In a blog post on Medium Lee Vinsek writes about journalist and academics uncritically using and reproducing the claims of technologies. He further believes that this focus distracts from more current issues with at more mundane technologies such as their maintenance and repair:

But it’s not just uncritical journalists and fringe writers who hype technologies in order to criticize them. Academic researchers have gotten in on the game. At least since the 1990s, university researchers have done work on the social, political, and moral aspects of wave after wave of “emerging technologies” and received significant grants from public and private bodies to do so. As I’ll detail below, many (though certainly not all) of these researchers reproduced and even increased hype, the most dramatic promotional claims of future change put forward by industry executives, scientists, and engineers working on these technologies. Again, at the worst, what these researchers do is take the sensational claims of boosters and entrepreneurs, flip them, and start talking about “risks.” They become the professional concern trolls of technoculture.

Interesting article from The Economist on debates about economic models and theories. The author notes a return to evolutionary economics compared to the neoclassical approach built around equilibrium models.

The column on language by Johnson’s at the Economist [](https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2021/06/05/google-will-nudge-users-to-adopt-gender-neutral-language) reports that Google announced that its word processor Google Docs will start to nudge users to use more inclusive language:

On May 18th the company announced that it was going further in its promotion of inclusive language. Google Docs, its popular free word­processing software, would soon be nudging people away from potentially sexist language, such as the generic use of “chairman”. Instead it will offer gender­ neutral suggestions including “chairperson”.

Glenn Greenwald rightly points out the double standard on the coverage of the forced landing by Belarus of a passenger jet flying over its airspace to arrest a leading Belarusian opposition figure:

The blatant double standards the U.S. and Europe have endlessly tried to impose upon the world — whereby they are freely permitted to do exactly what they condemn when done by others — is not just a matter of standard lawlessness and hypocrisy. While there was extensive coverage in the Western press on the downing of Morales’ plane, there was not even a fraction of the media indignation expressed over the actions by their own governments as they are now conveying when the same is done by Belarus. In Western media discourse, only Bad Countries are capable of bad acts; the U.S. and its allies are capable, at worst, only of well-intentioned mistakes. Thus do the exact same actions by each side receive radically different narrative treatment from the Western press corps.

Very interesting to see a scientific paradigm shift — as described by Kuhn — happening before our eyes concerning the role of droplets versus aerosols in the transmission of Covid-19. This opinion piece by Dr. Tufekci at The New York Times gives some more information about why these facts took so long to accept. Another article at Wired gives some more background on the old scientific theories.

In The Netherlands I can also see this reflected in the RIVM guidelines. Until April 2021 they stated the following concerning aerosol transmission:

Het is op dit moment niet duidelijk of de kleine druppels (aerosolen) die in de lucht blijven hangen een rol spelen bij de verspreiding van het virus. Mochten ze een rol spelen in de verspreiding, dan is dit een minder belangrijke verspreidingsroute dan van de grotere druppels. Het beeld van de verspreiding van SARS-CoV-2 is hetzelfde als dat van andere virussen die door grote druppels worden overgedragen.

While current RIVM guidelines state the following.

Onder bepaalde omstandigheden kan besmetting ook plaatsvinden via virusdeeltjes die in de kleine druppeltjes (aerosolen) een grotere afstand kunnen afleggen. Bijvoorbeeld in ruimtes waar geen of te weinig ventilatie is en/of veel mensen, vooral voor een langere tijd,- bij elkaar zijn. Overdracht van het SARS-CoV-2-virus via luchtkanalen van ventilatiesystemen is niet waargenomen.

Surprising conclusions from Twitter on a recent controversy about a bias of their image cropping algorithm towards white people and women.

We considered the tradeoffs between the speed and consistency of automated cropping with the potential risks we saw in this research. One of our conclusions is that not everything on Twitter is a good candidate for an algorithm, and in this case, how to crop an image is a decision best made by people.

Via The Register.

In a press release, NVIDIA announced that is apparently starting to change their GPUs to reduce their Ethereum hash rate and hence try to prevent them from being used for crypto mining.

The Financial Times notes how the technology has been appropriated for crypto mining, causing shortages for video-gamers:

Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, were first designed to handle the demands of rendering video images in real time, a challenge given the large amount of data that needs to be processed simultaneously. The same technology has since been adapted to become the workhouse of artificial intelligence, one of the most data-intensive computing tasks, as well as crypto mining.

As the FT further points out, NVIDIA created a new line of chips called Cryptocurrency Mining Processors.

The following Vox video details how the invention of a “Chinatown style”, that can be found in cities around the world, can be traced back to an earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 and the subsequent re-imaging/invention of a new style and culture.

Interesting quote from an article at The Economist about the changing role of taste-makers and how art and media is produced with the rise of algorithmic systems:

The diminishing role of industry taste­ makers is reflected in the sort of art now being produced. To make it onto comput­er ­generated playlists, songs must avoid getting skipped, so tracks increasingly open with a catchy “pre­chorus”. New re­ leases may have up to a dozen writers mak­ing sure that every section sparkles—a “ge­netically modified hit”, quips Mr Mulligan, who doubts that “awkward listens” like Ra­diohead would do as well today. “Bohemi­an Rhapsody” by Queen, which takes more than a minute to get going, would not be released, he suspects. Songs have become shorter, since artists are paid per stream. Labels are even making sure that the titles are Alexa­ friendly.

The following article from The Economist China’s aversion to encryption technologies — which would make mass surveillance more difficult — makes the country’s networks vulnerable to foreign spying:

Weak security is the rule, not the excep­tion, in digital services for the Chinese public. Email and social media must all fa­cilitate state access, as must industrial net­ works used to run factories and offices, even if the extent to which the government uses that access varies. In August it banned the most up ­to ­date version of a protocol used to encrypt web traffic, known as TLS, from the Chinese internet, because it makes online surveillance harder.

(…) The government has responded by promoting programs for companies to improve customer­ data pro­tection, even as it simultaneously enforces weakness in the security of all systems. But as long as the government demands access to data on Chinese people, those data can never be robustly protected.

A quote from Geoffrey Bowker in a recent article at STS Italia journal Technoscienza reflecting on our relationships with viruses:

The general point for me here about stuckness and knowledge is that we look at the world wrongly from the beginning if we break it up into separate entities. The theory of evolution is just wrong if it only accounts for the origin of species. What is much more interesting is the development of relationships – as in Michel Serres’ discussion of the parasite form as central. In a related context, Martin Buber argued that the relationship — to thou or that — was always prior. We murder to dissect… at any level… within or without the organism. There are reasons why many biologists say the species concept is unreal: there is no singular slicing apart of a set of entities. We interpenetrate.

The Register reports on a paper that aims to show how Big Tech has adopted similar strategies similar to Big Tobacco to influence AI ethics research, policy, and generally spreading doubts about the harms of AI:

The analogy “is not perfect,” the two brothers acknowledge, but is intended to provide a historical touchstone and “to leverage the negative gut reaction to Big Tobacco’s funding of academia to enable a more critical examination of Big Tech.” The comparison is also not an assertion that Big Tech is deliberately buying off researchers; rather, the researchers argue that “industry funding warps academia regardless of intentionality due to perverse incentive.