My weekly collection of the provocative, intriguing, or curious, in a world where the house is falling down. The contextual, the cultural, and other things that catch my eye.
- Rock climbing tells us a lot about productivity gains. We over-estimate the effect of technology, and under-estimate the effect of spreading knowledge. Related: Richard Jones responds that maybe technology does matter. (Thanks to Joe Ballantyne for first link and note)
- You can support Extinction Rebellion but worry about its strategy. XR might hold itself back because it has a flawed theory of change based on a misreading of earlier, non-white, non-violent protests. Long but worthwhile.
- A British future of flood and drought. A new novel is a watery dystopia. Related: Why storytellers are focusing on climate change.
- ‘Omniviolence’ isn’t a useful word. It’s about asymmetric warfare using digital tools and biotechnologies. It poses a challenge to the whole idea of the state. (Thanks to Ian Christie).
- Images made by machines for other machines. Artist Trevor Paglen inserts a human eye into the world of images that train AIs.
- Welcome to vaportecture. Idealised images of future buildings: an artform that “combines architecture, marketing, futurism, and a whimsical-bordering-on-psychedelic approach to portraying a fever dream for public consumption.”
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“The whole world’s at sixes and sevens, and why the house hasn’t fallen down about our ears long ago is a miracle to me.” (Thornton Wilder)