Science Fiction Is Not Social Reality


“The trouble with a kitten is that eventually it becomes a cat.” — Ogden Nash

Tech creators and tech billionaires are influenced by Science Fiction for different reasons. Some of these have to do with the narrative of the ‘hero outsider’ who uses their knowledge and skill to fix a problem through engineering a solution or through adapting tools and technology in new ways to solve some type of problem. Other reasons have to do with creating a Utopian society that is “bettered” through time-saving devices that are automated. The doors in Star Trek, the just-in-time data knowledge and data access in any number of films: BladerunnerStar WarsMinority Report, etc. and books all are delivered seamlessly in Science Fiction. When things do break, there is often an engineering solution. Even when Science Fiction turns against mankind, as it did in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the gadgets and gear are shown as sufficiently technologically inspiring, so much so that even though it was a warning film of sorts, that element becomes minimized in favor of recreating “cool technology.”

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S.A. Applin — Motherboard

Social media: A silent killer of innovation


FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

Psychology Today states, ‘Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger — if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.’

Hang back for no good reason? Isn’t that the same as ‘sticking to what you know’ or ‘playing it safe’?

Fear, and the fight-or-flight response have been around forever. However, if early humans missed out on information and, as a result, were rejected by their fellow tribes people, they would be alone. Properly alone and likely to die. It was then humans developed a paralysing fear of being disliked.

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Adam Slawson — Fluxx

Getting the Trump-Putin story right


President Trump And President Putin Hold A Joint Press Conference After Summit

The mystery.

But the core of the matter now is what leads a former director of the CIA not only to call the president of the United States “treasonous” and ‘imbecilic” but to say he “rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’” Whenever asked a straight question about his relationship to Putin and Putin’s cronies, Trump has ducked, scammed, and systematically obscured the findings of God knows how many professional investigators and investigative reporters. Is it not time that when faced with these facts, journalists stop asking fatuous questions? Should they not adopt, as a working hypothesis going in, the assumption that his lies and evasions are clear hints of what drives him?

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Todd Gitlin — Columbia Journalism Review.

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History is Written by the Losers


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Those who rule do not have the time to write about it. Occasionally history produces a Caesar or a Mao, men who can lead the masses to war on the one hand, while serving as prolific propogandists for their cause on the other. The greater part mankind is not so talented. Sima Guang would never have finished his history had he not been shunted out of Song court politics. Had Thucydides defeated Brasidas, he would be known today not as a historian, but as a military strategist, a strategist who never had the time to travel the world and collect the material needed to write his history. Even winning historians need time in defeat to write their histories—had Churchill’s party not been kicked out of power by British voters after the Second World War was over, Churchill’s famous account of that war would never have been written.

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The Scholar’s Stage

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Can we (please) have science without the scientific journals?


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Peer reviews. Can we have another model?

We could – I think we should – apply this model to scientific publishing. Publish first, and then let consumers decide what is good or important and what is not.

This would not mean the end of quality control or peer-reviewing – you can have all of that, indeed you can get more of it and in a more efficient way, if that happens after publication.

And this would allow us to get rid of a rent-seeking intermediary no-one needs anymore: the scientific journals themselves.

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Pascal Boyer — International Cognition & Culture Institute

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It is far from clear that requiring payments for data makes sense


Should we get paid for our data?

Herein lies the insight: to the extent that having consumers not be paid for their data is an indication that they value the use of their data by the network, by forcing the network to pay for that data, the consumer can be made worse off because they can no longer just give the data to the network. Thus, the whole analogy with slavery or the supply of pure labour breaks down because the consumer may want to encourage the network to make use of more of its data. Requiring the network to pay subverts that process.

In order for the notion of regulating payments for data makes sense, you have to believe that consumers do not gain utility by giving additional data to networks. Some (and perhaps many) consumers do give their data freely to networks now. Thus, it is entirely possible that they will be made worse off it networks are required to pay them for that data because those networks may structure themselves to no longer make use of the data rather than pay for it.

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Joshua Gans — Digitopoly

Did brands’ faith in artists die with Campari’s posters?


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The historic body of work built by Campari across 70 years lost gusto with the arrival of television. Finding itself surrounded by more competitors than before the liqueur largely replaced poster design with cutting edge mediums of TV and photography, and lost its taste for all that was artistically new. Directors replaced artists, but brand directors replaced visionaries. Its east London pop-up Negroni bar of 2016 arguably cemented its place in the league of contrived. And now Cremonicini believes Campari to simply be “very much a brand”.

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Katie Deighton — The Drum

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