Category: Technology for Better or Worse

Don’t Be Too Quick to Turn Your Phone Into Your Wallet

(But first, a correction about yesterdays post. My point was based on images of garbage. You had to click on the green highlighted word “mad”, which most people missed. I will make my links clearer in the future.)

I can’t remember what website I found this on, but it is good information. And maybe the consequences are something you hadn’t thought of.

“An anonymous reader quotes this opinion piece by former derivatives broker Brett Scott: Banks are closing ATMs and branches in an attempt to ‘nudge’ users towards digital services — and it’s all for their own benefit… I recently got a letter from my bank telling me that they are shutting down local branches because “customers are turning to digital”, and they are thus “responding to changing customer preferences”. I am one of the customers they are referring to, but I never asked them to shut down the branches… I am much more likely to “choose” a digital option if the banks deliberately make it harder for me to choose a non-digital option. In behavioral economics this is referred to as “nudging”. If a powerful institution wants to make people choose a certain thing, the best strategy is to make it difficult to choose the alternative…

“Digital systems may be “convenient”, but they often come with central points of failure. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring. The cash system allows for an unmonitored “off the grid” space. This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data.”

“A cashless society brings dangers. People without bank accounts will find themselves further marginalized, disenfranchised from the cash infrastructure that previously supported them. There are also poorly understood psychological implications about cash encouraging self-control while paying by card or a mobile phone can encourage spending. And a cashless society has major surveillance implications.
While a cashless society might make it cheaper to run a bank, “A cashless society is not in your interest…” argues the author.”

“We must recognize every cash machine that is shut down as another step in financial institutions’ campaign to nudge you into their digital enclosures.”

Cash is freedom. Cashless is another step in the direction of too much control over your life.

Generation Guinea Pig

There is a lot of controversy about the rollout of 5G. It is either “the stupidest idea in the history of the world” according to a biochem professor, or an awesome way to load web pages in a millisecond, or a Skynet killing machine right out of The Terminator. Who knows?

There is a story out of the Netherlands claiming an experiment with 5G apparently ended in the death of hundreds of birds. But then says that is false and they never lie.

It’s not like there has ever been anything that we were told was safe, and then things went horribly wrong. Except maybe the company who had several Nazi war criminals on staff when they created the wonder drug Thalidomide.

And Vioxx, Olestra, Agent Orange, Round Up, GMO food, etc., etc., etc., etc.

The Omit Then Deny strategy works perfectly. Don’t conduct certain tests, and then free yourself from evidence that would limit your market share.

Maybe. Maybe Not.

We’re all guinea pigs now. But who cares. The stock market goes up and apparently, that’s all that matters. Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

Last Sane Person Standing

Even though I’ve never seen a reality show (we got rid of cable TV over 10 years ago), I have an idea for a new one. It would be called Last Sane Person Standing.

The contestants would be assessed by how many meds they are on and how close they live to a psych hospital. Their talent would be conspiracy theory beliefs, and the judges would award points on how convincing and sincere they are.

Will the Spirit Cooking Dinner with Marina Abramovic take home the prize? Or David Icke and the Lizard People? Or maybe 911 Was An Inside Job will win.

The judges would have the power to determine, not only the contestant’s talent or lack thereof, but their sanity. The incoherence of calling the winner sane would be the ultimate power trip of insult and humiliation. And if you really think about it, that’s pretty much what they do.

Your Boss Wants a Machine to Replace You

The World Economic Forum holds an annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In a recent article by Kevin Roose, he says that in public, many executives were wringing their hands about the fate of workers due to the negative consequences of automation. But in private, they admitted they are quietly racing to replace workers. (Cue image of Grinch lying to Cindy Lou Who).

The U.N. decided last December in Marrakech that migration is now a human right. Trudeau signed on. So mass migration and declining jobs – that’s quite a recipe – for what I’m not quite sure, but I could guess.

Don’t worry, once the robots take over, we’ll have plenty of time to pursue endless leisure activities like reading books and visiting museums. Except we won’t have any money and we’ll be living in the street because we don’t have a job. Oh, but wait, robots don’t pay taxes so there won’t be any extra money for libraries or museums.

If you are in possession of a skill that cannot be exported overseas, done with an algorithm or downloaded, you might stand a chance of survival.

While most sectors will experience a slowdown, this will free up workers to focus on other tasks – like looking for a job or fleeing robots.

Not Just for Gamblers and Alcoholics

With the new and improved addiction capabilities, you too can join the hallowed halls of addicts.

“I feel tremendous guilt,” admitted Chamath Palihapitiya, former Vice President of User Growth at Facebook, to an audience of Stanford students. He was responding to a question about his involvement in exploiting consumer behavior. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he explained. In Palihapitiya’s talk, he highlighted something most of us know but few really appreciate: smartphones and the social media platforms they support are turning us into bona fide addicts. While it’s easy to dismiss this claim as hyperbole, platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible. Taking a closer look at the underlying science may give you pause the next time you feel your pocket buzz.”

While I wait for the information age to end, and since I have never used Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or any other tool of the distractosphere, I have decided to leave my brain to science. I expect it will be put on display in a museum, next to the dinosaur exhibit and the mummified Mennonite as a relic to be worshipped by Luddites.

If you are curious about what the Internet is doing to our brains, you might enjoy this.

Only Fools Trust in Pixels

There are so many ways to make things vanish in the online world: Digital money, unpopular opinions, a good reputation, books, a livelihood, alternative health info, your life in pictures, truth, etc.

There are just as many ways to add things like Deepfakes and propaganda.

In a recent article by Cade Metz and Craig Smith, “researchers demonstrated that by changing a small number of pixels in an image of a benign skin lesion, a diagnostic A.I. system could be tricked into identifying the lesion as malignant. Changing such diagnoses could benefit insurers and health care agencies. Once A.I. is deeply rooted in the American health care system, the researchers argue, business will gradually adopt behaviour that brings in the most money.”

Living in a digital gulag will be awesome!

Genius and Potholes

Like a chocolate cake baked in an oven on an uneven floor, genius tends to be lopsided.

Milestones of human greatness are all around us. Advances in science and medicine alone boggle the mind. So why, I ask, does pothole repair resemble a scene from Downton Abbey? Invariably there are two guys in leather aprons, and a pickup truck and a pile of lumpy black asphalt. At the speed of snails, one guy dumps a half full shovel of asphalt into the hole, saunters back to the truck for another partial shovel full, and then the other guy tamps it down in slow motion with a tool from the iron age.

You would think, that since we are approaching 2020, we should be seeing fast moving high tech machines dispensing a long lasting, instant drying, instant levelling, concoction of non-toxic goo to fix the roads.

Make those aliens at Roswell start earning their keep. We appreciate their efforts on the iPhone, velcro and post-it notes. Take a break from working with Elon, and fix the roads.

The technocrats are starting to scare me

We probably agree that the Dark Ages, Book Burning, The Inquisition, and all other attempts at ruthless, cultural conformity were not exactly pinnacles of human progress.

If this is true, it’s not good.

What Matters More: The right to express your opinions in a peaceful manner, including unpopular and offensive ideas, or a legal right to be free from hurt feelings. You can’t have both.

John Carpay

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