New Dark Age Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle

How the Information Age makes the world more incomprehensible

As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.

In reality, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by fundamentalism, simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. Meanwhile, those in power use our lack of understanding to further their own interests. Despite the apparent accessibility of information, we’re living in a new Dark Age.

From rogue financial systems to shopping algorithms, from artificial intelligence to state secrecy, we no longer understand how our world is governed or presented to us. The media is filled with unverifiable speculation, much of it generated by anonymous software, while companies dominate their employees through surveillance and the threat of automation.

In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff review – we are the pawns

 

The alarm beside your bed rings, triggered by an event in your calendar. The smart thermostat in your bedroom, sensing your motion, turns on the hot water and reports your movements to a central database.

Tech Giants offer the benefits of faster search results and turn-by-turn directions mask the deeper, destructive predations of what Shoshana Zuboff terms “surveillance capitalism”, a force that is as profoundly undemocratic as it is exploitative, yet remains poorly understood. As she details in her important new book, ignorance of its operation is one of the central strategies of this regime, and yet the tide is turning: more and more people express their unease about the surveillance economy and, disturbed by the fractious, alienated and trustless social sphere it generates, are seeking alternatives. It will be a long, slow and difficult process to extricate ourselves from the toxic products of both industrial and surveillance capitalism, but its cause is assisted by the weighty analysis provided by books such as this. Combining in-depth technical understanding and a broad, humanistic scope, Zuboff has written what may prove to be the first definitive account of the economic – and thus social and political – condition of our age.

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Social credit system coming to China, with citizens scored on behavior

“A social credit system will go into effect next year across China, where every citizen will be scored based on their behavior. Good actions, like volunteering, and bad, like littering, are tracked using algorithms, artificial intelligence and facial recognition — and there are real consequences for a high or low score.”

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Beyond 5G: Huawei’s Links To Xinjiang And China’s Surveillance State

There have been two separate stories doing the media rounds this week (Apr 25th 2019) relating to Chinese surveillance technology. First, the continual headlines around Huawei’s battle with Washington over the security of its 5G equipment, and the news that, despite U.S. requests and CIA intelligence, the U.K. government will allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei into its network.

And then reports into China’s relentless development of advanced surveillance technologies, which are controlling the population at home and are now being exported to countries around the world.

The stories may seem separate, but they are connected. With China’s surveillance state, everything is connected. The Xinjiang surveillance state laboratory, widely exported safe city technologies, widely exported critical networking equipment. It almost sounds like a national security strategy, doesn’t it? And Huawei is there throughout.

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The Google city that has angered Toronto

It was meant to be a vision of how we will all live in future – a smart city built from the internet up – offering citizens the chance to experience the very latest technology.

That would include autonomous cars, innovative ways to collect rubbish and shared spaces for communities to come together in new ways.

Sidewalk Labs, a sister company to Google, had earmarked disused land in Toronto, Canada for this bold urban experiment, which it hoped would become a model for other cities around the world.

The fact that it would be collecting a lot of data from sensors placed all around the harbourside development unsettled some.

Now many are asking whether a private firm should take charge of urban improvement at all.

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We don’t own data like we own a car – which is why we find data harder to protect

Legally data protection is complicated and our data is more like access to the commons and largely exists in a place we lease form a tech company. We own our data through copyright but it often seems more like we negotiate access rights not ownership rights.

This article takes a look at who owns our data…

“It’s known as the “privacy paradox”: people say they want to protect their data privacy online, but often do little to keep it safe. We propose that it’s because people find data difficult to own – and things we don’t own, we tend not to protect…

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