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The Spawn of Frankenstein: Fear of the Unknown

It’s not the strange­ness of new tech­nolo­gies that fright­ens us but the way tech­nol­o­gy threat­ens to make us strangers to our­selves. In a semi-Freudian spir­it, then, I’d like to pro­pose that where Frankenstein and its spawn are con­cerned, our fear of the unknown may real­ly be about our dis­com­fort with knowing. 

The Spawn of Frankenstein: Playing God

In Shelley’s vision, Frankenstein was the mod­ern Prometheus. The hip, up to date, learned, vital god who chose to cre­ate human life and paid the dire con­se­quences. To Shelley, gods cre­ate and for humans to do that is bad. Bad for oth­ers but espe­cial­ly bad for one’s creator. 

Sleepwalking into Surveillant Capitalism, Sliding into Authoritarianism

We have increas­ing­ly smart, sur­veil­lant per­sua­sion archi­tec­tures. Architectures aimed at per­suad­ing us to do some­thing. At the moment it’s click­ing on an ad. And that seems like a waste. We’re just click­ing on an ad. You know. It’s kind of a waste of our ener­gy. But increas­ing­ly it is going to be per­suad­ing us to sup­port some­thing, to think of some­thing, to imag­ine something.

The Things of the Internet
Reflections on Object Culture and Internet Culture

The Internet meme frame­work is a use­ful way to under­stand a cer­tain range of object pro­duc­tion, a cer­tain sort of infor­mal pro­duc­tion that com­bines net­worked modes of pro­duc­tion sim­i­lar to shanzhai or the hat print­ing, with the glob­al reach of the Internet and glob­al ship­ping ser­vices as well. The abil­i­ty to move bits and atoms with just as much ease and efficiency.

How to Overthrow a Government

I don’t want to live in a world where ISIS is scari­er than hack­ers, espe­cial­ly in 2016. We pre­vi­ous­ly held the title in 2013, ’14, and ’15. And to be hon­est I was a lit­tle bit dis­ap­point­ed when I saw this result. So I thought I’m in my 40s now, there’s a lot of young hack­ers in the audi­ence, and I’m not going to pass the baton to you guys unless we have that num­ber one spot back in our pile.

Building Your Own Personal Truth

I think we are grop­ing towards this idea of truth. And even the word truth can be defined in mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent ways. So we are by its very nature deal­ing with a very slip­pery topic.

Is Digital Culture Responsible for Post-Truth Politics?

I’m going to argue today that even while we know post-truth pol­i­tics is hav­ing a ter­ri­ble effect on our polit­i­cal cul­ture and our role as cit­i­zens, it’s curi­ous­ly dif­fi­cult to com­bat it because of a set of beliefs about what pol­i­tics is, and about the Internet and the way it enables ordi­nary peo­ple to have a voice. And these beliefs inter­sect with a pre­vail­ing anti-intellectual anti-elitism which asso­ciates knowl­edge, dis­cern­ment, and truth with snob­bery and power.

Steven Pinker on Genetically Re-engineering Human Nature

There are many changes to our insti­tu­tions and our norms and our ideas that can reduce or elim­i­nate the risks of nuclear war with­out what I con­sid­er a rather quixot­ic attempt to change the course of human evolution.

Sean Wilentz on Donald Trump and the Crisis in American Democracy

I don’t think we’ve had any­body quite like Donald Trump before, in terms of the pol­i­tics of celebri­ty, which is what I think he’s real­ly about. It’s not sim­ply that he’s rich. We’ve had rich peo­ple in pol­i­tics before. He’s not sim­ply a busi­ness­man. We’ve had busi­ness­men in pol­i­tics before.

Three Advices for Clinton

I think the inter­est­ing and most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge for Mrs. Clinton if she becomes President is how to bring America together.

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