Under The Radar, Part 2

by Misha Lepetic "Machines…quell the revolt of specialized labor." ~ Marx In my previous post, I wrote about alternative ways of viewing the encroaching effects of automation on employment. I suggested that, instead of viewing it as a zero-sum game, with industry hell-bent on automating everyone's jobs out of existence, that it is rather a…

Under The Radar, Part 1

by Misha Lepetic "In economics, the majority is always wrong." ~ JK Galbraith One of the unfortunate gifts of the current, star-crossed administration is that there's something for everyone that will get their knickers in a twist. If immigration or climate change isn't your thing, just wait a few days, and some administration official will…

Mixed Metaphors

by Misha Lepetic There's a certain kind of conversation in which I find myself every so often, which can roughly be summarized as "What's the big deal about DJing"? As someone who was a quasi-professional DJ in a former life, and is currently what one friend terms a 'monastic DJ', I've sensed a substantial gap…

The Hit Aesthetic

by Misha Lepetic "Wonder was the grace of the country." ~ George W.S. Trow At a recent cocktail party, the conversation turned to conspiracy theorists and how to engage them. I offered a strategy that has served me fairly well in the past: I like to ask my interlocutor what information they would need to…

Indifference Engine

by Misha Lepetic “On the way from mythology to logistics… machinery disables men even as it nurtures them.”~ Adorno & Horkheimer A few years ago I heard the Seattle Symphony play Carnegie Hall here in New York. There were three pieces on the program. The first two – Claude Debussy's La Mer and John Luther…

No Can Go

by Misha Lepetic The Spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.~ Debord Now that Pokémon Go has had a few weeks to work its way through our collective psychosocial digestive tract, we can begin considering the effects of this latest, and by far most successful, manifestation…

Kind Of Like A Metaphor

by Misha Lepetic “I got my own pure little bangtail mind and the confines of its binding please me yet.”~ Neal Cassady, letter to Jack Kerouac One of the curious phenomena that computing in general, and artificial intelligence in particular, has emphasized is our inevitable commitment to metaphor as a way of understanding the world.…

The Penal Colony

by Misha Lepetic “Facts all come with points of view/ Facts don't do what I want them to.”~ Talking Heads What is it with Silicon Valley and the “disruption” of education? Is it just another sector of public life that is moribund and therefore in need of a serious intervention, as if it were ‘that…

Cui Bono

by Misha Lepetic “No sooner does man discover intelligence than he tries to involve it in his own stupidity.” ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau Over the course of my last few posts I have been groping towards some kind of meeting point between, on the one hand, the current wave of information technologies, as represented by…

Inconceivable!

by Misha Lepetic “People for them were just sand, the fertilizer of history.” ~ Chernobyl interviewee VM Ivanov For a few years, if you were on Twitter and you used the word “inconceivable” in a tweet, you would almost immediately receive an odd, unsolicited response. Hailing from the account of someone named @iaminigomontoya, it would…

Blob Justice, Part 2

by Misha Lepetic “For the people are all in all.” ~ Herodotus III.80. Last month I reviewed a small but representative selection of instances of Internet vigilantism. Whether we are talking about Cecil the Lion or Justine Sacco, the causes and the consequences may vary, but they share several characteristics, such as the speed with…

Blob Justice, Part 1

by Misha Lepetic “Dear Cecil! I have no secrets from you.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost Remember Cecil the Lion? It wasn't that long ago, but given the half-life of outrage on the Internet, I will forgive you a moment of head-scratching. Let me summarize that Cecil was lured from his protected home in…

You, Robot

by Misha Lepetic “We are at home with situations of legal ambiguity.And we create flexibility, in situations where it is required.”~Neuromancer Consider a few hastily conceived scenarios from the near future. An android charged with performing elder care must deal with an uncooperative patient. A driverless car carrying passengers must decide between suddenly stopping, and…