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“In ancient Rome, the word persona had two meanings: a mask, and a full citizen.
Computers know your habits and your friends.
You must govern automated decisions about your job, loans, your health, shopping…
Technological progress should bring greater safety, economic opportunity, and convenience to everyone. Plus the collection of new types of data is essential for documenting persistent inequality and discrimination.
At the same time, as new technologies allow companies and government to gain greater insight into our lives, it is vitally important that these technologies be designed and used in ways that respect the values of equal opportunity and equal justice:
Silicon Valley and Wall Street abuses:
Frank Pasquale’s Black Box Society takes a closer look at how your life is swept up and published.
“Here’s one paradox I’m trying to resolve: even as economic change seems to accelerate, existing hierarchies of power and wealth seem ever more ossified, stable, secure.
“I trace this problem to two, mutually reinforcing trends: the financialization of data, and the data-fication of finance.”
“Going too fast for myself I missed
more than I think I can remember
almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back
that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them
this morning the black shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying
Are you ready this time”
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
– Alexander Pope, “Ode on Solitude”
There are plenty of schemes that could federate or safely encrypt our data, plenty of ways we could regain privacy and make our computers work better by default. It isn’t happening now because we haven’t demanded that it should, not because no one is clever enough to make that happen.
“I sometimes think US politicians don’t know which way is up.”
you’ve known this since you were a kid
looming change is your blood
struggling in a shit pile to fix it
and now you’re tired
call it reverence if you must
it’s real exhaustion
relief and more relief
powerful youth could fix it
wouldn’t it be nice to do it over?
what happens isn’t the whole story
you’ve been waiting more than a heart can bear
nonsense month after month after month
hooked into a parade of chains
breathing isn’t what it used to be
you’re stuck with that
stop and you cripple yourself
wound with no weapon but freedom and weary
Ladies & Gentlemen, what are we allowing History to do to us?
Princeton study reports the majority, that’s you and me lost at sea, have a
“minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Perspectives on Politics! We are minuscule!
Lord Almighty, I am sad to my core.
…her flat just to the right of the lobby. Stoessinger arranged for a neighbor to accompany me. It was decided that I might make a better impression if I were introduced as a musician rather than a journalist, because Herz-Sommer can find journalists tiring. The tactic misfired somewhat. When I was introduced, she commanded, “Play something,” in her richly accented, Central European voice. I sat reluctantly at the upright and stumbled through the first theme of Schubert’s great B-Flat-Major Sonata. She stopped me and said, “Now tell me your real profession.” I confessed that I was a writer, whereupon she looked a bit sad. Nonetheless, we had a lively chat. I had the impression that she was no longer greatly interested in the past, but she was alert to the present, to comings and goings in her building, to news of recent performances. She spoke fondly of her son, the cellist Raphael Sommer, who died in 2001. But she does not spend her time grieving. In her conversations with Stoessinger, she paraphrased Spinoza: “Don’t stand there and cry. Understand.”
the precious human being so bombarded, it’s just the times and that’s all, awhile ago it was stooking wheat to nag you, now it’s penetrating broadcasters all over the place, well so what, it’s not so much of a big deal to get a grip, sourpuss isn’t based on much, anybody can be a sourpuss and say anything they want, following along with Universal NaySay, it’s harmful to the precious human being, honest care is required, pull away, don’t eat the garnish…
there’s true danger and crisis out there sometimes, we can be deeply grateful we live in pretty good regions, but there’s baloney danger out there which is vast sails of caustic opinions flying by, 99% nonsense and mood that’s so unnecessary to ingest, the precious human being, poor thing, we want to select away, walk away, see and think without abrasion, endless carney, points-of-view, phooey, 1000s of products per day built on flame and intrigue…
everything our poor human brain is wired to pay attention to, we are wary creatures, and in these modern times broadcasters fill us with high alert, breaking breaking, latest latest, it’s the old Extra Extra Read All About It…
frenzy of sales merchandizing all the way to kitchen table rabbles on the NaySay Channel, it’s about views, let’s count ’em on our domain report, phooey, these bits don’t say a word in a broadband of noise, they charge fees for the pipe, the TV pipe, the Phone pipe the Internet pipe, it’s a lot of money these days, per person, out of our pockets, well holy cow, it rains down, rains through the spectrum we own but we rent every month, explosion of our spectrum is fantastic, we’re blind to it, the flickering going by to suit our mood, our point of view, well, there we are again buying ourselves to please ourselves, precious human being, gripped in all that pipe dump, hits of anybody and their business plan,
on wonder awe curiosity learning, protect ourselves with civility and proof
[too many words, too sleepy to fix]
reticent tissue, that is the issue,
as time goes by, scratching vast mirrors,
the knitwork network
network to matrix and matrix to node, to coin a modern ode
the synthesis of reliable organisms from unreliable components
the relationship resource in the curiosity of breathing
ol’ english chorus, the metal of anarchy in the monolith of despots,
the analysts of share, incessant wet of relative deprivation,
competitive hostilities pummeling fulfillment
along the way from plankton to pulsar,
the executive HQ of the milieux
“We share our lives with the people we have failed to be.”
Adam Phillips: Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life
There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives):the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason–and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find the reason–they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a mourning, a tantrum, the lives we were unable to live. But what we missed and suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are. As we know more now than ever before about the kinds of lives it is possible to live–and affluence has allowed more people than ever before to think of their lives in terms of choices and options–we are haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do. Often in “The ways we miss our lives,” we are grieving or regretting or resenting our failure to be ourselves as we imagine we could be.
…the roads untraveled, what we missed, our human identity as a constant looking back upon the lives we have chosen not to live–or the lives that we have failed to live–or the lives that, much to our frustration, have always eluded us.
We are as much a measure of the selves we aren’t as the self we happen to be facing in the mirror today. What about the one we used to love, or the one we picture ourselves loving someday? What about the job we longed for and never got? Or the job we got, but it could be in ten years?
As photographer Jimmy Nelson reports, “The purity of humanity exists. It is there in the mountains, the ice fields, the jungle, along the rivers and in the valleys… the world must never forget the way things were.”
These are the lives we are.
“Robert Altemeyer, a psychology professor, outlined a series of dysfunctions linked to his extensive study of Right Wing Authoritarians, including being
more likely to make incorrect inferences,
more hostile towards feminists,
more fearful of a dangerous world;
more likely to inflame intergroup conflict,
avoid learning about their personal feelings;
less supportive of liberty and
“Scholars argue that these are the individuals who support oppressive dictatorships. In fact, dictators need such individuals to help them remove the rights of people seen as deviant. Individuals high in RWA are conceptualized as aggressive individuals submitting to tyrannical leaders as long as those leaders support conventional norms and punish society’s deviants.
Research on those with RWA generally asserts that religious and political conservatives have this vice. In fact, Altermeyer claimed that he searched for ‘left-wing authoritarians’ but was unable to find a single one.
Our rare and robust claim to make a treasure of ourselves.
Even my poverty.
To fly among the future with our heart intact.