ISSUE 1.27

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Machines of Influence

Mind-control machines, robots learning at a glance, realism in automation, fonts, doggos, chickens, and more.

[reallifemag.com]

Influencing Machines

Here's a fascinating article on a group of potentially undiagnosed schizophrenics who meet online, believing that they are Targeted Individuals, attacked by influencing machines designed to control their minds which invoke schizophrenic-like symptoms. Yet the spread of their concepts manages to undermine the less-visible psychiatric interpretation of this phenomenon. Interestingly, the fact that these TIs can share their "delusions" together implies that the delusion is not a delusion, because a delusion is categorized as an idea that is not shared by the person's culture or subculture. To quote a study in the article, "the internet may enable complex support mechanisms without reference to a view of reality held by the authorities or even the mainstream of opinion." Yet, the mainstream reality and TI's beliefs have never been closer together as the TIs have more and more things in mainstream reality to point to (FBI's COINTELPRO, CIA's MKUltra, popular films and TV, etc.). More inside the link.
[blog.openai.com]

Robots that Learn

"We’ve created a robotics system, trained entirely in simulation and deployed on a physical robot, which can learn a new task after seeing it done once." Do the thing in VR, the robot does it in reality. Pretty awesome - and the beginning of telepresence military robots from the safety of your own home with an Oculus Touch controller. What? I'm not envisioning dystopia, you're envisioning dystopia! (OK, also, very cool precision medical experiments, manufacturing work, etc.)
[bbc.com]

How automation will affect you - the experts' view

As a counterpoint to my complete cynicism, here's an interesting article describing how shitty the robots currently are--and yet, how we will need to adopt in an increasingly knowledge-based workforce.
[theguardian.com]

Multiverse: have astronomers found evidence of parallel universes?

Good news, everyone! Infinite universes probably exist! That means that you may, in fact, never die and instead switch into parallel universes and this happens to be the universe that you attain immortality within via technological singularity. I mean, hey, you have no idea of knowing if that's not the case, so just take it. San Junipero, here I come!
[backchannel.com]

How Fonts Are Fueling the Culture Wars

Did you know that fonts can be racist? OK, clarification - they can be used by racists and nazis et al. Here's an interesting read into the psychological power of typography as well as its spread through culture.
[esquire.com]

PET PROJECT: WeRateDogs Matt Nelson Interview

On the one hand, my sentiment is a very much incredulous "can you believe this shit?" at the fact that WeRateDogs makes over $1,000 per month, essentially for just reposting other people's content and doing dog-related merchandise, and then furious jealousy, and then complete awareness of the hypocritical fact that that's pretty much exactly what I do. Good job, Matt Nelson. Yor a good doggo.
[facebook.com/NowThisFuture]

Raising Chickens in VR (video, 1:09)

This company wants to raise chickens in virtual reality. Yes, literally. Hey guys, why not just like, use that money on giving chickens a decent life instead of creating an animal dystopia? This one would do George Orwell proud.
[recode.net]

Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer

Walt Mossberg's last article on the next stage of consumer computing technology--a future where computers become nearly invisible, learning (finally) how better to get out of your way.