. I wanted the fiction to contain the truth. I wanted to tell people how creative hackers could do it — mutate and take over the world — by the end of the decade. Not knowing many of those details ourselves, we threw down a challenge on various hacker boards and in the places where extropians gathered to share their superhuman fantasies. “Take on a character,” we said, “and let that character mutate and/or take over.” The results were vague and unsatisfying. These early transhumanists didn’t actually know how to mutate, and the hackers couldn’t actually take over the world. It seemed that we were asking for too much too soon.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/7/4036040/cypherpunks-julian-assange-wikileaks-encryption-surveillance-dystopia

We come from the future

Le Monde, Sci Fi, Africa, afrofuturism, crisis, future

To paraphrase the Senegalese philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne: on a continent where attempts to improve humanity’s lot are in crisis, meaning comes from the future. A group of young African artists, black and white grandchildren of the independence generation, have started a cultural revolution by moving into science fiction, until recently the preserve of western imaginations. The “invisible men” of the 3D Fiction collective, linked online and through pan-African magazines, are exploring “the possibilities of shared writing on the future”, and say “the future described in a [sci-fi] story engenders a new present, which challenges our own”

http://mondediplo.com/2013/06/13scifi

The problem with algorithms: magnifying misbehaviour

algorithm, automation, amplification, prejudice, medicine

For one British university, what began as a time-saving exercise ended in disgrace when a computer model set up to streamline its admissions process exposed - and then exacerbated - gender and racial discrimination. As detailed here in the British Medical Journal, staff at St George’s Hospital Medical School decided to write an algorithm that would automate the first round of its admissions process. The formulae used historical patterns in the characteristics of candidates whose applications were traditionally rejected to filter out new candidates whose profiles matched those of the least successful applicants. By 1979 the list of candidates selected by the algorithms was a 90-95% match for those chosen by the selection panel, and in 1982 it was decided that the whole initial stage of the admissions process would be handled by the model. Candidates were assigned a score without their applications having passed a single human pair of eyes, and this score was used to determine whether or not they would be interviewed. Quite aside from the obvious concerns that a student would have upon finding out a computer was rejecting their application, a more disturbing discovery was made. The admissions data that was used to define the model’s outputs showed bias against females and people with non-European-looking names.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/aug/14/problem-with-algorithms-magnifying-misbehaviour

John Hagel: Getting Stronger through Stress

Taleb, Hagel, Black Swan, Antifragility, system thinking, design, adaptive systems

In thinking about system design, it’s important to avoid the temptation to develop detailed top down blueprints for systems. Taleb observes that “if about everything top-down fragilizes and blocks antifragility and growth, everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder.” Nevertheless, there are certain design principles that emerge from Taleb’s work that can help reduce the fragility of the systems we design.

http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2013/04/getting-stronger-through-stress-making-black-swans-work-for-you.html

As Weaver correctly remarked: the word information relates not so much to what you do say, as to what you could say. The…

“As Weaver correctly remarked: the word information relates not so much to what you do say, as to what you could say. The mathematical theory of communication deals with the carriers of information, symbols and signals, not with information itself. That is, information is the measure of your freedom of choice when you select a message.”

Floridi, Luciano.Information: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. (viacarvalhais)

Against Transparency

transparency, Lessig, politics, context, complexity

How could anyone be against transparency? Its virtues and its utilities seem so crushingly obvious. But I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse. And I fear that the inevitable success of this movement–if pursued alone, without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness–will inspire not reform, but disgust. The “naked transparency movement,” as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency

The Power of the Gini Index

Gini, Gini Coefficient, statistics, inequality, sociometrics, fascism, history

The Gini Coefficient, which can measure inequality in any set of numbers, has been in use for a century, but until recently it rarely left the halls of academia. Its one-number simplicity endeared it to political scientists and economists; its usual subject—economic inequality—made it popular with sociologists and policy makers. The Gini Coefficient has been the sort of workhorse metric that college freshmen learn about in survey courses and some PhD statisticians devote a lifetime to. It’s been so useful, so adaptable, that its strange history has survived only as a footnote: the coefficient was developed in 1912 by Corrado Gini, an Italian sociologist and statistician—who also wrote a paper called “The Scientific Basis of Fascism.”

http://www.psmag.com/magazines/january-february–2013/gini-coefficient-index-poverty-wealth-income-equality–51413/

Mass Black Implosion

notationnotes:

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Mass Black Implosion

a series of drawings by Marco Fusinato, with scores from Xenakis, Ferrari, Cage, Cromb, Cardew, Feldman, Kagel… etc.

Ethics and Power in the Long War

ethics, power, surveillance, Eleanor Saitta, Dymaxion, hackers, security, intelligence, centralisat

So, hacker culture is kind of at a crossroads. For a long time it was totally cool that, you know what, I don’t really want to be political, because I just like to reverse code and it’s a lot of fun, and I don’t really have time for politics cause I spend thirteen hours a day looking at Shell code and socialism takes too long. That was great for a while, but we don’t get to be apolitical anymore. Because If you’re doing security work, if you’re doing development work and you are apolitical, then you are aiding the existing centralizing structure. If you’re doing security work and you are apolitical, you are almost certainly working for an organization that exists in a great part to prop up existing companies and existing power structures. Who here has worked for a a security consultancy? Not that many people, ok. I don’t know anybody who has worked for a security consultancy where that consultancy has not done work for someone in the defense industry. There are probably a few, and I guarantee you that those consultancies that have done no work that is defense industry related, have taken an active political position, that we will not touch anything that is remotely fishy. If you’re apolitical, you’re aiding the enemy.

https://noisysquare.com/ethics-and-power-in-the-long-war-eleanor-saitta-dymaxion/

The story of Yugoslavia’s DIY computer revolution (Računari u vašoj kući)

computing, DIY, Yugoslavia, Galaksija, 1980s, radio, home computing, Računari u vašoj kući

In Yugoslavia in the 1980s, computers were a rare luxury. A ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 could easily cost a month’s salary, and that’s if you could even get through the tough importation laws. Then in 1983, while on holiday in Risan, Voja Antonić dreamt up plans for a new computer, a people’s machine that could be built at home for a fraction of the cost of foreign imports. The Galaksija was born, and with it a computer revolution.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013–07–30-the-story-of-yugoslavias-diy-computer-revolution

Local Anti-Drone Activism Begins: ‘If They Fly in Town, We Will Shoot Them Down’

theatlantic:

Local Anti-Drone Activism Begins: ‘If They Fly in Town, We Will Shoot Them Down’

Charles Krauthammer once predicted that the first American to shoot down a domestic drone would be a folk hero. Phillip Steele, a resident of Deer Trail, Colorado, wants to enable that hero. As the FAA loosens regulations on domestic drone use, Steele has submitted an ordinance to his town’s board of trustees that would create America’s most unusual hunting license: It would permit hunting drones and confer a bounty for every one brought down. Only 12-gauge shotguns could be used as weapons, so the drones would have a sporting chance.

Wouldn’t the hunters be breaking federal law?

Of course. I wouldn’t be surprised if the feds are already watching Steele as a result of his rabble-rousing. But he isn’t dumb. “This is a very symbolic ordinance,“ he told a local TV station. “Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way …. It’s asserting our right and drawing a line in the sand.” Actually, it’s more like drawing a line in the clouds. But you get the idea.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

9 Basic Principles of Biomimicry

fuckyeahpermaculture:

9 Basic Principles of Biomimicry

  1. Nature runs on sunlight.
  2. Nature uses only the energy it needs.
  3. Nature fits form to function.
  4. Nature recycles everything.
  5. Nature rewards cooperation.
  6. Nature banks on diversity.
  7. Nature demands local expertise.
  8. Nature curbs excesses from within.
  9. Nature taps the power of limits. 

Hillbilly Tracking of Low Earth Orbit Satellites

satellite, communication, networks, tracking, DIY, Travis Goodspeed

In this article, I’ll demonstrate a method for modifying a naval telecommunications dish to track moving targets in the sky, such as those in Low Earth Orbit. My dish happily sits in Tennessee, while I direct it using my laptop or cellphone here in Europe. It can also run unattended, tracking moving targets and looking for downlink channels.

http://travisgoodspeed.blogspot.be/2013/07/hillbilly-tracking-of-low-earth-orbit.html

Neuroscience: Idle minds

nature, neuroscience, resting state, doing nothing, unconscious, mind

Resting-state activity is important, if the amount of energy devoted to it is any indication. Blood flow to the brain during rest is typically just 5–10% lower than during task-based experiments1. And studying the brain at rest should help to show how the active brain works. Research on resting-state networks is helping to map the brain’s intrinsic connections by showing, for example, which areas of the brain prefer to talk to which other areas, and how those patterns might differ in disease.

http://www.nature.com/news/neuroscience-idle-minds–1.11440

Chinese Cuisine Patterns Revealed By Food Network Analysis

food, cuisine, regionality, locality, flavour, open sauces

Regional cuisines often differ substantially in their cooking methods, their food preparation and above all their ingredients. But they can also be closely related. So here’s an interesting question: what factors determine the links between regional cuisines?

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517401/food-network-analysis-reveals-patterns-behind-chinese-regional-cuisines/

Geography and similarity of regional cuisines in China

food, china, cuisine, food network, data analysis

Food occupies a central position in every culture and it is therefore of great interest to understand the evolution of food culture. The advent of the World Wide Web and online recipe repositories has begun to provide unprecedented opportunities for data-driven, quantitative study of food culture. Here we harness an online database documenting recipes from various Chinese regional cuisines and investigate the similarity of regional cuisines in terms of geography and climate. We found that the geographical proximity, rather than climate proximity is a crucial factor that determines the similarity of regional cuisines. We develop a model of regional cuisine evolution that provides helpful clues to understand the evolution of cuisines and cultures.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.3185

Flavor network and the principles of food pairing

network analysis, food pairing, flavour pairing, food, cuisine, open sauces, research

The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.6074

The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements

heath, food, supliments, Linus Pauling, vitamins, cancer, flu, science

Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements. What few people realize, however, is that their fascination with vitamins can be traced back to one man. A man who was so spectacularly right that he won two Nobel Prizes and so spectacularly wrong that he was arguably the world’s greatest quack.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/07/the-vitamin-myth-why-we-think-we-need-supplements/277947/

On the Empire of the Ants

ants, communication, language, science

Science is an exercise in curiosity about nature. It is a process. It sometimes involves complex and costly apparatus, or the resources of giant institutes. Sometimes it involves looking at ants in an ant farm, and knowing some clever math. Many people are gobsmacked by the technological gizmos used to do science. They think the giant S&M dungeons of tokomaks and synchro-cyclotrons are science. Those aren’t science; they’re tools. The end product; the insights into nature -that is what is important. Professors Ryabko and Reznikova did something a kid could understand the implications of, but no kid could actually do. The fact that they did it at all indicates they have the child-like curiosity and love for nature that is the true spirit of scientific enquiry.

https://scottlocklin.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/on-the-empire-of-the-ants/