The digital Maginot Line

The digital Maginot Line Pedro Albuquerque, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/fragolife/38044147486
There is a war happening. We are immersed in an evolving, ongoing conflict: an Information World War in which state actors, terrorists, and ideological extremists leverage the social infrastructure underpinning everyday life to sow discord and erode shared reality. The conflict is still being processed as a series of individual skirmishes – a colle...
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Jenny Odell: A business with no end

Jenny Odell: A business with no end
Recently, one of my students at Stanford told me a strange story. His parents, who live in Palo Alto, Calif., had been receiving mysterious packages at their house. The packages were all different shapes and sizes but each was addressed to "Returns Department, Valley Fountain LLC." I looked into it and found that a company called Valley Fountain LL...
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After dominating retail for adults, Amazon is now going after the teen market

After dominating retail for adults, Amazon is now going after the teen market justraveling.com
Not to be content with dominating the lives of most people in the Western world (at least), tax-avoiding aggressive retail-and-cloud behemoth Amazon is now going after teens, in a way which uses the age-old trick of pester power. A Twitter thread by Taylor Lorenz , a writer at  ​The Atlantic  explains more. There's now a dedicated Amazon ...
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We need to destroy the blurbing industrial complex

We need to destroy the blurbing industrial complex
In 1856, an obscure-ish writer, frustrated by the non-recognition of his newest self-published oeuvre, took matters into his own hands. He sent copies of his book of poems, unsolicited, to the literary luminaries of his day. One luminary, Ralph Waldo Emerson, replied with a polite thank-you note. "'I greet you at the beginning of a great career.' —...
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The infinite network: in conversation with Dr. Sarah Rawlins

The infinite network: in conversation with Dr. Sarah Rawlins My Friend Cayla, Hello Barbie, Fisher Price Smart Bear. Image c/o National Science and Media Museum
The speed at which Internet-connected devices have been introduced to the consumer market has vastly exceed that of society and policy. For every domestic advantage, there is seemingly a tradeoff in policy and security. For its new exhibition "Never Alone: What Happens When Everything is Connected?" , the National Science And Media Museum explores ...
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Web Curios 30/11/18

Web Curios 30/11/18
Have you all got over the excitement of the BIG COW (not in fact a cow)? Good, thank fcuk for that, let's focus on the things that  matter .  Or, more accurately, let's focus on a whole load of largely pointless links and words - I am LATE today, so this intro is going be even more phoned in than usual. Still, rest assured that everyone e...
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McDonald’s is a social and healthcare burden – whatever its charity PR might indicate

McDonald’s is a social and healthcare burden – whatever its charity PR might indicate McDonalds Botley, Oxford. Photo c/o Wikipedia
Stepping into a McDonald's in Dublin, the front window is covered with little yellow cut-outs of children's hands. Donation boxes are displayed prominently on the counter top when you order. By donating €1 with your Happy Meal order, McDonald's can transform you, body and soul, by putting tasty food in your child's belly and a warm glow in your hea...
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Helena Sarin: Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better With GANs And AI Art

Untitled2 Detail from Improvisation 30 (Cannons), Wassily Kandinsky, 1913
AI art using GANs (generative adversarial networks) is new enough that the art world does not understand it well enough to evaluate it. We saw this unfold last month when the French artists' collective Obvious stumbled into selling their very first AI artwork for $450K at Christie's. Many in the AI art community took issue with Christie's selecting...
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The new breed of artist exploring society's digital consciousness

The new breed of artist exploring society's digital consciousness "Low Form"
In 'Low Form' – the latest in a global swathe of exhibitions reflecting on the hype cycle of artificial intelligence – curator Bartolemeo Pietromarchi draws convincing affiliations between surrealism, computer simulation and new forms of algorithmic intelligence. Comprising works by 20 international artists, including many – such as Zach Blas, Ian ...
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JWT sees the future

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JWT‘s Intelligence unit has launched its annual trends report, The Future 100 . While much of it may be obvious to many of you, it‘s always good to see such predictions written down - something which we‘ll come back to in a few days‘ time, when we launch this year‘s Predictions Bucket. For 2019, highlights of The Future 100 include: Curators are bu...
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From gene editing to AI, how will technology transform humanity?

From gene editing to AI, how will technology transform humanity?
"A geneticist, an oncologist, a roboticist, a novelist and an A.I. researcher walk into a bar." That could be the setup for a very bad joke — or a tremendously fascinating conversation. Fortunately for us, it was the latter. On a blustery evening in late September, in a private room at a bar near Times Square, the magazine gathered five brilliant s...
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In Amazon Go, no-one thinks I'm stealing

In Amazon Go, no-one thinks I'm stealing
I was still in pigtails and barrettes when my mother told me the rules of shopping.  Don't touch anything. Don't put your hands in your pockets. When you get old enough to carry a purse, don't dig through it while you're in the store. Always get a receipt. Always get a bag. I thought she was overreacting. I just wanted to get a Berenstain Bear...
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Web Curios 23/11/18

Web Curios 23/11/18
Can we now officially call everyone who supports UKIP a racist, then? Is that OK? Good!  I can't be bothered to get angry about politics today, it seems (more) futile (than normal). I'm also in a hurry, so by way of preamble let me point out that it's getting very cold, that this country is in the grip of an appalling, embarrassing housing cri...
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Do you even bake, bro?

Do you even bake, bro?
Friend, have you heard the good news? Bread is back. After a 20-year period of privileged carb-fearing in America, our hunger for hearty artisan bread has returned in a way that we haven't experienced since the '90s. It's once again romantic — healthful even — to eat preservative-free, crusty, craggy bread, the bread we call "naturally fermented so...
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AI writes an ad, avoids car crash

AI writes an ad, avoids car crash
The Lexus ES, a rather angular looking beast from the company behind the Japanese Mercedes , is the subject of an ad written not by some talented louche scriptwriters in an agency, but by IBM's Watson artificial intelligence platform. The ad itself, from The&Partnership, is pretty decent. It features a Toyot--- er, a Lexus engineer wistful...
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The rise of the porn meme

The rise of the porn meme
​ When it comes to the internet, sex feels like it's everywhere – from porn sites to pop-up ads to men private messaging women on social media to send them unsolicited dick pics. But in the world of internet memes, however, sex has struggled to permeate the mainstream. While work lives, spending habits, and love of food have long been staples of th...
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Iceland Christmas ad: barred, but it will help 2018 go down as the year of ‘corporate caring’?

Screenshot-2018-11-20-at-12.42.52 Iceland / Greenpeace / Mother
A Christmas advertisement for the UK supermarket chain Iceland, which tells the story of a young girl who tries to help a baby orangutan whose home has been destroyed to create palm oil, will not be broadcast on television. The short animation, voiced by actress Emma Thompson, highlights the devastating impact that deforestation for palm oil planta...
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Hackers are stealing high-profile Instagram accounts

Hackers are stealing high-profile Instagram accounts
In early October, a publicist received an irresistible message via email. The publicist's client is a top "influencer"—someone who leverages a social-media following to exert influence and, usually, make money, often by selling sponsored posts. "We would be extremely interested in a business partnership," a man calling himself "Joshua Brooks" wrote...
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Everything on Amazon is Amazon

Everything on Amazon is Amazon
In 1618, an aspiring alchemist in Constantinople named Avedis created his first copper alloy cymbals. In 2018, a few hundred products from his brand, Zildjian, one of the oldest companies in the world, are eligible for Amazon Prime shipping, just like Hanes underwear or Xerox copiers or Bounty paper towels or Chanel perfume or an Eames chair or Col...
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May AI help you?

May AI help you?
Two years ago, Alison Darcy built a robot to help out the depressed. As a clinical research psychologist at Stanford University, she knew that one powerful way to help people suffering from depression or anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, or C.B.T. It's a form of treatment in which a therapist teaches patients simple techniques that help...
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