I used to write for "Sports Illustrated". Now I deliver packages for Amazon

I used to write for "Sports Illustrated". Now I deliver packages for Amazon Prakash Maru
Holiday parties were right around the corner, and I needed a cover story. I didn't feel like admitting to casual acquaintances, or even to some good friends, that I drive a van for Amazon. I decided to tell them, if asked, that I consult for Amazon, which is loosely true: I spend my days consulting a Rabbit, the handheld Android device loaded with ...
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How much of the Internet is fake? Turns out, a lot of it, actually

How much of the Internet is fake? Turns out, a lot of it, actually
In late November, the Justice Department unsealed indictments against eight people accused of fleecing advertisers of $36 million in two of the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered. Digital advertisers tend to want two things: people to look at their ads and "premium" websites — i.e., established and legitimate publications — on which...
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James Bridle: How can we break the Brexit deadlock? Ask ancient Athens

James Bridle: How can we break the Brexit deadlock? Ask ancient Athens
In the central marketplace of ancient Athens, around 350BC, there stood a machine called the kleroterion. This was a six-foot-high slab of stone that had a series of slots on the front, and a long tube bored down from the top to the base. Those up for selection for the various offices of state would insert metal ID tags, called pinakia, into the sl...
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Ray Kurzweil's predictions for 2019: how accurate will they be?

Ray Kurzweil's predictions for 2019: how accurate will they be? JD Lasica, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/271056457
In 1999’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil predicted technological achievements which would be commonly available within first-world societies every ten years. Kurzweil’s predictions go up to 2099, so as it’s coming up to a year with a 9 at the end, now is time to revisit his predictions for 2019, and to see where we are with them a...
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Machine politics: The rise of the internet and a new age of authoritarianism

Machine politics: The rise of the internet and a new age of authoritarianism
"The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip," Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London's historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of "a new era in human history," one that would bring...
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The end of the ad-supported web

The end of the ad-supported web Aus, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/auz/4511786504
For the last 20 years, every consumer-oriented application, service or content platform used "ads" as its default business model. Like always, the road to hell has been paved with good intentions: we assumed that the mostly innocuous billboards could be transposed to the web… but these banner ads quickly became endless trojan horses into our privac...
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What AIs teach us about organisational culture

What AIs teach us about organisational culture
One of the fascinating features of artificial intelligence is how much it tells us about ourselves, but it is the way we train AIs in rules-based systems that can teach us the most about organisational culture. Victoria Krakovna, a research scientist at DeepMind has put together a master list of AI "specification gaming" examples — AI training expe...
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Memes are taking the alt-right’s message of hate mainstream

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Think of an internet meme and you'll probably smile. The most memorable viral images are usually funny, from Distracted Boyfriend to classics like Grumpy Cat. But some memes have a much more sinister meaning. They might look as innocuous as a frog, but are in fact symbols of hate. And as memes have become more political, these hateful examples have...
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Web Curios 14/12/18

Web Curios 14/12/18
 YOU HAVE TO LAUGH, DON'T YOU, EH? EH??? You know what? Fcuk it, neither you nor I want to read anything about the news or the state of the world right now. It's almost Christmas, and I am  tired . I imagine you are too.  This is the last Web Curios of 2018 - in a rare moment of genuine sincerity, I'd like to say thanks to everyone w...
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Lucie Greene: things to come

Lucie Greene: things to come
JWT's Future 100 report, released late in November, gave a comprehensive insight into the trends of the near-future. While some may be easily understandable - a widespread social media backlash and the rise of the meat-free diet, for example - others are perhaps more left-field, such as lichen becoming one of the in-vogue foods of the next year. Un...
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Mark Fisher's K-Punk and the futures that have never arrived

Mark Fisher's K-Punk and the futures that have never arrived
Mark Fisher was a writer and academic from the English Midlands who, in the early two-thousands, felt at odds with many of the institutions around him. Fisher, then in his mid-thirties, had devoted himself to theories of capitalism and Internet culture that few people in his immediate vicinity appeared to care about. He was zealous about obscure mu...
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Your apps know where you were last night, and they're not keeping it secret

Your apps know where you were last night, and they're not keeping it secret
The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user. One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and ret...
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DCMS publishes a guide to personal data mobility

DCMS publishes a guide to personal data mobility
The UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has worked with innovation agency Ctrl-Shift to produce a new report entitled Data Mobility:  The personal data  portability growth  opportunity for the  UK economy. It promises that the management of personal data presents "significant growth opportunities with economic ...
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Google exacerbates the Internet's sexism: How the tech giant's revenue model leads to an unequal Internet

Google exacerbates the Internet's sexism: How the tech giant's revenue model leads to an unequal Internet
Compare the image search results for "boy crawling" and "girl crawling." In the first you see cute babies, in the second you see scantily-clad women in seductive poses. Similarly, compare "boy at work" with "girl at work" or "schoolboy" with "school girl." Reseachers at MIT have discovered that this is, in part, because of a  " hidde...
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Anatomy of an AI system

Anatomy of an AI system
A cylinder sits in a room. It is impassive, smooth, simple and small. It stands 14.8cm high, with a single blue-green circular light that traces around its upper rim. It is silently attending. A woman walks into the room, carrying a sleeping child in her arms, and she addresses the cylinder. 'Alexa, turn on the hall lights' The cylinder springs int...
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Web Curios 07/12/18

Web Curios 07/12/18
Is it all going to be over on Tuesday night? Is it? CAN WE FINALLY STOP TALKING ABOUT THE FCUKING B WORD ON TUESDAY NIGHT??? 'No' is the short answer, but let's pretend we didn't hear it and instead envisage a glorious future where I open next week's final Curios of 2018 with some sort of heartwarming and genuinely optimistic shortform essay about ...
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Make America Geocities again

Make America Geocities again
It's 2018 and the web feels…sanitized. It's an odd word to use amidst the rampant trolling and politics and problematic speech. But when you look at the systems we use to communicate with each other, we all assemble into the neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs that have been assembled for us, we write on our writing platforms and share on our sharing pla...
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The Predictions Bucket for 2019

The Predictions Bucket for 2019
Continuing our annual tradition since our inception way back in 2010 (I know, right?), the Predictions Bucket comes back for another year. What we do is this: collect as many "Predictions for 2019" articles as possible, strip them down into themes, then cross-refer themes against their authors. The idea is that the more people/organisations ma...
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Are we human, or are we dancer? The legacy of “Dance Dance Revolution”, 20 years later

Are we human, or are we dancer? The legacy of “Dance Dance Revolution”, 20 years later Dance Dance Revolution, Sony PlayStation 2
The revolution started with a whimper. In the fall of 1998, a roughly 900-pound contraption with blinking lights, blaring music, and a raised platform that housed two "dance floors" was wheeled into a Japanese arcade, then lifted onto another raised platform. Four steps above the arcade floor, the first Dance Dance Revolution machine ever buil...
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AI thinks like a corporation - and that’s worrying

AI thinks like a corporation - and that’s worrying
  Artificial intelligence is everywhere but it is considered in a wholly ahistorical way. To understand the impact AI will have on our lives, it is vital to appreciate the context in which the field was established. After all, statistics and state control have evolved hand in hand for hundreds of years. Consider computing. Its origins have bee...
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